Tales From The Heart: A Maniwaya Island Escapade

Maniwaya Island
Marinduque is known as the "heart" of the Philippines, not only because of its shape, but also because it is considered as the country's geographical center. A part of the MiMaRoPa region in Luzon, the island province is surrounded by vast bodies of water such as the Tayabas Bay in the north and the Sibuyan Sea to the south. It is home to many pristine beaches and islets, of which, the most famous is the idyllic Maniwaya Island off the town of Sta. Cruz.

How to go to Maniwaya Island:
  • From LRT Buendia, ride a JAC Liner bus to Lucena-Dalahican. Make sure that you don't ride a bus bound to Lucena only as it will not bring you all the way to the port. This will turn out more costly as you will have to alight at the Diversion to ride a jeep (Php 8) that will take you to the town properwhere you'll ride a tricycle to the port (Php 120-150 per trip). A direct bus ride from Buendia to Dalahican is Php 220, while it is Php 209.50 from Buendia to Diversion (Lucena). For bus schedule and a list of terminals, you may visit http://jacliner.com/. Alternatively, you may also ride a JAM Liner Bus (see info here: http://www.jam.com.ph/). Travel time is 4 hours.
  • From Dalahican Port, board a Starhorse Ferry to Balanacan. Fare is Php 260 plus a Php 30 terminal fee.Travel time is about 3 hours, depending on sea conditions.
  • Upon arrival at the Dalahican Port, make sure to rush to the gates and catch the vans going to the town of Sta. Cruz. Vans are limited so better to be safe than sorry. Standard fare is Php 100. In the event that you miss the van, you might be forced to rent the entire van, which costs Php 1,100-1,200. Travel time from Balanacan to Sta. Cruz is about an hour.
  • In Sta. Cruz, hire a tricycle to Buyabod Port, which is about 15-20 minutes away from the town proper. From there, you may hire a boat to Maniwaya Island. The resorts in Maniwaya Island (see list here) usually have their own boats for rent. This can be pre-arranged for your convenience. Travel time from Buyabod Port to Maniwaya Island is about 30 minutes to an hour depending on sea condition. A boat that can accommodate up to 25 persons usually costs Php 4,000 inclusive of roundtrip resort transfers and island hopping.
Boarding Playa Amara Beach Resort's boat at Buyabod Port
A view of Sta. Cruz Island on our way to the resort
Approaching Maniwaya Island
Playa Amara Beach Resort's shoreline

The resort's bar
Open cabanas

Maniwaya Island is a perfect hideaway for those who want a tranquil, quiet time. Unlike Boracay or Puerto Galera, there's no nightlife and fast food chains on the island. Food and beverage can be arranged at your resort.

The aircon room at Playa Amara Beach Resort

Non-airconditioned huts
The restaurant
What to do in Maniwaya Island:
  • Beach bumming and sunbathing
  • Snorkeling (bring your own gear)
  • Kayaking
  • Jetskiing
  • Island hopping to Mongpong Island (Ungab Rock Formation) and Palad Sand Bar

Frolicking in Maniwaya Island
We arrived in Maniwaya Island at around 9:00 am so we had ample time to rest and to settle down before going to Palad Sandbar and Ungab Rock Formation. We were advised that low tide is around 11:00 am and it is the best time to go to Palad Sandbar. We prepared our stuff but unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding with the boatman as they thought we were leaving the resort at 1:00 pm. So, we had to wait for them nonetheless.

Calm waters. Last hurrah before the habagat season
At 1:00 pm, we left the resort to head to Ungab Rock Formation in Mongpong Island. Travel time is about 30 minutes on calm waters. On our way, we saw some pocket white beaches and a mangrove sanctuary. The water was azure and clear, and the sun was scorching. It was as if the universe converhed to give us a well-deserved break.

Upon arrival in Mongpong Island, we were awestruck to see the beautiful Ungab Rock Formation, a natural arc that opens to the sea. A must-see in Marinduque, the seascape around Ungab Rock Formation is said to have the best diving sites in the province.

Here are a few snapshots of Ungab Rock Formation:

Our next stop was the Palad Sandbar. Like a runway of cream sand amidst the sea, the sandbar is a favorite spot for camwhoring since it is very photogenic especially at low tide. Too bad, it was already high tide (thanks to the late boatman!!!) when we arrived.

The only downside is that the underwater scenery around Palad Sandbar is not something to look forward to as the corals are dead and few.

Palad Sandbar underwater 
Lone fish?
Jump pa more!
Chillin' Out

High tide
Our ride
We went back to the resort just a few minutes before sunset. However, we were too tired to move out of the bed when it was already time for sunset viewing. šŸ˜‹

The other side of Maniwaya Island

Dinner was prepared by Ate Rachel, the resort's caretaker. There was scrumptious pork belly and a balakwit ( a kind of shellfish) soup. We also had drinks by the bar, which features an array of local and international beers and liquor, a perfect dose to cap the night.

Balakwit soup
The following day, we were too lazy again to catch the sunrise, so we just gathered together for a tummy-filling breakfast of danggit (dried fish), longganisa (local sausage), eggs, and rice.

A night on Maniwaya Island is not enough if you are after some R&R and if you want to explore the nearby sites on a slower pace. This is if you are on forva laidback getaway with family and friends...if you just want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. However, if you are the type who gets bored when the neighborhood shuts down at 7:00 pm, then a night might be just apt.

Goodbye Maniwaya Island
Thank you madam Toni! 'Til next time, Tres Reyes naman!

Buyabod Port
While the rest of the group went all the way to Marcopper to stay for another night, Kim and I went ahead as we have prior commitments in Manila that following Monday. From Buyabod Port, we went to Sta. Cruz Church where a van bound to Balanacan Port was stationed. We paid Php 80 for the shuttle fare and Php 220 bus fare (Jam Liner to Dela Rosa).

At Balanacan Port, we boarded a Starhorse ferry bound to Dalahican Port. Fare is Php 260 plus a Php 20 terminal fee.

We were surprised to see the interiors of the ferry! It's like we were transported to the Renaissance era for awhile. Oh, and the restroom was well-decorated, clean, and airconditioned, too! Such an experience to be onboard this vessel!

Our Lady of PeƱafrancia blessing our journey
The ladies'  room

Almost halfway our journey on Tayabas Bay, we saw this beautiful island, which we couldn't identify to date.

An island on Tayabas Bay
For a detailed itinerary, budget, and a list of accommodations in Maniwaya Island, please read here.


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