Big Stars of Magalawa Island


I’ve been hearing a lot about an island in Zambales and I was supposedly visiting it alone but 2 of my workmates confirmed to join me for this getaway. Together with Ate Mei and Valent, we went to Victory Liner Pasay Terminal to catch the earliest bus to Iba, Zambales that will be leaving at 5 AM. The camping experience in Nagsasa Cove that I previously had, encouraged me to push through the plan to visit Magalawa Island.

Magalawa Island
Panoramic shot of Magalawa Island.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the counter, the lady said that the 5 AM bus was already fully booked. I was anxious since the next bus to Iba will be leaving around 10 AM. The next plan is to board the next bus to Olongapo and will just transfer to another bus going to either Iba or Sta.Cruz. But since I am traveling with 2 ladies, the transfer of bus was not a good thing. The lady then advised me to just stay tuned for the 5 AM bus and be a chance passenger. Luckily, 7 people who reserved their seats didn’t make it on time. Sorry for them but lucky for us because we will stick with our itinerary. So the bus left the terminal at 5 AM.

Stars. Like a Star. Stars.

After 6 and a half-hour bus ride from Manila (which I never expected, I thought it would only take us 5 hours), we arrived in the town of Iba at exactly 11:30 AM dropping by at a food chain to have our lunch. We also bought supplies for the overnight camping. We then hopped on a regular Victory Liner bus going to Sta.Cruz, Zambales and dropping at the Veritas Road, the gateway to Magalawa Island.

Another panoramic shot of the island.

The road leading to the port is not yet developed so expect a super bumpy ride. When we arrived at the port, Kuya Manuel, a staff of Ruiz Resort was already waiting to pick us up. The boat ride to the island is less than 10 minutes. We finally set foot on the island at 1:30 PM with Mang Mulo welcoming us. Since Zambales is known for camping, and we were challenging ourselves to spend only 1500 each, we decided to stay overnight in a tent.

Port to Magalawa Island.
Reaching the stars underwater.

The staff of Mang Mulo pitched the tent for us and also set up the table and chairs. We settled our things and headed to the sands. A hut is located in the western part of the island where I had a sleep. Maybe you already noticed that every time I have weekend trips, the first thing I do when I arrived at the destination is to take a nap, it’s because I went directly from the office!

Our campsite for the weekend.
The hut at the western tip of the island.

The nap re-energized me and I started to swim in the shallow part of the water. I just learned to mobilize in the water after our company outing, kudos to my workmates who patiently taught me to swim. A group near us started to spot starfishes in the water and one of them dives to get one. I also tried to go to that spot and was amazed by the number of starfishes having different sizes, colors, and texture under the water. I tried also to get one. And there were a lot!

And starfishes.
It’s all about starfishes! We returned them to the sea after this photo.

When we got tired swimming, we went on the other side of the island. Sadly I didn’t take a shot of the sunset. Since it’s getting darker, we decided to eat and munched the Andok’s Liempo we bought in Iba. Comfort rooms are well-maintained with an ample supply of water. Since our gadgets ran out of battery, we asked Mang Mulo if we can recharge our phones. We paid 10 pesos for every phone. We sat down on the sand and started to singe the mallows in the sticks. After a while, we decided to sleep since it’s already midnight.

The failed sunset photo.
And the sunrise.

What’s funny here is that the tents being rented are only for two people and we’re 3 but only rented one. I didn’t imagine that I can fall asleep on 3 monobloc chairs. I woke up at 6 o’clock chasing the sun which was already high, so no sunrise shot also. Based on some blogs, you can buy freshly caught seafood early in the morning on the island before fishermen bring them to the market in the mainland. I went out to buy some seafood for breakfast. I got 2 pieces of fish and 5 pieces squid for only 182 pesos.

Poor fish for breakfast.
Cooking time!
Seafood for 180 pesos.

We didn’t have cooking gears so what I did is to borrow from Mang Mulo. Valent and Ate Mei woke up and helped me prepare the seafood. After eating our freshly caught seafood, we went again to the waters and swam. Sea urchins were also present in the waters. We met a group who also came from Manila. It was around 11 AM when we decided to get out of the water and prepare to leave.

Travel buddies: Ate Mei and Valent.
The long stretch of the shoreline.
Time to go home *sad*.

The getaway was an achievement for me that I was able to test my 2 companions to survive in an island minus the air-conditioned room, nice bedding and five-star comfort room which I was also thanked for since I didn’t hear any complaint from them. We boarded the last regular aircon bus from Iba to Cubao around 2:30 PM and arrived safely in Cubao at 7:30 PM.

Our camping supply.


  1. Contact Mang Mulo ahead so he can reserve tents if you are going to rent and also for him to advise his staff to pick you up in the port. Contact number: 09294670505.
  2. A sari-sari store is available on the island but it is advisable to bring all things needed for an overnight beach camping.
  3. You can request “paluto” if ever the chef is available.
  4. Be alert for jellyfish and sea urchins.




  • (a) Take a Victory Liner bus either in Pasay, Cubao, and Caloocan. The earliest bus in Pasay leaves the terminal at 5 AM and travel time to Iba is about 6 hours. For other trips to Zambales, you can refer to Victory Liner schedules and fares on their website.
  • (b) Another option is to take the Sta.Cruz bus and tell the conductor to drop you in Veritas Road and you’re going to Magalawa Island.
  • From Iba, Zambales, hop on a Victory Liner bus to Sta.Cruz, Zambales and tell the conductor to drop you in Veritas Road and inform him you’re going to Magalawa Island. Travel time is 30 minutes and fare is 34 pesos.
  • Tricycles going to Luan Port are available near the waiting shed. You can spot them easily. Travel time is 20 minutes and fare is 100 pesos.
  • Contact Mang Mulo when you are on your way to the port so he can send his staff to pick you up. Roundtrip boat ride is 100 pesos to be paid to Mang Mulo.
  • Tricycles going back to the highway are available near the port.
  • From Palauig, you can either ride a non-aircon bus or jeepneys to Iba.
  • Check the schedules of Victory Liner bus to Manila. Last aircon bus to Cubao leaves Iba at 2:30PM.


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