Jomalig: The Golden Island Paradise of the Philippines
January 1, 1970
by Aiza Bermudez
Since we live by the beach in our province, my love for it never wears off. Now, having a life of my own with my husband in the city, we make it a point that we travel as much as we can. Since we both have our regular jobs, we usually travel on weekends and holidays.
Craving for a quick get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, we came across this island in Facebook. Jomalig is an unknown island to us until we read about it from our fellow members in a group. We immediately researched about it and came through a limited number of blogs since it was not that popular to many. Seeing its golden sand and its pristine beaches, we instantly fell in love and we know we have to get to that island. So the planning begins and after 3 days, we are en route to Jomalig Island.
Jomalig is located in the eastern part of Quezon province and southeast of Polilio Islands. It is subdivided into 5 barangays and the locals are called Jomaligins. They have 2 beaches, namely Salibungot beach and Kanaway Beach. Salibungot is where most of the tourist and backpackers go to.
How to get there
There are 2 ways you can get to Jomalig Island. One is via chartered plane. There is a flying field so it’s possible for small planes to land. Second is via land travel and boat ride which is mostly considered by many. Boats/cargo vessels came into Jomalig from Real, Atimonan, and Panganiban, Camarines Norte.
Since we’re from Manila, we traveled via Real, Quezon. We arrived at Raymond Bus Terminal in Sampaloc, Manila around 1am. We were not ready for the jam-packed terminal. It was Sunday and we thought that most of the passengers had already left or are only be arriving to catch the early ride. We inquired in the ticket booth and they said that they can issue tickets but they can’t guarantee the exact time of the arrival of the bus. Fortunately, one of the passengers told us that there are vans en route to Real, Quezon located at the back of the terminal. We inquired about it and after 5 minutes we’re already seated in a passenger van to Real. The trip took us 3.5 hours before arriving at Ungos port.
Boats to Jomalig usually leave at 10:00 in the morning but there are some that leaves as early as 3am. So if you want to get there early, catch the 3am ride since the boat ride takes 5-8 hours depending on the waves. We catch the 10:00am boat ride, waited for an hour for the cargoes to be loaded, and we reached Jomalig exactly after 5 hours.
Where to Stay
You can camp in Salibungot Beach under the tall agoho trees or live with the locals instead. There are residents who offer homestay for a cheap price. We have our tent with us so we opted to camp out. We were greeted by the locals in Salibungot beach and were referred to Ate Len where we pitched our tent in their compound near the beach. There is a designated camping area near the agoho trees but we choose to camp in Ate Len’s place for easy access to the toilet and bathroom.
What to eat
We researched about the place beforehand so we brought our butane burner and camp meals with us. Mainly canned goods and instant foods. You can always ask the locals to prepare food for you for a price of course. We planned to grill some fish and lobsters when we were there. But the locals have no catch at that time so we just bought a whole chicken in Ate Lyra’s grocery store. Ate Len has a small store where you can buy water and snacks.
What to do
Being there, it’s as if time passed slowly. It was a great escape from the city. With its pristine golden sand, it is almost a sin not to dive in the clear waters of Salibungot beach. We swim on the beach and waited for the sunset. We woke up early to catch the sunrise and walk by the beach. Jomalig has a vast sandy shore and with the help of the agoho trees, you can always find a shade. We walked to the southern part of the island to have a view of the ocean. It’s as if we were walking on a dune because of the large span of sand. The view was breathtaking, seeing the horizon with the ocean before us.
When we got back to our campsite, we were offered a habal-habal ride and island hopping through the beach of Jomalig. It was too pricey for us because we were the only ones left and the other groups already returned to the city. We opted to stay in Salibungot and played with the local kids there, wait for the sun to set and swim on the beach again. The next day, we had our usual photo session and again swim in the clear waters. You can also go snorkeling and fishing in Salibungot or explore the near barangays by foot. We asked for the contact of the boat captain so they can pick us up. We leave to Real at around 11am and arrived at 4pm.
Tips and Other Info
- There is electricity in the island but only from 6pm to 1am only so better get your power banks and flashlights ready.
- There are cellular signals in the area so communication thru phones in not a problem.
- The locals do not give an exact price when it comes to their services, i.e. use of toilet and bath, food preparation. You just give them whatever you can afford. My advice is to be generous. They only have fishing as their source of income. So let it be but a small help for their hospitality.
- Bus fare in Raymond bus is Php198 while vans to Real costs Php220/pax.
- Boat fare is Php350 inclusive of lunch. Don’t expect a restaurant-like lunch. We were served a stir fried chicken sautéed in soy sauce and vinegar with rice.
- Get the contact number of your boatman. You can inform them your departure date and time from Jomalig and they can pick you up at Salibungot Beach.
- There is a landing fee of Php170 when you get to Jomalig. This took effect last March 2016.
- Months of April to July is when the sea is most calm so plan your visit within this months. Plus the travel time is much shorter.
- Bring extra money, just in case you get stranded.
- Bring school supplies, unused clothes, candies, snacks for the kids. You’ll make them happy just by giving them small tokens.
Our weekend getaway in Jomalig was one of the unforgettable travels we had. Simply because of the locals we get to meet and became friends especially Ate Len’s family. We will surely go back to this beautiful island.