Sunday, April 25, 2010

Borawan and Dampalitan Beach

I was supposed to celebrate my Despedida de Soltera in Padre Burgos, Quezon last year. On our itinerary was to explore Borawan and Dampalitan Beach, which was then virtually unknown - recommended by my sister who went there with her colleagues a few months back.

Unfortunately, typhoon Ondoy ravaged the country a week before our trip which forced us to cancel our plan so some of us can do some volunteering. I rescheduled it just 7 months after and found the beaches packed on a weekend!

Late afternoon sun shining down on Borawan.

At 5:00 AM, Shervin and I were already at the JAC Liner Pasay Terminal (Buendia corner Taft), waiting for the others. Most of our mountaineering friends attended the TNF race in Baguio City that day, so I posted an open invitation on Couchsurfing.org days prior the trip. I just thought it would be awesome to meet new outdoor people.

Pax was one of those who replied to my post. He arrived quarter past 5 with his friend Iva. Soon after, my ol' climbing buddy Oliver got there too. We all hopped on a Lucena bound bus, and left Manila before sunrise. The air-conditioned bus fare to Lucena's Grand Terminal was P259. Travel time, 3 hours.

From the Grand Terminal, you can take an ordinary bus going to Unisan, which can drop you off at Padre Burgos. Fare is only P35-40. If you're willing to pay extra for a more convenient ride, you may opt for a van, P60 per person. The ordinary bus is indeed cheaper, but bear in mind that its driver will wait for the bus to get full before leaving the terminal. Travel time's longer too (instead of an hour with a van), since the driver will drop off and pick up several passengers along the way.

There are two main jump-off points to Borawan and Dampalitan Island. One is at Tamarind Tree Resort (do not hire a boat from the resort itself), and the other at Marao Beach, entrance is beside Vista Playa Restaurant. I opted for the latter. I was actually the one who organized the whole thing, and since I was 4 and a half weeks pregnant that time, I made sure that we won't be doing anything too intense for me to handle (I found out I had a low lying placenta just three days before).

Note: Not a lot of Lucena locals/drivers know where Vista Playa is (a lot are actually baffled with the sudden influx of tourists in Padre Burgos). Just tell them you want to get off Marao. Once you're in Padre Burgos cruising along the shore, keep an eye out for colorful flags attached to bamboo poles. This shall be your landmark, they're just beside the restaurant.

Left: Vista Playa Restaurant. Right: Lunch Feast! Afritada, chopsuey and tilapia (one whole piece per person!).

My sister gave me the contact number of one of its owners, Ate Ria. She quoted us a package price of P650 each for a group of 6+ persons inclusive of boat rental to Borawan and Dampalitan, admission fees to the islands, lunch, dinner and breakfast. She also allowed us to camp within their grounds and use their bathroom.

I told the group that I'd be comfortable sleeping in mainland than on any of the islands because of my condition. Everyone was very considerate and easily agreed to my proposal.

Two other Couchsurfers, who drove their own car to Quezon, were already waiting for us at Vista Playa when we arrived. Eddie and Ethel, a married couple in their 50's, love weekend getaways. They're both still very active. I wish I could be like them when I reach their age!

Ate Ria was out of town that time but her staff, spearheaded by Ate Irma, warmly welcomed us. As soon as we settled, they prepared our lunch. The night before, I coordinated with Ate Ria regarding our menu. Since I got pregnant, I became very particular with what I eat so I asked for well-balanced meals. For lunch we were served afritada, chopsuey, and one whole tilapia (fresh catch bought from Padre Burgos' fishermen) for each person! Boy, we were so bloated after.

It made us sleepy too, but we had no time for siesta because our boatman was already waiting for us at 1:00 PM. Boat rental by the way can cost P800-P1,200 depending on the number of passengers, islands you'll visit, and of course your haggling skills.

Eddie enjoying his dip while Ethel looks on.

Borawan Beach is a mere 10-15 minute boat ride away from mainland. The name 'Borawan' may have been derived from Boracay and Palawan, but it ain't as perfect as the other two so don't keep your expectations too high. The sand is ecru in color, and not fine. In fact in most parts of the beach, it would hurt to walk barefoot. Water is not too ideal for snorkelling. Swimming's your best bet, and bouldering's the next.

Happy camper on a tire swing at Dampalitan.

At 3:00 PM we once again boarded our boat and were off to Dampalitan (20 minutes). It has a longer shore dotted with huts and picnic tables. The sand is more fine, and the pine trees lined up on the beach will remind you of Anawangin and Nagsasa Cove. Admission fee is P20 for adults (P35 overnight stay) and P10 for kids, cottage rental P300. The caretaker asked us though for P30 each - uhm, non-local charge?! We paid the fee even though Ate Ria told us that it should be included in our package. I took a mental note of sending her an SMS once when we get back at the resto.

Dampalitan's shore. A couple of locals on the left selling snail-ish sea creatures which according to them are yummy with coconut milk.

Tents were pitched here and there, and a few campers were busy on the grill for an early dinner. We were all sitting on a picnic table chitchatting while Pax snorkelled. The afternoon was pretty much uneventful until Pax told us there's a turtle swimming near the shore, sadly tied to a boat. Everyone except Oliver and I checked it out. No one attempted to free the poor reptile.

It wasn't even sundown yet, but we all agreed to leave. Some of us were getting hungry (ahem, Oliver) already. Back at the restaurant, Ate Irma said dinner will be ready at 7:00 PM. Pax and Oli ordered chami and pancit canton (cause they couldn't wait for dinner anymore). P60 for a hefty serving. Delish too! Ethel peeled and sliced green mangoes which we ate with Padre Burgos' special bagoong, which was highly recommended by the resto staff.

We pitched our tents before the sun disappeared. Pax and Iva took a nap while the rest of us took turns in the bathroom since there's only one.

Dinner time came, and everyone's excited to know what's on the menu. Here's what we were served: grilled porkchop, pinakbet, steamed crabs, and adobong pusit! All of us grabbed our own crabs - except for Shervin who's totally clueless how to open one. He's not a fan of seafood, but that night, he oddly had a lot of the squid.

I slept right after eating while the others had a drinking session. I wonder where they bought their cheap lambanog. Oliver was raving about it.

At sunset, view from our campsite. A makeshift barge with tons of passengers being pulled by a pump boat.

The next day, we awoke at around 7ish. We all had a good sleep, even Oliver who slept under the stars because he didn't bring a tent (if you wish to camp here too, bring an anti-mosquito repellent). Breakfast was already being served. We had daing na bangus with fried egg and rice. Coffee included.

Vista Playa's staff spoiled us to bits! We were well, if not overly fed. The P650 package was so worth it. And though we dined in a restaurant, we set up our camp right by the water which still made us feel we're outdoors and 'with nature'.

It would have been nice to stay longer, but it was time to go. We were given a P30 refund by the way since Ate Ria found out that the caretaker of Dampalitan Beach still asked admission fee from us. Yeeha!

Eddie, Ethel, Pax and Iva's trip wasn't over yet. They were heading to Puting Buhangin and Kwebang Lampas next. Oliver and I have been there already, so we decided to just go home.

Buses and vans from Unisan to Lucena's Grand Terminal pass by just in front of Vista Playa. One of the resto's male helpers hailed a van for us. We waved goodbye to Ate Irma and the rest of the staff.

I'm glad our trip to Quezon finally pushed through. In just a few months' time, more tourists will make their way to these beaches. Time and again I remind fellow travellers, let's do our part in keeping the Philippine shores clean.

If you're interested with Vista Playa's package you may contact Ate Irma at 0918-6048601 or 0917-9884824.

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35 comments:

Anonymous said...
July 2, 2010 at 10:57 PM

:) good quezon stuff! :) thanks girl i'll post the link on to my wall.. :) now na! -kakat

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
July 3, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Saw the post Kat, thanks! I am so excited for your pre-nup session there. Sana matuloy.

Pinoy AdvenTurista said...
October 20, 2010 at 4:19 PM

can i get the contact numbers of Ate Ria? Thanks a lot...

You can visit my site @ http://mymervin.blogspot.com

Hope you could leave Ate Ria's contact number on my site. Thanks a lot... =D

Anonymous said...
November 7, 2010 at 11:51 PM

hi gurl! is there an accommodation in vista playa?or anywhere near the resto? we don't have our camping gears yet but we do want to visit borawan and dampalitan island.. thanks :) --teenie :)

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
November 8, 2010 at 12:15 AM

You can check Tamarind Tree Resort and Villa Anita. Their location ain't near Vista Playa though. I don't know any other accommodations. Hehe.

Safe trips dear.

demeter said...
March 8, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Hi! Dampalitan island looks like a great place to pitch a tent. Hows the surrounding waters(of dampalitan)? Any marine life or/and corals present? Also, how much is the camping fee? Any toilets around? I see flags in both borawan and dampalitan so medyo commercialized na ba sila? (daming tanong!) I would appreciate it if you can give me some more info. Thanks for sharing this!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
March 8, 2011 at 9:07 PM

Can't remember how much the camping fee is in Dampalitan. We went there just for a day trip. Only Dampalitan has toilets (me thinks). And although they both get crowded on weekends, they don't have a commercialized vibe.

demeter said...
March 20, 2011 at 12:18 PM

okay, thanks a lot pinay travel junkie. more power!

Anonymous said...
April 20, 2011 at 11:18 PM

san po kayo nagtent..sa marao beach?=)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 21, 2011 at 5:37 PM

We camped on Vista Playa's property on Marao Beach :)

Anonymous said...
April 26, 2011 at 1:22 AM

can i plss have the contact # that u had??? tnxx...

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 26, 2011 at 9:07 AM

Hi. Contact numbers at the end part of the post.

Anonymous said...
April 30, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Vista Playa is under new management with better service. For more inquiries about Beach Activities, Boat Rentals, etc., kindly contact direct: 63.906.2423945. Please be adviced that We will not be responsible or liable to any accidents/ injuries if not directly in contact with VISTA PLAYA MANAGEMENT.

-el_sentidoverde

Anonymous said...
May 10, 2011 at 10:04 PM

thanks for your info..

Anonymous said...
May 14, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Please be informed that IRMA SANIEL is NO LONGER CONNECTED with VISTA PLAYA since AUGUST 2010. VISTA PLAYA is under NEW MANAGEMENT. Kindly contact direct: 63.906.2423945. Any TRANSACTIONS/ ACCIDENTS/ INJURIES under IRMA SANIEL will not be honored by VISTA PLAYA.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...
May 21, 2011 at 3:30 AM

Yes Ate Irma Saniel is no longer connected with Vista Playa but she still organizes trip to Borawan and Dampalitan. She's very accommodating and easy to deal with. We just had our trip last May 17 - 18. For more info you can contact her on this # 0918-6048601.

Anonymous said...
July 18, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Im a tourism student, we where planning to visit Borawan as our Tourism Planning Destination..I just want to ask if P650/6persons is still available and if there's any contact person in vista playa?..thanks

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
July 18, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Hi! I think Vista Playa is under new management. Unfortunately, I don't have a contact number of the new one.

Dane | Tramping Philippines said...
October 27, 2011 at 1:29 AM

I once thought travelling pregnant would not be allowed on flights or boats, but thanks to you, I'm finally enlightened. My girlfriend, Agnes, always complain that when the time comes she gets pregnant, she'll be out of action for more than a year. And now, I found out that she's wrong. hahaha.. BTW, This article gave us the information we had for our Padre Burgos trip back then. Great blog, big fan here.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
October 27, 2011 at 4:56 AM

Yeah! Preggy women can board a plane until 7-8 months. So Agnes need not worry :)

Thanks for following our adventures!

juanderfulpinoy said...
November 13, 2011 at 2:58 PM

bigla ko namiss ang padre burgos hahaha. sarap magbeach

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
November 13, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Miss ko na rin magbeach sa Pinas!

Lemuel Nerbie Mendoza said...
December 29, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Ate Irma is so cool. She is so accommodating to her guest. For those who are looking for a place to stay in Marao, she can offer you a house with 3 bedrooms enough for a large group. Thanks PinayTravelJunkie for the info. Godbless, travel more and be safe!

Anonymous said...
January 28, 2012 at 9:45 PM

Planning to visit the place first week of Feb. will post thereafter

Lito

Anonymous said...
April 5, 2012 at 3:01 AM

As much as possible, steer clear of Vista Playa. The new management is simply rotten! We went there because from the blogs I've read, it's along the hi-way lang and yes it is. But when we got there, we asked about Tamarind Resort and Villa Anita, they told us both were expensive. Then they offered their home stay. They will show you an album with pictures of the rooms. We asked if they have tents that we can rent so we can just camp, the lady (I forgot her name) said, she had them rented (really??? there was none as I asked around). Anyway, she was kind of helpful but her helpfulness has ulterior motive. She offered her home stay for 300 a night per person and she also offered to assist us in checking out Tamarind Resort since it's just near her place. So we accepted the offer and went to Tamarind to check and since we're on backpacking mode, we choose the home stay.

When we arrive at the their, there were like kids around shouting and at least 3 house helpers. The house is nice but not well maintained as it was dirty, unkempt and just plainly, in disarray. So we were asked to choose rooms, both rooms are used by house help and their relatives with kids who were visiting that time. And they have the nerve to offer it to us!!! Grrrr... But since we didn't want to pay more, we took it. We chose a room and the AC won't even turn on due to low voltage. So we were given an electric fan, tssssk. The good thing, we were allowed to cook. So we went to the islands and enjoyed very much! I want to return to the islands! Now comes check out, we were brought back to Vista Playa restaurant to pay. And lo and behold, we were charged P2500 for the room. WTF? I thought it was 300 per person. The lady mentioned kasi it's aircon and the aircon didn't even work!!! Nevertheless, we insisted on paying P300 per person as initially agreed. When she was offering it, she never mentioned that it will be P2500 for aircon rooms. She only mentioned P300 per person. Grabe, uminit ang ulo ko as in. Good thing my friend is cool enough to face her and told her that we will not pay for the AC room rate because it wasn't working. Should the AC have worked, then naloko talaga kami.

Hay buhay! We enjoyed the islands so much but not Vista Playa experience. I wished I had communicated with Ate Ria instead.

***Apologies for the long post

Iel said...
April 6, 2012 at 7:23 PM

Can't wait for tomorrows outing at borawan. matagal din namin plinano ito.

Anonymous said...
April 10, 2012 at 2:56 AM

Hi! We are planning to go to Borawan by a private car. I would like to know if the road to Padre Burgos is safe or are there any rough roads we will encounter?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...
April 12, 2012 at 1:36 PM

hi! kanino po ba dapat makipag transact? sa vista playa or kay irma saniel?

Ron James said...
April 19, 2012 at 11:56 PM

Its very bad on our part to read such untoward incident that happened while you visit Padre Burgos. We feel sorry about it but we are promoting the tourism industry of the municipality. Anyways sorry, you are still welcome to comeback in Padre Burgos but be careful in choosing those who are arranging your trip going here.

For inquiries on how to get here, price of boat for hire and as well as the island, please feel free to contact me (I'm Ron) at +639178989750 or +639284484684. I'm willing to help and to give you advice about your trip.

Check out my facebook at ronjames_gonzales@yahoo.com

Thank you and enjoy traveling.

Marvel Ken said...
May 7, 2012 at 12:38 AM

I suggest that you transact with Mr. Ron James he is the one who arranged our trip to borawan,dampalitan and puting buhangin.. he is the one who prepared food and arranged the boat for hire. Pinahiram pa niya kami ng isa nyang tent na pinaparent. Very reasonable naman yun per pax na offer nya. kung gusto nyo na magenjoy lang just try the offer. Just text him at 09178989750

Dave said...
June 11, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Just last June 16-17, we went to Borawan and stayed Dampalitan using Ron Jame's father service and very accomodating and assisting. They charge was 1,200 for the boat and has capacity of 12 person, bigger that those used by the resorts. We have secured and ample parking just next to the Barangay which happens to be the only port/pier in Padre Burgos, entrance for Borawan is 20/pax and Dampalitan 30/pax, 150/tent, 150/half-drum for rinsing. Our gas consumption was only 1000 (140kms) Alabang back and forth +172 for toll exiting sto. Thomas. We just brought 600 worth of food to be cooked, 300 in liquor and beverages. Dont forget to bring vinegar since jelly fishes are present in both beaches. The whole weekend paradise trip cost only 1,200 each for us 4. Tip: if you plan swim choose the Borawan since they catch net setup there, the Dampalitan had theirs destroyed by the last typhoon. Dampalitan is Anawangin like 300m shore line with coconut and pine trees surrounding. Borawan has smaller white beach at the edge of rocky cliff.

Anonymous said...
December 14, 2012 at 4:57 PM

may new contact/number or person po ba na pwedeng maka deal sa pagpunta sa dampalitan? at new update po sa dampalitan status like overnight stay etc.... thanks

Mike Viernes said...
March 30, 2013 at 10:03 PM

My friends and I just arrived from Padre Burgos. We went to Puting Buhangin, Dampalitan, and Borawan. It was awesome. Our tour was arranged by Ron James and all I can say is, his services are great. Food was abundant, boat ride was safe, and he made sure we had a good place to camp at Dampalitan despite being peak season because of the Holy Week break. He personally attended to us, making sure everything is in order. Daming food! Grabe! overflowing food. He really made sure that we wont go hungry. If you want to go to these beautiful islands I highly recommend you contact Ron James at 09496362087. I highly recommend him for his excellent service. Thanks Ron. We will return for sure.

IsabeliJane*7 said...
May 14, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Read your blog because a friend of mine and I will be going to Borawan this weekend. Disappointed that you didn't help the poor, defenseless turtle. Anyone who enjoys traveling to beaches should at least respect the "residents", NOT humans, who live in the seas and oceans.

Gwynne Andal said...
June 17, 2014 at 6:20 PM

Hi! Me and my friends are planning a trip to Borawan and Dampalitan this July and wanted to ask if you noticed these concerns:
1.) Will the Dampalitan caretakers/management provide grilling tools for the campers? (We will be bringing our own food, both raw and cooked)
2.) Will trash management be a concern? (If not, we can provide our own trash bags)
I just wanted to make sure all of these are covered before we finalize all of our plans.
Anyway, thanks for the help!

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