- Where is Jomalig Island?
- How to go to Jomalig Island
- Where to stay in Jomalig
- What to do in Jomalig
- A few reminders before going to the island
- Our Jomalig vacation budget
When it comes to summer destinations in the Philippines, the first places to come to mind are Boracay, Puerto Galera, and Palawan. But tucked in the eastern part of Luzon is a gem: Jomalig Island Philippines. This island has become popular with tourists, but its beauty remains undisturbed because of its challenging location.
To reach Jomalig Island, you have to brave the raging waves of the Pacific Ocean. However, the vertigo-inducing trip is worth it once you’re welcomed by the golden sand of the island.
I’ve been to Jomalig once, and I’ll be forever enchanted by the place. It’s one of the most pristine islands I’ve been to, and I can’t wait to go back once the pandemic is over.
Where is Jomalig Island?
Jomalig is part of the Quezon province. It’s located close to Polillo Island and faces the vast Pacific Ocean. It’s an island municipality and is one of the smallest of its kind.
Take note that Jomalig Island is quite far-flung, and it’s even farther than the posh Balesin Island. But as much as this is a faraway island, the only way to reach it is to endure a 5 to 6-hour motorboat ride.
Specifically, Jomalig Island is around 75 nautical miles off the coast of Polillo Island. This distance is a challenge to many but worth it for those who are willing to go through the excruciating waves.
How to go to Jomalig Island
Before I give the directions, it’s important for travelers to know that going to Jomalig Island isn’t a piece of cake. Make sure that you get enough sleep. Once you’re ready, here’s how we got there:
- Catch a Raymond Bus at Legarda Terminal in Manila bound for Infanta, Quezon.
- This bus ride will take around 5 to 6 hours. Tell the driver or the conductor to drop you off at Ungos Port in Real, Quezon.
- You can also reach the port through a private car. However, you have to secure a paid parking slot if you’re willing to leave your vehicle behind for days. There are no RORO (roll-on, roll-off) vessels in operation in Jomalig, so there’s no way for you to bring your car across the sea.
- At Ungos Port, you’ll get a ticket for a boat bound to Jomalig Island. When we visited, it cost Php 400 (US$8).
- Take note that some boaters may take stops at nearby islands like Patnanongan.
- The boat ride will last for around 5 to 6 hours. Some boat owners will serve a humble lunch for the passengers, but others won’t.
- You can also charter a boat for a private ride, but this will cost you up to Php 25,000 (US$500).
Where to stay in Jomalig
Before you head to Jomalig, it’s important to book your accommodation first. There are several resorts here, but don’t expect anything luxurious. The island is underdeveloped, so accommodation here is simple and in line with ‘island living’.
Here are some of the popular resorts you can consider:
This is where we stayed during our visit to Jomalig. They have cozy nipa huts available in different sizes to accommodate couples and groups. They are a beachfront property so that you can wake up to the sound of the waves.
Fees at SPIR range from Php 500 (US$10) per night for the bahay kubos. If you’re traveling with a large group, it’s best to book the Cavana, which costs around Php 1,500 (US$30) a night.
Also, they have an eatery where you can have a hearty lunch for just Php 100 (US$2). Just make sure that you request your desired meal early so that they can prepare it for you. They cook fresh seafood also, but you have to request a day before, especially if you want large crabs.
Another popular option among tourists here is the Apple Beach Resort. They have 12 nipa huts, complete with a mini kitchen, toilet, and utensils. Each of their huts can accommodate up to 10 persons, making them a great choice for groups.
The Apple Beach Resort has packages for tourists, inclusive of meals and a habal-habal tour. You can also add other activities for additional fees.
Jojomalig Resort is a beachfront location with nipa huts good for 2 to 4 persons. If you want to save money, you can book a tent instead.
Aside from the accommodation, you can also request meals, but for additional costs. You can also request seafood, but expect it to be expensive. Nevertheless, Kuya Jojo of Jojomalig is very accommodating.
You can consider other resorts in Jomalig, though these three are the most popular among tourists.
What to do in Jomalig
Once you’re all set in your chosen accommodation, the next thing to do is explore the island. It’s a fairly small island that can be toured while riding a habal-habal (motorcycle). Our group managed to book a trip with SPIR (our chosen resort), which took us around the popular spots on the island.
Here are some of the must-dos while you’re on the island:
Take note that not all beaches in Jomalig are swimmable. For example, Salibungot Beach has very strong waves, which can be challenging to swim at for beginners. Still, you can find calmer spots on its stretch where you can take a dip. The big plus here is the beautiful golden sand of the place.
For those who want a laidback vibe, I highly recommend the Little Boracay. If you’re from SPIR, it’s reachable through a habal-habal ride.
Little Boracay is called such because of its fine white sand. Sure, it’s not as fine as the real Boracay, but it’s surely one for the books. Our group spent half a day here just lounging by the beach and in one of the huts near the shore.
If you’re up for some underwater adventure, you can bring a snorkel and try taking a swim at Little Boracay. This is one of the calm spots on the island where you can safely explore the underwater features. However, you must inform the locals for your safety.
🌊Ride a habal-habal
One of the highlights of our stay at Jomalig is riding a motorcycle around the island. You can either rent the motorcycle and drive it on your own or pay someone to take you around.
Nothing beats the cool breeze on your face as you pass by the vast fields of the island. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Batanes’ rolling hills.
During our visit, we paid Php 600 (US$12) for a whole day of the habal-habal tour. The drivers waited for us while we explored the tourist spots.
🌊Visit the Turtle Rock
One of the most popular spots here in Jomalig is Turtle Rock. It’s a rock formation shaped like a turtle, but it’s only accessible during low tide. Our habal-habal drivers advised us about the perfect time to visit the place, so we could take pictures and climb the rock formation.
While you’re exploring Turtle Rock, don’t miss a chance to buy fresh coconut juice from one of the local kids. They usually hang around the place to entertain tourists and earn a bit for their school expenses. Tipping them is also a good move.
🌊Go to Little Batanes
During our habal-habal tour, our guide brought us to Little Batanes (Lingayen Cove). The place also boasts the same golden sand as the island, but take note that it’s not wise to swim here due to the strong waves.
We instead climb through the rock formation to get a great view of the island. There’s a hut on top where you can take shelter as the weather can be quite unpredictable. Nevertheless, this is probably one of the best spots to have a vantage point of the island. If you can, you should wait for the sunset here (chef’s kiss!)
A stay in Jomalig is all about being close to nature. One way to enjoy this experience is by camping at the beach. Most resorts here offer tent rentals and gazebos where you can pitch your tent. You can also stay by the beach, though you have to check with the resort if they allow staying near the shoreline.
If the weather permits, stargazing in Jomalig is a great activity at night.
🌊Book a boat tour
Boat tours in Jomalig aren’t always accessible, so you should inquire ahead of your visit. The Las Rocas resort can arrange a boat tour for at least 10 people. They will bring you to Salibungot Beach, Kanaway Beach, Little Boracay, and Little Batanes. This is an alternative to motorcycle rides, though it’s also highly weather-dependent.
The good thing about boat tours is it’s cheaper than motorcycle rides. At one time, you only had to pay Php 350 (US$7), which is almost half of the cost of hiring a habal-habal.
🌊Get cozy near a bonfire
After a tiring day of exploring the island, you can relax near a bonfire. You can gather around with your friends while singing and playing guitar. Again, you should ask the resort if they permit bonfires as some have a specific spot for this activity.
🌊Go for a picnic
On our last afternoon in Jomalig, my friends and I held a picnic at Salibungot Beach. It’s the peak season, but we managed to secure the entire beach to ourselves. It’s a quiet spot if you want to simply enjoy your vacation. Just make sure that you clean up before you go.
🌊Visit the ‘Puno ng Walang Forever’ (Tree with no Forever)
One of the unlikely attractions on the island is the ‘Puno ng Walang Forever’. It’s basically a single tree in the middle of vast fields, thus the name. It’s often included in local itineraries here once you book a habal-habal tour. The trip going to this tree is quite enjoyable as you pass through rice fields while enjoying the cool summer breeze.
A few reminders before going to the island
If you’re planning a trip to Jomalig Island, it’s important to keep the following things in mind:
💡Phone reception is very poor
Jomalig Island has very poor signal reception, so sending messages or making phone calls can be challenging. Mobile data is also intermittent. For those who want to go off-grid, this is a good thing. However, it’s something to keep in mind for those who want to stay connected back home.
💡Electricity isn’t 24/7
Make sure that you bring power banks since the electricity supply on the island isn’t round-the-clock. You should also make the most of the hours when electricity supply is available.
💡The weather can be unpredictable
During our stay, it rained hard on some nights, which can be a bit scary for those who aren’t used to staying on a remote island. Also, there were rain showers throughout the day, so always bring a waterproof bag to secure your belongings.
💡Arrive at the port as early as possible
I recommend going to the port as early as you can, so you can pick a good spot on the boat. You can stay on the top deck of the boat if you want to catch some sleep. However, this spot can be dizzying if the tides are high.
💡Check the weather forecast first
It’s important to check the weather forecast before your trip. When we visited, there was a gale warning in place, and our boat ride almost got canceled. The coast guard has very strict rules to ensure the safety of the passengers.
💡Bring enough cash
There are no ATM slots on the island, so make sure you bring enough cash before you hop to the boat. Also, no shop, to my knowledge, accepts card payments in Jomalig.
💡Night swimming isn’t allowed
For the safety of the tourists, night swimming isn’t allowed in Jomalig. Since it’s located in the Pacific Ocean, the waves can be pretty strong, and they can wash away even the most skilled swimmer.
💡Consider a long visit
Considering the distance of the place, I suggest scheduling at least three days for the trip. This way, you can enjoy the tourist spots of the island without rushing. My friends and I stayed here for four days and three nights. So far, it’s one of the best vacations I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to go back.
💡Bring some food supplies
While food is available on the island, I suggest bringing your selection of snack. This will help you save money since goods in Jomalig can be slightly more expensive.
Alcoholic drinks are allowed and can be purchased in some of the stores on the island. Still, you should practice moderation.
💡Prepare your legs!
One thing I didn’t expect during our Jomalig vacation was how tired my legs would be. The fine sand on the beaches will bury your feet, so walking is definitely not easy. I suggest taking leg day seriously before going here to give yourself a head start.
Our Jomalig vacation budget
For our four-day stay, our Php 4,000 (US$80) is more than enough per person. To be fair, we traveled in a group of six, so we have split the expenses, which allowed us to save more.
In this budget, all of us managed to pay for accommodation, food, habal-habal tour, and a few other indulgences. Jomalig Island is far from posh, so prices aren’t really that intimidating.
If you’re here for the experience, you won’t need a big budget. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have some extra.
I wish I could stay forever in Jomalig, but as they say, good things have to end. It’s one of the most relaxing vacations I ever had, and I wish I could go back soon.
If you’re someone looking for a trip away from the city, Jomalig Island Philippines is a great choice. It’s a place away from home, but one that you won’t forget visiting.
Have you been to Jomalig Island? Share your experience with us in the comment section!