Sandbars in Cebu: Campalabo Islet in Pinamungajan

With a total of 168 islands and islets in Cebu, the Central Visayas province is blessed with picture-perfect sandbars that are a treasure find for vacationers looking for the perfect summer getaway. This is the first of a series of articles about sandbars located within the province of Cebu.

Late Summer Getaway

Me, my brother, and my cousins decided to embark on a late summer excursion and decided to head to a place that is not so mainstream. One of my personal goals is to visit as many islands in Cebu, Philippines in my lifetime, so I suggested we go to an island destination. And since we were also trying to do a budget trip, we decided against the more popular and more expensive places. We figured that the destinations that are not so frequented by vacationers would be cheap. We also agreed that there was much to explore in Cebu, Philippines. So with personal agenda in mind, I suggested Campalabo islet in Pinamungajan town. Summoning my convincing powers, I got everyone to agree. While the Campalabo sandbar is already being promoted as a tourist destination in Pinamungajan, it was still hard to find information on the internet. This added up to the interest of the group as it has now become somewhat of a mystery. There was also the prospect of being the ones who get to make the destination famous.

The Trip To Campalabo Islet

The Long Drive from Cebu City to Pinamungajan

We planned to leave Cebu City for Pinamungajan early since the calendar indicated that low tide on May 23, 2015 was at 7 a.m. Since we had to drop off a passenger at San Fernando town, it further increased our travel time. We left Cebu City at around 5:45 a.m. and reached Pinamungajan town already past 9 o'clock in the morning. Using Google Maps, we entered "Tajao, Pinamungajan, Cebu, Central Visayas, Philippines" into the search box to plot our route. We took the route that passes through Naga-Uling Road.

The Search for a Boat to Take us to Campalabo Islet

Upon reaching Tajao in Pinamungajan town, our next challenge was to look for a boat to rent to take us to Campalabo islet. We initially inquired at the Tajao Seaside Haven Resort. They showed us a package that cost PHP 750 per person with lunch included. We decided against it since we already bought lunch and there might be just too much food we cannot consume. Secondly, we needed to book that 2 days in advance, so it was really out of the question. They referred us to Rose Garden who in turn referred us to Park Place Beach Resort. We also tried to inquire at Looie Beach Resort which in turn referred us to a place further down the road marked by a shark mouth as entrance arc. Looking for a boat to take us to Campalabo islet proved to be a challenging adventure by itself. It took us close to an hour to finally decide on a deal with a boatman.

The Boat Ride to Campalabo Islet

We settled for the boat parked at Park Place Beach Resort that charged us PHP 1,500 for a round trip from the Pinamungajan mainland to Campalabo islet and back. We were told that we can probably get rates as low as PHP 900 but we were already pressed for time and PHP 1,500 didn't also seem too much for a group of 6. The boat ride from the shoreline of Park Place Beach Resort to Campalabo islet took less than 10 minutes.

Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan Cebu Philippines
On the boat en route to Campalabo sandbar

Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan Cebu Philippines
The boat we road from the shore of Pinamungajan to the Campalabo sandbar

Owning Campalabo Islet

Upon reaching Campalabo islet at around 10 a.m., only a small portion of the sandbar was visible and not submerged underwater. This was just enough for our ambitious photo shoot. As we were the only group at Campalabo islet when we went there, it kind of gave us the feeling that we own the island, at least for that day. During low tide, about 1 hectare of the islet surfaces above water alongside the nearby Paril rock formation that appeared after typhoon Amy in the 1950's.

Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan Cebu Philippines
With my gang at Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan, Cebu, Philippines

It is worthy to note that Campalabo islet is now a protected marine sanctuary where marine life can breed. Gone are the days when fine white sand from this area is illegally quarried and young fish and marine life are prematurely harvested.

So here are the seven things why I fell in love with Campalabo islet:

1. I Owned an Islet, At Least for a Day!

Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan Cebu Philippines
I owned a sandbar for a day!

Well, not officially. But it felt like we did considering the fact that we were the only ones there at the time of our visit.

2. Crystal Clear Waters

Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan Cebu Philippines
Look at how clear the water is
The waters around Campalabo is crystal clear. It's an amazing experience to bathe in those waters without fear of what's lurking underneath as you can see through the seabed.

Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan Cebu Philippines
Can you see through the water?

3. It's a Perfect Place to Chill

Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan Cebu Philippines
Chilling at Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan, Cebu, Philippines

White sand beach, crystal clear waters, a quiet place away from urban spoils. How else can it be a better place for chilling?

Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan Cebu Philippines
Chilling like a villain at Campalabo 

4. It's A Fine White Sand Beach, Naturally!

One of the reasons why this is now a protected seascape is the demand for fine, sugary white sand for resorts elsewhere. Truly, Campalabo's sand is amazing, you can walk barefoot on it and not worry about stepping on sharp stones of pebbles.

5. The Government Now Protects This Seascape

Campalabo sandbar and the area around it is a government-protected seascape. There is a Bantay Dagat watchtower constructed in the area to keep away illegal sand mining operations and fishing within the marine sanctuary.

6. I Can Be Carefree

Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan Cebu Philippines
Carefree at Campalabo 
I had the time to be carefree at Campalabo. Acees to the guardhouse was supposed to be restricted and carried a PhP 2,500 fine. We got there anyway as it was but an abandoned concrete structure with no one there.

Campalabo sandbar in Pinamungajan Cebu Philippines
That's my cousin Jonathan enjoying his freedom LOL

7. Abundant Marine Life Even at Ankle-Deep Waters

For those who do not know how to swim or are afraid to swim in the open sea and are unable to fully enjoy a snorkeling trip, the may find Campalabo islet as a great alternative. Small fish can be seen swimming even at ankle-deep waters. It also kind of gives you the feeling of going to a fish spa in the wild and you do not even have to pay extra for it. Sadly, our phone cameras cannot capture the beauty of shallow water marine life as most of the fish blended with the color of the sand and water.



Taraboomski said...

I live in Toledo and I've heard of this but I haven't really tried it! Thanks for sharing!

Anne M said...

Another place to have an adventure in!

Thaddeau II Engaling said...

You should visit soon, dual ra kaayo sa inyoha hehe

Thaddeau II Engaling said...

Definitely ann, Sayang layo na ka Manila girl haha

Jhanis V. said...

Ka nice gud dire Sir! Murag ganahan sad ko muadto didto dah. Nalingaw ko sa imong mga photos hehehe.

Thaddeau II Engaling said...

Yes, nice gyud, white sand, very clear water, abundant marine life, peace and quiet

Vernon Go said...

That's the smallest sandbar I've seen to date and just near Cebu! Amazing!

Lyza said...

What a wonderful place! It reminds me of White Island in Camiguin!

Janine Ella said...

Hahaha ka cute sa sandbar!!! The crystal clear waters ba, amazing!!! <3

RoSe said...

My officemates are fond of island hopping but I've never heard them mention this place yet. Mangutana niya ko and will definitely suggest this if they haven't been there pa.:) Kanindot sa dagat oi.

Thaddeau II Engaling said...

We went there with the tide rising already..we were late by 3 hours for the low tide where you could see about a hectare of this islet

Thaddeau II Engaling said...

Nice place really, mura sad gyud og smaller version sa camiguin's white island

Thaddeau II Engaling said...

Sayang lageh Mao ra Amo naabtan, tide was already up

Thaddeau II Engaling said...

Di pa kaayo siya known, Naa pod nearby sandbar in neighboring aloguinsan they call kantabugon

Marie Imperial said...

I would love to visit this place Sir Thadz! I love sandbars!

Hanna Frejoles said...

ahoi thadz, gidili ang pagsaka sa guardhouse lagi. hahaha

Jeane Louise Mainit said...

Ahems! mu try jud ko ani ba! Been to Pinamungajan before on a family beach trip that got me almost killed after I somehow drowned [kay lagi feeling kahibaw mu swim maski dili nya na outbalanced sa bato]. Another one in my bucket list for the best sandboxes ever! Weeeeee..

Thaddeau II Engaling said...

Wala man nagbantay ani nga time, pero sa tinuod lang gakurog akoang tiil ani pag about sa taas kay habog unya mabaw kaayo ang tubig sa ilawm

Thaddeau II Engaling said...

Malingaw gyud ka ani diri..puti og pino ang balas

Thaddeau II Engaling said...

I fell in live with this place, nature trip minus the overcommercialization

Jeff Clark said...

Wow. A new place to visit and make a package for our site in Cebu Tours.. Very interesting place.

Thaddeau II Engaling said...