Campalabo Sandbar: Own an Islet for a Day 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 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 and the Philippines in my lifetime. I suggested we go to an island destination. We were trying to do a budget trip. Therefore we decided against the more popular and expensive places. We figured that the destinations that are not so frequented by tourists would be cheap. We also agreed that there was much to explore in Cebu. So with personal agenda in mind, I suggested Campalabo islet in Pinamungajan. Summoning my convincing powers, I got everyone to agree. The Campalabo sandbar is already being promoted as a tourist destination in Pinamungajan. Yet it was still hard to find information on the internet. This added up to the interest of the group. That's because 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

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

The Search for a Boat 

Upon reaching Tajao in Pinamungajan, 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 inquired at Louie 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 reach a deal with a boatman.

The Boat Ride to Campalabo Islet

We settled for the boat parked at Park Place Beach Resort. They 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.

On the boat that will take us to Campalabo sandbar
On the boat en route to Campalabo Islet

With boat we rented to Campalabo sandbar
With the boat we rented

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. 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.

Bonding with cousins at Campalabo sandbar
Bonding with cousins

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!

owning Campalabo sandbar for a day
Owning Campalabo Islet for a day

I owned an islet for a day. Well, I did not officially own one. 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

Enjoying the waters at Campalabo sandbar
Enjoying the waters

The waters around Campalabo is crystal clear. It's an amazing experience to bathe in those waters without fear of what's lurking underneath. I can see through the seabed.

Look at the clear waters at Campalabo sandbar
Look at how clear the water is

3. It's a Perfect Place to Chill

Chilling at the Campalabo sandbar
Chilling in an islet

Campalabo has a white sand beach with crystal clear waters. It is a quiet place away from urban spoils. How else can it be not a good place for chilling?

Chill time at the Campalabo sandbar
Chill time

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

Bantay Dagat watchtower at Campalabo sandbar
Bantay Dagat watchtower

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

6. I Can Be Carefree

Carefree! at Campalabo sandbar

I had the time to be carefree at Campalabo. Access to the guardhouse was supposed to be restricted and carried a PhP 2,500 fine. We got there anyway. It was but an abandoned concrete structure with no one around.

Jonathan enjoying his freedom at Campalabo sandbar
Jonathan enjoying his freedom

7. Abundant Marine Life Even at Ankle-Deep Waters

Hooray for those who do not know how to swim or are afraid to swim in the open sea. They are able to fully enjoy an alternative for snorkeling at Campalabo islet. 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. 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.


Have you been to Campalabo Sandbar in Pinamungajan, Cebu? Care to share your experience? Use the comments section below to share.


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...