Elusive Sandbar of Maniwaya

June 20, 2017
Maniwaya Island and its summer campers

Maniwaya Island and its summer campersSandbar is what an oasis is to a desert. Its rarity like all things peculiar is longed for. So for this summer’s beach escape, we picked a random beach which could give opportunities to land on a white sandbar. After a few chat exchanges, we were down to Maniwaya Island of Marinduque.

Seen through the map,  this island is  situated far from Marinduque’s main island which contains Boac, the provincial capital. Maniwaya is also nearer by a boat ride from the province of Quezon through General Luna Port. From reviews we garnered that eight hours of combined waiting, land and water travel is worth it. So straight from NAIA and a Bangkok trip, I dropped my luggage in the condo, picked up my prepared beach weekend backpack then waited for our rented van from Wawie’s Beach Resort Packaged Tour to fetch me and four of my college friends.

Maniwaya Island

Tiredness forced us to sleep inside a HiAce Van packed with 12 tour joiners. That was while rolling down the zigzag terrains of Quezon amidst unexpected lightning and heavy rain. Six hours or so of land travel and we reached Gen. Luna Port, accompanied by uncooperative weather, hesitant if it was safe to ride those small outrigger boats and carry on with an hour and 15 minutes of ride. Our van driver, also a staff of Wawie’s, assured as though, that the waves are small and that yes it is safe. Sun was slowly showing its rays, too. Influenced by the other tour joiners who did not seem bothered at all by safety, we jumped on the boat and did not let anything rain on our parade.

I Heart Wawie's Beach
Don’t you dare not remit your food stub after getting your meal or else you risk starting a commotion with the staff in panic!

Crazy as crazy weather may be, we reached Wawie’s beach resort drenched in sweat.There are none to few sights to look forward to during the boat ride, to which we decided to pendulum between taking naps and guessing which island or beach holds our white sand destination. An hour after, the letters “I *heart* Wawie’s Beach” greeted us and we knew we landed on Maniwaya’s shore. The pristine, light blue green water definitely made a very good first impression.

But Maniwaya doesn’t exist to please. She’s a proud beauty who lures people to her and makes it sure that those who stay would have to work and endure to savor its beauty. After the simplest of breakfast composed of instant coffee, fried fish and egg and maybe 2 cups of rice, we had to pitch our tents to our chosen spots. This is a bit tricky as we had to chose a spot not frequented by passers by, some place shady, and devoid of biting red ants.

We pitched the three tents successfully. One tent comfortably houses 2 pax. But due to immense heat which was growing stronger minute by minute as noon approaches, staying inside the tent would literally make one sick. We chose to spend our free time before lunch in the dining area of Wawie’s resort.

tent pitching

Nothing in the original itinerary  was followed. Trips like this are very dependent with nature and one just have to wait until permitted.

Mongpong Island

Our group, after lunch went on to do island hopping. The first stop, we figured out by ourselves as no one from Wawie’s nor the boat’screw bothered to tell us, was Palad Sand Bar, Maniwaya’s main attraction. The crew dipped a long bamboo pole into the water trying to measure its depth. “Malalim!”, one crew said and without saying more, they maneuvered the boat somewhere else which we again figured out by ourselves as the second stop: the original itinerary for that afternoon which was Ungab rock formation. The water several meters from the shore of Mongpong island is murky due to numerous boats docked to the shore and the number of tourists wanting to pose in front of the rock. There were tourists who still enjoyed swimming here but as for our group, we were content with making Ungab the backdrop for our pictorial.

Ungab Rock Formation

photogenic Ungab Rock Formation of Maniwaya

We didn’t last an hour here and off we sailed again back to Palad sandbar with the hope that it’s finally low tide this time and the sand bar would appear. It still decided not to show up but as consolation gave us one of the cleanest crystal clear water to swim on.

Palad Sandbar during high tide

Back to the island, we were not able to land at the same spot inside Wawie’s premises because of low tide. We instead docked maybe a few meters shorts of one kilometer away and though this is a bit annoying and surprising (no one inside Wawie’s boat advised or explained why we had to do it), this led us to see the island from this perspective:

Sunset at Maniwaya

Ironically, water is what is missing in the island. Maniwaya is far from the crowded vibe of Boracay and that’s partly because of the lack of facilities like access to enough water supply. Lines to the shared public toilet-and-bath were piling up when the island decided it doesn’t want to give anymore. I was stuck inside sea-watered rash guard for hours, waiting for my turn to freshen up with just a small pail of water  inside an unkempt restroom. This experience shook me back to reality, reminding me that five star accommodation was just a dream and then I was back to reality.


At night, the beach offered a different kind of show. The lights from a nearby island, probably more inhabited than Maniwaya, shines through, giving off a soft colorful glow. The stars weren’t all so present that night as the weather was having second thoughts of rain but this night out with old college friends is silently sentimental, familiar yet all at the same time new.

We were transported to paradise, together again, this time outside the confines of a classroom or of the College of Engineering Hall. Instead we were inside the confines of a very big universe we somehow managed to survive, thrive on, and move albeit rather in little ways. I had similar thankful thoughts while we were giddy and all-praises of the cheap halu-halo sold by a boy near the beach. Who would have thought life will take us this far (like many kilometers and seas away from Bulacan)? What would life be ten years more down the road?! We were lying on a thin scarf, a gift from a college who wasn’t able to join, so she was also there in spirit. Joy was the naturally appointed DJ playing random songs from her playlist, which led to Levi commenting on the artist, which led to conversations of playing piano and how Fly Me To the Moon is a classic. I declare Frank Sinatra’s Moon River as this summer’s anthem and is how I will remember this reunion with soul sisters.

Souvenirs from Maniwaya
A young boy sells halu-halo, souvenir shirts, ref magnets and keychains in Maniwaya beach.

This was a 2D1N  beach weekend, by the way. The entire morning of Day 2 was free time. As a warning, the island is extremely hot. I had a tinge of regret as we passed the chance to swim in clear jade water during Day 1. On the second day of our stay, the entire morning until we left, Maniwaya decided it wanted to float on low tide. To be fair, even if it were high tide, I’d still hesitate to dive in because taking a bath will again be difficult. During this free time comes the opportunity to slow down time. Have coffee on the beach. Find a shady spot, lie there and savor the view.

Maniwaya Beach of Marinduque

Quality of sand in Maniwaya

Maniwaya low tide

Cheers to elusive friendship we found! We’ll cross all the world in style some day. Here’s to us dream-makers, heart-breakers, and drifters off to see the world. ‘Till the next island, sunset, and rainbow’s end.

College friends at Maniwaya

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