Tired of the daily grind? Why not breathe some magic into your life with a getaway trip to Marinduque? Lucky for you, Marinduque is now more accessible more than ever. Before, you would have needed an 8 hour-long trip through land and through sea to reach this place. Now it’s just less than one hour away via air travel. And when you arrive at this hidden gem, you’ll be spoiled with choices for all the things you can see and do. You can schedule your trip and attend the exciting Moriones Festival, unwind at the beautiful Poctoy White Beach, be one with nature at Mount Malindig, and many more!
But most of all, you’ll definitely want to go island hoping through the Tres Reyes Islands. As the name suggests, it’s made up of three islands namely: Gaspar, Melchor, and Baltazar. Tres Reyes translates to three kings or “tatlong hari,” hence the names of the islands have reference to the bible.
Of the three islands, Gaspar Island is the one you don’t want to miss. It’s the largest among the three islands and the most popular among tourists. Its main feature is that it has a beautiful area of coral beach which makes it perfect for bumming around and taking iconic vacation photos. And for the history buffs, you have to know that in 1981, a Chinese vessel was found near the island, which contained many artifacts worth millions of pesos. BTW, if you are interested you can see them at the National Museum’s Underwater Archeology division.
If you’re a little bit worried about going too far from land, you’ll want to visit Gaspar Island – a more or less 30-minute boat ride only from the docking area in Barangay Pinggan, Gasan. It’s the one nearer to the mainland of Marinduque. And unlike in Melchor and Baltazar islands, there are cottages made by locals on this Island. And of course once you’re settled in your cottage, you’ll definitely want to go for a swim. But just be careful and remember to not go too far off from the island because the locals say that the current is strong near this island. There’s a small community on the island from whom you can buy some snacks and souvenirs. And if you haven’t had enough of the place, you can even stay the night as long as you bring your own tent or rent the cottage.
Melchor Island is located in between of Gaspar and Baltazar Islands. The island’s coastal area is a little bit rocky and docking of boat is a little bit challenging especially during rainy and habagat seasons. The area is also known for occurrence of unpredicted strong current of water so be extra careful. The beautiful cliffs, turquoise water, and abundance of marine life characterize the island. Coconut crabs are also be found in the island.
The last scenic spot is Baltazar Island. If you’re looking for something a little bit more adventurous on your vacation, you’ll definitely want to visit Baltazar Island since it has an exceptional dive spot which is also the most popular in the province. Even better, the dive spot gives you direct access to an underwater cave. Not only do you get an adventure, but also an amazing underwater view, all in one place.
Overall, you definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on the magical Tres Reyes Islands of Marinduque.
|Bird's-eye view of shifting sandbar of Gaspar Island, one of the Tres Reyes Island in Gasan, Marinduque|
Our plane, as expected, arrived very early in Gasan Airport – that’s around 6:20 in the morning. It was an a good and short flight from NAIA Terminal 4 compared to usual transport by land and sea from Metro Manila via Lucena City. We immediately looked for the tricycle terminal that would take us to the jump-off point going to Tres Reyes Islands in Gasan - our first destination for this 3-day DIY Marinduque trip.
The tricycle driver brought us to Barangay Pinggan, the jump-off point to Tres Reyes Islands. He introduced us to Manong Ronel Saludes (+639396226765), the boat operator. Gaspar Island or locally called as “Pulo” is our first spot and the nearest island from the mainland which is more or less 20 minutes of boat travel.
The small but charming sandbar of Gaspar Island welcomed us. There is a community in the island with one of the most accommodating locals I have ever met. There are no restaurants or food stalls in the island but the locals are kind enough to cook for tourists. There is a small sari-sari store in the island in case you need to buy something. Also, you can buy fresh catch-of-the day from the fishermen.
|Kids of Gaspar Island on a typical Saturday morning|
|Kids playing at the sandbar of Gaspar Island|
I was actually surprised when I saw coconut crabs (locally called as Igod) caught in the island. It was offered to me for Php700 per kilo but I humbly declined realizing that coconut crabs may be on the list of endangered species.
|Locally called as Igod, coconut crabs are thriving in Tres Reyes Islands|
|Species of purple land crabs in Tres Reyes Islands|
As suggested by one of the locals from the lone sari-sari store near the beach, I walk a little bit farther going to the docking area of fishermen’s boats. There I meet 3 kids playing – they smiled and greeted me with good morning. This part of the island is a little bit rocky and windy. I flew my drone cam and witnessed the beautiful rock formations blending nicely with the clear turquoise water.
|Small boats docking area in Gaspar Island|
The heat of the sun began to rise at 10:00 AM and habagat waves started to roar wild. I asked Manong Ronel to drive us back to the mainland (dock area in Barangay Pinggan) as visiting Baltazar and Melchor Islands are not possible for now because of the habagat. I realized, maybe, it will be reason to set another schedule and go back to Gasan. BTW, according to the locals, March to May (summer) are the best months to visit the three beautiful islands of Tres Reyes.
We spent 3 hours in the island, just enough for me to take photographs and drone shots of the island. The bird’s eye view of the shifting sandbar is mesmerizing!
It’s only 20 minutes boat ride from Gaspar Island to the dock area in Barangay Pinggan. Manong Ronel guided us going to the lone karinderya (local restaurant) in the area. We ordered dinuguan and kalamares plus rice and softdrinks (that’s for less than 150 pesos) for our late breakfast and early lunch. My daughter, Nicole Audrei, joined me in this 3-day Marinduque getaway.
|Stunning bird's-eye view of shifting sandbar in Gaspar Island|
- There is a good mobile signal in Gaspar Island (3G to LTE)
- Gaspar Island is the most accessible. Visit to Baltazar and Melchor depends on the weather.
- Island hopping to these three islands may last for a minimum of 4 hours depending on your pace.
- The islands are rich in marine life. During our visit we saw coconut crabs and species of land crabs. Be mindful of the sea creatures and avoid catching them.
- Gaspar Island is inhabited and there is a small community – fishing is the main livelihood.
- Talk and interact with the locals – that’s our best experience in the island. They’re warm to visitors and willing to help specially on giving tips on the best spots and where to buy food.
- Bring food and water. There are also small sari-sari stores in the island selling softdrinks, chips and biscuits.
- You can buy fresh catch from the fisherman (if you arrived early in the island) then ask the local women to cook for you. Of course don’t forget to pay for the service.
- Bring your camera because the views here are amazing! Flying of drone is allowed in the island just check the wind – it tends to get stronger during habagat season.
- There is no entrance fee in the islands as of this writing
- Take note that if you want to go island hopping across all three islands, it will cost you around Php1500-Php2000. If you only want to reach Gaspar Island, it’s only Php600-Php800.
- There are also fees for camping with your own tent and the cottage rental on Gaspar Island, but the price varies.
- Don’t litter!
|Sandbar, boats and the turquoise water of Gaspar Island|
|Gaspar sandbar, cottages and the local community|
Things to Do in Tres Reyes Islands and other interesting spots in Gasan, Marinduque
- Swimming - enjoy the clear and turquoise water of the islands!
- Snorkeling and diving
- Take “instagrammable” photos at the beautiful sandbar in Gaspar Island
- Take a glimpse of Bellaroca Island from Tres Reyes Islands
- Enjoy the majestic beauty of Mount Malindig, the highest peak in the province, viewed from the Tres Reyes Islands
- Visit the beautiful centuries-old Gasan Church
- Witness the Gasang-Gasa Festival every Easter Sunday in Gasan
- Witness the celebration of Moriones Festival every Holy Week
- Head to Poblacion or market area of Gasan, look for restaurants or karinderyas and try local cuisines!
WHERE TO STAY
There are a lot of accommodations in the town of Gasan, mostly beach resorts. Since we don’t have any itinerary in Gasan in the afternoon, we decided to book our accommodation in Boac, the capital of the province and a neighboring town of Gasan. We booked a room for a night at Boac Hotel, heritage hotel located in the central area of the town where arrays of other heritage houses (Vigan feels) are also located. It is also a walking distance from another must visit in Marinduque, the Boac Cathedral. The ground floor of the hotel is a souvenir store and a restaurant serving famous Marinduque cuisines.
|Heritage Houses in Boac|
HOW TO GET THERE
From Metro Manila
- There is a regular flight from Terminal 4 of NAIA (Manila) to Gasan Airport in Marinduque. Flight time is more or less an hour.
From Gasan Airport
- Tricycle terminal is located outside the airport just along the national highway. Ask the driver to bring you to Barangay Pinggan (in Gasan). It will be a 20-minute ride from the airport and will cost you Php250.00.
- You can also wait for regular public utility jeepneys from Boac routing Buenavista. This is a cheaper option. Then, ask the driver to drop you in Barangay Pinggan specifically in the jump-off point to Pulo or Gaspar Island.
- At Barangay Pinggan, don’t hesitate to ask any local where to hire a boat for Tres Reyes Island hopping. Usually, the tricycle drivers from the airport have contacts of boat operators going to Tres Reyes Islands.
- Hiring of boat will cost you Php600 to Php800 (Gaspar Island only) or Php1500-Php2000 for the 3 islands. You may opt to haggle but remember that you’re helping also the community when you pay the right price.
Option 1: By Land + Sea Travel (Grand Terminal in Lucena)
Metro Manila to Grand Terminal to Tala-Talao Port in Dalahican to Cawit Port or Balanacan Port
- From bus terminal in Metro Manila, ride in a Bus bound to Grand Terminal in Lucena.
- From Grand Terminal, ride a jeepney or tricycle going to Talao-Talao Port in Dalahican.
- From Talao-Talao Port, take a 2-3 hours RORO trip going to Balanacan Port or Cawit Port.
- There are 2 ports in the province now, Cawit Port in Boac and Balanacan Port in Mogpog. Cawit Port is nearer to Gasan but the schedule of trips here is limited as of this writing.
- From Cawit or Balanacan Port, take a van or jeepney bound to Gasan or Buenavista. Tell the driver to drop you off at Barangay Pinggan. Then follow instructions above.
Option 2: By Land + Sea Travel (Direct Bus to Talao-talao Port in Dalahican)
Metro Manila to Talao-Talao Port in Dalahican to Cawit Port or Balanacan Port
- From bus terminal in Metro Manila, ride in a bus bound to Talao-Talao Port in Dalahican, Lucena
- From Talao-Talao port, take a 2-3 hours RORO trip going to Balanacan or Cawit Port. There are 2 ports in the province now, Cawit Port in Boac and Balanacan Port in Mogpog. Cawit Port is nearer to Gasan but the schedule of trip here is limited as of this writing.
- From Cawit Port or Balanacan Port, take a van or jeepney bound to Gasan or Buenavista. Tell the driver to drop you off at Barangay Pinggan.
Option 3: Direct (RORO) Bus from Kamias Terminal in Quezon City to Marinduque Province
- You can ride a direct bus trip bound to Marinduque. JAC Liner has regular direct RORO Bus trip to Marinduque departing at 4:00PM (3:00PM boarding time) in Cubao terminal.
If you’re coming from different towns of Marinduque Province
- From Santa Cruz, take a jeepney bound to Boac (for more or less an hour). Terminal is at Santa Cruz Public Market and fare is Php 50.00 as of this writing. From Boac, ride in a jeepney bound to Buenavista then ask the driver to drop you at Barangay Pinggan. Travel time is more or less 2 hours.
- From Torrijos, according to the locals, there is one jeepney routing Torrijos to Balanacan Port via Buenavista to Boac Highway but the trip is once a day. Other option is to ride in a jeepney or tricycle going to Barangay Malibago from Poblacion, Torrijos. From Malibago, there are jeepneys and tricycle plying Buenavista route; and then from Poblacion, Buenavista, ride in a jeepney bound to Boac. Alight at Barangay Pinggan. Travel time on this route is more or less one and half hour. There are also jeepneys from Barangay Malibago directly going to Balanacan via Buenavista-Gasan-Boac but this trip is very limited - usually in the morning.
- From Boac, ride in a jeepney bound to Buenavista – fare is Php 40.00 as of this writing. Alight at Barangay Pinggan. Travel time is more or less 45 minutes.
- From Poblacion, Mogpog, wait for one regular scheduled jeepney from Balanacan going to Buenavista. Alight at Barangay Pinggan. Travel time on this route is more or less one and half hour.
- From Poblacion Gasan, take a tricycle or ride in a jeepney bound to Buenavista. Alight at Barangay Pinggan. Travel time is more or less 15 minutes.
From Oriental Mindoro
- A large outrigger boat leaves daily at 8:00 AM in Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro going to Gasan, Marinduque. Fare is Php 250 and travel time is 3-4 hours depending on the weather.
From Visayas and Mindanao
- Take an airplane ride going to Manila or Clark. Then follow instructions above.
5:30AM – ETD, flight from NAIA 4 to Gasan Airport
6:20AM – ETA at Gasan Airport
6:30AM – Travel to Barangay Pinggan, Gasan, the jump-off point to Tres Reyes Island
6:50AM – 8:00AM - Breakfast at Barangay Pinggan/ETD to Tres Reyes Islands
8:30AM – ETA at Gaspar Island/swimming/roaming around/beach time
12:00PM- Lunch in Gaspar Island (can be arranged with the locals)
1:00:00PM onwards – Island hopping at Baltazar and Melchor Islands
3:30PM – Travel back to mainland (Barangay Pinggan)
4:00PM – 5:00PM - ETA at Barangay Pinggan/wash/ wait for jeepney bound to Boac
5:45PM – ETA at Boac/check-in at hotel
6:30PM – 7:30 PM – photowalk and visit to heritage houses in Boac
8:00PM - onwards- Dinner /lights-off
*** We explored Marinduque for three days. The continuation of this sample Marinduque Itinerary will be posted on the next article – thank you!