New! ISLA VERDE BATANGAS: Travel Guide & Budget Itineraries 2018

This travel guide is about Isla Verde in Batangas, Philippines. This post contains sample itineraries, summary of expenses, and other travel tips and recommendations. If you’re looking for Isla Verde in Puerto Rico, this is not it.

Where I’m from, Isla Verde is a stuff of legends. At least, when I was a kid.

Growing up in Batangas, I’ve always heard about Verde Island as a paradise with a wealthy secret. It’s something my late grandfather used to talk about. One doesn’t reach the fabled land easily. Isla Verde, my lolo claimed, is surrounded by monstrous waves. But one day, he said, if we would be good and do good, we’ll set foot in the island and enjoy the treasures it hides. It is the positive, rewarding counterpoint to Mt. Maculot, which was used by our village elders as a threat and punishment. The nice people go to Isla Verde, and the naughty are abducted by the witch of Maculot.

Of course, as a grownup, I don’t believe that anymore. Well, to be honest, I don’t think I ever did. It sounded like something my lolo just made up to inspire and scare his little grandchildren into behaving well. But when I finally jumped out of the boat and stepped on its glistening shore, it felt like every quiet moment I spent here was a reward earned, like I had been good all my life.

Understanding Isla Verde

These days, Isla Verde is no longer the mythical land my grandfather painted in my head. It is, in fact, an island off the coast of Batangas City. It’s composed of six barangays and is home to over 6200 residents. Now that I had the pleasure of visiting it, I can confidently report that I had zero sightings of souls, children or otherwise.

Photo by Glenn Ituriaga

But if there’s one thing that my grandpa got right, it’s that it shelters enormous riches! But instead of gold or coins, Isla Verde is a treasure trove of marine life. I knew this even back when I was in High School. When we crossed Verde Island Passage on the way to Mindoro, I saw dolphins for the first time in my life. They swam and jumped alongside our boat. It was magical, but not surprising at all. Isla Verde rises in the middle of this passage, which is described by a 2007 Smithsonian Institute study as the “center of the center” of the world’s marine biodiversity citing the high concentration of marine species.

Isla Verde is isolated from the rest of the province. While Batangas City is developed, the island is far from it. There is no consistent supply of electricity. Residents rely on generators, which are run from 6pm-10pm only. Some resorts use solar panels, but they can’t provide 24/7 power either. Hence, be prepared before arriving in the island. Bring power banks (mobile chargers). And if you really can’t stand the heat, get one of those mobile battery-powered fans.

Here are more things you need to know about Verde Island:

  • Language: Tagalog. Dialect: Batangas Tagalog. Although Batanguenos can converse with people from Manila, they use certain words that Manilenos will probably not understand.
  • Currency: Philippine peso (PHP, ₱). PHP100 is around USD1.92, EUR 1.56, SGD2.52 (as of April 2018).
  • Modes of payment: CASH! Withdraw cash before you board your boat to the island. There are no banks or ATMs here.
  • Connectivity: Both Smart and Globe have strong LTE data signal in the island. (I was surprised, too!)
  • Electricity Info: 220V, 60Hz. Socket Type A, mostly. Again, there are no regular power lines in the island. Residents rely on generators and solar panels. Electricity is usually available from 6pm-10pm only.

Best Time to Visit

The Amihan months of January-May are the best time to visit Isla Verde. Amihan refers to the northeast monsoon, which brings cooler temperatures and little rain.

According to the boatmen we talked to, it is also the season when the seas are relatively gentle. I say “relatively” because it depends on a number of factors. For example, if you’re catching the big passenger boats to the island, these waves don’t look much. But if you’re on a small boat, which is what locals commonly use to get around, these waves feel like they’re out to get you.

Source: World Bank

However, note that March-May is widely considered the Philippine summer, which is the period when schools close for a break and the general population go on weekend vacations, so expect more tourists. Good news is, Isla Verde is off the beaten track, so the crowd never really reach critical mass. Despite that, make sure you have prior lodging reservations because accommodation options in the island is pretty slim.

Day Tour vs Overnight Stay: Which is better?

The first thing you need to do when planning a trip to Isla Verde is to decide whether you’re visiting for a day or you’re staying overnight. Which is better? Well, I hate to answer yes-no questions with “it depends” but it depends. LOL. It depends on many factors. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Do you think you can make it to Tabangao port in Batangas City by 9am? There is only one boat that will take you to the tourist areas of Verde Island and it’s scheduled to leave Tabangao Port by 9am.
  • Are you completely fine with staying overnight in an island with very limited electricity? Remember, power is only available from 6pm-10pm. Resorts don’t have air-conditioned rooms. Some can provide fans but because of unreliable power supply, there is no guarantee that those fans will work all night.
  • Do you think you can catch the 4am public boat back to the mainland? Yep, it’s scheduled at 4am. And yep, there’s only one trip. Usually, at least.

If you answer YES to all of the above, congratulations, you may consider spending a night or two in Isla Verde! You’re in for an adventure! You get to discover more of the island and witness the sunset!

If you’re not up for it, then the day tour might be better suited for you. No worries, you can still enjoy what the island’s beaches even if you only have a few hours. If you can, catch the 9am public boat transfer to the island to save on fare. However, because there are no public boat trips back to mainland in the afternoon, you’ll have to charter a private boat, which costs at least P2000 per way (maximum 6 pax per boat, usually).

But here’s the rundown:

OVERNIGHT STAY

  • More time in the island.
  • Cheaper transportation costs because you can take the public boat to and from the island.
  • You can catch the 4am return boat to mainland.
  • More comfortable journey because the big public boat can easily tackle the waves.
  • No electricity in the island.

DAY TRIP

  • Short stay in the island.
  • Bigger transportation costs because you’ll have to charter a private boat for at least one way.
  • No need to spend on accommodations.
  • Gives you a chance to find more comfortable lodging options in the mainland or just go home after the island visit.
  • Uses smaller boats which can be scary sometimes when gliding against the waves. The sea is significantly rougher past noon.

How to Get to Isla Verde

There are two ways to reach Verde Island: by catching the public boat and by chartering a private boat. It is important to decide before the trip which one you’re taking because the ports for public and private ports are not only different and exclusive but also one hour apart!

Public boats are docked at Tabangao Aplaya (Tabangao Port), where private boats are prohibited to pick up passengers. Private boats can be found in Brgy. Ilijan, much farther from the city but much closer to Isla Verde.

Below are more details.

By Public Boat

You need to board a small boat to get to the big boat that ferries passengers to Verde Island.

If you’re taking the public boat, you need to make your way to Tabangao Port or Tabangao Aplaya, where boats to Isla Verde are stationed. Note that this is different from Batangas Port (Batangas Pier). Here’s how to get there:

  1. From Manila, catch a bus bound for Batangas Grand Terminal. Alight at the Grand Terminal. Fare: P157.
  2. Ride a jeepney to Bagong Palengke. Fare: P12. At Bagong Palengke, take another jeepney to Tabangao Port. Fare: P17. Alternatively, you may take a tricycle at the Grand Terminal straight to Tabangao Port. Fare: P300. Total travel time: 35 minutes.
  3. At Tabangao Port, hop onto a small paddle boat that will take you to MB SUPER MARIO. Fare: P10 per person. Then from the small boat, climb to the bigger SUPER MARIO boat. Fare: P120. It will make two stops: first at Mahabang Buhangin, second, at Sampalukan.

At which stop should you get off?
If you’re spending the night at a resort, most likely in Sampalukan. Isla Verde has only a few resorts and they’re all closer to Sampalukan.

If you’re on a day tour, I recommend just staying in Mahabang Buhangin. It’s closer to the mainland. You’ll also find island-hopping tour boats that you can charter here. Even if you get off in Sampalukan and take a boat tour from there, one of the stops will still be Mahabang Buhangin. There are also homestays here if you want to spend the night.

There are other boats to Isla Verde. During our visit, a boat called SEA QUEEN is also picking up passengers alongside SUPER MARIO. However, I don’t think it’s going to the same spots in the island. Our contacts in Isla Verde and the staff at the port upon learning that we’re tourists specifically told us to board Super Mario. They said that if we were going to Mahabang Buhangin and resorts like Isla Verde Tropical Friendly Resort, we should hop onto Super Mario.

IMPORTANT! The boat is scheduled to leave at 9am, at least on paper. In practice, the boat will leave as soon as it’s full. We arrived just a bit after 8am and the boat was almost full already that we had to sit on the “outside” part (without cover so make sure you bring a hat or anything to cover your face and eyes). I was passenger #67 on the manifest. The boat left the port at 8:40am.

If you’re driving, you can park your car at Tabangao Port. Overnight Parking Fee: P100.

By Private Boat

If you wish to charter a private boat to Isla Verde, it is best if you have a contact before you go. Brgy. Ilijan (pronounced ILI-HAN), which is located over an hour away from the Grand Terminal, is the usual pick up point because it is the part of the mainland closest to Isla Verde, but it changes depending on your contact. It can be hard to find one on the spot. For example, before we decided to catch the public transpo, we considered chartering a private boat. Our contact gave us a pick up point different from Ilijan. (I can’t remember the name of the place. All I remember is that the boat is owned by a konsehal. Haha. But the point is, it varies depending on where your boat is stationed.)

One thing is for sure, though: you’ll have a hard time arranging a private transfer in Tabangao Port because it’s meant for the public boats. Your chances are better if you go to Ilijan instead.

  1. From Manila, catch a bus bound for Batangas Grand Terminal. Alight at the Grand Terminal. Fare: P157.
  2. Take the jeepney to SM City Batangas. If you can’t find one, catch a jeepney to the city proper (Bayan) and tell the driver to drop you off at a spot where you can take another jeepney to SM. Fare: P12 each leg.
  3. At SM, ride the jeepney to Ilijan. Ask the driver to drop you off before Berania Langley Resort or after Vista de Fuente Resort. Fare: P50.
  4. Walk towards the beach.
  5. Meet your boatman. Ride the boat to the island. Travel time: 45 minutes to an hour.
Ilijan Beach. You know you’re at the right spot when you have this view.

If you need private boat contacts, here are some that I gathered. These boatmen are based in Isla Verde, so they will come pick you up from the island. Boatmen charge different rates and their vessels are of different sizes. The only one that I have tried below is Kuya Sherwin. He charges us P2000 for a small boat that can accommodate 3 passengers. For the rest, I only got to talk to them and collected their contact numbers, but I haven’t tried them or seen their boats. I’m just publishing information that they relayed to me.

  • Sherwin Acebeda
    Capacity: Good for 3 pax
    Contact Number: 0975 737 4243, 0999 688 0563
    Ilijan-Isla Verde Rate: P2000
    Island Hopping Rate: P1500
  • Kuya Ronnie
    Capacity: Good for 6 pax
    Contact Number: 0950 278 5709
    Ilijan-Isla Verde Rate: P2500
    Island Hopping Rate: P1500
  • Kuya Aldrin
    Contact Number: 0912 715 1526
    Ilijan-Isla Verde Rate: P2500
    Island Hopping Rate: P1500

If you need a bigger boat that can accommodate up to 14 passengers, they can also provide one. I’m just not sure about the rates, so please contact them directly.

Where to Stay

Isla Verde comprises six barangays: San Agustin Kanluran, San Agustin Silangan, San Agapito, San Andres, San Antonio, and Liponpon. For tourists, San Agustin Kanluran is the most important to be familiar with because it harbors the two stops that are most likely of interest to them: Mahabang Buhangin and Sampalukan.

Mahabang Buhangin. Photo by Glenn Ituriaga.

Mahabang Buhangin is Isla Verde’s main beach. Most of the beach is fringed with bush and small trees, but there is a small community along the coast that offer homestay services.

Sitio Sampalukan is also in the same barangay but on the other side of the island. It is the usual jump off point to the island’s resorts.

Some resorts also collect additional charges for use of kitchen facilities. It’s usually between P300-P350 per day.

Verde Island Resorts

Here are some of the most popular resorts in Isla Verde. Please note that I don’t recommend any of them because I haven’t tried them. When I visit Verde Island, I simply go on a day tour because I live in Batangas. I see no point in spending on a room when my house is just an hour away from the port.

Isla Verde Tropical Friendly Resort
Locals refer to it simply as “Tropical.” It’s accessible from Sampalukan. All their rooms can accommodate up to 4 guests. Here are the rates per night.

  • Traditional Hut (Kubo) without Fan: P1500
  • Traditional Hut (Kubo) with Fan: P2000
  • Stone House (with fans and own toilet and bath): P3000
  • Tent for rent: P300, P600
  • Camping fee (if you bring your own tent): P100 per person

To book, email islaverderesort@gmail.com or call +6327825833 or +639164408647 (between 7am and 7pm only)

Engracio’s Beach Resort
Located in Sitio Sampalucan. Reservation required. Walk-in guests are not allowed. Here are the rates:

  • Bamboo Room with private toilet/bath and picnic table (good for 4pax): P1500
  • The Tree House with 3-person tent, beddings, picnic table and shared toilet/bath: P250 per head (min 2 pax)
  • Old Family house with common toilet/bath and beddings (good for 16 pax): P1500 for 6pax + P250 per additional pax
  • Entrance Fee: P50 adult, P25 child

To reserve, contact them via Facebook.

Surface Interval Resort
This resort in San Agapito was originally built to provide a resting spot and accommodations to scuba divers. But of course, everyone is welcome. Reservation is required (no walk-ins) on weekends and holidays.

  • Room with shower and toilet (good for 4 pax): P1500
  • Tent rental (good for 4 pax): P300
  • Camping fee (if you bring your own tent): P200
  • Entrance Fee: P100 per adult, P50 child

To reserve, get in touch with them via Facebook.

Isla Verde Homestays

Here are some homes in Mahabang Buhangin that accept transient guests for a fee. Note that these houses are very basic, with small no-frills rooms with beds and bare common toilets. Again, I haven’t tried any of these. I just gathered their contact numbers and prices.

  • Loida Claro Homestay
    Contact Number: 09100225437
    Rate per night: P300 per head
  • Jessica’s Homestay
    Contact Number: 09361271272
    Rate per night: P1500 if 5 pax or P300 per head if 6 pax or more

Homestays also charge additional fee for kitchen use, often around P300 per day.

Water is also for a fee, P150 per drum.

Batangas City Resorts

If for whatever reason you don’t want to go home yet but you want to be comfortable, a good alternative is to just stay in Batangas City proper in the mainland. Here are some of your options:

Places to Visit in Isla Verde

The primary tourist activity is island hopping, which costs P1500 per small boat. The most interesting stop is Mahabang Buhangin, which is why it makes more sense to just stay here if you’re on a day tour. We didn’t even have to pitch tent. We were just walking along the beach when some locals invited us to just take shelter form the sun in a rest area in front of their house and use their table and chairs. They didn’t charge us for any of it. Naawa siguro sa amin kasi sobrang tindi ng sikat ng araw.

Just to manage your expectations, the sand in Verde Island is neither white nor fine. It’s beige and is made up of small pebbles, sea shells and coral pieces. You won’t find any beach in the island (or Batangas in general) than can match the fineness and whiteness of Boracay’s or Bohol’s. But what makes this island special is that it’s surrounded by some of the clearest and bluest waters you’ll see in your life.

Anyway, here are the usual stops of the island hopping tour:

  • Mahabang Buhangin Beach
  • Abandoned Verde Island Resort
  • San Antonio Beach
  • Sawang Dive
  • Maliit na Nalayag
  • Kuweba (Cave and Lighthouse)

Most tours don’t complete the list above and stop at only three or four. The current in this part of Batangas isn’t for the weak-hearted.

Here are the contact details of the boatmen I met in the island and their rates.

  • Kuya Ronnie
    Contact Number: 0950 278 5709
    Island Hopping Rate: P1500
  • Kuya Aldrin
    Contact Number: 0912 715 1526
    Island Hopping Rate: P1500

Getting out of the Island: Isla Verde to Batangas City

You have two options: boarding the one and only public boat back to the mainland or arranging a private boat transfer.

By Public Boat

The public boat ferries passengers to Tabangao Port and is scheduled to leave at 4am. Yes, A.M. Yes, in the morning. Haha. But please note that it can leave earlier — as soon as the boat is full — so you need to be there even earlier. Fare: P120.

If you miss this boat, you will have no choice but to charter a private boat.

By Private Boat

If you don’t want to catch the early morning trip or you want to leave in the afternoon, you can arrange a private boat transfer to Brgy. Ilijan or back to Tabangao Port. This is the only mode of transportation available if you choose to go on a day tour.

IMPORTANT: Prepare to get wet. Bring a dry bag for your valuables.

You can find a boatman when you’re already in the island, or you can contact one beforehand. Again, just in case you missed these, here are the contact details of the boatmen I met in the island.

  • Sherwin Acebeda
    Capacity: Good for 3 pax
    Contact Number: 0975 737 4243, 0999 688 0563
    Isla Verde-Ilijan Rate: P2000
  • Kuya Ronnie
    Capacity: Good for 6 pax
    Contact Number: 0950 278 5709
    Isla Verde-Ilijan Rate: P2500
  • Kuya Aldrin
    Contact Number: 0912 715 1526
    Isla Verde-Ilijan Rate: P2500

Note that the rates above are for Ilijan, which is closer to Isla Verde but almost an hour away from Tabangao Port. Boatmen based in Isla Verde don’t like taking passengers to Tabangao because not only is it much farther, they’re also prohibited to use that port.

If you decide to travel to Ilijan, the boat will dock at a pebble beach which is just a short walk from the main road. Just proceed to that road and ride a jeepney to Batangas City. According to the locals we talked to, there are plenty of jeepneys passing by until the early afternoon. If for some reason, there seems to be none, you can take the tricycle to a spot where jeepneys from other places pass. Tricycle fare ranges from P300 to P400. Yep, it’s pretty remote.

What if you left your car in Tabangao Port? This happened to us the last time we were here. Because we traveled to Tabangao Port by private car to catch the public boat, we left the car parked in Tabangao. However, the boat we chartered took us to Ilijan. Apparently, it’s no problem at all. We simply rode a jeepney to Tabangao Port. (Just tell the driver to drop you off at Tabangao PIER.) We got off at a corner and walked a bit to where the car was parked. If you choose the ride a tricycle all the way from Ilijan, the fare is P450.

Sample Itineraries

Below are two sample Isla Verde itineraries with breakdown of expenses. The first is for a day tour, and the other for an overnight stay. Please note that both itineraries assume you’re a group of 4 people, splitting the costs of some items and bringing your own food.

Day Tour Itinerary

04:30 am – ETD Manila
06:30 am – ETA Batangas Grand Terminal, P157
06:40 am – Tricycle to Tabangao Port, P75 (P300/4pax)
07:20 am – Board MB Super Mario, P10
08:40 am – Boat to Isla Verde, P120
10:00 am – Mahabang Buhangin, early lunch, environmental fee: P30
11:00 am – Island-hopping, P375 (P1500/4pax)
02:00 pm – Boat back to mainland, P625 (P2500/4pax)
03:00 pm – Ride jeepney to Batangas City, P50
04:00 pm – Ride jeepney to Grand Terminal, P12
04:30 pm – Bus back to Manila, P157

This itinerary will cause only a P1700 damage to your pockets (excluding meals). Note that the bulk of the expenses is spent on the private boat ride back to the mainland.

You can bring the cost down to only P1325 if you ditch the island hopping tour and just stay in Mahabang Buhangin.

You can reduce the cost even further if you have your own ride instead of taking the bus.

Overnight Itinerary

04:30 am – ETD Manila
06:30 am – ETA Batangas Grand Terminal, P157
06:40 am – Tricycle to Tabangao Port, P75 (P300/4pax)
07:20 am – Board MB Super Mario, P10
08:40 am – Boat to Isla Verde, P120
10:00 am – Check in at homestay, P300 + P30 env. fee
11:00 am – Island-hopping, P375 (P1500/4pax)
02:00 pm – Freshen up, rest
05:30 pm – Watch the sunset
07:00 pm – Dinner
08:00 pm – Stargazing, sleep
02:30 am – Travel to Sampalukan, P50
04:00 am – Boat to Tabangao Port, P120
05:30 am – Tricycle to Batangas Grand Terminal, P75
06:00 am – Bus to Manila, P157

This itinerary will set you back P1500 excluding meals if you do the island hopping or only P1125 if you don’t.

You can reduce the cost even further if you have your own ride instead of taking the bus.

More Tips for The Poor Traveler

  • First of all, please don’t be an asshole. Don’t leave trash on the beach. Whatever you bring to the place, take them with you when you leave. You’ll find some spots on the beach with trash, but most of them are not from the community but just washed ashore from the city.
  • Use coral-friendly sunscreen. A study conducted by Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology revealed that most sunscreen products contain chemicals like oxybenzone, parabens and benzophenone that are harmful to marine life. Most, not all. Choose brands that are reef-friendly and do do not contain the said chemicals.
  • The bigger the group, the lower the cost. So invite your friends and form a bigger group.
  • If you have time, you can drop by the public market in Batangas City to buy ingredients so you can cook your food in the island.
  • Bring a hat, light scarf/wrap or anything that can protect you from the sun. Most boats don’t have a tarp cover so you’re pretty exposed.
  • A P30 environmental fee is collected in San Agustin.
  • Bonfires are not allowed in the island.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is there a parking space in Tabangao Port? Yes. Parking fee in Tabangao is P100.
  • Is there a parking space in Ilijan? Yes. The pickup point in Ilijan is adjacent a big parking spot, too. I just don’t know the rates.
  • Are there restrooms in Mahabang Buhangin? You can ask locals if you could use their restrooms. However, note that water is a premium resource in the island so don’t be wasteful.
  • Can we bring food to the resort? Yes. You’re actually encouraged to do that because supplies in the island is scarce. If you have time, you can drop by the public market in Batangas City to buy ingredients so you can cook your food in the island. However, know that if you’re going to use the kitchen facilities of your resort or homestay, you’ll be charged extra.
  • How do we get around the island? The most common mode of transportation is the boat, but you can also take a habal-habal which costs P50 per ride.
  • Will we get wet on the way to the island? NO, if you’re taking the public boat and you’re inside the covered part. YES, if you’re chartering a smaller boat.
  • Do we need to pay the resort entrance fees even if we have room reservations? In most resorts, yes, the entrance fee is collected on top of the room rates.
  • Anything else we should bring? Sunscreen, mosquito repellant lotion, and a hat, light scarf/wrap.

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Yoshke Dimen

Yoshke Dimen

Storyteller at Yoshke.com
Yoshke is a part-time digital marketing consultant, part-time travel blogger, and full-time dreamer. He has three passions in life: social media, travel, and --- wait for it --- world peace. Yoshke has won 3 PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS and received 9 nominations. Learn more about his personal journeys at Yoshke.com.
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Comments

  1. Laura Vergara says:

    Hi! Did you stay overnight when you went to Isla Verde? If so, where did you spend the night? 🙂 Thanks.

  2. Nina says:

    This is very informative. Thank you for such detailed blog. 🙂

  3. Jeans says:

    Hello

    Are there good snorkelling areas near Mahabang Buhangin? It’s said to be rich in marine life right so are there good areas near the shore no need to go island hopping?

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