When we talk about the best beaches in the Philippines, Boracay and Palawan first come to mind. While these are indeed beautiful, there are also beaches near Manila that are as stunning as the two and worth a visit. One of these is Magalawa Island in Zambales.

Just like the Philippines’ top beaches, Magalawa Island has fine white sand, crystal clear blue waters, and a lot of fun activities—only secluded, which makes it even better. And because of these, locals and tourists think that this could be the next Boracay!

This 56-hectare island is best known for its white fine sand and pristine sandbar. It is also called the Island of the Stars because of the abundance of starfish in its waters.

Here’s a quick Magalawa Island DIY Guide with all the things you should know to help you plan your trip.

Magalawa Island DIY Guide

Magalawa is a rising star on social media because of its stunning beauty that captivates its visitors. This island has become a favorite of quick vacationers and budget travelers because aside from being accessible (Manila to Magalawa Island is just 4 to 6 hours of travel time), it is also a budget-friendly destination.

The island is usually quiet so Magalawa is perfect for just relaxing. If you’re lucky, you can have the beach all to yourself. As this isn’t yet discovered by many, you can still enjoy its unspoiled beauty with less to no crowd. Weekdays are the best time to visit Magalawa Island Zambales.

Magalawa Island Location

Palauig, Zambales

Manila to Magalawa Island 


Magalawa Island location is very accessible! From Manila, take a Victory Liner bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales and tell the driver or conductor to drop you off at Brgy. Pamolingan in Palauig. You can ride a bus from Caloocan, Cubao, Manila, or Pasay. Travel time is about 4 to 6 hours from Manila. Once you arrive, head to Luan Port, where boats are available to take you to Magalawa Island. 

If you’re taking a private vehicle, drive to Pangolinga in Palauig, Zambales. The fastest way to reach Paluaig is via the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and on to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). 

Where to stay in Magalawa Island 2020


There are only two resorts on the island—the Ruiz and Armada resorts. Ruiz resort is more affordable while the Armada resort is for those who have an extra budget. 

If you want a cheaper option, you can just pitch a tent in Magalawa Island. You can bring your own or rent one from the resort that costs about P200 – P300 per night only.

Things to do in Magalawa Island


Magalawa Island | Photo source: Wikimedia Commons/Ignacio Malapitan III

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons/Ignacio Malapitan III

For a more fun trip, here are 5 best things to do in Magalawa Island Zambales.

1. Snorkeling

Unlike other islands in Zambales, Magalawa has more underwater gems to boast of. Both resorts offer snorkeling as part of their day tour and overnight packages. If you opt not to avail of a package, snorkeling rates start at P100 per person. 

2. Camping

Make your trip more exciting by camping instead of staying in a hotel room. Experience the real island vibe by pitching a tent and enjoying a bonfire.

3. Walk on the island’s sandbar

One of the most famous spots on Magalawa Island is its sandbar. This is a must-see destination when visiting. Just a reminder, there is a rip current on the left side of the sandbar so be careful.

4. Island hopping

Zambales is home to many coves and islands so island hopping is a great activity when in the province. From Magalawa Island 2020, you can go to Potipot Island and Bacala Sandbar for as low as P200.

5. Kayaking

This is a fun activity not to miss in Magalawa Island. What’s great about this is that, kayaking here is cheaper compared to other islands in the Philippines!

Tips and Reminders


Bring your own drinking water.

There are only few stores on the island so expect the prices of goods to be expensive.

If you are camping, bring mosquito repellents.

If you find some starfish, don’t disturb or pick them up.

Electricity is only available from 6pm to 7am.

There’s a rip current beside the sandbar so you have to be very careful.

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