Move over, Palawan and Boracay. There’s another world-class beach destination that’s worth your attention and it’s the long, white shores of Calaguas Islands in Camarines Norte.
In the early years, before development and a boom of tourists came to the islands, Calaguas was an unexplored destination known only to the totally adventurous backpackers. No electricity, no stores, no resorts. It was a back-to-basics experience that awaited you on the islands.
Fast forward to several years later, Calaguas may look more modern but it still has its fine, white-sand beaches, particularly Mahabang Buhangin, earning it the solid reputation as one of the best in the country.
If you’re not convinced yet, here are more reasons why you should seriously consider going to Calaguas for your next escapade.
It’s easy to get there.
You can get to Calaguas through the towns of Vinzons or Paracale in Camarines Norte. You’ll have to use at least three modes of transportation to get there but it’s no sweat given the right mindset.
A. By air—From Manila, you can fly to Naga City (about 40 minutes) and get a tricycle to the van terminal bound for Daet, Camarines Norte. The trip from Naga to Daet will take about 1.5 hours and will cost about ₱160 (as of December 2015). You can take a van from Daet to Paracale (about 90 minutes, fare is ₱60), where you can hop on a boat to the island. The boat trip can take about 1.5 hours.
B. By land—If you’re driving or taking a bus from Manila, travel time to Daet is about 8 hours. You can take any bus going to Bicol from the terminals in Cubao, Pasay, and Alabang. Fare starts from ₱700, depending on the bus type. Head straight to Daet then take a van, or to reduce your travel time, tell the driver to drop you off at Talobatib in Labo (two towns before Daet) and from there, take a bus to Paracale.
Historically, the sea to Calaguas is no longer good for sailing as early as August. But in 2015, the sea to Calaguas has been friendly the whole year. Tourists were still able to get to the island even in the months of November and December. But still make sure to check the weather, the wind, and the tides before heading out to Calaguas.
If not planned well, your travel can get cancelled unexpectedly, as you might not be able to get aboat game enough to brave the rough seas. (During my second visit in December 2015, I had to take chances that the weather would recover after several days of heavy rains. I got lucky.)
A trip to Calaguas is relatively cheap given you go as a group. You can rent a boat in Paracale starting at ₱2,500 for a round trip, possibly your biggest spend for this travel. There are no stores in Mahabang Buhangin where you can buy your food.
There’s a village some 20 minutes awayfrom the shores, but there’s no guarantee there’s enough stock of the things you’ll need. Better to buy your needs in the wet market of Paracale before you hop on the boat. Once on the island, you can put up a tent or rent cottages for as low as ₱500.
If you want more comfortable accommodation and also spare yourself from cooking (and looking for fresh water for your bath), you can rent a cabana or kubol at Waling-Waling Eco Resort. They have packages that include food and good accommodation, a total relief from the hassle of vacationing on an island as remote as Caramoan.
It has one of the best beaches in the world.
The aquamarine waters of Calaguas are undeniably crystal clear so it’s guaranteed that you’ll have a good time snorkeling, swimming, and taking your underwater videos. And no other background for your selfies will be as Instagram-worthy as the majestic beach of Mahabang Buhangin, a long stretch of powdery white sand.
It’s so fine and white that it won the Battle of the Sands in 2015!
It has good sunsets and rolling hills.
On a clear sky, you can enjoy one of the best sunsets from the south-west end of the Tinaga Island, the main island where Mahabang Buhangin is located.
You can also go island hopping and trek to the green hills of Guintinua and enjoy the refreshing sight of Calaguas. Early in the morning, you can trek to the fishing village of Mangkawayan and witness the breaking of dawn.
It’s a peaceful and relaxing destination.
You will love Calaguas not only for its natural beauty, but also for its calm environment. The entire stretch of Mahabang Buhangin is nestled in a peaceful cove in the Pacific Ocean.
Unlike other beaches where the shore is restless the whole time, there are moments when the shore can go so quiet and the wind so still, it makes the island a perfect place to reconnect with yourself. Talk about romantic moments with your loved ones, especially during the off-peak season.
All these will make you love Calaguas and tick it off from your bucket list, not once but several times.