Basking In Camarines Norte’s Waterworld

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Summer may have already been replaced by the habagat season but that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying the sun, sand, and sea. Because in some parts of the archipelago, particularly the areas facing the Pacific Ocean, it feels like summer has been extended, but with a lesser degree of heat and much more manageable crowds.

Camarines Norte, located in the northernmost region of Bicol, is an ideal waterworld where you can wade and frolic in various bodies of water like it’s still April.

Here are some of the places to go and things to do in this province this monsoon season.

Surfing and Kiteboarding in Bagasbas Beach

Located in the provincial capital town of Daet, Bagasbas Beach is the first stop of your beach-hopping adventure. Acknowledged as the world’s 62nd surfing spot and the first in the Philippines to be recognized globally, this is perfect for newbie surfers because of its consistent and moderate waves and sandy bottom. Surfing lessons are offered at rock-bottom rates by friendly local wave riders.

Kiteboarding at Bagasbas Beach

Kiteboarding at Bagasbas Beach

If you want to level up, you can go kiteboarding, which combines surfing and wakeboarding with flying a kite. There are also kayaks for rent in the area if you want to paddle in the long beach. It is advisable to stay in Bagasbas for its modest to mid-priced lodging, dining outlets, gimik places, and interesting people you will meet.

Beach bumming in Calaguas

Likened to how Boracay looked like 30 years ago, the Mahabang Buhangin Beach of Tinaga Island is a must-visit. Located about two hours away from the towns of Vinzons or Paracale, it is the core of the Calaguas archipelago and is reputed for its mile-long stretch of powdery sand and gin-clear water.

Calaguas

Beach bumming in Calaguas | Photo from Ria D’s looloo review for Calaguas Islands

It was named the Philippines’ top Tourism Gem in an online poll conducted by Isla Lipana & Co. a few years back. Its back-to-basics allure is its main come-on even for seasoned travelers. For a little dash of comfort, there is Waling-Waling EcoVillage which has no-frills tropical accommodations.

Stopover Islands

On the way back to the mainland, swing by Maculabo and Quinamanokan for even more beach bumming. You also get a splendid view of the Calaguas Islands from a distance.

Island hopping at Siete Pecados

Half an hour away from Mercedes town is Siete Pecados which consists of seven islands, but only six are open to the public. Apuao Pequeña is the most picturesque with its tree-lined beach and sandbar.

Kayaking around Siete Pecados Islands

Kayaking around Siete Pecados Islands

There are marine sanctuaries in between with largely untouched corals, making them ideal snorkeling spots. You can also paddle around the islands aboard a kayak which the Mercedes tourism office rents out.

Island hopping at Jose Panganiban

Head to the interior town of Jose Ma. Panganiban which recently unveiled its island getaways, namely Parola, Calalayan and Carol, and Bulacacao Beach which you can have all to yourself. The town has a scenic boardwalk facing the tranquil bay.

Parola Island

Parola Island

After enjoying your time in the water, hike to Turayog Viewdeck, a simple hilltop resort at the town’s highest point which has a breathtaking 360-degree view of the land, ocean, rolling hills and everything in between. It is open for camping, picnics, pictorials and other nature-themed activities.

Waterfalls Trekking

Camarines Norte’s rugged terrain is gifted with enchanting waterfalls with massive, Instagrammable drops: Colasi in Mercedes, Nacali in San Lorenzo Ruiz, Mananap in San Vicente and San Felipe Twin Falls in Basud.

If you’ve had your quota of seawater, you can bask in the mesmerizing sounds of falling water and wade in the cool basins after adventure-filled treks into the woods.

Maligaya Falls in Labo

Maligaya Falls in Labo

Get a hydro-massage

Laze in natural swimming pools with icy water rushing down, simulating a hydromassage to rejuvenate your muscles. You can find them at the river resorts in Dagotdotan and Mampurog in San Lorenzo Ruiz, and Sinagtala Resort in Labo Rocks in the shallow river were rearranged to create dipping areas safe even for children.

Go ziplining

For an adrenaline rush, try out the tramline cable car and the 700-meter dual zipline in in Bgy. Matacong, San Lorenzo Ruiz which will glide you over the panoramic cliffs, coconut treetops and pineapple plantations. While here, buy the Formosa pineapple, regarded as the sweetest variety of the fruit, at rock-bottom prices.

San Lorenzo Ruiz Zipline

Zipline in San Lorenzo Ruiz

Travel back in time

Camarines Norte was the first area in Bicol reached by famed Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo in 1573, hence its many historic spots. A must-see is the First Rizal Monument in Daet, the first of its kind built in 1898 in honor of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

Paracale Church

Paracale Church

For a glimpse of local history, drop by the Provincial Capitol’s Bulawan Museum which showcases archaeological finds and historical artifacts. Historic Spanish-era churches are the parishes of Paracale, Vinzons and Capalonga, the home of the miraculous image of the Black Nazarene.

Getting There:

Philtranco and Super Lines have day and night trips to Daet coming from Pasay and Cubao and the journey usually takes 8 hours. You can also fly to Naga Airport, and then take a two-hour van trip to Daet.

Where to Stay:

The Bagasbas Lighthouse Hotel Resort is arguably the best in the province with its trendy rooms, good restaurants and beachfront location. Budget travelers can opt for Bagasbas Bed and Breakfast, operated by Northlink Events which can help you plan out your trip. In downtown Daet, among the newer ones are Hotel Formosa, Casa Lilia, Francesco’s Inn and Restaurant, and Calaguas Gateway Hotel. Meanwhile, Pineapple Island Resort is a pool lover’s hideaway with its variety of swimming pools set in the midst of pineapple farms.

Bagasbas Lighthouse Hotel Resort

Bagasbas Beach, Daet
Camarines Norte, Philippines

+63 54 441 5855

Bagasbas Bed and Breakfast

Bagasbas Beach, Daet
Camarines Norte, Philippines

+63 995 329 4492

facebook.com/bagasbasbedandbreakfast

Hotel Formosa

2450 Vinzons Ave., Daet
Camarines Norte, Philippines

+63 54 571 3566

hotelformosadaet.com

Casa Lilia

F. Pimentel Ave., Daet
Camarines Norte, Philippines

+63 54 224 1195

facebook.com/casalilia

Francesco’s Inn and Restaurant

Suzara St., Daet
Camarines Norte, Philippines

+63 54 885 1249

facebook.com/francescos

Calaguas Gateway Hotel

Vinzons Ave., Daet
Camarines Norte, Philippines

+63 54 440 2188

facebook.com/calaguasgatewayhotel

Pineapple Island Resort

Daet
Camarines Norte, Philippines

+63 54 440 1358

facebook.com/pineappleislandresort

Agoda

What and Where to Eat:

Be sure to get a taste of Bicol’s mouth-watering cuisine which makes use of lots of chili pepper and gata (coconut milk). Among the best restaurants are Catherine’s at Bagasbas Lighthouse Hotel Resort, Golden Palace for Chinese cuisine, King Fisher for seafood, K Sarap and Pratesi for Pinoy dishes, and Chef Mama for fusion food such as Bicol-inspired pizzas and pastas.

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About Author

Bernard Supetran

BLS is like MacGyver's Swiss Army knife--a mapmaker, editor, travel writer, tourism consultant and lecturer, photojournalist, PADI-certified scuba diver and advocate for the marine ecosystem. His main preoccupation though is editor of EZ Maps, the country's leading tourist map brand, which takes him to the entire breadth of the archipelago.