I was in Calaguas recently and I would like to assure you that whatever raves you’ve heard of it, they are all TRUE! This place is truly awesome. In fact, it leapfrogged over Bohol and Boracay to claim the 2nd spot in my list of my most favourite Philippine beaches, 2nd only to El Nido, Palawan.
Here is a simple guide for first timers wishing to visit Calaguas.
Where Calaguas is
Calaguas is a group of islands in the province of Camarines Norte. While most of the islands belong under the jurisdiction of the town of Vinzons, some of the smaller islands are under Paracale.
The islands are a 2-hour boat ride from mainland Bicol.
The most visited and most photographed site in Calaguas is Mahabang Buhangin, a cove in Tinaga Island. The name means Long Beach in English.
What to expect
1. A very wet and nausea-inducing boat ride - the sea route to Calaguas is notorious for big splashes. Be prepared and waterproof everything! You can buy drybags but if those are quite expensive for you, sturdy plastic garbage bags and Ziplock bags will work just as fine. Stores along Vinzons Port sell plastic bags in various sizes.
If you get seasick easily, make sure you take an anti-emetics pill like Bonamine.
2. Limited electricity – power from generators is very limited. Make sure you bring head lamps, flashlights, extra batteries and a power bank. If you need to charge some batteries, you can go to any of the stores at the camp site and pay P30 charging fee (for complete charging).
3. No mobile phone signal or Wifi - do not go to Calaguas if you like checking in to Facebook or posting to Instagram and Twitter every 2 minutes. You will just end up frustrated.
4. Stores – there are a number of sari-sari stores selling things from chips to liquour to halo-halo, but of course the prices are more expensive compared to the mainland. I didn’t bring any instant coffee with me and the sari-sari store saved my mornings.
5. Basic bathroom facilities - Unlike before, Calaguas now has a number of pour-flush toilets in the camp site. Before using, you need to fetch water from a deep well pump (poso). Each bucket costs P10.
In cases where there is a long queue to use the facilities, you can just take a shower outside, near the poso, just like what I did — fully clothed, of course.
What to bring
1. food and drinks – Bring food that do not spoil easily. Canned food is always a good idea.
2. plastic bags - to protect your stuff from water and for cleaning up later.
3. tent – Many outdoor tour operators usually bring a tent for you but if you prefer to bring your own, make sure you have a proper ground sheet and a waterproofing sheet in case it rains. If you want, you can bring a hammock. Perfect for midday dozing under the shade of trees.
4. fully charged batteries/powerbank/Juicebox for your gadgets - as there is limited electricity on the island, you might not be able to recharge your gadgets once you run out of battery. Best to bring additional batteries or powerbank for your phone, camera or tablet.
5. flashlight or head lamp – very important if you need to leave your tent after dark
6. Sunblock – Yes, you need to work on your tan but not at the expense of skin health. A golden tan doesn’t have to mean premature skin aging. It is very important to bring one that is broad-spectrum with UVA and UVB protection.
What to do
1. beach bumming – nothing better than to just lie down on the sand, taking in the sights as you work on your tan
2. any beach sports – Frisbee, beach volleyball…whatever you feel like playing!
3. snorkeling – you can arrange for a boat to bring you to several snorkel sites. You need to bring your own gear if you are squeamish with using the rental ones.
4. trekking – You can also join a trekking group and hike up the hills in the island. The hills give you a magnificent view of the beach.
My opinion of Calaguas
I love beaches and it is my personal mission to visit as many beaches as possible. Calaguas stole my heart with its raw beauty and remoteness. As I said in a previous post, Calaguas is everything I hoped for and more. If you enjoy peaceful nights by the sea (like me), Calaguas is perfect. This is beach life stripped to its bare essentials.
If you like noisy and wild beach parties reminiscent of Boracay and Puerto Galera, Calaguas is not for you.
Unfortunately, some outdoor outfitters and tourists want to make it the next Boracay. At nights, you can hear loud music from one part of the beach. This camp site has a mobile bar and flashing lights. On our second night, someone was even arrested for smoking marijuana.
Also, during a morning stroll, my cousin and I spotted a lot of cigarette butts on the beach. Lech talaga ang smokers no. Hay.
I hope that residents and other concerned citizens and travelers will help protect Calaguas and keep it clean and peaceful.
Calaguas is a place for communing with nature. It is synonymous with cleanliness, beauty and tranquility. Let’s keep it that way.
How to get to Calaguas
You can certainly go to Calaguas on a DIY trip. But there are many groups who offer package beach trips. Have a look around Facebook and Google for reviews about different groups.
My cousin and I went with Dhon Abril’s group. Dhon is an outdoor adventure enthusiast who has been to Calaguas several times before. Here are the details of his 3d/2n Calaguas tour.
CALAGUAS ISLAND Beach Bumming!
CALAGUAS ISLAND, Daet Camarines Norte April 17-19, 2014
Php: 3.5k. (Overnight) 3.8K (3 Days 2 Nights).
Day 1 – Dinner
Day 2 – Breakfast, Lunch , Dinner
Day 3 – Breakfast
20:00 – ETD from Malate, Manila
05:00 – ETA Daet, Camarines Norte
Buy packed lunch
06:00 – ETD from Daet
06:30 – ETA to Vinzons Port
06:45 – board boat
07:30 – ETD from Vinzons Port
10:00 – ETA to Calaguas Island, Mahabang Buhangin
Pitch Tent, explore the island, picture taking
12:00 – Lunch
13:00 – free time
17:00 – sunset viewing
19:00 – Dinner
20:00 – Socials
00:00 – lights out
06:00 – Wake up
07:00 – Breakfast
08:00 – Free Time
12:00 – Lunch
13:00 – Free time
19:00 – Dinner
20:00 – Socials
00:00 – Lights out
06:00 – wake up
07:00 – Breakfast
07:30 – Break Camp and Wash up
09:00 – ETD from island
11:00 – ETA Vinzons Port and load van
11:15 – ETD Vinzons Port
11:35 – ETA Bagasbas Beach
12:00 – Lunch (own expense)
13:00 – Surfing at Bagasbas beach (own expense).
16:00 – wash up
17:00 – ETD from Bagasbas Beach
20:00 – Dinner along the way (own expense).
00:00 – Manila HOME Sweet HOME
To know about latest outdoor package trips, please contact Dhon Abril directly-
The ONE : Totally High Energy Outdoor Nature and Environment
Happy beach bumming!! Enjoy summer!