It was 2 hours past my usual lunch time and I was starving. My Jollibee breakfast was already gone hours ago and my stomach was complaining.
I was bitch-slapped by a huge wave that left me wet and cold. I was drenched from head to foot in salty water that left my hair hanging in messy, sticky strings around my face. I almost lost a sneaker when the sea decided to jump aboard our boat.
I have been on this boat for 2 hours — the boat that was delayed for more than 3 hours because of a (super) late group of foreign tourists. I was shivering, very hungry and extremely cranky. I was beginning to think this whole trip wasn’t worth it.
But my mood changed completely when I saw the island. Imagine this: a blindingly white sand beach made brighter by the midday sun. Turquoise waters so clear you could see the bottom of the sea. Green rolling hills.
Welcome to Calaguas, Bicolandia’s not-so-secret paradise.
This is Mahabang Buhangin (Halabang Baybay in Bicolano, Long Beach in English), the most popular spot in the Calaguas Islands. Already, the long stretch of beach is dotted with tents and people milling about. On an ordinary day, the island is pretty much deserted. But this time, people came in droves for the Easter holidays. Despite being hard to reach, Calaguas is quickly gaining popularity as a beach getaway destination especially for adventurers and die-hard beach bums from Manila. Its appeal is not in its powder white sand nor in the cool, turquoise water. Dozens of other islands in the Philippines can boast of these too, Boracay the first among them.
No, the charm of Calaguas lies in its beauty unspoiled by modern conveniences, untouched by the technologies of mobile phone signals and Wi-fi. Even electricity is scarce. Only a few huts/stores are powered from a generator and usually only at night. You will really have no use for your phone except to take pictures of the awesome beauty around you. The perfect place to unplug and unwind. It’s just you and nature.
The loooong road trip and the harrowing boat ride were so worth it. I’d endure that over and over again, just to find myself in this paradise. Happily swimming. Happily bumming on the sand. Happily getting burned by the scorching sun. Happily eating halo-halo. Happily taking in the sights. Happily doing absolutely nothing.
Calaguas, you were everything I hoped for and more. I love you.