Saturday, February 4, 2012

CALAGUAS: Island Paradise of the East



Calaguas is a group of wave-beaten islands clustering in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of Camarines Norte. When I first heard of this destination, I thought it was just another virgin island anonymously dubbed as the Boracay-of- so-and-so. But in February, 2010, I had to change that line—Boracay is the Calaguas of the West!

I am probably the last travel blogger to write about this destination. I’m sure you’ve already heard and read stories about its beauty and allure. So, here I’ll be sharing something that you might not have heard of yet about the destination. But the reader must take note that this is based on the blogger’s experience in February 2010. Things may have drastically changed through time.


Beauty
Calaguas 2010
I’d put ‘Mahabang Buhangin’ beach on the number one spot.
The ‘Mahabang Buhangin’ beach of one of the islands of Calaguas has one of the finest sand beaches in the country.  Just like White Beach (Boracay) and Blue Lagoon (Pagudpud), Mahabang Buhangin boasts of a tricolor beach—crystal + emerald green + turquoise blue! The reason why I’m putting it a notch above White Beach is that it has no irritating man-made structures along its shorelines.  The length of the shoreline also matters to me so White Beach and Mahabang Buhangin are for me more beautiful than the beaches of El Nido and Coron that I’ve been to. But White Beach is better than Mahabang Buhangin when it comes to seafloor level. The deepening of the beach (in White Beach) is gradual unlike in Mahabang Buhangin where it gets really deep when you’re 15 meters away from the shoreline. The sand also gets coarser and coarser as you walk away from the shore into the ocean unlike the consistently fine sand of Boracay.

Peace
The first thing you'll see when you wake up is Paradise!
Mahabang Buhangin had no resorts (in 2010) and probably won’t have a lot soon. Resorts would have a longer off season than peak season. The place is only accessible in certain months of the year. The best time to go there is when the waves are not so hostile. The summer months of March, April and May are ideal. But then again you’d be thronging the place with a lot of weekend warriors during these months. So you may also take your chances from October to February. Needless to say, if you want to spend a night there or more, you should bring your tents water and food provisions. But I think there are cottages for rent now.
In the absence of a lot of amenities that you would normally find in developed beaches, you’re left with nothing to enjoy but the paradise right in front of you. This is nature at its best. Nothing unnatural…no vendors selling tacky souvenirs, no street lights and no annoying karaoke! At night you’re campsite will be canopied under the stars and serenaded by the waves touching the shore. A genuinely relaxing experience for the nature-lover!  

People
The island is not completely desolate. There is a small community on the other coast. People from there cross the island every weekend to check whether there are travelers whom they can extend their assistance to. They’d volunteer to buy you anything they have in their barangay and they’d be content with a 20-peso tip.
The people there are generally nice and not bothersome. But when businesspeople come in, things are surely going to be different. You might someday see picket fences barricading one property from the other. These people, just like in all other developed beaches, will welcome you with bright smiles as soon as you alight from the boat but will give you the cold shoulder once you refuse to avail of their resorts’ services!


Price

The influx of tourists and travelers has elicited the little extortionist out of some of the boatmen in Vinzons. But you can always avoid them by taking the public boats. They say, Paracale is a better port than Vinzons. The bulk of your expenses will come from transportation costs. Once you’re on the island, you won’t have to shell out any amount….unless the local business operators have imposed ‘entrance fees’. The boat we chartered from Vinzons to Mahabang Buhangin accommodated seven of us. We were taken to Mahabang Buhangin on Saturday and sailed back to Vinzons the following day. We paid P4,000 for the round-trip service.

Convenience

The destination is a bit inaccessible from Manila. It’s a 9-10-hour bus ride to Daet then you’ll have to take another mode of land transport to Vinzons, afterwhich, you’ll have to take a 2-3-hour boat ride to Mahabang Buhangin over the turbulent seas of Camarines Norte. You’ll find other versions of this itinerary in more reliable blogs. For those who have cars, the only trouble you have to worry about is parking and the hassle of driving approximately 250km!
As far as mobile phone signal is concerned, I was not able to communicate with the outside world while in Mahabang Buhangin.
For water, we had to bring purified water with us. But there is an artesian well about a hundred meters away from the shore which springs of clear water which surprisingly doesn’t taste salty and feel sticky.
The locals from the other coast of the island come by to volunteer to buy you basic stuff like salt and ciggies from their community.  
Although there are a lot of organized tours to Calaguas, it is always good to visit Calaguas the DIY way.

Side-trip
I don’t recommend any side trip if you’re in Camarines Norte for only two days and one night. Enjoy the place and don’t let the plan to visit another nearby destination bother you!

For itineraries and more useful information check out this link

5 comments:

  1. may araw din sa akin ang calaguas na yan pag ka nagkaroon na ako ng lakas ng loob sumakay ng bangka.....hahaha....hindi kasi ako marunong lumangoy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree, it is beautiful! I just wish the pumpboat rental didn't cost an arm and a leg.

    melvin - they have lifevests so no worries :) You should go!

    ReplyDelete
  3. boat rent for calaguas island@@ low
    low@@ price meet me in paracale
    ………….my fb email gerio.js@live.com my new no.09077749519 updated,,,,,,,,,,

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sir Adonis, I wish mabantayan mabuti ang beach na yan. Napakaganda!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Unfortunately I have read a lot of rants about the place being abused and spoiled. Let's all start exploring another paradise and not write about its whereabouts! just a thought!

    ReplyDelete

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