“Where is Calaguas?”
I remember my girlfriend, Eloi, asked me when I suggested about it on our next trip. It was also the same reactions I got from friends after my travel. Honestly, I am amazed at how many people are still unaware of this paradise.
So in a away, I felt obliged to tell you how beautiful it is, to convince you to visit this island. The journey going there might be uncomfortable to some, but as you get there, everything will be worth it.
Calaguas is a secluded group of islands in Camarines Norte, Philippines.
Over the past years, it has been getting rave reviews from bloggers and travelers because of its beauty and serenity – its crystal clear water and powdery white beach. Some are saying, it is as beautiful as Boracay but definitely more peaceful, unspoiled and still uncommercialized.
We planned this trip months ago, but just a few days before the travel something happened. Too much drama and negativity suddenly surrounded me. It was too intense that no matter how much I shrug it off, it just wouldn’t let me go. Yes, it is painful when somebody hurts you, but it is definitely something when a supposed friend concocted an imaginative story to deliberately hurt you.
Eloi advised me to let it go and just be calm about it, which I did. That was one of those moments when I realized I should choose my battles, and that one was definitely a complete waste of time. I was contemplating of giving up a person or maybe people in my life, and the trip to Calaguas was just the right time for me to find some clarity.
Our journey to Calaguas started at the DLTB Bus station in Cubao. The bus schedule was 9 PM. We availed a tour package from Calaguas Hullabaloo for 3D2N, so when we arrived at the terminal, we just presented our booking confirmation. Then after a few minutes, we were informed of our bus number and we were ready to board.
The travel time to Daet is approximately 8 hours , so be prepared for a long ride. There were 3 bus stops, and the bus was quite comfortable, enough to give you a sleep while traveling. But there were times, when the swerving roads of Quezon province would become unbearable, like a roller coaster ride to wake you up in your slumber.
It was 6 in the morning when we arrived in Daet, the capital of Camarines Norte.
If you are on a DIY (Do It Yourself) travel. From Daet, just catch a jeepney going to Vinzons for Php 12. In Vinzons town proper, there are two fish ports where you can hire a motor boat going to Calaguas’ main beach which is Mahabang Buhangin or as the locals call it, Halabang Baybay. These fish ports are Doongan and Hagdang bato. In these ports you can rent a motor boat for Php 2500 to 3000 for six people. If there are a lot of travelers going to Calaguas, you might be lucky to get a big boat that charges 200 per person.
But since we availed a tour package from Calaguas Hullabaloo, our travel was a bit different and more comfortable. We stayed in a hotel in Daet for a few minutes to have our breakfast, then the same bus brought us to Vinzons. And then a very accommodating staff by the name of Steve guided us for another jeepney ride to the port.
There, the big motor boat of Calaguas Hullabaloo was waiting for us.
Then we embarked on another two hour boat ride going to Calaguas.
The waves were calmer during summer, but according to some travelers who have been to Calaguas for many times, the waves can be unforgiving during rainy seasons until January. So it is important to plan your travels very well.
Just like our fellow travelers, Eloi and I quickly fell asleep. Who could resist the relaxing wind and the soft sway of the boat?
After waiting like forever, we have finally seen some group of islands. It was a sign that Calaguas was just a few minutes away.
Then a few more moments, the motor boat finally made its turn to this island. Its white beach was noticeable. Everyone felt the same excitement.
As the boat came nearer the shore, I just couldn’t help myself but say, “Wow!”
We were welcomed by clear turquoise water, we could almost see the small fishes swimming. And of course, the best part was the powdery white sand!
When we got off the boat. I saw Eloi smiling with kilig, she said, “ang ganda dito!” (beautiful!).
When the rest were ready to go to their tents and cottages to temporarily escape the heat of the sun, we enjoyed the place and took some photos. We were just happy to lay our eyes on this beautiful paradise.
Eloi was ecstatic as a kid, when she asked me to take more pictures of her. Seeing her smile was enough for me to be happy. And surprisingly, the worries that had been lingering on me for days were all gone. I was just happy, ready to let go of the negativity. In an instant, Calaguas calmed me.
This long stretch of white sand beach is called Mahabang Buhangin located in the Tinaga Island, considered as the main attraction in Calaguas.
The best thing about this beach, it is secluded and still unspoiled. No connection and mobile phone signal, so people actually interact, talk and bond. If you’re looking for a place to just unplug from the city life, well Calaguas is definitely for you. It has this majestic appeal that leaves you breathless by its beauty.
When we got back to the camp, and looked for our assigned tent, Eloi and I relaxed on a cottage. There, we met another sweet couple, Omie and Allen. Our conversations started with a simple hello’s then before we knew it we were already sharing our stories to one another. This is one of the best things about traveling, meeting new people who would turned out to be good friends.
Our small group became bigger and merrier when we were joined by four friends namely Gen, Aldrin, Joey and Arthur. They were just happy bunch of people. Being with them was just crazy! When I think about these people all I remember were just laughter and fun. Of course, we were also able to talk about our future travels. Yes, we are going to travel more. 🙂
While chatting, one of the staff approached us and told us something we all had been waiting for. It was lunch time!
One good thing about availing a packaged tour like Calaguas Hullabaloo, you don’t need to worry about your food (buffet!), transportation, tents, etc they will all handle it for you. As to the Hullabaloo team, we were satisfied with their service. People were friendly. The food was just great especially the Bicolano dishes like laing and ginataang santol. Oh man, they were just del…licious!
There are a lot of activities and adventures that you can enjoy in Calaguas. You can avail the island hopping which I will create a separate and more detailed post. Calaguas is a group of islands, so aside from Mahabang Buhangin, there are still other gems and beauties to enjoy from other islets.
If there is an improvement in Calaguas that is not yet updated in other blogs it’s the fact that you can now find a store (yes a sari-sari store!) along Mahabang Buhangin with products at a very hefty price. So it is still recommended that you buy all your toiletries, snacks and other necessities before going to the island. Calaguas also has quite a number of toilets, enough to serve all the travelers. Water supply comes from pumps.
After our lunch, we’ve found ourselves sitting on the cottage again.
We could feel the scorching heat of the sun, but the beach was inviting us. It’s true most Filipinos are very conscious about their complexion, afraid to get some darker skin. But Calaguas is an exemption. Calaguas is worth it! So when Eloi asked me to go to the beach, I didn’t take no for an answer. Let’s get it on!
In our three day stay in Calaguas, we’ve also enjoyed our siesta time. I don’t know but the beach will just turn you so sleepy right after lunch LOL! So who are we to resist? We had all the luxuries to oblige.
I woke up one afternoon on the cottage and saw Eloi looking at me. “Anlakas ng hilik mo!” (you were snoring like hell!) then fondly laugh at me. I just smiled and told myself, “well, this is life.”
Before sunset, Eloi and I walked along the long stretch of white sand. While enjoying this moment with her, she gently told me that it was our best travel so far.
I am amazed at how Calaguas has rekindled my happiness. How it has reminded me to be calm and focus on what really matters in life.
Meeting new friends in Calaguas has made me realized there is a reason why I added these people in my life, and there’s also a reason why sometimes we need to let go of some. And it’s okay. It is okay.
As we walked towards this beautiful beach, I noticed some Asian inspired cottages. These are the only structures, the first resort has been built on the island.
I wondered what will happen to Calaguas after a few more years? Will there be more structures? Buildings perhaps?
All I know is if you’re expecting Calaguas to be a serene and breath-taking paradise, the best time to visit is NOW… before it gets too popular, too crowded…too commercialized.
Other Ways To Go to Calaguas (DIY) aside from via Daet/Vinzons.
The closest airport is in Naga in Camarines Sur. You may book your flight through Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. When you reached the Naga Van Terminal, there are vans going to Daet. Travel time is about two hours. Earliest schedule is 5AM and the last trip is 7PM.
DLTB, Amihan, Superlines and Philtranco have regular bus schedule bound to Daet, with approximate 8 hour travel time.
Superlines has direct trips bound to Paracale. In Paracale, just ask around for the fish port where you can hire a boat to Calaguas Islands (Mahabang Buhangin). Or you may take a bus bound to Daet, just get off at Talobatib junction and ride a bus going to Paracale.
Updates in Paracale
Paracale was once the choice of backpackers for DIY travel to Calaguas because of its more affordable transportation rates and it has the shortest boat travel time to Calaguas. But just recently, travelers / bloggers have reported that locals in Paracale have put up an independent cooperative to raise and standardized the boat rates, which now considered as expensive.
They also had their queuing system, so directly contacting your desired boatman in Paracale is not possible anymore. The process is unorganized causing headaches to a lot of travelers.
Camping is the way to go in Calaguas. That’s what most travelers do. But if you’re looking for a place to stay, Waling Waling Eco Village Resort is currently the only resort on the island. You may check the rates and book here!
There are a lot of tour operators offering services to Calaguas. But as for me, I highly recommend Calaguas Hullabaloo. They’re not the cheapest in the market but they’re the best for value and experience.
Calaguas Island Map
For more details, here’s the map of this island paradise.