Sorry guys, I just realized that it has been quite a long time since we have posted anything on your favorite blog (can I get high fives for that?). But its summer! and we are very sure that you are too busy frolicking on some beach or catching flights overseas to even bother with a blog– we are on the same page as you. Luckily, I get to have a bit of a downtime today to actually do a bit of writing about a place called Calaguas in Camarines Norte.
I have long been intrigued by posts on Facebook by friends and travel blogs about this “virgin” beach in Camarines Norte. Photos of pristine waters and powdery white sands with few or no people at all in the background are too enticing in today’s world of so-called “party beaches”. So, when Vagabond Pinas sent out an invite to join on a trip to Calaguas, we cannot pass up on the chance.
The trip was long and ultimately tiring if you let it get to you. If you are prone to any motion sickness at all, be prepared with Bonamine–lots of it. My friend, C has to take 3 pills of bonamine along the way just so she can somehow survive. After about 8 hours on the road (passing on that vomit-inducing “Bituka ng Manok” zigzag road) plus 2.5 hours of boat ride and a bit of mild heat stroke you could probably be just imagining, you arrive here…
|Photo by Clarisse Hernandez|
Wow. As soon as you disembark from the boat and actually set foot on the fine, white sands of Mahabang Buhangin, the more popular island in Calaguas, you’ll think that the long travel is probably worth it. The turquoise water is so clear and pristine, you can swim or just soak in there for hours on end without a care in the world. Sure, you may have seen better beaches than this one (I, for one has Malcapuya in Coron on top of my list) , but its that charm of having the island to yourself, far away from the stresses of modern life which somehow sets Calaguas apart from others.
|Photo by Clarisse Hernandez|
But I may have spoken too soon for you, though. Because after just a few hours that we have arrived here, more people came carried by outrigger boats and a walk along the beach on the afternoon made me think twice if this was still the private beach I thought of earlier.
And as soon as the sun has set and evening came, make-shift “bars” were set up, each one looking more odd than the other (only because they look out of place there and I believe that cocktails without proper refrigeration of the ingredients are sad, not to mention pretentious). There were also large speakers blaring with house music which were set up to run in equally noisy generators. This bothered me more than anything because 1.) I am not expecting a party, but a quiet and peaceful time here 2.) I am not a fan of house music and 3.) house music running on generators is such a waste of energy! And why does everybody suddenly feel like they should always be partying on a beach? Don’t we have enough of that already?
It was a good thing that Vagabondpinas people set up camp on the farther side of the island, opposite and quite far from the madness I just mentioned so we were able to sleep quite peacefully with the sound of the waves lulling us to dreamland.
The next morning we woke up early and trekked up to the viewing deck of the island. The trail is just farther towards the end of the beach near those rock formations and um, the “beach bars”. I recommend you go here early morning if you want to take in the amazing views of the island and also take gorgeous photos that shows the Calaguas you have in mind: virgin and unspoiled, bathed by the best photo aid there is– natural light. Oh, and this is also the only place on the island where you can get an intermittent mobile phone signal by Globe, so you can text to your loved ones and let them know that you are alive.
|View from the top.|
While there are still relatively few people who know about Calaguas, I would say its no longer a secret. Which can be a good and a bad thing. Good thing is that tourism on the area means providing locals with jobs and as for travelers like us, we get to enjoy a new and beautiful island. However, tourism also comes along with it problems like pollution and greedy commercialism/ over-development. After seeing signs of bars and hearing terrible music, I am just afraid Calaguas might turn into Boracay. Do not get me wrong, Boracay has its own identity as a hip and happening party beach– I’ve been there and I drank the kool-aid. But Calaguas to me has that charming, idyllic side perfect for peaceful and calm getaways where one can get lost in and not where one gets “spotted” at.
|This dog is just chillin’ here– as you should when in Calaguas.|
I guess all I am saying is if you want world-class amenities, pampering and night-life partying then Calaguas might not be for you. There are no resorts with fluffy pillows in your bed and no souped-up bathrooms for your shower spa sessions nor is there a fully-functioning proper bar/restaurant with Margaritas. It shouldn’t come as news that there is actually no electricity on the island for those modernities. However, if peaceful and quiet beach bumming by day and low-key drinking sessions with friends under the stars by night is your thing, then you just found your “Happy Beach”. Because not all happiness comes with Jell-o shots and David Guetta.
– From our camp site, there are 3 toilets available: 2 cubicles on an unfinished bathroom and one outside, just behind it.
– However, there is no running water/faucets on the island. There are two nearby manual pumps to get your water for your shower (or for the toilet). And you can have some of the locals manning the pumps to fill up a pail of water for you for 10 pesos.
– Bring your own tent–that is if you do not want to just lie on a blanket under the dreamy stars 🙂 Our travel organizer, vagabond pinas has provided us with tents as part of the package.
– Bring sleeping bag or for you fancy folks, an inflatable mattress is also alright.
– Bring flashlight or solar-powered portable lighting as there is no electricity on the island.
– BYOB. While fancy cocktails while partying in the “beach bars” are flat-out tacky for a trip such as this, you are more than welcome to bring your own bottle of liquor/ alcoholic beverages for drinking sessions with friends by the beach.