For people who have day jobs like me need to get through a long process and explanation just to file a vacation leave and be approved. The other way to escape the four corners of the office is traveling on a weekend. I didn’t file any leave for the month of April and May instead using weekends for my trips. One thing to consider for a weekend getaway is the distance between the destination and origin, meaning the ones near you.
However, with fellow travel bloggers, we embarked an 8-hour bus ride to Paracale, Camarines Norte to experience the pristine beach of Calaguas. Most of the blogs and write-ups I read praise its beauty and serenity. That was years ago. We arrived on the island and indeed the water of Calaguas is so clear and the sand of Mahabang Buhangin is powdery, cold and compact. In fact, it can be considered to be on top of the list of beaches in the country.
Calaguas still has its unique beauty with the pristine beach having creamy and powdery sand. Its cold and clear water will attract you to swim throughout the day like what I did which resulted in sunburn. You can also hike the hills in the island to have an aerial view of the stretch of Mahabang Buhangin and appreciate it afar.
During the day, you can enjoy beach bumming, capturing photos of the island and sleeping under the shade of trees. Unfortunately, the island transforms into a different scene in the evening. A mobile bar is now available on the island offering unlimited flowing drinks with fire dancers for entertainment.
When we slept on the sands, some people set off firecrackers with one didn’t set off properly and unexpectedly landed near us. Paper lanterns were also lit up near the trees. I wasn’t able to sleep immediately since a group of people was too noisy on a cottage near us. Boats ply the Paracale to Calaguas route most of the time and cottages are now present on the island catering to people.
Different water activities were also spotted on the island: banana boat, kayaking and skim boarding. And the great indication of spoliation: garbage, especially plastics were scattered everywhere even on the beach.
We also got the chance to visit the small community on the other side of the island. Life is so simple. Electricity is only available from 6 PM to 10 PM with the use of generators. The sea and the land serve as a source for their daily food survival. We had a small talk with an official and from what he said, for every person visiting the island, a 20 peso fee is being charged for the environmental fee. I don’t know how it is being collected and remitted to them since different areas of Mahabang Buhangin have different rates.
We stayed on the left side of the island, facing the sea, and paid 95 per person for our stay. We also shared to him the experience we had the night before. He said that the barangay council is now in the process of formulating ordinances to sustain and maintain the beauty of their island.
I’ll be sharing the itinerary and expenses not to support its deterioration but to help the community on the island. Travel Guide: Calaguas Islands. Please be responsible enough when you visit the place. As the adage goes, “Take nothing but pictures, Leave nothing but footprints, Kill nothing but time.” Don’t visit Calaguas when you want to party and drink all night or experience a luxurious vacation. I’d rather recommend Puerto Galera or Boracay for that. Instead, visit Calaguas for its incomparable beauty and for its solemnity that is now being taken from her.
HOW TO GO TO CALAGUAS
Buses ply the Manila-Daet route daily with bus lines such as Philtranco and Superlines. Travel time is 7-8 hours depending on traffic and stopovers. Tell the bus conductor to drop you at Talobatib Junction in the town of Labo, Camarines Norte. From Talobatib, you can either wait for the non-aircon buses from Daet going to Paracale. Fare is 25, or charter tricycles that will bring you to Paracale Port. From Paracale port, you can contact Mang Boy 09085460683 for the boat rates. Since we were merged with other groups, we paid 500 per person. Boat ride to Mahabang Buhangin will take you 1.5-2 hours.