Calaguas Island: The Boracay of the 80's


The moment our boat docked by the shore of Mahabang Buhangin in Calaguas Island, it took all of our willpower not to jump into the water headfirst. 

I mean how can you resist these waters that give the hashtag #nofilter an entirely new meaning?



Calaguas is located in the Philippine province of Camarines Norte. It includes the major islands of Tinaga Island and Guintinua Island, the minor Maculabo Island, as well as several other minor islands.

Most of the islands are under the administrative jurisdiction of Vinzons, while the minor island of Maculabo is under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Paracale. (Read more here.)

With its crystal clear waters and powdery white sand, we all agreed: It's the Boracay of the 1980's.  And a plus (for me anyway) is the lack of signal on the island.  It made for a full weekend of being totally unplugged--enjoying the island without the distraction of social media and unnecessary calls or messages.

Earlier in the year actually, we had already attempted to go to Calaguas.  But our trip was hampered by a storm.  We commuted all the way to Camarines Norte but were able to go only as far as the town of Paracale.  It turned out to be a funny [mis]adventure but, we wanted the suuuuuuun!

So you could just imagine how much we were looking forward to this trip!  There was so much anticipation from the group that our official hashtag eventually became #CalaguasSaWakas.  (Calaguas, finally!)

But before I flood you further with more inviting photos of the island, let me first give you some tips on how to plan a DIY Calaguas trip.


How to get there

By land (public transportation)
There are two routes to choose from should you decide to take the public transportation--via Paracale or via Vinzons. 

The Paracale route is better since it requires less transfers and the port is closer to Calaguas.

  1. From Manila, take the Superlines bus which has direct trips to Paracale.  (Travel time:  Approximately 10 hours)
  2. Upon arrival in Paracale, go down at the Caltex gas station and hire a tricycle going to the port.
  3. At the port, hire a boat that will take you to Mahabang buhangin.  (Travel time:  Approximately 2 hours)



TRIVIA
Calaguas Island has several beaches.  
But Mahabang Buhangin is considered as the best beach
among all of them.

TIP
Superlines doesn't have online reservations nor
do they accept reservations via phone call.
You would need to go to their terminal in Cubao
to purchase the tickets in advance.

BUS FARE
One way = Php550 (USD12) 
   


By land (private vehicle)
Bringing your own car or renting a van is much more convenient because you will have more flexibility with your schedule.  During our second trip, we decided to rent a van which was just about Php600 (USD13)  more expensive than taking the bus.

  1. From Manila, drive to the town of Paracale.  (Travel time:  Approximately 7 hours)
  2. Upon arrival in Paracale, you may park your van at the designated parking area near the port.  (You may ask your boat owner for the location of the parking lot.)
  3. At the port, hire a boat that will take you to Mahabang buhangin.  (Travel time:  Approximately 2 hours)  

Calagwas, sa wakas!  En route to the island of Calaguas.

 VAN RENTAL
3 days, round trip (Manila-Paracale-Manila) = Php18,000 (USD387) all-in

*The van that we rented out was a Grandia which
comfortably fit 10 pax, driver excluded

TIP
Contact a boat owner weeks prior to the trip so you'd save time 
looking for one once you're at the port.

BOAT OWNER CONTACT INFO
Boy Camano
+639085460683
 
We highly recommend getting in touch with Mang Boy.  He took very good care of our group during our two trips--finding us accommodation when we got caught in the storm during the first, attending to our needs 24/7, helping troubleshoot when the battery of my brother-in-law's car got discharged, and  answering all my incessant questions when we were still planning for the trip.


Mang Boy is da man!

By plane
Taking the plane is actually more tiring as it requires multiple transfers.  And managing the timings of your land trips and flight going back to Manila can be quite tricky.
  1. From Manila, take the flight going to Naga.  
  2. From Naga, ride a van going to Daet.  The terminal is located near SM Naga.  (Travel time:  Approximately 2.5 hours)
  3. From Daet, take a van or a bus going to Paracale.  (Travel time:  Approximately 1.5 hours)
  4. From Paracale, rent a tricycle to the fish port.
  5. From the fish port, rent a boat that will take you to Mahabang Buhangin.  (Travel time:  Approximately 2 hours)  

How many days should a trip to Calaguas be?
Two full days on the island is perfect.  Not too long for you to get bored but just enough so you'll have time to laze around and enjoy two perfectly good sunsets without feeling rushed ;)




In our case, this became the itinerary:

FRIDAY
9:00pm - Group meet-up
10:00pm - Departure for Paracale

SATURDAY
6:00am - Arrival in Paracale | Breakfast at Mang Boy's
8:00am - Departure for Calaguas Island
10:00am - Arrival in Mahabang Buhangin | Check-in | Beach time!

SUNDAY
Whole day at the beach

MONDAY
9:00am - Departure from Mahabang Buhangin
11:00am - Arrival in Paracale | Departure for Manila
8:00pm - Arrival in Manila


TIP
If you can afford to, go on a weekday because
it can get pretty crowded on Saturdays.
We were lucky we got to experience a deserted island 
during the Sunday we were there. 


Accommodation
Years ago, the only option was to stay at tents pitched on the island.  But now, there's already a resort that offers more comfortable sleeping areas, the Waling-Waling Eco-Village.




The good thing is Waling-Waling doesn't at all ruin the rawness of the island.  It has eight kubols with open air living rooms and private bathrooms.  Each kubol can sleep six persons.  There are also 14 cabanas that can sleep four persons each.  A cabana doesn't have its own restroom so you would need to use the common bathroom.  But, to be fair, the common bathrooms are really clean and well-maintained.


The kubol.

The sleeping space on the second floor of the kubol.

The kubol's restroom.

The cabanas.

The common restroom.



WALING-WALING RATES
Kubol = Php6,500 (USD138) / night
Cabana = Php3,500 (USD64) / night

WALING-WALING CONTACT INFO
+639151000000
walingecovillage@gmail.com


Food
You can actually avail of a package from Waling-Waling which already includes the accommodation, boat transfers, and food.  However, we found it a bit too pricey because when broken down, each meal would cost about Php500 (USD11).

So we decided to avail only of their rooms and asked Mang Boy to cook for us.  For the boat transfers and a total of seven meals, Mang Boy only charged us Php1,600 (USD34) per head.

You should note though that Waling-Waling does not allow outside food or drinks.  So we had to eat our meals at Mang Boy's hut which is a 5-minute walk from Waling-Waling.

When we wanted drinks, we simply laid out our sarongs and bummed around by the beach ;) (That's all we wanted to do anyway hahaha.)


Beer keg, FTW!



Budget
Given all the expenses listed above, our total damage per person was Php6,147 (USD131).  For two full days in this paradise, not bad, right?



The beach
So now that all those information are out of the way,  let me show you the pristine island of Calaguas.















You can also trek up the mountain behind the beach to enjoy this panoramic view of the island.




Tips and things to remember
  • Electricity:  In Waling-Waling, there's electricity but they only turn it on from 6:00pm-6:00am.
  • Mobile signal:  There's NO signal on the island.   But there are certain spots where you can catch hints of mobile signal enough to send a message.  Not enough though to upload those awesome photos on IG hihi :p
  • Bring a cooler and buy blocks of ice from the stores within the tent area to keep your drinks awesomely cold.
  • Prepare tips.  The locals are some of the nicest and most helpful people you'll meet.

Some would be turned off by the lack of signal on the island.   But us?  We found that it gave the totally  perfect setup to do just this :)



17 comments:

  1. Ang ganda ng pictures! Nakaka-engganyong puntahan. Hadlang lang sa akin ang 12-hours travel pero mukhang worth it naman. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Sobrang sulit siya. Punta na habang di pa commercialized :) Well, sana hindi siya maging commercialized.

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  2. Wonderful post and beautiful photos! Thank you so much for sharing. :)

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome! If ever you get to visit our side of the world someday, you should consider putting this place on your itinerary :)

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  3. Paradise on earth!I love clear waters and the sand!

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    Replies
    1. You should visit the Philippines and go this island! :)

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  4. Looks like a little slice of paradise Koryn! A week without a signal sounds very appealing to me :)

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    Replies
    1. Surprisingly, it does. Doesn't it? Pure and uninterrupted relaxation.

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  5. I haven't seen anywhere comparable to this ethereal beauty and serenity of the sea and beach of Calaguas islands. Your photos are superb, Koryn!

    Yoko

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    Replies
    1. Coming from you, that's a huge compliment!

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  6. Yes, looks like paradise to me! Beautiful photos.

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  7. What a stunningly beautiful place, so different from where I live.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Should you decide that you want a different experience, come visit the Philippines!

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  8. wow, wow, WOW! love your islands-trips and escapes! so cool+ soooo relaxing! great pictures...almost was there w u! xxx

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    Replies
    1. Come back and visit and I'll take you there!

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  9. I can't wait to see and experience crystal clear water and powdery sand of Calaguas. Thanks for sharing your blog. God bless.

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