The Bicol Region is another wonderful destination when it comes to pristine white sand beaches. But, what usually comes to mind when people mention Bicol is the famous Mayon Volcano for its perfect cone shape, CWC Wakeboarding, or island hopping in Caramoan, or Whaleshark Watching in Sorsogon, or snorkeling in Catanduanes. People tend to miss the beauty of the northern part of Bicol where the virgin Mercedes group of islands and Calaguas Island is located. Camarines Norte, Daet (the province’s city) in particular, is an 8-hr travel by land, or you may opt for a 45 min. travel by plane. Since Bicol is my family’s hometown, I always get the chance to visit my relatives there. With the beauty of the places that Bicol has to offer, it makes me really proud as a Bicolana. This post is a 3-Day 2 Night stay in Daet, with bits and pieces of Calaguas Island and Daet town proper.
More of Bicol in my future post! (As soon as I can.)
INTRODUCING CALAGUAS AND HOW TO GET THERE via VINZONS:
There are two ways to get to Calaguas Island. You may enter via Paracale or via Vinzons Port. Calaguas Island is under the jurisdiction of the town of Vinzons. The difference between those two ways if you’re coming from Daet, land travel is longer when you enter via Paracale while boat ride to Calaguas is shorter. But, if you will enter via Vinzons Port, land travel from Daet is about twenty minutes only. From Manila, ride a Philtranco bus at the Pasay terminal to Daet. It will cost you around P500 to P600 ($11 to $13 AUD) per way depending on the season. Upon reaching Daet proper, you may ride a tricycle to Pandawan Port at Vinzons. Tricycle is about P40-60 ($1.5 AUD) per person. From there, you may hire a boat to Calaguas Island for about P2,500 – P5,000 ($50-$100 AUD) depending on the number of people. The boat ride to Calaguas, by the way is a maximum of about two hours. You may also drop by the market for some fresh produce that you can grill in the island.
WARNING: Boat ride to Calaguas is for the brave only. It is not advisable for people who are scared of gigantic ocean waves. Remember, it is a part of the Pacific Ocean, so weather is extremely erratic as well as the condition of the waves for sailing. It is best to check weather conditions first. The coast guard occasionally brings out a hold order if it is rainy as it might be dangerous to sail for small boats. BEST TIME TO GO THERE: End of March – April.
After braving the waves of the Pacific Ocean, you will see a priceless reward when you get to the island. The pristine turquoise waters are definitely breathtaking adding up to the white powdery sands of “Mahabang Buhangin” or in Bicolano “Halabang Baybay”. It actually took me a moment to take in the beauty of the island as we went there exactly on my birthday. It felt like the island welcomed me and that it was reserved just for me. The backdrop of the sky that landed on the clear waters was just too surreal.
We were all geared up for some awesome time. Cards on deck, sea foods on grill and pork barbecue waiting to be devoured. We also took some fresh fruits with us from the city market. Everything just tastes so good when you’re just beside the sea. It was truly a blast. We completely forgot about the giant waves that we will be battling as we set sail back to the city.
As virgin as it is, the island does not have any commercial establishments there except for nipa huts with tables and chairs if you’re on a day tour. So if you want to stay overnight, bring your tents, food, and water.
WHERE TO STAY:
We opted to go back to the city on the same day since we were trying to maximize our short stay. We could always stay at our cousin’s house any time, but then again we decided to experience the infamous Bagasbas Lighthouse to celebrate my birthday. The resort offers a swimming pool, rooms that showcase the façade and beautiful waves of Bagasbas Beach, and free continental or Filipino breakfast in the morning. It also offers KTV, a bar, and water sports like wakeboarding and paragliding. But, if you are traveling on a budget and backpacking, there a lot of transient inns and mini hotels in Daet, just a few kilometers away from the sea side. You may just ride a tricycle for convenience around the city.
We went surfing the following day. I’ve never experienced surfing before and I was glad I did it in Bagasbas. Seeing the waves of the ocean just made me a little hesitant at first. But the surfing instructors were real time surfers, and having them assist you during the experience was reassuring.
We ate authentic Bicolandia foods like “Tinumok”, “Bicol Express”, and “Laing” for lunch. We also got to chill out in my favorite café, Biggs Diner. We spent the afternoon in the market and souvenir shops where we can buy rare items that can only be bought in Bicol. Pasalubongs such as Pili Tarts, Pili Keychains, Abaca Bags and fans, sweet mini pineapples which only cost P6 (less than a dollar) per piece and bottled “Laing” are only a few of the good stuff that you can bring home to your families and friends back in Manila.
I come home to Bicol every year, and this year… I’m visiting another island. That’s another story to tell.
Philtranco Trunk Line: (63) 2 851-8078 | (63) 2 8079
Bagasbas Lighthouse: bagasbaslighthouse.ph