When we hear Calaguas, what instantly comes to our mind is a long stretch of pristine beach with only few cottages that serve as temporary home for the city dwellers seeking to be away from everything. That’s how we see it, at least for us, considering that we were one of the first people who beheld its untouched beauty even before it rose to fame big time. As a matter of fact, on our first visit we had the whole beach all to ourselves as if we rented it for a couple of days, that was 2014.
Over the years, many things have changed. It’s not just about few cottages anymore (we went back on 2017). Many island resorts have popped up one by one, offering accommodations other than tents and cottages. But what amazes me is that eventhough it was being developed, its beauty and tranquility still remains. It still doesn’t fail to amaze us.
People who have been here even say that Mahabang Buhangin Beach in Calaguas can even rival Boracay beaches (which I couldn’t confirm as of now since I haven’t been to Boracay yet. Edit: We’ve been to already and here’s our verdict). But what I can confirm is that everytime I set foot on its clean powdery white sands, I couldn’t say a thing. Although I’m pretty sure it’s one of the best islands in the Philippines.
Last April, we went back with hopes of experiencing both “uncrowded beach” and “calm ocean” at the same time. We have experienced both but in separate trips.
Uncrowded beach, but rough seas
We had a very terrible 5-hr boat ride due to LPA, I don’t know how we we were allowed to set sail (coast guards?), as mother ocean looked like she’s ready to swallow us alive. We haven’t swum yet but we already got wet, from head to toe, soaked to the skin! And we were just riding a small fishing boat, imagine that.
But the amazing part, we were greeted with pleasant weather while nearing the island. The sky was clear and the sun was happily shining as if nothing horrible happened lately. The ocean was still a little angry though, the waves were strong at the beach. But the beach, I can’t say anything bad about it.
The beach was almost empty of facilities. It was just all about the sands, ocean, trees, hills, few cottages, and makeshift comfort rooms. We just camped in our tents and immersed with nature.
Calm ocean, but crowded beach
On our second visit, it was summer so the ocean was super calm and almost flat. In fact, our sea travel lasted a little more than 1 hour only. The timing wasn’t so good though, as it was holiday so the beach was super packed with vacationers. We did not enjoy swimming because of many boats docked on the shore. But despite being crowded and noisy, its beauty was still perfectly evident.
Calm ocean + uncrowded beach = best beach trip ever!
To experience a calm ocean, we need to go during summer months. To achieve a crowdless beach, weekdays trip is the key. So we decided to go during summer and weekdays (Tue-Wed).
To say that this place is beautiful would be an understatement. No bias. I will not earn anything nor receive something in exchange for saying that. We’ve been to other top beaches too like El Nido Palawan, Panglao Bohol, Kalanggaman Leyte, Caramoan Camsur, etc. But Mahabang Buhangin Beach in Calaguas is still where I could see myself going back over and over again. I’m not saying that the other beaches aren’t beautiful, they just have their own kind of beauty.
To be honest, its beauty is something that cannot be captured fully by cameras. You need to experience it firsthand before you could understand why we’re going crazy about it.
Calaguas Travel Guide
Good to know
Calaguas is a group of islands in the province of Camarines Norte. Note that it’s a group of islands, and there’s no such thing as “Calaguas Island”. It has 2 major islands namely, Tinaga and Guintinua islands, and several minor islands.
But when people say “Calaguas”, they are basically pertaining to Mahabang Buhangin Beach which is located in Tinaga island. Mahabang Buhangin is a long stretch of white sand beach (hence the name) that is now becoming more and more famous because of its unspoiled beauty.
How to get to this paradise?
Pink – Mahabang Buhangin Beach, Calaguas
Black – Ports and terminals
There are basically two entry points to Calaguas: Paracale and Vinzons.
Paracale Port to Calaguas: 1 to 2-hr boat ride
Vinzons Port to Calaguas: 2 to 3-hr boat ride
How to get to Paracale/Vinzon’s?
Manila to Paracale (our route):
Superlines in Cubao has direct trips to Paracale. Travel time is 10 hours. Bus schedule is 7:45PM daily. Fare is 599 php (regular aircon).
*Alternatively, you can use Cubao-Daet-Paracale route. It will be more hassle and longer travel time, but in case you missed the direct trips to Paracale, you would still have a back-up plan. There are lots of buses from Manila going to Daet like DLTB, Philtranco, Isarog, etc. And from Daet, there are buses and vans going to Paracale.
Manila to Vinzons:
There are no bus lines that offer direct trips to Vinzons. So you will need to get to Daet first (10 hrs) then ride a van/bus going to Vinzons (1hr). There are lots of buses from Manila going to Daet.
You can book your transportation to Paracale via 12Go Asia.
From Manila, you can fly via Cebu Pacific Air or Philippine Airlines to Naga City Airport (1hr). From Naga, there are buses/vans going to Daet (3hrs). And from Daet, there are also buses/vans going to Paracale (1hr).
Overall travel time: 5 hours (versus 10 hrs land travel)
From Manila, you can fly via Cebu Pacific Air or Philippine Airlines to Naga City Airport (1hr). From Naga, there are buses/vans going to Daet (3hrs). And from Daet, there are also buses/vans going to Vinzon’s (1hr).
Overall travel time: 5 hours (versus 11 hrs land travel)
You can also book your flight to Naga via 12Go Asia.
Of course, lesser travel time means higher cost. So it’s up to you now to choose what suits your budget and schedule.
So all in all, you will need to allot “at least” 12 hours travel time (if traveling by land), and 7 hours (if traveling by air) to reach the island, and you still need to add time allowance in case of unexpected mishaps. Which explains why this island paradise is only for those who are willing to go the “extra mile”.
In our case, we reserved our bus tickets at Superlines Cubao in advance. The bus was so clean because it’s Superlines (korni). Our bus was scheduled to depart at 7:45pm and we arrived at Paracale around 6am. It was a butt-numbing 10-hr bus ride. The jump-off point is at Paracale Terminal and from there, we chartered a tricycle to bring us to house of our boatman, Mang Boy (we contacted him beforehand). We just told the tricycle driver to take us to Mang Boy’s house (yes he’s famous) and paid 20 each for the ride. From Paracale Port, we sailed for 1hr+ (it was summer) to Calaguas.
Sample Breakdown of Expenses
|Item||Cost per person|
|Superlines Bus (Cubao-Paracale)||599|
|Tricycle to Mang Boy||20|
|Boat ride (back&forth), life vests, kitchen utensils||500|
|Tent rental (if applicable)||300|
|Tent Pitching fee||150|
|Huge plastic bag||20|
|Superlines Bus (Paracale-Cubao)||599|
- Food budget varies with people. You may add or reduce according to your preference.
Here are market prices as of our visit last April 2019:
Chicken = 150/kilo (we bought 100 worth, good for the two of us)
Pork = 200/kilo (we bought 100 worth, good for the two of us)
Bangus = 180/kilo (we didn’t buy)
Rice = 40/kilo (we bought 1kg, more than enough for two of us)
Salted egg (itlog na pula/maalat)= 10/pc (we bought 4)
Charcoal = 10/pack (we bought 2)
Other cooking necessities: marinade, calamansi, salt, tomatoes, soy sauce
- Boat transfers (with life vests, kitchen utensils rental, and island hopping) is 500/person, joiner rate. Meaning, you will be joined with other tourists in one boat that is 25pax capacity. But if you want an exclusive boat, you can rent one for 3,500 good for 6 persons.
Island hopping tour will be held the next day (if 2D1N), or on the returning date (if staying more than 2days), as the islands and snorkeling sites are just on the way back to Paracale. There’s a public shower area with many shower cubicles at Paracale mainland (25/person) where you could wash-up after the island hopping tour.
Please contact Mang Boy in advance so he can properly reserve your slot. Also, contact him again the day before your arrival date to confirm you’re going.
Suggested 2D1N Itinerary (DIY, camping)
07:45 PM ETD Cubao
06:00 AM ETA Paracale; Buy food supplies at the Public Market; Prepare for boat ride
08:00 AM ETD Paracale
09:30 AM ETA Mahabang Buhangin Beach, Calaguas; Set-up tents; Free-time
11:00 AM Prepare lunch
12:00 NN Lunch time
01:00 PM Free-time; Siesta
04:00 PM Swimming; Explore beach
05:00 PM Prepare dinner
05:45 PM Sunset watching
06:00 PM Dinner; Free-time
04:00 AM Wake-up call; Breakfast
05:00 AM Start trekking to hill; Sunrise
08:00 AM Descend; Quick rest
09:00 AM Free-time; Swimming
10:30 AM Prepare for island hopping and snorkeling (Maculabo, Balagbag, Bagasbas, etc.)
12:00 PM Lunch time; Continue island hopping
02:00 PM Sail back to Paracale
04:00 PM ETA Paracale; Wash-up
06:30 PM ETD Paracale (Superlines bus schedule to Cubao is 6:30 PM daily)
04:30 AM ETA Cubao
But if you’re not a fan of camping in tents, you may avail other types of accommodations from resorts around Mahabang Buhangin Beach.
Tip when going back to Manila: Superlines bus schedule Paracale-Cubao route is 6:30 PM daily. We arrived at Paracale Terminal around 3PM but they are already fully-booked. Best thing to do is to reserve your seats upon arrival at Paracale on your day 1.
- Boat arrangements, tent rental, kitchen utensils, island hopping
Mang Boy : 0908-546-0683
- Accommodations and tour packages
I Love Calaguas Island Resort : 09332080328 / 09166813860 | Facebook page
(Look for Ms. Chiqui and tell her I said Hi 😉 )
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