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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Calaguas Islands Escapade 101

Photo by Junie Orante

6 Expectations When You Travel to Calaguas this Summer
by Jo DLT

Vinzons - Calaguas is sure to be a dream destination not only for Bicolanos but also for travel junkies out there. Tourists will try to get a piece of this paradise, at least for once in their life thus making it crowded every summer. Now here are the things that you should expect if you are traveling to Calaguas.

Just to get ahead of you, I am not discouraging you to visit Calaguas, I'm just giving you a heads up on what to expect on this island (seriously) for you are sharing this piece of paradise with hundreds of tourists.

The crowd during peak season, this was taken April 09, 2016 to be precise. Imagine that each boat can carry around at least 20 people. 

1. Expect a crowded beach front in Mahabang Bughanin.  I experienced Calaguas only just last year and I envy those who visited the island like a castaway style. Back then you'll hear stories that you have to pitch a tent, gaze under the stars in the dark, enjoy the powdery sand and turquoise waters all by yourself or even go skinny dipping. By this time it's totally different. Most of the resorts run in genset and utilizes it from 5:00 pm -05: 00 am (you'll still have enough time to charge your gadgets). I can foresee that some may even use it during daytime in the future. The crowd could literally mean (annoying) people and at the same time the boats docked on the shore. As if it is always Easter Sunday every weekend in Calaguas. You may find it difficult to swim freely with the boats all over. Videoke machines playing altogether, plus party beats at night with flashing lights throughout. Drunk men and women at night that you may accidentally bump into and find them sleeping on the shore (not that many, but for sure you'll see a few). Before there were less cabanas and human-made structures. So it's a fact that the noise which comes in light, sound and visual exists during the day time and night time. If you happen to wake up at around 4:00 am (which I did), believe me, you'll still hear music beats. These types of noise will try to steal the serenity you wished you had throughout your stay. Here's another option,  if your schedule permits, visit Calaguas on a weekday.

2. Expect a long queue in comfort rooms and shower rooms. Now this is where your extra budget can be useful if you do not want any hassle during your stay. If you are on a limited budget, then comfort rooms and shower rooms is a waiting game. Other resorts has no faucets but has deep-well pumps instead. So flex your muscles and pump for your shower. There may be a limited supply of water in worse cases.

3. Expect trash (anywhere). Reality check, not everyone is a responsible traveler. Others feel that they have the right to litter just because they paid a certain amount. Please do not be like them. Calaguas is a very beautiful island and leaving our trash is something that we should not even consider.

Click HERE for my #iTravelResponsibly tips that you can consider on your next trip. 

Tip: When you walk up the hill for sunrise / sunset viewing, you may want to pick up along the shorea nd / or trail some garbage on your way up. Me and my friends did it early in the morning for our sunrise watching. It actually felt good letting people notice you pick up their trash. Talk about sarcasm and only then can they feel guilty.

4. Photobombers come in two forms, people and boats. If you want a picture with fewer people on the shore or on the hills, go out  during high-noon. BUT, if there is still a large number of people, expect that your pictures will include the photobombers in it.

5. Calaguas do not need any filter on your photos. Calaguas is very mesmerizing. You can look at your surroundings all day and every moment will give you a different hue as time passes by. So as much as possible, do not use any filter when taking pictures. Let the natural beauty of Calaguas redeem itself in the eyes of many. Oh and make sure you have enough space on your smartphone or bring enough memory cards if you must, for you just can't get enough of the view day in and day out.

6. If there is one thing that did not change in Calaguas, it is the " no signal from any telecom networks." Although you can get a chance to exchange text messages just to let your family or friends to safely arrived in Calaguas, then it is quite possible when you walk up the hill for your sunrise / sunset watching. It is time to be disconnected from the online world once in a while, trust me, we all need them.

Despite all these factors, all you have to do is learn the art of eliminating annoying things that you see in your view and let them pass through. During my almost two-day stay in Calaguas, I just cannot stop saying how beautiful Calaguas is, literally, for countless times.

Tourists go to the beaches and islands during the summer simply because there is no or less weather disturbance. If you are trying to avoid the large number of tourists, then consider an off peak travel to Calaguas but then you are in for a roller coaster ride with the waves adding a little rain and wind in other cases. If you can brave those elements, then be my guest.

The lean months of Calaguas may actually give time for the island to breath. This is the advantage of Calaguas over Boracay. Boracay is a year-round tourist destination that does not have any downtime for the island just to refresh itself. 

How to Get to Calaguas Island? There's actually two jump off points via Paracale or Vinzons Port.

Public Transportation: From Manila to Bicol
  • From Cubao or Pasay ride any bus line going to Daet commonly DLTB, Superlines, Amihan Philtranco. Travel time is around 8 hours. There are buses such as Superlines which travels directly to PARACALE which can be your jump off to Calaguas.
  • If your bus is bound to Daet, take a van going PARACALE (travel time is 1 to 2 hours)
  • From paracale, hire a chartered boat going Calagaus. Travel time is around two hours
  • If you opt to take Vinzons, from Daet, rent a tricycle to Vinzons Port, travel time is approximately 30 minutes. 
  • From Vinzons Port to Calaguas, boat takes around 2-3 hours travel time.
  • Now if you took the plane from Manila to Naga, take the first trip by van (Fare approx P190) to Daet (terminal is located next to Mall LCC Naga), then move to another van going Paracale or tricycle  to Vinzons. 
Now jump off point which is better? It depends on you, would you prefer the long journey by road or by sea? Personally I choose the route PARACALE going to Calaguas. This means shorter time to travel by sea.

We booked our travel package to Calaguas from  I Love Calaguas Island Resort (Facebook page HERE ). Since we are around 15 in the group, we paid around P2200 per person for an overnight stay along with food, accommodadtion, environmental fee and boat transfers.

To give you a bigger picture, the long stretch of Mahabang Buhangin is composed of numerous resorts. Waling Waling Eco Village is the most luxurious accommodation there is in Calaguas, then I Love Calaguas Island (for me) is next to that. Waling Waling offers around P3500 per pax good for 4 people in a cabana for a 2 day 1 night stay, for 3 days 2 nights stay it costs around P5500 per pax good for 4 people. At the other end of the Mahabang Buhangin are the resorts offering lower rate packages. Of course, the premise is always to pay for the convenience that we want. 

 Our open cabana that can actually accommodate around 6 to 7 persons. There were two added two added tents provided for us too.

There is also a closed cabana if you value your privacy at an added cost. 

Mahabang Buhgangin from afar. This rocky part of the island is close to Waling Waling resort. 

There are two trails going up the hill, this one has trees all around along the trail and the other one is an open area on the other side which could be your exit point. There is an entrance fee of P20 on the hill. During our walk, we did not bring any cash with us, so we told the kids to visit us at the resort for the payment. Guess what, they did not mind following us back.



Illusion that it looks like a pool! But it is not a pool!

Oh btw, there's buco salad flavored "ice candy" being sold at P20.00 per piece. Yup, this is your most expensive ice candy ever hehe.

Other activities that you can actually do if it is part of the package is go on snorkeling on the island just right across Mahabang Buhangin. It's actually a barren hill with little or few trees where you can also hike and have a clear view Calaguas.

snorkeling site
Photo by Junie Orante
Photo by Junie Orante

Towards the end of the luxurious Waling Waling Resort is a rocky part of the island where you can explore. On the other side is actually a privately owned.

This part is really a private property. I'm just not sure if this area is now developed this year.
I hope not.

If you are traveling to Calaguas this year, you may want to update us on the current status of the island, but one thing is for sure, it is still damn beautiful than ever.


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