Somewhere tucked away in the province of Camarines Norte is where you discover Calaguas group of islands. Preserved from all the bustle and pollution of the rest of the world, this is a real piece of heaven on earth. The group of islands boasts of two major islands which are the Tinaga and the Guintinua islands where much of the tourist crowd is drawn. Apart from this is the minor island of Maculabo as well as a couple of other minor islands.
What Calaguas Offers
The Calaguas groups of islands are virgin islands unspoiled by outside forces. Its pearly white sandy beaches are an attraction that cannot be compared to any other. The Pacific Ocean calls out to you to take a dip in its pure stillness. You have this luxury offered to you from the famous Mahabang Buhangin, which is the longest beach among the islands. It is located in the Tinaga Island and is a pristine 1.2 km long. Upon this beach, you are given a breath-taking view of the other islands and the surrounding hills.
You go trekking on the island hills as you take in the panoramic sights, go spelunking in caves and engage in water activities like scuba diving and surfing. With all the islands available on offer, you should take the opportunity to go island hopping. You can also discover the parishes and the village tucked within the island, interact with the locals and get to know their way of life.
The Journey to Calaguas
Set apart from the rest of the world, getting to Calaguas is an adventure in itself. You will have a resilient journey that tests your sitting muscles. There are two points of entry to these enchanted islands: from Paracale, and Vinzons. You have the choice of doing this alone or going under the caring wings of local travel operators. While both are an adventure, doing it yourself has a thrill of the unknown. You will approach this journey from Manila which will take you to Daet, the capital of Camarines Norte. Here you have the option of land or air approach.
If you want to get there by land, you will have a selection of air-conditioned buses to choose from three different companies. The journey is approximately 8 hours long. You will then ride a van to get to Paracale or Vinzons. One of the bus companies, Superlines, does, however, have a direct route to Paracale, which is faster for you.
The closest airport is Naga in Camarines Sur with local flights such as Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, which is a two-hour travel to Daet. A van or bus transport from the van terminal at the airport are also available. From Daet, you will need to take another van to Paracale or Vinzons.
Related: Discovering The Islands Of Caramoan
Going Through Vinzons
Once you get to Vinzons, ride a jeepney that will take you to the fish port. There is a daily boat trip that will get you to Barangay Banocboc, where you can finally hire a banca to the islands. The boat leaves the barangay at 11 AM and makes the trip back to Vinzons at 6 AM the following day. It is also possible to hire a banca directly from Vinzons if you are a group as this will be a more direct way.
Going Through Paracale
When you arrive at Paracale, you have the option of hiring a boat going to Calaguas, which has a capacity of about six people. The cheaper option is to take a boat going to Barangay Mangkawayan. The only downside to using this side of entry is you are not guaranteed of getting a boat as it runs on an unpredictable schedule.
Choosing between Vinzons and Paracale, you will find that Vinzons offers a more friendly boat ride with better boats too. The downside is that since there are fewer islands along the way, the ocean is a bit rough. It also takes over two hours to get to the islands. Using the Paracale route you will use about one and a half hours. The downside is you will have to protect your luggage from getting soaked due to the boat’s design (or lack of it). You will not help getting wet yourself although the upside is that it will be for a shorter time.
Where to Stay
Calaguas group of islands has available accommodation. The first option would probably be camping to enjoy the most of the nature surrounding you. You also have the option of using the available cottages or the Waling-Waling Resort.
Tips to Note
It is wise to point out you will need to carry your own camping equipment unless you are under the care of a tourist package that offers this. You will also pay fees for both entries as a camper and for pitching a tent though it is still cheaper than getting a cottage. Be advised to carry your own food supply as well as drinking water. Fresh fish, vegetables and fruits are in plenty here though. The last thing is to relax and enjoy the experience of a lifetime.