Calaguas Island dubbed as “concealed white beach of Bicol” emerged as Philippines’ top tourism gem for 2013 in an online nationwide poll of 175 tourist destinations. The pristine beach and turquoise sea are the reasons why this island is frequented by tourists mostly backpackers. Mahabang Buhangin (Long Beach) or "Halabang Baybay" (local dialect) is a kilometer long stretch of powdery white sand beach situated in the Pacific and found in Tinaga Island.
There are no accommodations or establishments in the island. Staying in Mahabang Buhangin is like joining the Survivor TV series. Tourists have to bring their own food/drinking water and tents/hammocks and camp out in the long stretch of the beach. In addition, there is barely any mobile network connection in the island. So if you're planning for that perfect getaway with your loved one without any interruptions, Calaguas Island would be your ideal destination.
The Calaguas group of islands is under the administrative jurisdiction of Vinzons, Camarines Norte and is a 6 to 7 hours drive by private car or 8 to 9 hours by bus. From the port, it is approximately 2 hours to Tinaga Island depending on the weather and direction of the wind. The best time to come here is between February to May, which is considered the summer months of the Philippines. The waves are also calmer during this time.
The Calaguas group of islands offers so much more than just a place to relax. Its tranquility and serenity along with its crystal clear water and unspoiled natural resources makes it an haven for tourists who want to escape the urban jungle. The island also has a magnificent view of the sunset.
HOW TO GET THERE:
There are several tour/travel organizers for a Calaguas trip. The group I joined, Byahe Adventours has a package that includes land trip from Manila, boat transfer, 3 meals and tent accommodations. For those who are adventurous, there is a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) option to get to Calaguas and add excitement to the journey. Daet, Camarines Norte is the jumpoff to the Calaguas group of islands. It is also best to come during the weekdays since there are less tourist.
Naga City is the closest airport to Daet. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air and Air Asia have regular flights to Naga City. There are vans from the Naga Van Terminal to Daet, which takes 2 hours. Earliest trip is 5AM while the last trip is 7PM.
DLTB, Isarog Bus Lines, Penafrancia Travel and Tours, Philtranco/Amihan and Superlines offer trips from Cubao/Pasay to Daet. Travel time is approximately 8 to 9 hours depending on the traffic and fare ranges from Php500 to Php600 or P1,000 for sleeper bus.
- From Daet, get a jeepney ride (P24) to Minaogan fishport in Vinzons (20 minutes).
- Take the boat (Php120) going to Barangay Banocboc that leaves daily at 11AM (90 minutes).
- Hire a banca or fishing boat (P500) going to Mahabang Buhangin (30 minutes).
- The boat going back to Minaogan fish port in Vinzons leaves Barangay Banocboc at 6AM, be sure to be there before 6AM.
- From Daet, take the public van (P100) to Paracale (1 hour).
- Alight in Paracale proper and make your way to the fish port.
- Hire a boat to Tinaga Island and dock at Mahabang Buhangin.
- Alternatively, one can opt to wait for a boat (P100) going to Brgy Mangkawayan in Tinaga Island and walk for twenty to thirty (20-30) minutes to Mahabang Buhangin. However, they do not have a definite schedule. The boat goes back to Vinzons at 630AM the following day from the barangay so you have to walk all the way to the barangay to catch the boat or ask the boatman to pass by the beach and pick you up for an additional fee.
If you have been to Anawangin Cove in Zamabales when it was still barely popular, Mahabang Buhangin in the Tinaga Island is the South Luzon version of that cove. The beach is very tranquil and serene, the exact opposite of Boracay where there are many local and foreign tourists and party-goers. There is an entrance fee of Php 150 in Mahabang Buhangin and Php 100 camping fee. Cottage rate is Php 250 per night. More so, you can also go island hopping at Malacubo Island and Quinamanucan Island.
Swim all day and experience a wonderful sunset in Calaguas. Make your bonfire and relax in the evening while stargazing and lying on the beach until you fall to sleep. You can even go skinny dipping if there's no one around and wake up to the scorching heat of the sun beaming on your face while the clear crystal water hush into the shore.
Other Points of Interest:
- Island hopping around Calaguas group of islands
- Balagbag Malaki
- Balagbag Maliit
- Bendita Beach
- Calangcawan Sur
- Cumalasag Beach
- Pinagtigasan Beach
- Mercedes Group
- St Peter Apostle in Vinzons
- St John the Baptist in Paracale
- Burok-Busok Falls - Barangay Bagong Silang II
- Binuan Falls - Barangay Daguit
- Malatap Falls - Barangay Malatap
- Maligaya Falls - Barangay Submakin
- Palanas Falls - Barangay Pag-asa
- Saltahan Falls - Barangay Awitan
- Turayog Falls - Barangay Fundado
SUGGESTED ITINERARY (Via PARACALE):
I suggest taking the Paracale route if you're taking a bus from Manila, because it is nearer, cheaper and the boat trip is shorter. Otherwise if you're coming from Daet, Vinnzons is a better option because it is nearer.
2100H Departure from Manila
0600H Arrival in Paracale, Breakfast, Haggle for boat
0700H Marketing of all necessities, food, water and packed lunch
0800H ETD Paracale to Maculabo Island
0900H ETA Maculabo Island, Free time
1100H ETD Maculabo to Mahabang Buhangin, Tinaga Island
1200H ETA Mahabang Buhangin, Tinaga Island, Set-up Camp, Prepare Lunch
1400H Free time
1630H Preparation for dinner
2200H Lights off
0700H Rise and Shine, Coffee
0730H Free time, Explore, Beach Bumming, Snorkel
0930H Prepare Brunch, Pack up
1130H Wash up, Final Pack up
1300H ETD Tinaga Island to Paracale
1500H ETA Paracale, Wash up, Explore Paracale
1730H Get ride back to Manila or Early Dinner
- Superlines is the cheapest bus to Paracale, unless you're a group of 10-12, where you can hire a van or if you prefer, bring your own vehicle.
- The cheapest way to Mahabang Buhangin is to take the the fishing boats (Php 100) going to Brgy. Mangkawayan in Tinaga Island. But the time of departure is not definite. From Brgy. Mangkawayan, it is a 20-minute walk to Mahabang Buhangin.
- To save up on time and make the most of your trip, hire a boat directly to Mahabang Buhangin. Haggle for the lowest price you can get. You may also opt to pass by Maculabo Island, which is along the way.
- There is no electricity in the island. Make sure your phones/gadgets are fully charged. I highly recommend that you turn off your gadgets and enjoy the island.
- Buy all you food supplies in Paracale including lots of mineral water since the supplies in the island is more expensive since they have to import them from the mainland. If you're lucky enough, you might be able to buy fresh fish from the fishermen in Brgy Mangkawayan.
- You can try to trek to the hill to get a better view of the cove.
- The best time to come is summer or after the rainy season between October to May.
- Stay for two (2) nights to fully enjoy the island and come on a weekday if you want to have the island for yourselves.
- Expect to get wet during the boat ride and when the boat docks in the beach.
- Waterproof your gadgets.
- Place all your stuff in a big plastic before putting them inside your bag. The boatman may accidentally drop them while carrying them to the beach. Better safe than sorry.
- Check the weather conditions before heading to Paracale. If you already have secured a boat, try to get in touch with the boatman and ask for weather updates.
- There is a comfort room in the island. Fresh water is available through a water pump at Php 10 per pail.
- You can request to wash up in the house of the boatman. However, there is no water supply in Paracale from 1:30PM to 2:00PM.
- There are small eateries in Paracale where you can have a decent meal.
- Things to bring:
- Staple food and water supply
- Tent and/or hammock
- Cook Set and Burners
- Flashlight and Headlamp
- First Aid Kit
- Camera and extra batteries
Manang Imelda +63 948.679.3920
Manong Boboy +63 928.584.2052
Manong Boy +63 908.546.0683
Just make sure to haggle with them.
If you intend to stay in Paracale before, you can check Paliza del Rio. They can be reached at +63 939.718.2008 or +63 (02)542.3888
You may also check with the following links for weather forecast and for the wave and tide forecast
Calaguas Weather Forecast
Calaguas Waves and Tide Forecast
I hope this travel guide will be useful for you as you embark on your own journey to Calaguas Island!
Calaguas: A Paradise Waiting to Unfold
Calaguas: Escape to Paradise
Calaguas: Paradise Unleashed