Tucked away in the northernmost section of the Bicol peninsula, the Calaguas group of islands offers pristine beaches with little commercial development. To get to Calaguas, beach-seekers must take a sleeper bus from Manila to Daet in Camarines Norte province. Travelling takes eight hours. In Daet, a jeepney ride to Vinzons town can take you to the fish ports where boats going to Calaguas are awaiting passengers.
Be prepared though, for the two-hour bumpy ride as the route to the islands includes a section of the Pacific Ocean and its tumultuous waters. As an alternative, instead of heading to Vinzons from Daet, you can go to Paracale town. The boat ride to Calaguas from Paracale ports only takes 1.5 hours.
Relish the long stretch of clean white beach
The popular destination for visitors is the biggest island in the Calaguas, which is Tinaga Island where you can find Mahabang Buhangin Beach. The pristine turquoise waters and the powder-like white sand welcome beach bums to this paradise. Some are quick to notice that it resembles what Boracay looked like decades ago before its natural beauty succumbed to commercial excesses.
You can make the most of the glorious white sand in Mahabang Buhangin through activities like kayaking, beach volleyball, swimming and sunbathing. Trek towards the elevated part of Tinaga Island for a lovely view of the beach. Island-hopping tours can be arranged to explore more islands and secret getaways.
Roughing it is the way to go
Aside from the beach, Mahabang Buhangin is a camping haven. Tents can be set up for a night’s stay under the stars. Pack your cooking gear and whip up sumptuous seafood purchased from the local fishermen. You may even request locals in the fishing village to prepare lunch for a fee, if you prefer to just laze around by the beach.
There is no ample supply of electricity and water in the island. Visitors should expect to charge their mobile phones, cameras and other gadgets at night when the power comes on. Public toilets are available for travelers. Water is supplied through deep well pumps.
For a more convenient stay in Calaguas, there’s a lone resort in Mahabang Buhangin called Waling Waling Eco-Village offering beach huts and cabanas with modern amenities.
Plan with caution to enjoy your visit
The Philippines has had its unfortunate share of major weather disturbances from the onset of the southwest monsoon, which runs from May to October. The Bicol region is on the path of strong typhoons every year, making sea travel quite perilous. Hence, it is best to make a beeline to Calaguas anytime from November to April when the trade winds bring a more favorable climate. Generally, you should go in the dry months (March to May) to enjoy calm waters during your boat ride.