Mere Miles and Smiles Away: Calaguas Island
As an intern from PanahonTV, I never thought I would get to go on an awesome out-of-town trip. Thankfully, I found out the show tackled, not just all things about the weather, but a slew of other topics such as daily life hacks, the environment, and our culture.
This month, I found myself en route to Daet in Camarines Norte with the production crew to cover the Pinyasan Festival 2016. An annual event that highlights the “sweetest pineapple in the world,” the Queen Formosa variety, the festival includes various activities, such as the Kasalang Bayan, sportsfest, beauty pageant, and the Agricultural Night.
Throughout the years, the Camarines Norte province has gained recognition as housing some of the most beautiful spots in the Philippines. These include Bagasbas Beach, one of the country’s top surfing destinations; Apuao Grande Island; and the much talked-about Calaguas Group of Islands. With the islands’ pristine and powdery-white shores and crystal-clear blue waters, many have compared it to Boracay.
Aerial Shot by Kent Eribal
Fast Facts about Calaguas
- The Calaguas Group of Islands is composed of 21 islands and islets, only two of which are under the jurisdictions of the towns of Vinzon and Paracale.
- The islands’ names are the following: Tinaga, Balagbag Maliit, Balagbag Malaki, Sepia Maliit, Sepia Malaki, Bendita, Huag Maliit, Huag Malaki, Comalasag, Inggalan, Pinagcastillohan, Banocboc, Samung, Pinanakpan, Matandumatin Rock, and Kagtalisay. The other islands remain unnamed.
- Tinago island has a 1.27-kilometer stretch of powdery white sand called Mahabang Buhangin. There’s no phone signal in the area, but according to our travel guide, Infanta Quezon Councilor L.A. Ruanto, there’s a particular area on the hill, which can allow Smart subscribers to use their phones. Electricity is available from 10 PM to 6 AM.
taken by Kent Eribal
Tinago Island Activities
Hiking to Tinago Hill
To fully appreciate the island, a trek to the top of Tinago Hill is a must. Aside from catching that elusive Smart Signal, you’ll also be treated to a breathtaking view of the island. The hiking time will take about 20-30 minutes before you get to the top. Remember to bring water and to wear comfortable shoes, clothes and hats. Also, make sure you’re accompanied by a local guide.
We stayed at I Love Calaguas Resort, which offers group accommodations that range from P3,500 to P4,500. But if you want a more intimate experience with nature, try sleeping under the stars by renting a tent for only P350 (good for 2-3 persons).
Play a round of beach volleyball to work up a sweat and an appetite. Volleyball is even more challenging when done on the beach, with your feet sinking into the sand. But it’s arguably safer because the soft sand can cushion your fall.
Aside from the well-known Mahabang Buhangin in Tinago Island, there are other beaches and islands worth exploring.
- Maculabo Island – An unspoiled island that offers activities, such as scuba diving and fishing, which are part of the locals’ livelihood.
- Guintinua Island – also known for its long stretch of beach with powdery white sand and clear waters
How to get to Calaguas from Manila
Buses bound for Camarines Norte can be found at the Alimall Bus station in Cubao, Quezon City, and along the EDSA Highway. Look for a bus bound to Paracale or to Daet. You may find destinations at the Philtranco station in Pasay.
Air-conditioned bus fares range from P500-P600, while the regular ones range from P300-P400. Travel time is 8-9 hours.
The port at located at Minaoagan in Vinzons, Camarines Norte. According to Councilor Ruanto, the best time to travel to Tinago Island would be in the morning until 12 noon wherein the sea is at its calmest.
Because we arrived at the port at 1 pm, the waves were already high, prolonging our boat ride to 2 and half hours—30 minutes more than the usual duration. Boat fees are P3,000 (5-6 persons) and P4,000 (9 persons).
Photo taken by John Estrada
Touchdown at Tinago Island ; photo by George Gamayo
Photo by John Estrada
Photo by Kent Eribal
We stayed at I LOVE CALAGUAS resort, one of the seven resorts that offer accommodation in Tinago Island.
According to Bgy. Capt. Ariel Era, the sand darkens during the rainy season.
Sand Artist Ruel Santelices is at the Kagedama resort every weeken; Photo taken by (please put name of driver);
Photo by Ruel San Telices
Photo Taken by Kent Eribal
What to bring to Calaguas
- Camera (and waterproof bag)
- Slippers and shoes that are good for trekking
- Mosquito repellant
- Plastic bags to waterproof your belongings
What I will always remember about my Calaguas Trip is that every moment was Instagram-worthy. It was as if everything was put in its proper place—the sand, the hills, the sea, the sky. And it got me thinking, that’s nature for you! That’s why it’s our duty to make sure that places like this maintain their natural beauty. I couldn’t bear thinking such magnificence falling to ruin just because of our negligence.
Photo of George Gamayo
Photo Taken by John Estrada
Photo Taken by Kuya Benjie
Ruel San Telices – Sand Artist
Darius Mirasol – LGU officer