I am publishing an excerpt of my article on Expat Travel and Lifestyle Philippines magazine entitled; CALAGUAS ISLAND: A Gentle Beach Amidst the Constant Battering of the Pacific Ocean.
I am glad I am writing this almost a year after the experience, if it had been only days, I would have dwell mostly on the vile side of the place. Looking back, I get to appreciate Calaguas more, it's unspoiled beauty and fine white sand that many travel bloggers say "could rival" that of Boracay. I am a big fan of the latter and the hell I care if it has become too touristy. To even compare Calaguas to Boracay certainly creates a buzz and I have been curious to check it out myself. On February last year, that chance finally arrived. I travelled with my wife and three other friends. I kept them excited prior to the trip assuring them that it will me place to remember. It sure did go down as one of our most memorable trips because of the traumatic boat ride. Beauty has a price. More often than not, it requires a certain sacrifice. How far are you willing to go to get a piece of paradise? Mahabang Buhagin Calaguas was the answer.
What Took Me So Long?
The cheapest way to go is by land. Be ready for a 10-hour Manila-Daet bus ride though and another two hours or so on the boat. Back and forth, that accounts to 24 hours of being on the road, not to mention the long waits during transfers. Calaguas may not be the perfect destination for "weekend travelers" but a challenging one for a do-it-yourself getaway.
A couple of reliable tour groups offer reasonable packages to the island. 2D/1N, or 3D/2N, your pick. An overnight in the island could be enough for first-timers but to travel that long just to stay one night in a place and then go back to Manila could be a waste. I say you plan your trip ahead, apply for a longer leave and get to explore Bicolandia more. Yes, a package tour could be less of a hassle but don't miss the opportunity of learning by doing it yourself. It is part of the adventure. It was Manila-Naga-Calaguas-Naga-Legaspi by land and then Legaspi-Manila by air in our case.
My CALAGUAS Article on #Expat Magazine
Perfect Timing is Key
Calaguas is located off Vinzons Camarines Norte on the Eastern seaboard of the Philippines. That said, the island is well exposed to the battering of waves and the wrath of the Pacific Ocean.
No matter how beautiful a certain place is, it being paradise or hell could be a matter of timing. This is our reality in the Philippines. An archipelago of unpredictable sea current and notorious for powerful typhoons, there are some areas where perfect timing is everything.
Our "Risky" Boat Ride Experience.
We came too early for summer. Plus, we were too lazy to take the bus for another hour to Paracale so we opted for Vinzons as our set off point. Boat transfer from there to Mahabang Buhangin Calaguas normally takes two hours. It took us four hours thanks to strong waves. It was the most frightening boat ride I ever experienced, that coming from somebody who is so used to riding boats having spent most of his childhood life in a remote island in Pangasinan. Waves on the way to Calaguas is not to be taken lightly. It is not for the faint of heart.
We approached the island from Southwest but Mahabang Buhangin faces Northeast so we had to make a turn. At that time, dark clouds loomed on the horizon and wind picked up speed, it was obvious that a thunderstorm was approaching. What normally takes 15 minutes felt like eternity. It was in this final approach that waves were strongest. Thankfully, our boatman's assistant was quick to step on the boat's outrigger so as to balance it. If not for his decisive actions, our boat would have been toppled as the waves were coming from the side this time. We were all quiet praying for our safety.
Even disembarking from the boat was death defying. We couldn't dock directly to the beach so we had to brave chest deep water and strong waves that could almost touch the tip of your hands raised to the air. We had to be mindful of the boat hitting us so we had to move quickly once on the water. Thank god everybody got ashore safely. All five of us were standing at the beach helplessly staring at the boat worried of our gadgets while our boatman's assistant carried our bags one by one to safety. Rain poured even harder. It felt like a scene from an Armageddon movie in a beautiful beach setting. But nobody got to appreciate the place. No “wow moments” as anticipated similar to our previous trips. Who cares how lovely a place is if you feel like it’s gonna be your grave?
The sun momentarily showed before it got completely dark. It was our chance to salvage a few photos and appreciate the view which we didn't appreciate earlier. It was relatively quiet the whole night except for some quick episodes of rain. We enjoyed preparing food, eating under a lamp and then had a short drinking session later on with our boatmen who we were very grateful for because they took good care of us. They were very helpful all throughout the trip. The dim lights and occasional break of laughter from other campers nearby served as reassurance that we were not alone in the dark island. It was a peaceful night. And suddenly the feeling of calm and the wish that you could stay longer.
Will Calaguas Be Another Boracay?
Is It Worth The Risk?
How to Get There?
What to do?
What to Bring?
When is the Best Time To Go?
Find out more by reading my article on the latest Issue of Expat Travel and Lifestyle Philippines Magazine with ICAN Foundation's Executive Director Sadakazu Ikawa on the cover. Look for it on pages 34-37 under Local Shores section.yay!
This is an issue with lot of heart and inspiration. The story of survival for Yolanda Typhoon victims lives on and all the wonderful people who give their heart and lives to help in the rebuilding process.
Also featured is the group called TRUE MANILA an NGO with roots in the slums of Manila. Another source of inspiration not just to expats but also for locals. All these of course on top of other much read sections of Exoat Travel and Lifestyle Magazine which includes the favorites Local Shore, Global View, Culture Clash and Eat List among others.
Launched in 2007, each issue of the magazine aims to help expatriates have unforgettable experiences here in the country. Expat Travel & Lifestyle Philippines contains stories about travel, dining, different cultural perspectives and everything exciting in between.
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