Travel Date: April 29 - May 1, 2011
Calaguas is an understated beauty, a hidden treasure, a golden prize for a long, arduous trip. Its fine white sand is a treat to the tired feet, its soft feel soothing to the sole. And soul. Its blue-green clear sea is welcoming, calling you to immerse your body in its waters.
And we heeded the call, with total abandon. We were in the sea practically all the time we were on the island, soaking ourselves in sea water and unforgiving heat of the sun. And it never felt any better.
The BUS TRIP
Manila to Daet, Camarines Norte
Forming a group of five beach-starved office slaves, we left Manila at 9:30 pm via Amihan Bus. We booked our trip through an organizer, but dealing with him was upsetting (more on that on a separate post later) that we can't wait to actually get to the island to forget about him.
The bus trip was uncomfortable, mainly because it was so cold! Imagine you are in your summer wear (shorts and light clothes) because you want to jump to the beach as soon as you arrive on the island, but the temperature in the bus is freezing cold you wouldn't even feel your toes. We folded our bodies in the smallest way possible in order to preserve body heat. My malong came in handy, but still wasn't enough to keep me warm.
We were picked up by a van when we reached Daet bus terminal. A short stop at Jollibee for breakfast and we were all excited for the boat trip to the island.
The BOAT TRIP
Vinzons to Tinaga Island (Calaguas), Camarines Norte
It was raining like crazy in Vinzons. We did not leave right away, as the boats had to be prepared and supplies/cargo had to be loaded first. Boats that bring people to Calaguas are actually cargo boats, so you do an "indian seat" while braving the waves for two hours.
The ride started slow and easy, as we calmly cruised on the river from Vinzons fishing port. But once we entered the Pacific Ocean, the rough open seas made its presence felt. BIG TIME. We were riding 8.8 feet (2.7 meters) waves! It was like being in a long roller coaster ride -- for over two hours.
Mahabang Buhangin - Tinaga Island, Calaguas Group of Islands
You will forget about how bad/scary your trip was as soon as you dip your feet in the pristine waters of Tinaga Island, which is popularly known as Calaguas. We invited ourselves to the welcoming sea, despite the searing heat.
The fine white sand and blue-green waters remind me of Boracay, but I like this better -- simply because it's still devoid of commercialization. In fact, there is no electricity, no phone signal (except for intermittent Smart) and no flushing toilet on the island! But if you have this beauty before your eyes, who cares?
|sunset on our first day -- not very pretty, as the clouds covered the sun|
Unfortunate First Night
What we didn't expect was the thunderstorm on the first night. The organizer, unfortunately, was ill prepared. Our tents, built for summer, was leaking water inside, flooding the floor and our things. We immediately ran to the nearest nipa hut and covered our packs in plastic. It was a long, unfortunate night that dampened our spirits and made us miss our home.
Day After the Storm
We woke up to a fair weather, with one of the organizers chasing a tent swept by strong winds at sea on the other side of the island. The morning walk was good.
Although we planned on leaving the island the day after the storm, I'm glad we didn't as the weather was perfect on the second day.
|sun rising over the hills on the island|
The night was busy with a reggae party prepared by our organizer. On the other side, however, was the show-stealing performance of fire dancers hired by the other (and probably better) organizer.
|campsite at night|
Leaving on a Boat Ride
I had such a wonderful time in Calaguas that I had a heavy heart leaving the island. As I boarded the boat going back to Vinzons, I vowed that I will go back again to this charming little island. Hopefully, it will still retain its rustic beauty when I return -- unspoiled, uncommercialized, and hidden from the troves of people (although I admit there were about a hundred people on the island during that weekend).