Calaguas is a group of small, remote islands in the Philippines, located in the province of Camarines Norte, approximately 200 miles from the capital of Manila.
When I visited my friend for a week in the Philippines in March, he told me of this undeveloped, unspoiled paradise and that, through his tour operator friend, we could camp overnight along the crystal blue waters.
How To Get There
There are so many travel/tour organisers offering tours to Calaguas from all cities, several of which you can read about at My Calaguas Guide.
Because of its distance from… pretty much everywhere… using one of these organisers makes the journey of getting there so much easier, although to arrange your own way of getting there would be cheaper.
Either way, it’s going to involve a long bus ride to Pandawan fishing port in Vinzons.
From Manila, our bus took a little over 8 hours including getting stuck in the solid traffic when exiting the capital. On arrival at Pandawan fishing port, we had to wait a little while for the boat which then took two hours to the long, white sand beach known as Mahabang Buhangin on Tinaga Island.
There are very few accommodation options on Tinaga island. Most tourists tend to either bring their own tents or rent one, and camp on the beach! We rented one and it was so much fun, although we made sure our tent was completely sheltered under a tree so we didn’t get cooked in the sun in the morning!
However, there are some other options if camping on a beach isn’t your thing – there is a small eco village consisting of 14 open-air cabanas and a communal bathroom. The newly-built accommodations are a result of recently increasing tourism, though it still remains a well-kept secret gem in the Philippines.
Although Calaguas is gradually becoming a more popular tourist destination, you still feel satisfyingly cut off from the outside world.
There is no electricity, no phone signal, there are few bathrooms which you must pay for – different prices for a “number one” and a “number two” due to the amount of water they need to give you to pour into the toilet to flush it. Fresh water is limited, the food is simple – mostly fish, rice, egg, and a few vegetables, and there are absolutely no shops. In fact we had to take our own beers as we knew there’d be none available.
Calaguas is not somewhere you go if you’re looking for nightlife and beach parties – although this may change in the not-too-distant future…
However, there are so many great activities you can take part in, such as trekking, snorkelling, taking a boat to nearby islands, participating in various beach sports, watching the sunset…. or sunrise…
Returning To The Main Land
It always sucks leaving somewhere so perfect and idyllic, but alas we boarded the boat in the early morning to take us back to the mainland.
What took only 2 hours one way, took us 6 hours to get back to the fishing port as the low tide caused our boat’s propellor to get damaged against the sand banks. This resulted in us having to get towed to a remote island village in order to get it straightened by locals shoreside. Once fixed, we had to wait for the high tide so we didn’t get stuck in the sand banks as so many that passed us did. Nevertheless, I enjoyed watching some of the local kids playing on and around our boat while we waited!
So Why Visit Calaguas?
The simplicity of the island; the unpolluted, light blue water so clear you can see all of your toes even when almost completely submerged in the ocean; the peacefulness and tranquility; the soft, unspoiled, powdery white sand; the relaxed vibe; the serenity; the untouched nature, are all reasons to visit this picture-perfect island of paradise.