Published: May 15th 2011April 7th 2011
At the Legazpi bus terminal we intended to catch a bus to Naga and then connect to Daet in Camarines Norte but then the locals told us there is a direct bus to Daet, no a/c and it will only take 4 hours, hmm.. the bus conductor promised us it will be minimal stops so we took it. We had breakfast at the cafeteria and then off we go, from the get go the bus was slow, trying to pick up every one on the road including cats and dogs perhaps. And so what was to be 4 hours turned to 6 as we arrived in Naga we were told to transfer to a very full bus, we got seats allright but it was very hot, and the girl next to me is puking buckets. Only consolation is the scenery was nice, lush and green and cool air. Arriving in Daet, we took a trike to our preferred hotel, Canimog, which LP says is good.
We were greeted there warmly, I negotiated for a reasonable room for just 1 night, still expensive but we got it for 1,300PHP, a/c, ensuite toilet. Then I asked them about Calaguas, this set of
islands we want to visit. They told us to get to a town called Vinzons, a mere 10 to 15 minutes by jeep and negotiate with boatmen there for a price, so we went and when we arrived at the dock it was quiet, our trike driver seeks out some guy who is a fisherman with a boat and immediately he told us the price is 10,000PHP! way too much for our budget, he said it's a big boat, we were only 3 we can do with a smaller boat, 6,000 PHP he says, annoyed at how steep the prices were we hopped on to the trike and went back to the jeep stands to go back to Daet.
A little bit disappointed at the outcome, went back to Canimog. The kind manager contacted some guy who she claims runs weekly package tours to Calaguas, she told me to talk to him maybe he can help us even if we want to do it on our own. True enough this guy Melvic was very helpful, he even went out of his way and met us in the early eve when we were already decided to head out the next
day to the north, accepting our failure to secure a boat. He made calls in Paracale, the other town where you can hire boats for Calaguas, took awhile but he ended up getting us a small boat for 4,000PHP! only catch is we have to feed the 3 men crew while we are there in the island which will be 3 days, no problem for us! All sorted out, he offered to pick us up early the next day and drive us to Paracale port, awesome!
Excited at the sudden turn of luck we hurried to downtown to buy some provisions, a tarp that we will use as a shelter, food in the market, fruits, veggies, meat, and of course booze! Then a good dinner at this nice restaurant, all the places in town are very busy as this is graduation month I guess. Went back to the hotel and slept and get ready for the big day.
7am, staff knocks on our door, Melvic is in the lobby waiting for us, so we got ready and put all our stuff in the trunk of his car, in my hurriedness I dropped one of the Tanduay rhum bottle
and it broke, making a mess on the floor, the aroma of alcohol pervades in our stuffy room. The staff told us to leave it be and they'll clean it up, so we left. The sky is dark and threat of rain is imminent, don't worry, says Melvic, it's always sunny in Calaguas!
Arriving at Paracale 45 minutes later, we bought more supplies, water, charcoal, plastic bags to keep our stuff from getting wet, yet more food, boat fuel and a local moonshine called "lambanog sa sasa", 1.5 liters.
The crew gets the boat ready while we watch, geez it really is a small boat, the local fishermen assured us the sea is not rough so nothing to worry. So off we go, well after a few tries, the engine conks out and took awhile to start it. Out towards the sea, we pass people fishing with poles, we were told you can catch a lot of fish here, the port is located just at the mouth of a river that empties to the sea. Soon as we left the premises of the harbor, waves started crushing on us.
So we all wondered if they lied to us,
the sea is calm says the fisherfolks but it's rough for us, I got wet instantly as we left the harbor. The waves got bigger and bigger as we go farther, I was at the front and I got soaked, my face hurts from all the sea salt, the engine died on us 2 times and big waves pummeled us in the meantime, the crew is laughing at us, they told me they consider waves to be big when you look up at it as it approaches your boat. 2 1/2 agonizing hours we finally reached the calm waters as we neared Mahabang buhangin, the beach we are going to stay. The island is green with vegetation, and though it was dark and gloomy at the beginning of the trip it got brighter and now we have full sun as we get off the boat and get welcomed to paradise.
The sea is beautiful, light green and dark blue colors contrasts well with the blinding white sand and blue skies. In this beach there are 3 major places to stay each has huts to rent but free camping is ok, we went to Andres' end. Nice fella, greeted us
warmly, and offered us one of the huts, later I realized it wasn't free, 200PHP/night. We have a tarp but Till decided we don't need to build a camp as the hut would suffice.
The crew immediately started to help us make lunch, we cooked the prawns we bought the night before in the market at Daet. Aside from food we also bought pots and pans for the occasion, and a griller, so we are ready for anything.
After lunch Till and Mattias walked the beach and later snorkelled in the rocky outcrops to the right of our camp, while I opened up the moonshine and started drinking with the crew, boy this baby is deceivingly strong! we polished the 1.5 liter and I was, to say the least, quite inebriated, I could barely remember half of the things that transpired during the night, apparently I gave Andres money to buy us fish for dinner, he came up to me with 3 barracudas and a grouper well at least I still have the sense to sort out dinner! I prepared dinner, cutting veggies swaying with the wind that made Till worried. Well I passed out not long after and
all I remember is being woken up for dinner which I never took as I was about to vomit. Rough night for me and it got cold, I slept on the beach under the stars, while Till and Mattias slept under their mosquito net.
Next morning I swore not to take anymore moonshine, then I saw another bottle at the table, apparently I asked Andres to buy more last night! Time to wake my self up and sober up, so went for a swim and joined the boys snorkelling the rocky outcrops, the current is strong and thus visibility isn't good, Till said yesterday was way better and he saw lots of critters, I came back to shore first and enjoyed the warm sun. A group of gringos came too yesterday afternoon so we were not totally alone, but they kept to themselves, they leave today.
At low tide we walked to the other beaches to the right of the rocky outcrops, the sand here is brown, but oh so beautiful nevertheless, no one there but us, we went as far as we could, small communities hang about with their fishing boats. New people came today and camped
next to us, a bit noisy but the beach is so long you can easily escape them if you want. there is a swamp next to the camp teeming with fish and mud crabs, Till decided he wanted to catch them and so one of the crew made a trap, we scour the beach at low tide for live bait, small fish, shrimps, a baby sea snake, some oysters anything.. The trap worked we caught 3 medium sized crabs which we ate while having booze, this time only Tanduay for me.
As I lie down in the sand, I can see millions of stars above and a number of fireflies hanging about trees, it's so beautiful, I fell asleep to the sound of the crashing waves at high tide. Then it rained! so I sheltered in one of the huts where the crew was also sleeping. The weather is bad the next day, quite windy and rained occasionally, the crew is worried that if the wind does not die down we are on for a tough ride back. So we decided to leave early, around 9am, after settling my bill with Andres, fyi: 100 PHP/person/day plus the hut rent,
set us back 1,000 PHP.
The waves are rough but luckily the wind is behind us so we actually surfed the waves on the way back,our engine is a lemon and it died couple times on rough seas! Somehow we managed to get back safe and not so wet despite the rain. Got back to shore and met Arlene, the wife of the boat's owner. She was very friendly and let us use her bathroom to shower and clean up, meantime crowds of kids linger about around the house staring at the 2 Germans. Not often they encounter white people here.
Calaguas was great, we stayed 3 days in total,still off the beaten path and though not totally alone we enjoyed walking in the vast beach and just chillin' I recommend this trip for the ready for roughing it folks, I can imagine this might have been Boracay many years before...
MELVIC BRINAS runs a package tour every weekend, he is really cool and helpful, if you are less than 3 people I suggest you join his tour to save money,all inclusive, food, tents etc.. there were 3 of us and our trip costed more
as we bought "lots" of provisions and gears.
check out his website at:melvicbrinas.multiply.com
contact number: 0906 514 4444; 0909 294 4444; 0922 247 4444
NOTE: if you decide to do it yourself he can help sort out boats for cheap, Vinzons is expensive and though Paracale appears to be cheaper to hire from, if you know nobody they might give you a higher quote.
Another good person to arrange boats with is Dante, cell phone:09286160257
Dante's quote on boat prices(which he promised he will keep the rate as is, round trip basis):
small boat(3-5 people) 4,000PHP
medium boat(6-10 people) 5,500PHP
big boats(11 to 20 something) 8,000PHP
If you fail to contact Dante, try Andres, the guy who manages the huts we stayed in,
his cell phone is:09993670117, he promised to quote competitive prices
We brought our food but you can also buy from passing fishermen some fresh fish, squids, and if lucky you can catch from the lagoon itself(crabs, milkfish etc)
I in no way get anything from these endorsements, just want to help the locals and travelers enjoy these beautiful islands with less hassle.
There are more photos below