Travel Guide: Calaguas Islands (Updated)
On the northernmost part of Bicolandia is an unknown paradise that can rival the white sand beach of Boracay and the serenity of Pagudpud, still virgin and unspoiled- the beautiful and enchanting islands of Calaguas.
Calaguas is a group of islands in the Pacific under the jurisdiction of the town of Vinzons, Province of Camarines Norte, a merely two hour boat ride from the mainland. It boasts of powdery white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and unspoiled natural resources, a place where you can truly relax while enjoying the beauty and serenity of the place.
The long stretch of beach named Halabang Baybay/Mahabang Buhangin (Long Beach) by the locals, is a cove located in the Tinaga Island, it is a picture perfect paradise with its long stretch of fine white sand, dotted with volcanic rocks on its both ends, the place is the most frequented camping and swimming site by tourists.
Discover Calaguas Group of Islands, swim on its turquoise water, sit on its white sand, enjoy its magnificent view of sunset, explore its beauty… you’ll definitely find a reason to be happy.
How to Get There:
While there are travel/tour organizers offering Calaguas tour, a DIY trip is possible and the cheapest way to get to the island. The experience of doing it on your own for the entire journey adds thrill and excitement to what is already an exciting adventure.
Daet, the capital of Camarines Norte is the jumpoff point to Calaguas Islands if you are going there via Vinzons. From there catch a jeeney to Vinzons and get off at the fishport (pandawan). There’s a boat going to Barangay Banocboc daily, it departs the fishport at 11 AM, from Banocboc you can hire a banca to take you to Calaguas Islands for as low as P500.00 or even lower depending on your haggling skill. The return trip to Vinzons fishport leaves Banocboc at 6AM the next day.
Alternatively, you can hire a banca from Vinzons fishport to Calaguas Islands, price depends on the capacity of the boat. For a small boat that can fit four to five people, the lowest rate is at P2500-P3000.00. It is a two hour boat ride from the port.
Going to Daet from Manila, you have two options:
Philtranco, Amihan (Contact No: 3871792), DLTB and Superlines buses offer Cubao/Pasay to Daet for an approximately 7-8 hours travel time. Fare cost differs, but ranging from P450.00(~$10) to P750.00(~$17)
Naga in Camarines Sur is closest airport with regular commercial flights via Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Zest Air. From Naga, Daet is around two hours drive. There are vans to Daet located in Naga Van Terminal, the earliest departs at 5AM and the last trip is around 7PM.
Paracale, a Camarines Norte town popular for its gold, is fast becoming an entry point to Calaguas Islands. From Daet, the town can be reached in less than two hours by public vans, fare is around P100.00. But if you are coming from Manila, Superlines has direct trip to Paracale/Panganiban. Get off at Paracale and make your way to the fish port. Alternatively, you can ride a bus to Daet, get off at Barangay Talobatib in the town of Labo and ride another bus for less than an hour to get to Paracale town and walk to the fish port.
At the fish port, you can ask around for fishermen’s boats to Halabang Baybay (Mahabang Buhangin), Calaguas for as low as P2000 (good for five to six persons) or you may opt to ride a boat that goes to Barangay Mangkawayan, Calaguas for a cheaper fare of at least P50 per person. However there’s no regular public boat going to Barangay Mangkawayan but more of fisherman’s boat and the schedule is unpredictable.
Going to Paracale from Manila, Superlines and Philtranco have direct to Paracale trips. Alternatively, you can ride the Daet bound buses and get off at Talobatib junction where buses going to Paracale pass. Last trip from Daet to Paracale is 6PM and 5PM for Paracale to Daet.
Where to Stay
There is no commercial establishment in the island, so bring your tent (plus foods and drinking water) with you as most tourist spend the night in the island camping along the beach. Camping fee is P100.00 per person.
Calaguas is the best place to relax and unwind if you are not the party goer type or if you are a fan of a quiet beach scene. Just sit on the sand, swim in the water, explore the island, bond with your friends during a bonfire night, and you will definitely appreciate the place.
Other activities include:
- Scuba diving/snorkeling (bring your own equipments)
- Island hopping
- Camping – just bring your own camping equipments, enough foods and water supply.
- Surfing in Daet’s Bagasbas Beach
- Visit the old churches St. Peter the Apostle Parish of Vinzons, St. John the Baptist Parish of Paracale and neighboring towns
- Island and beach hopping around Calaguas Group: Pinagtigasan Beach on the southern Tinaga Island, Cumalasag, Pinagtakpan, Pinagcastillohan, Guintinua, Huag, Cagbalisay, Bendita, Sang-atan, Balagbag Malaki, Balagbag Maliit, Calangcawan Sur, Mantigbi Beach and other white sand island beaches around
- Explore other islands in Camarines Norte: Maculabo, Mercedes Group, etc.
- Swim in Pulang Daga Beach of Paracale
- Check out Saltahan Falls, Palanas Falls, Malatap Falls, Burok-Busok Falls, Binuan Falls and other waterfalls of Labo
- Go spelunking in Mt. Cadig Cave also of Labo
- Head south towards Caramoan, Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex in Naga, Albay and Sorsogon
Our group went back to Calaguas via Paracale route last February 2010. For the details, itinerary and budget of the trip, read my blog post Calaguas: Paradise on a Budget (A DIY Guide).
For other Calaguas related posts, please see these posts:
- Fall in Love in Calaguas
- For the Love of Calaguas
- Top Picks: Five Best Adventures of 2010
- Top Picks: Five Best Beaches of 2010
Sample DIY Itinerary (via Paracale)
Estimated Budget: P2000.00
0500H: Arrival in Talobatib, Labo
0500H – 0600H: Breakfast in Talobatib
0600H – 0700H: Talobatib to Paracale by bus
0700H – 0900H: Arrival in Paracale/Survey for boat to Maculabo-Calaguas/Shop for other needed items (ice, meat, fruits, fish, drinking water, etc)
0900H – 1000H: Paracale to Maculabo by boat
0900H – 1330H: Explore Maculabo: beach bumming, photo ops, hill,
trekking, swimming, lunch
1330H – 1430H: Maculabo to Mahabang Buhangin, Tinaga Island, Calaguas by boat
1430H – 1530H: Set-up Camp
1530H – 1800H: Explore Mahabang Buhangin: beach bumming, photo ops, swimming, snorkeling
1800H – 1930H: Dinner Preparation/Wahs=up/Fix-up
1930H – 2030H: Dinner
2030H: Socials, Lights off
0700H – 0800H: Call Time, Breakfast
0800H – 1130H: Free time, explore, discover, play, pose, packup, prepare lunch
1130H – 1300H: Lunch
1300H – 1430H: Wash-up/Fix-up/Break Camp
1430H – 1630H: Calaguas to Paracale by boat
1630H – 1700H: Arrival in Paracale/Wash-up/Fix-up
1700H – 1800H: Paracale to Talobatib by bus/trike
1800H – 2130H: Dinner/Rest/Fix-up
2130H: Departure from Daet to Manila
0430H – Arrival in Pasay
0530H – Home Sweet Home
- We highly recommend Kuya Nelson, a boatman based in Paracale, you may contact him at +639095259821
- Best time to go is during summer and dry months (September to June)
- Try trekking to the nearby hill to see the beach from the higher vantage point
- There is a source of fresh water in the island
- There is restroom the island
- The island have now more cottages and stores
- There is a small community (Barangay Mangkawayan) on the opposite side of the island, around 10 minutes by foot
- Superlines is the cheapest aircon bus line to Daet and Paracale, their Cubao to Talobatib fare as of February 2013 is P465.00
- Please! Please follow the LEAVE NO TRAIL PRINCIPLE: TAKE NOTHING BUT PICTURES, LEAVE NOTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS, KILL NOTHING BUT TIME
*First Published: March 21, 2009; Updated: 09-Jul-2011 / 15-Nov-2011 / 12-Feb-2013