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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Calaguas Islands, Camarines Norte


On the northern part of Camarines Norte in the Bicol region, facing the wide open Pacific Ocean, a group of islands lies stoically, still uncrowded, undisturbed and unperturbed but are wrapped together forming a beautifully conducted orchestra-like of a peninsula.

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A long stretch of fine white sand beach called "Mahabang Buhangin" is where we docked and camped for an overnight stay. The trip from Manila to the Calaguas Islands was strenuous, butt numbing and long (10 hours from Manila) but as long as it was, just seeing the pure, refined, glittering white sands and the crystal clear blue sea water made the arduous journey we underwent all worth it.

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Our trip started around 9PM of Maundy Thursday from the Superlines terminal in Cubao (on a bus bound for Daet, Camarines Norte). We reached Baranggay Talobatib in the town of Labo at around 4:00 AM., we took a tricycle to Paracale fishport which we reached at around 4:30 AM. After resting for a while, we found a boatman (Joachim) who offered his boat to take us to Mahabang Buhangin at a fee of 2,500 pesos.

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We were able to haggle the boat ride fee down to 2,200 pesos and by 5:30 AM, the three of us (Me, Carrie and Sharlyn) are already on our way. We passed by the sleepy fishport town, where we saw fishermen starting to take their boats afar the ocean and the sun as it was just rising over the horizon.

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With the boat engine buzzing in your ear and the open sea wind caressing your face the two hour boat ride to Calaguas Islands can make time seems longer. However as we passed by Maculabo Island (one of the few islands in Calaguas) my eyes just got busy staring ahead and realizing that "Mahabang Buhangin" is just over the horizon. As we get nearer and nearer I saw a few campers on the island, from a distant I thought the sands were just ordinary but as our boatman Joachim and Francois (not their real names) docked the small fishing boat and we jumped into the knee deep water It was then that I saw with my own eyes, the pristine condition of the island, the pure white sands that people have been talking about (to the extent of even saying its better than Boracay).

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We set up camp and immediately prepared our brunch consisted of sausage, bacon and tasty bread. After satisfying our hunger from our long trip we ran to the water and enjoyed swimming under the sun for a couple of hours.

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The place is ideal for just lazying around worrying nothing in life at all, just appreciating the awesome and splendor sight of the island and top it up with conversation bonding with your friends and a can of beer. At nighttime we made a small bonfire far from the beach and feasted on a dinner of Spam and boiled eggs (no gourmet chefs among us) and tried to get drunk on a bottle of "The Bar".

The sun also sets directly on the opposite of the island so visitors can view the sun as it makes it way and disappear at the edge of the sea.

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The island is bare aside from a few nipa huts where the caretakers live, so in order to stay overnight on the island, you must bring a tent, a stove and a big plastic bag for your own trash. Make sure to leave your campsite as clean as you first saw it when you arrived. Calaguas Islands is an ideal place to spend overnight. You can also drop by the other islands surrounding "Mahabang Buhangin" to make your travel experience more satisfying. We spent the whole of Good Friday here and left first thing in the morning of Black Saturday to continue our holy week journey to Bagasbas Beach in Daet, Camarines Norte.

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****

-Boatman Nelson: 0939-835-1453 (although the one we hired is his cousin Joachim and Francois)

(you can haggle the price of the boat ride down to 2,200 pesos for 3-6 persons)

-From Manila take the Daet, Camarines Norte bus from Superlines or other Daet bound buslines-.

-Tell the conductor to drop you off at Brgy Talobatib in the town of Labo.

-From Labo, take a tricycle to Paracale Fishport.

-Then hire a boat from Paracale Fishport to Mahabang Buhangin in the Calaguas Islands.

There you go, easy as 1-2-3.


Bagasbas Beach, Camarines Norte


Bagasbas beach lies in the Southern province of Camarines Norte in the Bicol Region of the Philippines. Known for being a surfing destination primarily because it faces the wide Pacific ocean and the waves are continuous and suitable for both surfer wannabes and experts.

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We went directly to Bagasbas beach after camping overnight at Calaguas Islands' Mahabang Buhangin going here is very easy, after alighting from any public transportation vehicle bound for Daet, Camarines Norte you'll just take a short 4-5 kilometer tricycle ride to Bagasbas beach.

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The long stretch of beach provides a wonderful sight, the sands aren't white but in here, it's the waves that's the main attraction as well as fellow beach goers, surfers, skim boarders and skate boarders. There is long paved road facing the beach and rows of bars, backpacker inns highlight the street and riding a bike or your skate board seems like a perfect tool of exploration.

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We rented a room at the second floor of E.M. bar for only 200 pesos a night, it's a small fan room suitable for sleeping and nothing else. Hey it's cheap and in a place like Bagasbas beach, where the real pleasure is found outside on the beach and with the waves, the room is already perfect (for us budget travelers).

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In the afternoon we took our surfing lessons, which to my surprise was a little bit difficult than the first time i tried to learn surfing in La Union. The waves this time is a bit bigger and wilder and I had a hard time balancing myself during my first few tries. However, it was a great experience just riding the board and meeting the waves. It became a bit scary one time but the water was only up to your waist so my fear of drowning really never got the hold of me.

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Speaking of drowning, there was a near drowning accident that happened there. Fortunately the rescuers (actually it was our surfer instructors who rescued the boy) were quick on their feet and was able to rescue a boy who were taken into the deep part of the sea by the strong current.

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During the night, the festive mood in the beach continues (there's usually a party every weekend) people were still playing beach volleyball and hanging out on the bars and there's no lack of choices when it comes to eating. We munched on 'betamax', 'isaw' and 'bbq' and a few bottles of beer of course and proceeded to walk on the beach to enjoy the cool breeze of open sea wind.

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So, there an account of our brief yet memorable stay at Bagasbas beach. I hope next time I come back, I'd be able to fully say to the surf board "I owned you" and be able to stay standing on the board for a long, long ride with the waves.

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*****
How to go: Take any bus going to Daet, Camarines Norte. From Daet just take a tricycle to Bagasbas Beach.