Calaguas Islands: A Return Long Time Coming | Camarines Norte


It has been over a decade since my ex-girlfriend, a friend, and I embarked on a memorable long weekend castaway trip to Calaguas Islands’ Mahabang Buhangin. During that time, the island was known only to avid backpackers. I vividly recall the confused expression on the fisherman's face when we approached him in the town of Paracale and shared our plan to journey to the island.

Calaguas Travel Guide
Why so pretty?

“That’s far away.” He told us in Tagalog. “What will you do there? there’s nothing there. The island is bare”, he adds. While the mighty waves of the Pacific Ocean were still  unbeknownst to us, we chartered his small boat. It didn’t took long before we started noticing the growing swells rocking and jerking our vessel. The three of us; myself, Lauren and Sharlyn immediately went silent reciting all the prayers we know while our boatman and his assistant remained calm all throughout.

Ayi Del Rosario
If only my future is as crystal clear as this

That boat ride going to and from Calaguas’ Mahabang Buhangin, along with almost getting toasted by the sun and the beginning of my attachment to Lauren, remained as the highlights of my first trip to Calaguas.

Stef Juan
Blue is the color of?

After my romantic relationship with Lauren fizzled out a few years after she migrated to Canada, I believe it was time to create a new memory in Calaguas more than a decade later. 

Coming Back to Calaguas Island’s Mahabang Buhangin

Many things have happened since my first trip to the island. From my early days starting to embrace wanderlust in the summer of 2010, I’ve literally and figuratively amassed thousands of miles on the road charting a path escaping the corporate world and becoming a travel writer. 

Isa Rodriguez
The real "The Beach"

Over time, my travels have expanded to include various destinations across the country and parts of Asia, with the frequency of my trips increasing to two or three times per month.

Joy Royeca

Lauren has chosen to stay in Montreal, while Sharlyn embarked on a new chapter of her life as a married woman and a mother. In Calaguas case, It has since turn into a popular destination among beach junkies. Despite its remote location, travelers have included it in their travel bucket list in the Bicol region.

There are four resorts on the island and all are located far from the beach

The once barren island, which used to have only one or two small huts and a tiny well for water supply, has now undergone significant changes. Today, at least four resorts have been built on the island. Yet, despite the major changes that occurred, the island remains beautiful as ever. This became clear to me as soon as our boat docked on the island's notable white powdery sands.

Mara Espino
Blinding powdery white sands

“Ganda pa ren” (It’s still pretty), I mumbled to myself as I sunk my feet into the crystal clear waters and gently weaved my way to the cool fine sands that stretched as far as both sides of the island.

Charise Vilchez
We got the beach to ourselves

While I would prefer the naked Calaguas Island’s Mahabang Buhangin of old, the present day version with its aptly sized rooms, soft beds, electricity, and nighttime air conditioning brings added comfort to visitors. It was a good thing that the few resorts allowed to be built were in an area with a wide setback distance from the beach. As a result, the vast shoreline of Mahabang Buhangin remained untouched and just as pristine as it was before. 

Selle Yambao
Doggo mowdel

Unless you came bringing an Elon Musk’s Starlink kit, your only internet connection is through a 150 peso an hour internet access sold in the resort. Mobile phone charging cost 50 pesos since electricity on the island is powered only by solar panels and a generator set. The power is turned on from 6pm until 6am the next morning thus giving you a sound rest cooled by an a/c through the night.

Lauren Denoga
Fly your drone cautiously to the wind

Other than that, it is best to set aside your dependence on gadgets and simply embrace the island experience. You can fully enjoy it by indulging in a leisurely swim, going for long walks, or simply relaxing on soft cushions or a hammock beneath a tree.

Balagbag Island Side Trip

Unlike my first Calaguas Islands trip, this time I got to go on a side excursion to another island in the cluster called Balagbag Island where a panorama view of the surrounding waters and islands awaited us.

Balagbag Island

While the sands of Balagbag are less refined than in Mahabang Buhangin, it compensates for this with its picturesque rolling terrain. A winding trail, lined with tall swaying grass, leads to rocky cliffs with a breathtaking view of the ocean's azure-colored waters and its foamy swells.

Camarines Norte Travel Guide
Green and Blue

After making my way down from the tallest rocky outcrop, I found a flat ground and sat there to take in the view before flying my drone to get a bird's-eye perspective of the jaw dropping landscape.

Arianne Joyce Clare Montaño
Some K-pop star

Just before sundown, our little party of travel journalists returned to Mahabang Buhangin. Since it was a weekday, we had the whole stretch of the beach to ourselves. With the cool powdery sands on my feet and the warm waters swallowing my body, I allowed myself to get lost in the embrace of Mahabang Buhangin one more time.

A short hike takes you to a spectacular panoramic view

As the sun gradually sets on the horizon, the memories of my 2010 trip to Calaguas begin to blend seamlessly with my current experience of the place. I find these two remarkable episodes taking place in this stunning part of Camarines Norte as timestamps reminding me of how far I've come — literally as a traveler.