Feeling A Sense of Calm in Apuao Pequeña Island| Camarines Norte


The scene was reminiscent of a disaster movie, with gloomy skies, heavy rain, and dozens of us huddled together on a floating jetty made of plastic pontoon cubes, waiting for our boat. Everything I imagined from experiencing a pleasant morning on the island seemed to have a near-zero chance of happening.

The island covered by towering Agoho trees and surrounded by snaking sandbars

As the rain grew stronger, so did the waves, pushing the floating jetty like a fish out of water, thereby forcing us to scramble and fall out of balance as we crawl into our boat. Hopping one foot aboard, I looked at the sky, hoping it would open up a large enough window for the sun and the blue skies to show.

Chillin like a villain on a hammock

Half an hour into our sea voyage, the tide turned literally into smaller waves, and figuratively, as the thick clouds parted to expose glimpses of the blue sky. 

Mercedes’ Magnificent 7 Islands

The province of Camarines Norte has long been on the radar of beachgoers and island junkies, thanks to the popularity of the Calaguas group of islands, which have some of the best powdery white sands.

Passing through a small community in Quinapaguian Island

Unbeknownst to most, another group of islands numbering at least 7 lay scattered off the coast of the town of Mercedes,  sharing many of the same features as Calaguas: verdant foliage, turquoise waters, coral reefs, and powdery white sands.

The Sandbar connects the island to Apuao Grande

Dubbed the  Siete Pecados, these islands east of Camarines Norte, namely Apuao Grande, Malasugui, Canton, Canimog, Caringo, Quinapaguian, and Apuao Pequeña, can be hopped in a day or two. Since we only had half a day to explore, we only visited Quinapaguian and Apuao Pequeña. 

The weather finally cleared a few minutes before we arrived on the island

We docked at the other side of Quinapaguian because of the rising tide level, and from there, we walked for about 45 minutes to the other side to check out a new beach resort. As we did so, we passed by a small community, affording us the chance to get a glimpse of an incredibly simple way of life. Friendly smiles greeted my from the small windows of tiny nipa huts as children ran and play over big lawns, and gardens, while fishermen make their way along a path that leads to the shoreline.

Rain threatened once again as we made our way back to our boat. However, as we set out for our next stop, Apuao Pequeña, the weather finally improved as the clouds gave way to the sun and the bright blue sky.

Hammocking and Chill at  Apuao Pequeña Island

Just as we were approaching our next stop, the weather became friendlier and as the sun begins to shine brightly, I saw the long sandbar of Apuao Pequeña and its neighboring island Apuao Grande glistening glossily against the blue colored sea water.

An afternoon nap is in order

As our boat captain turns off the engine and we glide over the soft sand, the towering trees in the island arrested my attention. “I would love to sleep on a hammock there”, I told myself.

You can find several places to beach bum around the island

Indeed, the 40-hectare island is ideal for laying out a hammock and unwinding, since it is dotted with numerous Agoho trees, which at first glance resemble a pine tree. The Agoho tree, indigenous to the Philippines and other countries in Asia and the Pacific, can grow up to a height of 40 meters, providing ample shade over Apuao Pequeña.

The sandbar of Apuao Pequeña stretches long especially during low-tide

An annual Hammock Festival takes place here in the summer peak of May. It is an event that brings campers to the island, sleeping on hammocks and tents and engaging in activities such as beach clean-up and other conservation efforts.

As our group readied our sumptuous boodle-fight feast on the island, I hurriedly got my drone camera and walked over to the edge of the sandbar taking my shoes in the middle to feel the powdered sands beneath my feet.

The thick Agoho trees is a favorite also of thousands of fruit bats

Apuao Pequeña, which is joined by the long sandbar to the larger Apuao Grande, is everything I imagined it to be. Following our hearty lunch, I found a lone hammock tied between two Agoho trees and lied there for half an hour, just enjoying the cool breeze while staring at the swaying branches above me.

I felt tranquility wash over me, like the stillness one gets after a good meditation.  Suddenly, whatever worries I had with me upon waking up, such as concerns about the weather and some personal doubts, the precious moments spent on the idyllic Apuao Pequeña seem to have replaced them all with bountiful positive energy.

Nature, as beautiful as idyllic Apuao Pequeña, is indeed the greatest remedy for blues.

This article first appeared on BusinessMirror.