You've finally heard about this nice beach (oh please be mindful this is an understatement) in Camarines Norte and pictures are just too teasing. Amongst the beaches i have visited in the Philippines, this is by far what I consider the best. And, having been to Maldives, I consider this better because, more than the water, the landscape here is just pure stunning.
To all my (growing no of ) fb friends who has been asking about Calaguas island, this is all for you (once in for all). lols :-)
Minimum System Requirements:
2days and 1 night (Sat-Sun Recommended)
P1,700 or more depending on your eating, drinking and haggling habbits
Step 1: Going to Paracale (most convenient i'd say rather than Vinzons)
Superlines bus co in Cubao have direct routes to Paracale. Last trip is at 8pm for aircon. There may be another trip after 8pm, ordinary or airconary (our coined term for that aircon bus that has ordinary seats and fare). Especially during beach months like february onwards, seats may be filled quickly so as soon as one in the group arrives in Superlines, it is best to reserve seats. In case you're a student, bring your student id for around P100 savings in the airconditioned bus fare.
For those coming from alabang or nearby, you may reserve tickets, or your friends coming from cubao may reserve the seat for you. The bus will pickup passengers in Alabang. Just let the conductor know that a seat is in place for your friend there.
Hereforward, There will be 3 stops all in all. First stop is a quick pick up in turbina. Then, a longer meal stop in Atimonan, Quezon, and last is a drop off, and some pickup in Sta Elena. You might want to pack some food so as not to kill some of your pesos in the bus stops. You should be wary of how much abusive these stops are when it comes too prices.
The bus will arrive in Paracale at around 6am. Tricycle operattors will call your attention, but seriously, the port or any other destination in paracale is no more than 15mins walk. Do some exercise.. you sat so long after all.
At your arrival, you may want to have some breakfast in Malaya Tourist Inn (suking suki ko yan si Ate Katrina. Say Ian recommended her breakfast. lols). Malaya touristt inn is justt right next to the shell station (or after the bridge, which is under construction at the time of writing).
After your breakfast, in case you didn't have your food supplies prepared, you may want to walk to the wet market to purchase your stocks.
Prices aren't too cheap in Paracale; Not even the fish really. Goods are almost the same price as manila (as opposed to other towns in other provinces). You may want to consider ginataang pagui for your lunch or dinner. They are sold at P100-p130 per kilo in the wet market.
Next up, it's time to leave the mainland and head to the beautiful island group of Calaguas.
Pre-arrange your boat service thru the ff boatmen:
My long term contact Mang Boy may be contacted at (0908) 546 0683. You may borrow some utensils from him such as spoons, pots, knifes, coolers, etc. Just tell him upfront when you negotiate so he can prepare it rightaway. He also sells charcoal and drinking water (sold at P100 for the 5gallon with the faucet). In case you are so tight in the budget, you may walk to the water refilling station, in front of the rural bank. Water is at P50 per 5gallons, and you can deposit P200/gallon for the container. You'll get the deposit upon return.
Speaking about banking service, there is only one bank in town. It is a rural bank, though it has an atm with P40 service charge for withdrawals. Meantime, it is best to withdraw while still in the city as there are also times when it is offline.
Rates for baot rental depend on the no of people. They normally charge P500/person though it is up to your haggling skills.
For solo travellers or in pairs (and I trust you are probably this acquainted with the drill by now), there are boats going to brgy Mangkawayan. Brgy mangkawayan is a 15-20 minute walk away from the Mahabang Buhangin in Calaguas. Boats normally leave early, at around 6am. These boats are private boats of residents, though depending on how well you blend, they may take you in their boats. Average rate is P100 per passenger per way. Lately, I heard the association of calaguas boats have banned taking passengers in these boats, but again, it is very relative. After all, 500 is too much (although that is already a return fare). By the way, the 500 may increase or decrease depending on the size of your group. In case of less number of people, you may ask your boat contact to merge you with other groups so you don't blow up your cost. Only draw back is you'll have to agree on the time of pickup with the other group.
Other contacts for boats are:
Adonis (0912) 903 8447
Baby (0920) 469 6621
Ernie (0947) 110 9451
Justo (0912) 774 6638
Try arranging for some side trips with your boatman too. Interesting islands in Calaguas are Pinagcastilluhan, Maculabo, Balagbag, and there's a marine sanctuary in Pinagtigasan (though it's not as stunning as moalboal or anilao).
In case you don't alert your boatman, the boatman will normally drop you anywhere they'd like to drop you (whichever resort provides them commission). The range of entrance fees in the island range from 120-175 pesos. Cottage rates are at P200 up.
Meantime, you may want to consider staying in the LGU. The LGU side charges only P20/head and P350 for the cottage rates (cottage is optional; don't worry). Others may say it's almost the same as paying the P120 rate as they charge P10 per pail of water, but not really the case. ON the left side of the LGU lot, there is a well that is available for everyone's use for free.
You may also want to contact the LGU in charge ahead so he can reserver a cottage for you:
Roberto Delos Santos (0930) 165 2214 or (0920) 803 5771 (again, kindly mention Ian referred you to him).
He can also do some cooking for you. Just say Ian suggested it. He cooks my pagui for me. Also, ask him if he can scout some white shark for you. He cooks it real well. You can setup camp anywhere in the vicinity at no cost.
Tatay bert delos santos also owns a store in the island. Goods sold are cigarrettes, some canned goods, few chips, softdrinks, purified water. Cost is 130% higher than in paracale of course. Leave his store for all the small things you might have forgotten. For the rest, buy all supplies from mainland.
Also, you may have seen some photos with a topview of the calaguas island. This is on the far left side of the island when approaching Mahabang Buhangin from Mainland. Until recently, they now charge P25 environmental fee to access this 5minute trek to the viewpoint.
In the morning, while water level is still low, you may want to walk to the left side (again facing Mahabang Buhangin when coming from mainland) of the island. There are some more hidden sand on this part of the island.
Finally, you wake up and it's a sunday already. Inasmuch as you'd like to say furtther, you did not file a leave, or yourr boss won't allow you...
The bus from Paracale to Manila leaves at around 6pm. For this, make sure to leavve the island latest at 2pm. Upon arrival in the mainland, securre your seats by (at least one from the group) making your reservation. A lot of people would have been bound back to manila by now, and you might be accomodated only into the latter trips.
Other option is to head all the way to Daet, where there are more buses bound to Manila and so. There are vans and buses that ply paracale-daet forr P65 fare.
Another option is to take a trike (P300/ride) or bus (P25) to talubatib. In this junction, you can wait and catch for buses that go to Manila.
No need to rinse in the island as you might get some more saltwater splash on your trip back to mainland. You may wash up from your boatman's houses in Paracale. Or perhaps, you can do minor cleaning while in the island, and then just clean up again, or change, when in the mainland.
(by the way, there is no signal in the island. There are only 2 critical locations with signals; One for smart and the other for globe users; location are on both volleyball courts. One volleyball court pole standing next to the beach, has smart signal, and the other court, close to waling waling resort, has the globe signal).
In case you're wondering what pasalubong you can bring, in paracale, some households prepare this bagoong shapped like a meatload. It tastes good sliced (as how you'd slice a meatloaf), fried, and served on calamansi juice. sarap sawsawannn!
Any questions left??? lolz :-)