Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mahabang Buhangin, Calaguas Islands, Camarines Norte

WHERE: Mahabang Buhangin, Calaguas Islands, Camarines Norte
DATE OF TRAVEL: May 14-15, 2011

1) It is one of the best beaches in the country: think crystal clear waters, powdery white sand, clean beach & nature at its finest! Trust us, it's paradise!

2) While a lot of happy campers are discovering this by the day, it's still not a "commercialized" area so hurry before it becomes the next "Boracay!"

3) Their forest at the back is home to many birds - perfect for birders and nature lovers.

FEES: P75/ head entrance fee

It takes really long to get there (at least 5.5 hours but usually more!) and there are no accommodations. If you want to see Calaguas, you will have to stay overnight which means you have to "camp". No pain, no gain :)

The Calaguas Group of Islands are located off the Pacific Coast of Camarines Norte in the Bicol region. About 2.5 hours by boat from Vinzons, Camarines Norte, Mahabang Buhangin, a 3.5 km beach boasts of powdery white sands, crystal clear waters, vast green forest, numerous birds and breathtaking view of the sky as it changes color at dusk and dawn.

As of writing, there are no commercial establishments in the island. There are a few open cottages that you can rent for the day, however, and a small sari-sari store which sells drinks and chips. There is also a rustic bathroom and a toilet for campers, but you need to pump your own water should you use them.

You need to bring your own camping gear because going to Calaguas means staying overnight. Camping will be so much easier if you bring your own tent, food (cooked or bring cooking utensils), flashlight, sleeping bag, etc. Portable mats and hammocks would help make camping more fun, too! Also, while there's a sari-sari store in the island, you'll never know when they'll run out of stock so make sure to bring your own drinkable water.

At the back of the beach is a field and a forest where birders can spot, watch and observe crows, swallows, cuckoos, etc. Make sure to bring a pair of binoculars and a guide book if you want to go birdwatching.

The boat ride going to Calaguas is not always calm, but a scenic one. Taking the Vinzons route, we passed by a beautiful river with a view of Mt. Balacay before going out to ocean where big boats are needed to brave the rough waters. Hours after the view of the open sea, you are again rewarded with rolling hills, beautiful rock formations and white sand beaches. Seabirds fly near you once in awhile, and flying fish may also be seen along the way. Just note that since the waters are rough, your stuff will most probably get wet. So make sure to bring waterproof bags to protect your things, and a raincoat if you don't want to get wet. Another wise option is to wear your swimsuit already so you can just enjoy the splashes of water without having to worry about your outfit! The best time to go is during the drier season, but just to be sure, you can always shoot an email to the Camarines Norte Tourism Office (camarinesnorte_tourism@yahoo.com) to check the weather.

This is how we did it:
1. Flew to Naga, Camarines Sur (45 mins flight)
2. Took a cab from the airport to the van terminal going to Daet (20 minutes, P250)
3. Took a van to Daet (2 hours, P145 each)
4. Took a tricycle to the jeep terminal going to Vinzons (5 minutes, P8.00 each)
5. Took a jeep to Vinzons Public Market (15-20 minutes, P16.00 each)
6. Took a tricycle to the boat area going to Calaguas (5 minutes, P8.00 each)
7. Chartered a commuter boat going to Calaguas (2.5 hours, P4,000/ big boat/ overnight)

You can also catch a bus going to Daet, Camarines Norte from Manila. From there, you can either head to Vinzons or get a boat from Paracale (about 2 hours away). For information on Paracale, click here.

Another option is fly to Naga, Camarines Sur but instead of taking the van to Daet, hire a cab all the way to Vinzons, Camarines Norte. Rates start at P2,500. This is probably the fastest option to Calaguas Island.

Or...you can also drive from Manila all the way to Paracale, Camarines Norte since it's nearer Manila than Vinzons is.

NOTE: Whatever option you choose, be prepared for a loooong journey. Take note, too, that a lot of the boats are either fishermen or commuter boats and not really intended for tourists. Don't expect boats with comfortable seats. Also, in our case, getting to Calaguas took us more than 2.5 hours because we had to stop by a town where our boatmen dropped off the town's water supply. It would be best to respect their time and just enjoy the ride. :)

NOTE2: If you're alone and willing to join a big group, several travel groups organize tours to Calaguas. Prices range from P1,800-P4,000 per head. Here are some of them:


Personally speaking, we prefer the DIY option. But if you want everything planned for you, you can try those groups. We haven't tried them and we cannot vouch for them. :)

HELPFUL LINKS: http://www.lakwatsero.com/destinations/calaguas-islands/

CONTACT: Bhuls, boatman for Calaguas - +639493187597 (P4,000/ big boat, roundtrip)

*portable hammock
*portable mat
*small pillow
*sleeping bag
*off lotion
*sunblock/ tanning lotion
*flashlight and headlight
*portable speakers
*cooked food
*first aid kit
*3L of drinkable water
*snorkel and mask
*waterproof bags

Click here for more...


  1. wow! can't believe there's still a place like this.. it looks paradise! :) i wanna travel, too. but sometimes lack of money hinders me to do it. but i hope someday i can start my own journey like you & charlie. and i will tell you when that happens :)

  2. nice one! planning to calaguas next month :) baler muna end of month. very informative ang post na to!

  3. thank you guys:)

    @Kristine: yes, do share your wonderful travels and adventures with us. we'd love to hear tales of your journey. by the way, you can also travel on a budget...:) we all spend on something - others spend on shopping, on coffee, on movie tickets...the list is endless. sometimes, we don't realize that the coffee we buy from Starbucks a week already costs P500 and if you cut that, in a few month's time, you'll have enough money to go camping in Calaguas, or go to a beach in Batangas. :) It's all about priorities. :)

  4. nice post and shots..very informative

  5. hi paula! i have always wanted to go to calaguas. i'm really a fan of unspoiled pristine beaches. hope i'll be able to go there next year. need to borrow a tent first. thanks for the info!

    please do check out my blog too when you have time. i also love traveling. :)

  6. Thanks for the info... very helpful. :)

    Ang dami na pala nakapunta sa island na to. Maganda naman kasi. :)

  7. Thank you Jam, will definitely check out your blog. :)

    Thank you Dylan! :)

  8. hi pau and charlie,

    very informative tong site niyo kasi pati mga routes and thin0gs to bring nilagay niyo din..

    OFW ako and im saving money pra pag uwe ko mag travel din ako..

    Big thanks! Keep it up!

    All the best! =)

  9. i love your blogsite! love the layout, the blogs, the stunning photography. wish i have your youth and energy. don't think i'm still good for long boat rides and camping.......so keep writing as this armchair traveler is with you!

  10. Thank you so much! We are glad that we are able to inform and educate you all. :)

  11. Nice, I'm planning Calaguas for the end of the year. I love your blog, it's very helpful! Will link it to mine. Keep it up :)

  12. ganda talaga ng calaguas pero masyado akong takot na sumakay ng pump boat lang tapos medyo maalon.sayang.thanks sa link ng mga travel groups to calaguas,i might consider it.

  13. thanks for the info, paula. i'm planning a DIY trip to calaguas sometime next month! :)

  14. very nice especially for those who love to travel =) keep it up! God bless! More travels to come