This is Mahabang Buhangin in Calaguas Islands!
If you think of the best beaches in the Philippines, El Nido or Coron in Luzon, and Boracay or Bantayan Islands in Visayas as well as Siargao or Samal Island in Mindanao will surely be part of the list.
Mahabang Buhangin is a beach which you will surely love but may probably never heard of.
The islands of Calaguas are located in Camarines Norte.
Mahabang Buhangin in Calaguas was once a hidden haven known to only few travellers and beach-goers.
The island became a famous tourist destination because of its raw beauty and accessibility. Calaguas offers powdery white sand and clear blue waters which one may think similar to Boracay. However, it offers a more calm environment (the area is not crowded and noisy) with unexploit natural resources.
You will also be out of the grid because mobile phone signal is weak to nothing. This will give you a chance to bond more with your family and friends, and enjoy the beauty of the island.
Its an 8-hour land travel from Manila and approximately 2-hour boat ride from the mainland of Camarines Norte going to Calaguas Islands.
And while you are on the boat ride, you will surely like the islands along your way to Mahabang Buhangin.
Where to stay in Calaguas
This depends on your budget and personality, and/or package from your travel agency. You can put up a tent or rent a cottage or cabana (‘kubol’).
Waling-Waling EcoVillage Calaguas is one of the resorts which you may try if you want to rent and stay in a cottage or cabana (‘kubol’).
There are travel and tours that you may find in Facebook who offer van transfers (Manila to Port Vinzons or Port Paracale to Manila), boat transfers (Port Vinzons or Port Paracale to Mahabang Buhangin to Port Vinzons or Port Paracale) and camping tents.
How to get to Calaguas Islands
There are travel and tour organizers that are offering Calaguas tours which I highly recommend to avoid the hassle of driving going to the mainland of Camarines Norte, getting a boat ride to take you to Mahabang Buhangin, and securing a comfortable accommodation.
DIY (Do-It-Yourself) is also possible which is the cheapest way to get you to the island. It gives thrill and excitement to your adventure.
Here’s the guide for DIY travellers.
There are bus terminals in Cubao and Pasay that will take you to Daet. You can check the updated schedule of bus trips and fare cost, and make a booking online in Pinoytravel.com.ph or phbus.com. Walk-in is not advisable as you might get caught in a long queue. Reserve your booking early to avoid hassles.
Renting a van is also a good option which can take you from Manila to Daet.
Lanvin, one of the van drivers of our group, is also offering a transportation service from Manila to Daet (or any part of Luzon). He can be your photographer and tour guide during your Calaguas trip.
Khel, our nice tour guide, ensured that our trip was safe and enjoyable. He is also a good photographer.
Note: If you are bringing your car, you may ask one of the residents near the port (Vinzons or Paracale) if you can park your car. Of course, there is a parking fee.
Boat transfer from Daet to Mahabang Buhangin
Ride a jeepney going to Vinzons and get off at the fish port (Pandawan). From the fish port, you can hire a boat to take you to Mahabang Buhangin.
Better ask for the departure time from the island and get a reservation to ensure someone will pick you up and give you a ride back to Vinzons fish port. The price depends on the season of your trip and your haggling skills.
Ride a van going to Paracale. You will reach the town in less than two hours. The last trip from Daet going to Paracale is at 6:00 PM while for Paracale going to Daet is at 5:00 PM.
Superlines Bus offers a trip directly to Paracale-Panganiban. Superlines Bus regular aircon bus leaves Cubao at 7:45 PM. You may ask the conductor to drop you off at Paracale near the fish port.
Once you reach Paracale, you may hire a banca to take you to Mahabang Buhangin. The price will also depend on the season and your haggling skills.
For DIY travellers, here are some tips when you are going to Calaguas Island:
- Book your flights or bus tickets early especially if your trip falls on a long weekend or peak season.
- Bring drinking water to keep you hydrated, lighter and a portable cooking set if you plan to cook in the camp site. At the port, some of the fishermen offer fresh-catch seafoods early in the morning at a very good price!
- Bring utensils (paper plate, and reusable bowl, spoon and fork), towel, tent and portable mattress.
- Don’t forget your cash. For campers, entrance fee ranges from Php 125 – 150 per person. Tent pitching fee is Php 100 per tent. Renting a cottage is as low as Php 500.
- Bring toiletries (tissue, napkin, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo/conditioner and comb). You will use the public toilet if you are not staying in the resort. Don’t be surprised if there is a long queue especially around 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM where everyone wants to wash and take a bath using fresh (deep-well) water or early in the morning after breakfast or in the afternoon where everyone is preparing to leave the island.
- Bring insect repellent to protect yourself at all times especially when sleeping, and flip flops or sandals (Be fashionable but comfortable).
- Plastic bags. Some does not offer a plastic bag to wrap your bags. They might get wet during the boat ride. You may use it also for keeping and separating the wet clothes from the dry ones.
- If you smoke, do not throw your cigarette butt anywhere else, dispose it properly at the designated trash bins.
- Phone and power bank. You may get a signal from Smart (especially at the top of the hill). It is also a good alternative if you don’t have an SLR or digital camera with you.
- Bring shades and/or sunblock.
- Bring camera, batteries to capture the moment but don’t forget to…
Note: Better visit Calaguas during off-season so you will have the island to yourself and you can capture more picturesque sceneries.