Journey to paradise: Visiting Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte

I was on the road again immediately after the Pahiyas Festival 2013, (where I discovered a Queen, see story here.) I had only few hours rest and then I was packing again on to my next destination. It will be an initial 7 or 8-hour land trip by bus down South of Manila, and then to an island which is two-hour boat ride.

Destination: Calaguas Island, Camarines Norte.
Please bear with me as I will break my blog post into two parts. I just can’t contain it to one story because there are so many exciting stories from my recent trip. Let me share with you how to get there and what you can expect where you arrive there. This will make you really prepared to go on “backpacking mode”. It was my first time to sleep on a tent, an outdoor tent in an island.

Calaguas weekend getaway was tour package bought by a group of friends from NXP, formerly Philips. Raise your hands or leave a comment if you are included in this island camping!

The journey starts in bus terminal in Pasay City. DLTB Co, which used to be BLTB in early 2000, now operated by DMMW Inc., is one of the major bus company that goes to the Bicol Region, the tour operator has chosen DLTB because its buses are relatively new. Meet up is at 8PM and we are due to leave Manila by 8:15PM, but my travel buddy arrived a little bit late. The bus that we is supposed to take us to Daet left already. Most buses at the station were bound to Daet, three of them are scheduled to the same destination, so I said it was okay to join the next bus. We boarded the next bus even without our reservation, the crew of DLTB was kind enough to give us the front seat. There were seventeen of us, only the two of us are coming from the DLTB Pasay Terminal, the rest were arranged to be picked up in Turbina pick up station.

Eight hours later, we were already at the meeting place in Daet, the bus ride was safe and easy. From the DLTB terminal in Daet, we took a tricycle going to Jolibbee Daet Bayan to wait for the rest to arrive. I notice that most people in the food chain are all tourists, I guess they were all bound to the island just like us. A little half an hour later, our group arrived and then another DLTB bus took us to another terminal – to Vinzons Central Terminal.

From Vinzons Central Terminal, there was Jeepney waiting for our group and immediately, we were transported to the port where the actual journey to Calaguas Island will start.

Logpond port is where boats are waiting, there are at least three tour operators that will take you to the island and you have to coordinate with them. There will be a quick briefing from there. They distribute wristbands, this will identify your group from others who bought package from the other tour operator. You are also not required but it is suggested that you start changing your attire and be ready to get wet. Putting on your sun screen lotions is a must by now. You will be exposed to very hot environment and in the island there will be little or almost no shades that will protect you.

Melvic’s Team Hullabaloo, the welcoming party, the customer service and the bunch of cool people!

Melvic has been bringing tourists in the island since 2007. He has a wonderful package that is really affordable, and I tell you he’s got really cool staff in there. All of them are doing their “all-around” job and still smiling and ready to serve and assist tourists at the end of the day. The island has no electricity yet, but Melvic provides generator set to light the island during the evening only. Melvic provides local employment to the people of Daet – from surfing instructors, bar tender, waiter, boat captain and crew, and cook. He also help local business – his tour package helps the bus company, the jeepney operators, the boat owners, and the restaurant owner in Bagasbas. You can ask Mocha to teach you skim boarding in the island, and finish a 1hr surfing course in Bagasbas.

Cruising to Calaguas Island.
If you are a “DIY” pack packer and you brought your car to Vinzons, you can leave the car at Logpond port and pay P100 overnight parking. From the Logpond port, prepare for a two hours or more trip on the boat. If you are updating your social media profiles, you have to upload them before the boat ride. Secure all your belongings, you don’t like it to be wet during the ride. Although, Melvic’s crew has already prepared a set of plastic bags, but it is always okay to be ready with your own. During the two-hour cruise, you will be welcomed by the other surrounding islands.

If you did not sleep in the bus ride from Manila, this will be the perfect time to take a nap, you have at least two hours to rest in the boat, but if it is your first time, I bet you can’t rest because you will get excited and you will keep on snapping photos from your phone or camera. And then two hours later, here’s what will welcome you – a white sand beach. Its not Boracay, it is Calaguas Island!

Calaguas Island Philippines

The white-sand island is a camping site! No hotel rooms (yet), but I heard there are plans of putting up Cabanas very soon. But right now, the island is pure camping site. You have to sleep on a tent, you can bring your own but the tour operators has already prepared tents for the tourists.

Calaguas is a paradise, its a camping site for back packers, for tourists who just want to enjoy a break without having to check emails, no Facebook status update, no Twitter, no Instagram. Your smartphones will be used only to collect nice photos here. You should bring bottled water too, you like to be dehydrated here. It becomes very hot from 9AM until 5PM here. You cannot stay inside your tent or you get toasted there.

How to get to Calaguas Island (from Manila)

  1. Bus ride from Pasay or Cubao bus stations
  2. Get off Daet Camarines Norte, proceed to Vinzons Central Terminal
  3. Rent a jeep to take you to Logpond port (or arrange this with your travel agency)
  4. Boat ride from the port to the island

Things to bring in going to Calaguas Island

  1. Insect repellant lotion
  2. Sun screen lotion
  3. Jacket, it is cold in the 8-hour bus ride
  4. Travel pillow, it will help you sleep well in the bus
  5. Extra tent, if you don’t like the tent provided in the island
  6. Plastic bags to secure your bags and other gadgets during the trip
  7. Motion sickness pill
  8. Snorkelling gear
  9. Power bank for your smartphone
  10. Towel/Beach towel
  11. Flashlights
  12. Drinks and snack
  13. Tissues or wet whipes
  14. Swim wear
  15. Camera, you want to document this experience and you will take tons of photos here!

Team NXP, formerly Philips at an island in Calaguas. Summer 2013

My friends doing the favorite “jump” shot in one of the islands we visited in Calaguas. 

We will tell you what you can do during you stay in a place that no cellphone signal! 😉 You can do a lot here aside from partying.

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