This divine destination named Calaguas Group of Islands is nestled in the Pacific Ocean, off the eastern seaboard of the Bicol region. Calaguas comprises more than 20 islands and islets. Among which is Tinaga Island where you can find Mahabang Buhangin, one of the finest beaches in the Philippines that boasts of powdery white sands and crystal clear aquamarine waters.
They say it’s sweeter the second time around. With an overcast sky and eight boatmen declining to sail, I wonder if this visit to Calaguas would even be close to sweet.
Crossing fingers that the weather would recover, I still pushed for the early morning trip to Naga City. From there, I took a van to Daet, and then another van to Paracale. It didn’t take long before the scene turned familiar—pawnshops, stores, and stalls for anything that can be sold; the roaring tricycles here and there; townsfolk in unhurried paces of daily life.
I hopped off the van and made my way through the neighborhood, a cluster of wooden houses almost without breathing space, until I reached the port. There, I met Andy who helped me negotiate a trip for P2500. Most of the boats had set their trips on Christmas day when weather forecast was promising, but, he assured me, we would sail.
A few minutes from the shore, the sea already turned rough and for the next one and a half hours, we sailed in a bumpy white ocean. Nobody talked. Only the restless strikes of the generator and the waves crushing through the boat’s riggers could be heard.
And then, finally, the mountains came to view.
As the boat eased its way to Mahabang Buhangin, we passed by a few white shores and rocky formations. Sparkling white cascades formed by big waves hitting the rocks were a thrilling spectacle.
THE WALING-WALING RESORT
My home for two days was the adorable Waling-Waling Eco Resort, the perfect viewing point of Mahabang Buhangin’s pristine white shores, the clear blue sea, and majestic sunsets.
Grace walked me to my kubol and helped get my things settled. The kubol has a spacious sitting room and can accommodate about 6 people, but this time it’s all for me.
On the ground floor is an open air living room, perfect for a long night chat over beer with the barkada. And, the best thing I like, the posh bathroom! I didn’t have an idea it could be that comfortable in an island as remote as Calaguas.
Scared that it won’t get any sunnier in my two days stay in the island, I went around right away to take photos of the cabanas and well-kept gardens of the resort.
Shortly, indeed, heavy rain poured. I curled up in bed in my kubol and let the sound of the rain lull me to sleep. I think that was one of the best sleeps I had away from home.
Past 1PM, Grace woke me up for lunch. I had hot chicken tinola with malunggay, fried fish, pickled cucumber, and mangoes. The food was simple but great for that cold rainy day. Over lunch, the disappointment of not seeing the beauty of the island escalated. I was contemplating on whether the trip was worth it and whether I should tell the whole world they must see Calaguas once in their life.
After lunch, I returned to my kubol and stayed under the sheets.
Luckily, at 5PM, the rain stopped. I had a great view of the sun setting on the horizon while the island slowly disappeared in the dark.
As I was the only guest in the resort among all five guests in the whole island, I didn’t expect any merrymaking at night. Calaguas, anyway, is almost always laidback and peaceful. There’s no fanfare and no cellphone signal. Even years after it was opened to the public, it has kept the reputation of having one of the finest beaches in the Philippines, and remains a perfect destination for quality beach moments.
THE MORNING HIKE
I woke up late the next morning. I walked by the shore and then went on a short hike to Baranggay Mangkawayan, a fishing village on the other side of the island.
There wasn’t much to see, there’s a wharf, plenty of fishing boats, and the mountains, but this is one of best points to watch the sun rise. The friendly locals also have rich stories to tell about their place, their dreams, and their tragedies.
THE FAR END
I returned to the resort just in time for breakfast, and then explored the other end of the shore which surprised me with a secluded white shore perfect for quiet moments.
THE HILLS (DON’T HAVE EYES)
Before lunch, I trekked to the hills where I got a good view of Mahabang Buhangin, the village of Mangkawayan, and the nearby islands. I was amazed to see the hills alive, moving, breahing, as the green grass swayed in the gentle wind.
Just as I was about to leave, the weather turned impressive. The beach was perfect. I took a few more photos and decided to head back to Paracale.