Out of curiosity, the photos you saw and stories you heard, you’re sold–definitely sold–on going to Calaguas and you want to get there right now. Not too fast, buddy! Let’s go through that in 6 steps.
1. When to visit Calaguas
Which of the long weekends this year do you want spent in Calaguas? If not those weekends, is it any of the two-day weekends that can be made longer by filing a leave from work? You want fun in summer or you’re gonna wait for a birthday, monthsary, anniversary? When are your friends available? Or, perhaps, you just want to go solo during off-peak season—usually November to January—to make your solitary wandering, well, solitary. When to get to Calaguas is not a high-tide-low-tide question anymore—except when there’s a typhoon—but more of when are you willing to get there. Last year, the sea was surprisingly gentle, allegedly because of El Niño, that they continuously had visitors even after Christmas. How long to stay, I say the ideal is 3D2N (arrive at noon Day 1, leave in the morning of Day 3), but check your budget and timeline.
2. Where to stay and eat
This depends on your budget, comfort zone, and your personality in traveling. The turista, bakasyonista, and the plug-and-play lakwatsera will surely settle for different picks.
A. Put up a tent–Although Calaguas is no longer the raw island that campers have seen in the late 90s, so far there’s been no significant commercialization in the island. Calaguas still keeps that record of having no cellphone signal, no establishments, no night fanfare, and limited supply of electricity (6 PM to 10 PM only). If these are things you want to savor while staying in a tent for days and nights, by all means put up that tent, marvel at the blue sea by day, and gaze at the bright sky at night. On my first visit in 2013, I learned that you can also camp on the hill. Nice location, although there may be extra fees as some of these lands have tenants.
B. Rent a cottage–The 2-kilometer shoreline of Mahabang Buhangin has a number of cottages you can choose from. These open-air wooden huts cost at least P1000 per night. I believe it can fit a group of five, with two sleeping on the benches and three…on the dining table? You’ll have to cook, of course, same when you put up a tent, so take with you the essentials and enough supply of food. You can buy some items and fresh catch from Mangkawayan, a nearby fishing village although you will need to hike for about 15 minutes, and choices aren’t that many. If you can get all stuff in Paracale before hopping on to that boat, the better.
C. Rent a cabana or kubol
Waling-Waling’s cabanas are right at the beachfront it makes the best viewing point of the blue waves, the sparkling white shores, and the magnificent sunsets. At night, you can lower the blinds made of bamboo and curl up comfortably under the sheets.
Peak Season, 3D2N package: P5, 510 per person for a group of four guests
The kubol has one large bed and plenty of sitting room for six people. On the ground floor is an open-air living area perfect for a long night chat over beer with the barkada. Both floors have lights and ceiling fans, and–this is the loveliest of all—the kubol has a posh, spacious, private toilet and shower room similar to what you find in a nature spa, complete with tissue, soap, shampoo, and fresh towels!
Peak Season, 3D2N package: P6, 610 per person for a group of six guests
If you find that whoooooa-this-is-ridiculous…. Relax, buddy. That’s for peak days only–Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year, and Holy Week–and that’s when prices can really get high in many resorts. Outside of the peak season, however, you have plenty of options to choose from, without feeling heavy on your pocket.
- Also take note, the rates cover all the trouble of staying in a remote island: from boat transfer to preparing three meals a day, to getting a homey accommodation complete with mattresses, linen, pillows, and fans. That’s a lot of comfort and pampering. All you have to do is relax and enjoy the moments!
Mobile Number: 63.915.100.0000
Facebook: Waling-Waling Ecovillage Calaguas
3. How to get to Daet and Paracale
A. By flying
You can get to Daet by flying from Manila to Naga City. The trip takes about 40 minutes. From the airport, get a tricycle to take you to the terminal for vans going to Daet. The trip from Naga to Daet will take about 1.5 hours, and the fare is about P160. I don’t suggest taking a bus because that can take a long time due to the many stopover. From Daet, you can take a van to Paracale. The trip can take about 60-90 minutes and the fare is P60.
B. By not flying
If you’re taking a bus or driving from Manila, travel time to Daet is about 8 hours and the fare may start from P700. Any bus going to Bicol will do, and there are many of them in Cubao, Pasay, and Alabang. You can head straight to Daet then take a van, or to reduce your travel time, tell the driver to drop you off at Talobatib in Labo (two towns before Daet) and from there, take a bus to Paracale. Travel time is about 20 minutes and the fare is about P35.
4. How to get to the islands
From Paracale, you’ll cross the ocean for 1.5 hours. Based on experience, it’s best to close a deal with a boatman several days before the trip. When I first went in 2013, I took the boat services of Buboy Cabate (09285842052, 09398183203). The Paracale-Calaguas route is usually priced at P2500 for two people, although prices can vary depending on how many you are and how big the boat is. Buboy also offers tour packages to the island. During peak season, you may chance upon other passengers who can share the rental with you–that’s a big saving if you’re going solo. However, if you avail of the Waling-Waling package, which includes meals, accommodation, and boat trip, your ride is hassle-free as they already arrange it for you.
5. What to take with you, what to leave behind
So, everything is set—the date, accommodation, food, transportation. Now, get that backpack ready and stuff it with the must-haves! Here are some of the things you might want to bring, which can vary depending on how you made your decisions for Items 1 to 4.
Can’t Live Without
• cash and extra cash
• drinking water–buy the biggest you can carry
• sunblock, shades, hat, shawl
• lip balm and whatever makes your kikay kit
• toiletries (deo, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc)
• jacket, light shirts, beach wear, and the essentials
• flip flops or sandals
• insect repellent
• plastic bags–wrap your bags while in the open sea
• first aid kit (e.g. alcohol, band aid)
• medicines (e.g. Loperamide, Paracetamol)
• camera, batteries–selfies and groufies are a must!
• phone, powerbank—you may get some signal for Smart; I use it to take down notes
• Brandon–your dog is part of the gang, but consider the stress he’ll go through
• frisbee, snorkeling gear, and all equipment
No Strings Attached
• tent–unless you’re renting a cottage, cabana, or kubol
• blanket, towel–not if you’re staying at Waling-Waling
• lighter, cooking wares, utensils–only if you’re cooking
• rice, meat, spices, foodies and all
6. Check the weather
AND OFF YOU GO!
WORD OF MOUTH
JOHN | Team Manager, Yoloista
DIY was not an option for me, especially it was June when summer was already bidding goodbye and the weather was somehow unpredictable. I went with just my sunblock, sunglasses, and a couple of swim wear. I joined a tour group which provided the boat transfers, meals, island hopping, skim boarding tutorials, tent accommodation, and fire dancing among others. Cellphone signal was difficult, I had to climb the hill with shady trails which take 15-20 minutes. At the peak, indeed, there’s signal and I was able to share on Facebook my first post about that trip, the view of the island from the top. Yes, it’s not just signal that’s up there, but the best background for a good selfie.
WINNIE | Training Manager, Bookworm
While on a leave from the corporate world, I’ve been taking the time to enjoy traveling. The breathtaking Calaguas was one of the places I’ve been to recently. As usual, I did my research before the trip, so I’d know what to expect. It promised soft, white sand, clear waters, and lush greenery–just like the other beaches I’ve been to. And, just like other trips I’ve gone to, I didn’t expect much to avoid frustration (some reviews are usually overrated). But, when I arrived in Calaguas, I realized that the reviews didn’t do justice to the island. It was “beauty beyond expectations”. Everything I saw was all I’ve hoped to see and more. This made me realize that life is too short for me to put travelling on the backseat, especially if it offers this kind of exquisiteness.
One doesn’t need too much money to experience the beauty of Calaguas. It’s budget friendly especially when you travel as a group. The water is pristine, unbelievably turquoise, and inviting even from afar. The fine white sand is powdery, it can be challenging to wash it off from your body. You don’t run out of sights to see, you can climb mountains, and capture great photos of the landscape. If there’s one place I’d love to visit again, that would be Calaguas. I’m amazed that I don’t need to spend that much for that million dollar view.
BETTINA, High-Maintenance Backpacker
Calaguas was my first ever backpacking trip. It was quite a struggle weighing the pros and cons of going, much because of its remoteness. We took a Superlines bus from Manila and arrived in Paracale very early, at 5 AM when the streets were all quiet and the town was still asleep. Anyway, after all the uncertainty, we were able to get a boat and a cute bamboo hut we rented for P1000 per night. Some tips to make your travel to Calaguas easy: 1) arrange your boat transportation beforehand; 2) bring food because it can be expensive in the island; 3) prepare your soul for showering out in the open; and 4) take with you a good pair of shoes for the trek to the mountain.
ROXAN, Traveling Chic
That was November, there was a coming typhoon, so we were terribly scared when we left Paracale. After almost two hours battling the big waves, we reached the beautiful Calaguas Islands. So mesmerizing! We jumped off the boat and took photos right away. This island is unbelievably clean and the locals are hospitable. In those 3D2N of stay, it felt like we owned the island because we were the only guests. We fell in love with the place that we didn’t want to take the trip back to Manila anymore!
RANZ, Solo Backpacker
Can you imagine I visited several islands in Calaguas for a very cheap price? For P1, 000, I was able to see the islands of Maculabo, Guintinua, and of course, Tinaga. An island hopping tour is definitely an activity you should not miss. Let yourself wander in the islands, hike to the hills, and enjoy the view. Amazing! You will love the scene of white sandy shores and the blue beach. Getting tired is out of the way, it’s just all fun as you hike and explore these islands. U will never want to miss the sunset, too. Awesome. Surreal.