Everyone can definitely feel the sweltering summer heat. The sun’s almost always up, and the humid weather seems to declare, “It’s time to hit the beach!” That’s what my friend Cindy and I did last weekend when we explored the shores of Calaguas Island. We joined a group of my colleagues at work who looked for a hassle-free tour package to the virgin island in Camarines Norte.
We availed of a package from Byahe Adventours worth 3,500php. It included round trip bus fares, boat transfers, tents, Day 1 lunch and dinner, and Day 2 breakfast. We also got to enjoy free culinary sessions, poi / fire dance, and an open mobile bar – all organized by Chef Janjie of Lakwatserong Kusinero. All photographs taken by their resident photographer Mariano Balane were also given to us at the end of the trip. We almost had nothing to worry about with this package.
The itinerary was as follows:
Friday (March 15)
- 7:00 – 7:30 pm – Assembly – DLTB Bus Company
- 8:30 – ETD – Cubao to Daet
Day 1 Saturday (March 16)
- 5:00 – Assembly – JOLLIBEE Daet Branch (Crossing Daet Poblacion)
- 8:30hrs ETA – Mahabang Buhangin, Calaguas Island
- Settle Down / REST
- 12:15noon – 1:00pm – LUNCH
- 1:00 – 3:00pm – REST / SIESTA / BEACH BUM / PICTORIAL
- 3:00 – 4:30pm Activity 2 – **POI Zipping 10, Photography Sharing &(Culinary 101 Session 2)
- 7:00 – 8:00pm – DINNER
- 8:00hrs – onwards Socials / Activity 3 – Games, Night Photography, star-gazing / night swimming
DAY 2 Sunday (March 17)
- 6:00am Wake-up call, Breakfast preparation
- 7:00 – 7:30am – BREAKFAST
- 7:30 – 9:00am – Beach Bum / Photo – Ops
- 9:00 – 9:15am – BREAK CAMP – pack-up
Cindy and I decided to meet up in SM Makati before heading off to the bus station. It was a payday Friday, so everyone was out. Traffic would definitely be bad, so we thought we’ll just take the MRT going to Cubao. Riding the MRT with big bag packs on a Friday was one hell of an experience. The throng of commuters waiting by the door of the train was so hard to penetrate, we had to wait for about five trains before we got in front of the line. First attempt to go in was unsuccessful. The train was jam packed with everyone trying to push, shove, and get inside. We didn’t need to walk because we were drowned in the sea of people who were forcing their way in, so eventually we found ourselves inside the train. We had to be in awkward positions and got squished and crushed because somebody would lean or hold on to us (or our bags). It was the longest 20 minutes of our lives inside such a tightly crammed train that both Cindy and I suddenly missed the MRT in Hongkong. When we finally were able to alight the train, I was able to breathe again. I had a terrible feeling that I stank and smelled of sweat and body odor from the other passengers.
Since we cannot take a shower right then and there, we just laughed it off while heading to Philtranco Bus Station. We were in such high spirits until around 8pm, when we realized that the people who were supposed to be with us at the bus station weren’t there yet. Uh-oh. After a few text messages and calls, we found out that the meet up was supposed to be in DLTB Bus Station based on the latest itinerary they sent. So like contestants in the Amazing Race, we ran and hailed a cab to make it to the 9pm bus. It was the last trip to Daet so there was no way we could miss it.
We seated ourselves in the bus and thought to ourselves, “What an adventure! What’s gonna happen next?”
The nine-hour bus ride to Daet began. I struggled to find a comfortable position in the bus to get some shut-eye, but failed miserably. I really do not like sleeping during a trip but I didn’t have a choice. The journey was so long, and it was by far the longest land trip I’ve ever had. It was around 7am when we got to Daet. We had breakfast at Jollibee, rode the bus again for another ten minutes, then off we went to the Vinzons port via a jeepney. It was raining and we didn’t use our umbrellas, and the senior citizen in me forgot to bring the back pack cover. By the time we got to the small port, we were all soaked in rain but our mood wasn’t dampened. Not just yet.
I shared in this post the adventure we had during our boat ride. I was actually starting to scold myself for being so easily convinced to join the trip. I didn’t know that I had to endure such an ordeal going to an island which didn’t even have hotels. Worse, there’s no water supply or electricity in the island.
Oh well, we were almost there. After about two and a half hours of a perilous boat ride, here’s what greeted us:
The tiring journey was all forgotten. Fine white sand, pristine turquoise waters, luscious green trees – what more can you ask for?
It was everyone’s first time to set foot on the island. We were all exhausted but that didn’t stop us from wanting to see more of it. Cindy and I wandered aimlessly while waiting for our tents to be pitched. We wanted to get a better glimpse of the rest of Calaguas, so with our digital cameras and shades, we discovered how truly beautiful and breath-taking it was:
We had lunch at around 1:30pm then we were finally able to rest inside our tents. Cindy and I tried to get some sleep to be ready for the rest of the day’s activities. Our tents were set up under some low trees, and it was breezy especially in the afternoon. I began to appreciate the feeling of going back to basics – getting buckets of water from a poso, lounging in a tent, and just listening to the waves as they wash up the shore.
Later in the afternoon, after getting that much-needed rest, we just relaxed by the beach and took
some a lot of pictures. Here are my favorites:
The day was about to end and I started noticing how dark it can indeed get when there are no bright lights around (remember there’s no electricity on the island). Only a few tents were lit, and at around 7pm, Chef Janjie started to prepare our dinner. After dinner, a mobile bar was set where he mixed some drinks. The bar was opened to us to create our own drinks while watching him do a fire dance. We were amazed at how he can do all this. One talented chef/bartender/poi dancer indeed!
Cindy and I joined the rest of the group for some socials until 11pm, then turned in for the day. It was nice to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves of the Pacific Ocean. The night was so tranquil and we slept like babies. When I opened my eyes, it was 6am already! We planned on waking up at 5am to catch the sunrise. Nonetheless, we still set out to hike the hill on the far end of the island to see the rest of Calaguas from atop a mountain. The view was priceless:
The morning view was so spellbinding, we took almost an hour before agreeing to go back to the camp site for breakfast. We were starving when we got back. After breakfast at around 8am, we packed up our stuff because we had to leave at 9am, otherwise we’ll be stuck in the island because of the low tide.
What an amazing two days at a spectacular island! I have completely gotten over how hard it was to reach Calaguas because of the great time that we had. It offered a temporary but welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The longer you stay in an untouched island, the more you realize how important it is to treasure what you have. Imagine having to live for two days without an unlimited supply of water, without TV or internet, and yes, without a cellphone (it was a challenge to find signal plus you won’t be able to charge your phone unless you have a portable charger). We’re so blessed because we have everything we need here in the metro. Hands down to the people who live on the island because they get by everyday despite lacking in resources, yet they still have smiles on their faces.
As our boat left the island, I carry with me the precious memories from my new-found love, Calaguas.
If you’re interested to see Calaguas for yourself, you may visit the Byahe Adventours Facebook page.
Apart from photos that I took, the rest are courtesy of Rai Castro, William San Jose, Nahum Cabrera, Cindy Perez, and Mariano Balane. Please do not use the photos without the author’s permission.