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Calaguas: An Unspoiled Beach Destination for the Boracay-weary

Boat on Calaguas

 

There are no old white men burning to a crisp while wearing skimpy trunks, no touts who have learned a bit of French, German, Korean, and Japanese (just enough to appeal to foreign tourists) offering to take you helmet diving or parasailing. There are no intricate sand castles built by local kids who stand nearby waiting for a customary tip after you take a photo with the tourist traps they created. There are no crowds, no promoters handing out sample sachets of a celebrity cosmetologist’s sunblock, no silly literal walking advertisements wearing body-sized billboards slung over their torsos. There are no bars, and most especially, no tugs-tugs music reverberating from oversized speakers at 3 am, shaking the walls of the resort you’re staying in. Actually, there are no resorts of any kind in Calaguas. There’s neither electricity nor running water.

 

Under the shade of some trees in Calaguas

 

But the absence of all these is exactly what makes Calaguas so inviting. There’s “nothing” to do in Calaguas which is, quite frankly, its appeal and what some urban-weary beach-goers look for in a beach destination. There’s a lazy, tranquil, and laid-back vibe to the place, as a proper beach should.

 

The beautiful beach of Mahabang Buhangin

 

Time stops in Calaguas. There’s no cell signal so you don’t see people looking down on their phones and scrolling though inane Facebook updates and photos of food on Instagram. Instead you will see people playing volleyball or throwing a Frisbee around, sleeping on their sarongs under the shade of the trees, or swimming with the fish in the turquoise waters and taking in the scenery. When the sky changes from blues to pinks and purples at sunset, people stop and watch. At night, the beach is illuminated by nothing but the moon, and stars pepper the sky, easily visible due to the absence of smog and light pollution.

 

Mahabang Buhangin sunset

Calaguas sunset

 

There are no big commercial establishments in Calaguas. None yet, at least. A cousin of mine who visited the island in 2008 recalled that their “toilet” at that time was a hole in the ground they themselves had to dig and cover up afterwards. When it rained, they gathered under trees and took shelter under the meager cover they provided. Now, five years later, there are just a few handfuls of simple nipa huts with picnic tables and benches on the island that you can rent and a couple of toilets housed in simple straw-and-bamboo structures. You can set up a tent and camp right there on the beach. There’s still no running water but you can get fresh water from a pump or pay P10 for a local to pump water in a pail for you.

 Camping in CalaguasBring a tent and camp right there on the beach.

 

This is just the start of the commercialization of Calaguas, but the beach is still very much untouched. With Calaguas’ location and the time and effort it takes to get there, it’s not on everyone’s list of ideal beach destinations. Further commercialization and developments will come in the near future, evidenced by the ongoing construction of more nipa huts at the time we were there. Already there is a streamer on the beach advertising organized group tours to the island, and at least one enterprising local has set up a small shack selling snacks and chips and souvenir Calaguas t-shirts.

 

Beach huts being constructed on CalaguasPicnic huts being constructed on the beach

 

For developers, Calaguas is a gold mine of potential. For nostalgic beach-goers, they hold on to the hope that Calaguas will stay undeveloped, even for just a few more years, away from the direction in which Boracay is headed.

 

footprints

 

It will probably take a few more years before anything more than nipa huts is constructed on Mahabang Buhangin. If you’re looking to head to the beach, relax, leave all worries behind, and take the time to do nothing, Calaguas is the place to go. And the best time to go is now, while the island is in between the anchors of the past, and the promise of the future.

 

Sunset, Calaguas group of islands