Calaguas for the Wanna-Be Backpacker: 8 Tips for the Ultimate #CalagWOW Experience
Much love for Calaguas!
The summer isn’t over yet! Before the year’s hottest season draws to a close, why not plan one last summer escapade to a place off the beaten track? Said place being remote island paradise Calaguas, 10-12 hours from Manila, and fast becoming one of the most sought-after beach destinations this year. Much has been blogged about the island, but I’d like to share with you some first-hand info in case you plan on venturing out to rough it in this unspoiled virgin beach yet don’t know what to expect.
1. If possible, book your trip on a weekday
Calaguas’ unspoiled beaches are much better crowd-less and free of docked sailboats obstructing your view. To fully enjoy this breath-taking beach, it’s best to book on a weekday to steer clear of the throngs of weekend tourists that will easily fill up the island and make it look like a crowded Boracay or Puerto Galera. Another option would be to plan your trip from Friday to Sunday, that way you still get to enjoy the feel of having the island all to yourself on Friday afternoon.
Just got off the bus at Daet and about to take a jeep to Vinzons port
Tip: For those taking a bus from Manila, be sure to book a bus with enough legroom for a good night’s sleep going to Daet, where the two main ports leading to Calaguas are located. Bus fares go for about PHP 400 (non-aircon) to PHP 850-1000 (La-Z-Boy style seats.) From Daet, you’ll take a 15-minute jeepney ride to either Vinzons or Paracale port then take a two-hour boat ride to Calaguas. Once you get on the boat…
2. Brace yourself for (possibly) one of the scariest boat rides of your life!
The route to Calaguas includes crossing a portion of the Pacific ocean, which results in choppy and untamed waves that’ll leave you soaked and praying for your life! Our tour guides weren’t kidding when they cautioned us to prepare to get wet. They packed our belongings in plastic bags and ushered us into a small boat that were almost as big as the waves that violently rocked our boat from side to side; my friends and I were scared as hell. We did make it to the island alive though (thank God!) and I’m sure you will to. And now that you’re here…
3. Enjoy! Relax, take in the wonderful view, and go crazy with the photo-op!
Calaguas boasts of crystal-clear turquoise waters and soft, powdery white sands that can easily rival that or Boracay or Palawan’s. The beach extends into a dazzling gradient from bright aquamarine to the deepest blue as the shore stretches into the horizon, beckoning you to take a dip – it’s so hard not to fall in love with this charming island! My friends and I took full advantage of the jaw-dropping scenery and took selfies and group photos on the sand, in the water, and against the golden sun. It would be hard not to!
Sunset sessions at the beach! So nice to actually talk with my friends compared to everyone being on their phones!
4. Get ready to disconnect
There is absolutely zero cellular signal in Calaguas, save for some spots at the top of hills you may encounter during your trek, so be prepared to leave mobile communication and the internet (goodbye, Instagram!) behind entirely when you set foot on the island. I personally think this is what makes a trip to Calaguas so refreshing; you are forced to disconnect with the world and instead draw your attention to the company you have, and all the beauty around you. Better make the most out of it!
My friends in their home away from home for the weekend
5. Get ready to rough it
This virgin island has been named so as it is devoid of any commercial establishments, modern comforts, and electricity– not a single restaurant, store, shower, or flush-function toilet (!) in sight. With that being said, don’t expect a luxury get-away in Calaguas. We had to fetch each bucket of water from a deep well for every shower and trip to the toilet, sleep in a tent on the sand, and wait til nighttime when the generators were on to charge our phones (which we didn’t mind, as we didn’t have much for our phones other than taking photos.) With the public bathrooms being so cramped and dark, we found it more convenient to shower outside in our bikinis right next to the poso. (Don’t worry! Everyone does it.) The best part about roughing it? Falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.
Tip: Bring your own sleeping bag for a more comfortable night’s sleep, and flashlights to help you find your way after lights out. Our travel agency provided our tents for us, but if you plan to DIY your trip, be sure to bring your own tent, food, and cooking materials. There’s no electricity on the island in the daytime, but generators are switched on at night for lights and charging of gadgets. And surprise! No mosquitoes where we stayed. ;)
6. Don’t forget the activities!
Despite Calaguas being relatively small, there’s much to do in the island. We easily filed out our three-day trip with treks to hills at either ends of the island, where we were greeted with sweeping views of the opposite sides of the island port on one side, and the gorgeous beach on the other, with an expanse of green fields in between. We also went cliff diving at a neighboring island, and kayaked to our hearts’ content along the shoreline. You can also try snorkeling at table-top reef which is a short boat ride from Calaguas, or the most favorite activity of our group: lying on the beach, perfecting our tan.
7. Dispose of your trash responsibly!
Seeing a lone can of coke floating in the middle of the sea on our boat ride back to Daet totally broke my heart. Who would be inconsiderate enough to carelessly litter in the ocean?! Please be responsible enough to bring your own trash liners and dispose of your garbage properly during your trip, and not to leave your garbage on the beach, or throw it in the water. Calaguas is such a beautiful island, it is our responsibility to keep it that way.
Good morning sunshine! Chilling at our cottage with our welcome banner
8. Can’t DIY your trip? #Bookit with a team that will offer you the most comfortable and enjoyable trip possible
My friends and I couldn’t be bothered to figure out the technicalities of planning a DIY trip to Calaguas. None of us in our group knew the slightest thing about setting up a tent, or cooking without a stove . Our trip would’ve been a total MESS if it weren’t for the super nice and friendly team of Sir Euphie Penano. They were the absolute best! Cooking the super yummy meals for our breakfast, lunch and dinner, showing us around the island, keeping our itinerary in check, and tirelessly taking our group shots! Their team also made our all-girl group feel super safe during our trip.
For a fuss-free trip to Calaguas, I highly recommend booking with Penano Travel and Tours and Calaguas atbp. The less outdoors-y of us wouldn’t have to worry about details like setting up camp, packing meals to cook, scouting for a spot to set up camp, etc. because their team will sort everything out for you, leaving you to relax and enjoy your trip. Our package included boat transfers to and from Calaguas, environmental fees, 3 days’ worth of meals, unlimited use of kayaks, free use of tents, and other activities like trekking, snorkeling and island hopping, all for only PHP 3,500. Super sulit if you ask me! Here’s their Facebook page if you’re interested: https://www.facebook.com/PenanoTravelAndToursDtiPermit01747024
So glad to have gone on this trip with my closest friends!
My friends and I left Calaguas with heavy hearts and a fresh inventory of fun memories. It was so hard to leave the little patch of paradise we’ve found! I am nonetheless grateful for such a fun and enriching trip, and for having gotten the opportunity to recharge and get away from the stresses of the daily grind. Calaguas is such a gem, an endearingly charming place that will challenge you to abandon creature comforts and take it in its entire rustic, isolated splendor. Hope my friends’ and my experience gave you an idea on what to expect, and how to make the most out of your Calaguas trip, should you plan on going. Stay tanned! ;)