Philippines Hidden Paradise, the Calaguas Islands

Story by: Maritess Madamba     Date: 19 March 2021    Image by: Unsplash | John Simon Fondevilla

5 minutes reading time Philippines

To be called a traveler knows no limits, hang-ups, inhibitions. The eagerness in doing something far from the ordinary is a great challenge, not an escape but a face-to-face chance of a lifetime.

Calaguas, Vinzons, Camarines Norte, Philippines

It was in the latter part of a rainy season in August when we had the valor in discovering the hidden paradise in the southern part of the Philippines, the Bicol region, the talked about Calaguas Islands. The long ride of eight hours to Vinzons, Camarines Norte is a guaranteed thrill and excitement. Having been astonished by the tall coconut trees along the zigzag roads, breathtaking scenery of lush green fields, the heart-pounding cross of the high mountains.

In spite of the tips and warnings of the tour guides and boatmen, these didn’t stop us from hopping on in one of the awaiting boats upon reaching the Minaongan port.

Vinzons, Camarines Norte, Philippines

The adventure begins. The smiles on our faces mirror another two and a half hour journey to the wonderful island. It was a smooth sail for the first one hour of our trip. As the water current increases and the seas go deeply for the next hours, our fearless hearts began to pound rapidly. The big waves began to shower our whole body and it shivers all over that lasted for another one and a half hours as the boat randomly sways from one side to another. “Buwis buhay” (life threatening) as it is fondly called in Filipino, we just entertained ourselves by singing aloud in the midst of the quivering voyage. We can compete for the most peanut-colored lips and stiff palms. No further worries as our skilled boatmen were always there to keep us calm.

We can’t wait until the sailing ends and see the fabulous island.

Calaguas Islands, Sailing

The Philippines is best known for its powdery white sand beaches. This one warm welcome of the scenery is exceptionally rewarding. The best island I have ever seen, more than a paradise, relaxing and breathtaking that could awaken every sleeping senses and bring back to the aroma of natural creation.

Calaguas Paradise

Away from the bustling city life, allow yourself to indulge in nature. Brace yourself without a network signal, electricity but rather expect the moonlight to watch over you when night falls. This is perfect for finding one’s lost soul, mending a broken heart, looking for wise decisions.

Sunset in Calaguas Island

Tent pitching is part of the unusual experience, far from the cozy air-conditioned hotel rooms. Although comfort rooms are available a little bit far from the cottages, the water supply on a “poso” (coming from a well) is abundant and satisfying. We got a package on a full board meal cooked and done by the local tour guides as there are no stores or shops to buy food and other necessities, so bring everything off your personal needs and toiletries. Sumptuous seafood dishes, meat, chicken are being served freshly done on grills and pots for a great meal all the time.

Swimming in the vast blue seas or embracing the fine white sand of the shores are not the only highlights. Going on a one hour trek on the voluminous mountains is another exciting adventure. Reserve some strength and stamina for another great achievement.

Night falls. The early hours offer a mini bar in which you can have some short nightlife fun. Dance with the fireflies and other night creatures until about eleven o’clock in the evening. Drink moderately as a constant reminder.

As expected, the moonlight is your only companion at bedtime. Speaking right through your senses as you lie down watching its shimmering offer of a free wishing moment. The fun doesn’t end through the peaceful serene. Your wild imagination could run with the presence of uninvited creatures as the silence breaks into small shrieks of an unknown source. Ha-ha! Here you go with your valiant fighting spirit again. No one can go to the comfort room alone when nature calls in the wee hours as it is right in front of the lavish tall trees where you can see red sharp eyes staring while you do the necessary. Mixed of fun and fear yells, run with your peers as you rush back to your resting place to ease temporarily. Isn’t it more exciting?

Sunrise greets. We had another full breakfast of eggs, “itlog na maalat” (salted egg), local “daing” (dried fish), “inihaw na talong” (grilled eggplant), coffee, or hot chocolate to gather some strength. The fun continues with games and swimming with the irresistible invitation of the seas.

We have to say goodbye to the island at around eleven o’clock in the morning after an early picnic lunch to avoid the big waves in the afternoon and to give ample time to our trip back to Manila. Say cheers to our farewell fun as the seas went on low tide when the boat has to set a little farther to protect its surface. Argue with the waves as we walk at waist level down to the boat to hop in. Make sure you have reserved some ninety degree stretch of your legs to climb the boat. It cannot be done on the first attempt. Peers’ laughs and giggles together with your own could make it on the fifth try, Ha-ha! Prepare for another two and a half hours of trip back to the port of Minaongan. Eight-hour drive back to Manila. Occasional stops for “pasalubong” shopping (delicacies to bring home). “Pili” (crescent-shaped) nut is the specialty of the Bicolanos. Other delicacies include “tupig” (a molded sticky rice), “Oraro” (sweetened white cookie). We are so excited to bring them home. Snores in every sleep. Seems like the memories of the Calaguas Islands never left us.

I strongly recommend this amusing place. Second thoughts are not accepted as an option. Discover for yourself. Carry a memory of the unbelievable.

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