Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Calaguas: An Overnight Seashore Camping

Sunset at Calaguas Island
Camping in the less-traveled beach called Mahabang Buhangin in Camarines Norte is my first step to Bicol Region. Most visitors identify the place as Calaguas Island. Geographically, Calaguas is a group of several islands where Tinaga is the biggest one. The seashore where we camped is actually located on west coast of Tinaga Island. See the X mark below.
The initial plan was Do-it-yourself trip  to Calaguas but individual work schedules hinder us so we ended up with packaged tour. We were unregretful that we took this package because they prepared the stuff we need for the camping. Included in their packaged tour are tents, 4 set of meals (Caldereta, Tinola, Adobo and Nilaga if I remember them all right), RedHorse Beer (to compensate for the road accident I guess) and etc. Follow the link below for the itinerary, inclusions and contact details.

March 18 2011, assembly was at 7Eleven alongside KFC and Wendy’s Fastfood branch in Buendia Avenue. We arrived there at around 9PM and waited for the service van. It was almost midnight when we left the city for more than 8 hours ass-numbing road trip. During the stopovers, we noticed how chilly the winds were and there were downpours along the way.

While enduring the seemingly dangerous land travel, one can’t help but think of how slippery the roads can get. We passed by unlighted sharp-turning streets which I thought are cliff edge roads. It felt really uneasy to see how bushy and dark the roadsides were, perhaps deep too or maybe my paranoia set in. The tour guide informed us that we’re all headed to Paracale Fishport to check if weather was good (if not, Mercedes Group of islands was the safer alternative). Saturday morning, daylight came and we’re still on the road. The unexpected happened.
Road to Calaguas Island accident
I was quite awake when the accident happened unlike my sleepless mates who got bruised body and bleeding nose. I clearly saw how the van went out of direction and in like three seconds span of time, I was already crawling out of the window. Thank God it was a minor mishap. Who knows what really happened? Perhaps the driver fell asleep or this part of the road is inescapably accident-prone spot. Unluckily, we had to wait again beside the road.
The accident that made us waiting before Calaguas Island
After an hour-like of waiting, we arrived in Paracale Market where we had breakfast, bought some items such as disposable plates, cups, hotdogs, sticks and charcoal. Then, we headed to a lodging area where we waited for more hours again.
The waiting lodge before Calaguas Island
To kill time, we shortly played card games and wandered to check out the fishing port.
Paracale Fishport: our gateway to Calaguas Island
There are two sea routes to Mahabang Buhangin. One is thru town of Vinzons and the other is from Paracale fishport. When I panned google map prior to this summer getaway, I can tell that seaway from Vinzons is farther and will surely expose our boat to more “buwis buhay” ocean ripples. Aerial view from google map depicts how far the Vinzon's route is.
Calaguas Island Map
Around 1:30PM when the bigger vessel arrived in Paracale. Imprecisely thirty people boarded the sailboat and therein, the sailing started. 
 For the pre-travel non-readers who thought sailing in Calaguas Sea was a pleasure trip, it was not. Imagine a three-hour boat ride against the heart-pounding waves which can give anyone the wettest ride ever. Without exaggeration, one can hear the creaking of wood as the boat’s outrigger gets pounded by the waves. The salty water and cold winds alternately wets and dries the skin leaving rashes to few of us. Several ladies threw up for a number of times. I can remember how tightly I gripped as I watched these waves hit our boat one at a time. The weather erratically shifts from wind-full sunny to cloudy drizzles.
Boat Ride to Calaguas Island
4PM when the boat was already navigating thru the west of Tinaga Island. My eyes got busy as I watch volcanic rock like formations in the sea, the well-curved grass filled hills at the southern end of Tinaga Island, some unspoiled beach coves and I’m guessing wildfires too.
Calaguas Scenery
Finally, we arrived at Mahabang Buhangin and the sun was already setting.
Calaguas Island Beach photo by Arnel Palor
I had a solitary walk right before the sunset to check out various life forms at this particular beach. None was interesting by then.
Checking out Hermit Crabs at Calaguas island
While the night-lunch is being prepared, we had fun-time playing with lights.
After the night-lunch, our socially adept ladies joined the wonderful indoor game called charade.
On the other hand, while the three mighty guys that we were (Arnel, Paul and me) seemed like outcast from the group, we thought about cooking hotdogs by the fire. It was as wondrous as charades too. I always thought camping equals bonfire. So there, I insisted that we make fire to complete the outdoor vibe. The wind kept blowing our small initial fire. To add more difficulty, the sand was cold thus making it really hard.
The white sand of Calaguas Island
We aggressively wanted it. Thus, we were happy to keep the charcoals burning
During the night time, we had this rare chance of walking at the white sands of Mahabang Buhangin beach while the seashore was glowing under the Supermoon Phenomena (March 19 2011). How bright? Imagine, with the aid of a low quality flashlight, I was able to catch tiny swift-moving ghost crab at the beach.
Supermoon Phenomenon at Calaguas Island
Sunday Morning. While the breakfast is being prepared, the group went for a short walk-in-the-park like trekking. No challenge at all.
Calaguas Island
Though I was left behind for hangover reasons, the trails are very easy so I believed I can follow them effortlessly (yabang). Even if I had stopped for several times to check out the wildflowers, I caught up and saw them resting in a small park while some were replenishing their thirst.
We passed by a small community with kids who happily allowed Arnel Palor Photography to capture the moment.
At the fishing community of Calaguas Island
After a very short easy ascent, we saw the other side of Tinaga Island facing the Pacific Ocean.
We rested for a while and waited for the ones tailing us. When they caught up, trekking continued for everybody.
Tramping in the island of Calaguas
We went down to a cove of mangroves where a sandbar emerges during low tide. How foreseeable was that!  The water was ankle-deep by then. After looking around, I can tell the mangroves had nothing remarkable. Still, I had fun time because frolicking in places like that is obviously not in any city person’s daily routine.
Calaguas Island Mangroves
We went further and reached the sandbar. After few more pictures in the mangroves, we headed back to Mahabang Buhangin for breakfast. Adobo and fried rice was waiting.
After we had breakfast, we headed to the beach for half an hour of swimming.
Calaguas Island Beach
There’s nothing much to do in the waters of Mahabang Buhangin but it was truly clear and I know it would have been more beautiful if it was sunny day back then.
Calaguas Island
We tried to play Frisbee but after the winning opponent scored 2 points, the game was over. It was a really exhausting game so we didn’t bother to even up the score. Instead, we started picking up our things so the tour coordinator can start folding the tents.
Calaguas Island
I wanted to walk the whole stretch of Mahabang Buhangin and I guessed my group wanted as well so we walked the beach for a number of times. It was really nice to see the beauty of the place less the crappy crowd that I always hate.
Calagua's Mahabang Buhangin Beach
It rained again but we still wanted to explore when the rocks showed off at the north end of Mahabang Buhangin. See the tip of that huge rock? I climbed there. Read further to see what I’m talking about.
Calaguas Island Seabed
Guess what? We had another round of picture taking at the rocks. We can’t help but fall in love with the beauty of nature back there in Calaguas.
Calaguas Island Rock Shore
Like I expected, marine life is abundant in such rocks. We found colored fishes, snails, hermit crabs, corals and the odd looking starfish. I never thought a four-armed starfish exists. I picked it up and placed it on top of a rock to capture a photo of it.
Odd Starfish in Calaguas Island
The rocks are slippery and stink like market fish but the thought of how far we traveled just to get there in Calaguas kept us going to capture more memories. We climbed up for more pictures in the rocks. I, in search for more difficulty, climbed up to the tip of the rock. I had a great view of the beach, sea and nearby islands from up there.
Calaguas Island Rocks!
Nothing more exciting followed from there. We packed our things, ate our lunch, boarded the boat, went back to Paracale to wash up, browsed the pictures we had, got on the same van that crashed the other day, traveled back to Manila, ate another meal during a stop over, then one by one we hopped out of the van as we pass along EDSA.

Ending? We were all tired and sleepless but certainly happy.

Photo credits to Arnel Palor, Paul Quilo, Mae Tamano, Ice Basit, Cessy Talla

You may enjoy the slideshow of pictures below. Enjoy!

1 comment:

ernie osillo said...