Princess’ Travel Diary: Calaguas

It was kind of a spur of the moment decision for us to go to Calaguas. Summer is almost finish and the monsoon season is already effective in Manila but because of my enthusiasm and insistence of pushing through our trip, we did even without extra cash.

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My friends and I decided on having an adventure trip instead of the pre-planned packaged tours. There were only seven of us anyway and the package tours usually requires at least a minimum of 10 persons.

It was a long weekend for us and we opt to take the trip right after our graveyard shift. It was a wrong move for us because most buses are for reservations only, luckily we were able to book our ticket on one of the bus liners along EDSA.C360_2016-05-29-08-10-18-194C360_2016-05-29-08-07-32-944.jpg

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The day trip took 12 HOURS instead of the usual 9 hours land trip from Manila to Camarines Norte (Eastern part of the Philippines) but it was just fine for us since we just got off from work and a long trip means long sleeping hours for us. There were several stopovers for bathroom break, to smoke and/or to eat anyway.C360_2016-05-29-11-45-23-145

We arrived in Camarines Norte at 11PM and we have to commute (no buses anymore) to Paracale, the town where we will take the noat trip to Calaguas. We rented a tricycle instead and upon arrival in Paracale, we checked in to one of the motels to spend the night. At 5AM we bought our food supplies, grabbed a bite, checked out after an hour and then off we went to find us a boat that will take us to the island.20160530_053005C360_2016-05-30-05-15-41-966

While finding the port, we met a guy and when we asked him where the port is, he didn’t just take us there through his jeepney for free but even looked for a boat for us. Like I said on my previous travel diary (Cagbalete Island), it pays to befriend the locals. 🙂C360_2016-05-30-05-26-50-836

C360_2016-05-30-05-26-33-614Prince Joshua was our boat (see contact below) and the “crew members” were more than happy to accommodate us. They even chose the best spot on the island for us to camp. The boat ride took a little more than an hour but we were never bored because the view were great. Upon approaching the island, we can’t wait to feel the sand and soak in it’s clear, blue waters. The commute we had was all worth it. It was still summer there. Calaguas is a paradise.C360_2016-05-29-16-47-18-892

Princess’ Tips and Reminders – Calaguas:

  • It is best to have a reservation (bus fare is around 500 – 600 depending on the schedule and the bus line) if you don’t have a private transportation.
  • Night travel is advisable – less traffic, less humid. It would also mean that you won’t have to spend a night in Paracale thus less spending.
  • Bring (or buy) your food supplies – rice, chips, viands, if you can bring an ice cooler with tube ice the better. Goods in Calaguas are a little bit pricey (a 3 peso ice in Manila costs 20 pesos there, no kidding).
  • You may ask the resort attendants/caretakers to cook for you and you can just pay them. Cooking charge is up to you, we paid 50 pesos when we asked them to cook our rice and another 50 pesos the following day for our breakfast.
  • Recharging your phone will cost you 30 pesos, so I suggest to bring a power bank.
  • I am not going to post here where the best spot on the island is because I want you to discover it. That spot has the best camping ground, powdery white sand, great snorkeling area and has a secluded beach with a great view. 🙂
  • You may ask a guide if you want to go trekking but you may do it on your own (entrance to the trekking trail is 20 pesos).
  • Trek before sunrise.
  • Wear sandals or slippers when exploring the island.
  • When snorkeling, please make sure not to damage the corals. 🙂
  • You can’t take an ugly picture of Calaguas.
  • All pictures posted were taken by me, I didn’t use ANY filters on the beach photos. I had to use filters on the sunrise photos for dramatic effect.
  • I don’t have to tell you this but enjoy and have fun!!

Princess’ Travel Diary: Cagbalete Island

[For my travel tips – please scroll down.]

February 13, 2016. Before bedtime.

I suddenly thought of going out of town, then I got my phone and search for the most accessible and nearest destination from Manila. I came upon a blog about the top ten underrated beaches near Manila and saw Cagbalete Island among the list. Incidentally, a friend mentioned that Cagbalete Island is among his favorite weekend getaway destinations.

Without much planning, I did a quick research on travel tips to Cagbalete and a couple of minutes later I was packing an overnight backpack.

I took a midnight trip from Manila to Lucena then transferred to another bus to Mauban. At dawn, I was in Mauban’s Tourism Office which faced east and this golden sunrise welcomed me.

imageWhile waiting for the Tourism Office to open at 7AM (where I have to register and pay an environmental fee), I strolled along the seaside port where locals jog and some were even fishing. I came upon this shrine dedicated to World War II veterans.

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I then rode a tricycle after paying the Environmental Fee going to the Mauban Port for the boat ride bound to Cagbalete Island.

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From the ferry, approaching Cagbalete Island.

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Upon embarking, several porters approached the passengers and offered to tour us. I politely refused their offer and decided of finding my way alone in the island going to Joven’s Blue Sea Resort which is somewhat farther than any other resorts from the Carbalete Island (mini) port.

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Luckily, signs were posted for easier navigation but I had to walk for fifteen minutes across a field of grass and then through the woods. I was alone and encountered no other person along the way in this remote island which is kind of thrilling and exciting.

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Apart from the coconut trees, pine trees were also sporadically scattered.

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Upon arrival and without reservation, I walked in at the front desk and asked for their accommodation options and rates. I settled for a tent since I was alone instead of opting for a private room, which is not practical and boring.

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I asked the resort staff to give me the best spot on the camping ground and this is the view from where I was camping.

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One thing I loved about the island though is the local people. I have to say that the beauty of Cagbalete pales in comparison to the kindness of the locals.

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I ordered this breakfast from the resort.

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My service from the resort to the island’s mini port after checking out.

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It was a fun experience.

I came there to relax and enjoy the beach, I got more than what I was expecting.

TRAVEL TIPS and DETAILS:

  • Manila to Lucena Grand Terminal
    • JAC Liner in Cubao
    • Fare is 218 pesos as of this writing
    • I took the 1AM schedule
    • Travel time is 3-4 hours depending on the traffic
  • Lucena Grand Terminal to Mauban
    • NCR-Rienton Lines
    • Fare is 54 pesos as of this writing
    • Trip is hourly, I arrived there at 430AM
    • Travel time is 1-2 hours
  • Mauban Terminal to Mauban Tourism Office
    • You will have to pay an Environmental Fee of 50 pesos before going to the Mauban Port
    • You can ride a tricycle from Mauban Terminal to the Tourism Office for 10 pesos OR you can walk! It’s much fun and it’s very near. From Mauban Terminal, you may ask the bus conductor or the sales clerk in 7-11 for the way. You won’t get lost, I swear!
    • The Tourism Office opens at 7AM, you can ask the attendant for suggestion about which resort you want to go to or ask for the brochure instead. Contact number are also listed on the Tourism Office’s facade.
  • Mauban Tourism Office to Mauban Port
    • Tricycle is 40 pesos, you may cost share with other tourists/guests and just divide the 40 peso fare OR walk! Mauban Port is visible from the Tourism Office and it’s fine to walk by the seaside port. You won’t miss the ferry trip because it’s not until 10AM unless you arrived in Mauban at 9:30AM.
    • It would be best to buy food for your trip at the Mauban Port market. This is a must if you want to save because the foods from the resorts are a little bit pricey. Anyway, you can cook at the resort or ask the kitchen staff to cook for you, you’ll only pay a cooking charge.
  • Mauban Port to Cagbalete Island
    • Ferry trip is at 10AM and 3PM only. There are two boats available: Jamelle which cost 100 pesos per pax and Neneng (smaller one) for 50 pesos per pax.
    • A life vest is provided to each passenger and you will have to enter your info in the manifest.
  • Cagbalete Island
    • If you have a prior reservation, resort staff would fetch you. If the resort is near, you’ll walk from the mini port to your resort or another boat ride to your resort. I’m just not sure if there’s another fee for that boat trip but you may choose to walk across the island anyway.
    • Cottages cost between 800 to 1,500 pesos that can accommodate up to 4 persons. Tents are also available for camping which cost 500 pesos per night, good for two but can be maximized to three persons (bye personal space).
    • Electricity/power is only from 6PM to 6AM so make sure to bring a power bank.
    • Beware of stray dogs – they tend to steal foods from campers. And please, don’t blame the resort staff.
  • Be friendly with the locals, it would go a long way. Trust me. Immerse yourself to them. They are very accommodating and hospitable.
  • Always wear your slippers if you wanted to stroll the shore during low tide unless you wanted to experience what I experienced. Dead shells and corals are not friendly.
  • You may haggle with the fishermen should you decide to island hop but if you happen to be friendly with them earlier, you might get a discount.
  • And most importantly, don’t be an asshole. Remember that you are a guest/visitor:
    • respect the locals
    • don’t treat the resort staff like your servant
  • And remember: