There are lots of ways to do it but this post revolves around what to expect on going and staying in Calaguas – based on my 2 days and 1 night stay through Best Calaguas Tour.I’m gonna mention the good and the not so good parts but don’t get me wrong. Calaguas is paradise! It’s a must see for everyone.
Travel Time: 12 hours from Manila
How We Got There: Bus from Pasay or Cubao to Daet (9hrs); tour-provided jeep from Daet to Vinzon’s port (30mins); boat to Calaguas island (2.5hrs)
Tour Organizer: Best Calaguas Tour (details here) or contact 09179595985
Going to Calaguas, we rode DLTB.Below are the schedule of bus trips of DLTB from Pasay to Daet as of April, 2016. Be on time as the buses have very short grace period for late-comers. Reservation is recommended.
You will be given tickets like the one also shown below. Do not lose it until you have reached Daet!
Upon reaching the terminal in Daet, best if you could already purchase ticket from Daet back to Manila. Most of the travelers to Calaguas leave the island by batches and especially on summer time or weekends, seats are a scarcity.
Going back to Manila, all DLTB trips were fully booked. Across the street is Philtranco terminal. It has newer, better seats but air-con was always on full blast.It’s way too cold for comfort and you must endure it for 9 hours. We have blankets and jackets on us but the cold still creeps in.
Superlines also has trips to and from Daet.
Speaking of peak season, it can get congested on Vinzons port. You may have to wait before your boat load and unload because of the number of boats lined up on the port.
The view 1 hour away from Calaguas is stunning, it will help you endure the butt and back hurt you might experience in the boat.
I usually don’t get tour packages in the Philippines and abroad because I want to “own” my time. But I think Calaguas is something that’s more cost-and-time-efficient and less-hassle when taken as a package from organizers. Basically, all you have to do is show up and pay a fair price.
If you’re like me who will go to Calaguas from Manila or farther, take the 3 days 2 nights package to make the 12 hours or more travel time worth it. We took the 2 days 1 night first just to “test the water”. The shower room and lack of accommodation was one of my main apprehensions before booking. But since now, I get the whole picture already, when I came back, I’ll stay longer. Yes, Calaguas is that beautiful, you’ll plan your next visit even before leaving the island.
Most people would take Calaguas on a weekend trip. As for us, we had plan to hear Holy Mass before our supposedly 7PM trip back to Manila. Sadly, we had to give this up because of the unexpected traffic at Vinzons port. And oh, Paracele where the Our Lady of Candles Church is located is a whooping 38kms or 1 hour away – that is if you could secure a bus or commuter van immediately. I think Calaguas Island has a chapel, but I doubt it if they celebrate Mass there.
It’s hot in the island! Since there are almost no shades (no super big trees) and not much accommodations you may be forced to sleep or take shelter in the dining cottages. Tents can be so hot that I worried about my phone and other gadgets inside the tent. I chose to just leave them on our open cottage, risking theft.
Luckily, even if our phones and powerbank were exposed, folks in Calaguas can be trusted. When tourism gets even bigger here, of course, security will also be a problem.
There are barangay patrols which roam the island. I saw them checking if some tents aren’t pitched where they aren’t supposed to be. They were also there during the fire dancing show where crowd gather on one part of Mahabang Buhangin.
Food is great! I have to commend the cook of Best Calaguas Tour. I saw him and all the other people who prepared our food as their kitchen is situated at the back of our cottage. People preparing food are equipped in food handling and are well-groomed, wearing proper headband, apron, etc. Servings were big and tasty, composed mainly of rice, 2 seafood and 1 vegetable dishes. There was also unlimited instant coffee and hot water for breakfast and supply of potable water and ice during our entire stay.
Special fruit salad ice candy priced at Php20 per piece is a must-try!
This is provided by the tour organizer. Warning: don’t expect that it will be followed. For the waiting time alone in the meeting place (Jollibee Centro, a tricycle away from Daet bus terminal) I knew it’s going to be delayed. True enough, we did nothing on time. But we were able to cover everything inclusive on the package e.g.the trek to Sitio Tinaga around 4pm on the first day instead of early morning on the second day.
Please click here for details of what to do in Calaguas.
Comfort rooms can be a problem.You have to line up for post-swimming shower, for hours, if you’re unlucky to fall in line with 4 or 5 girls before you. One water boy takes care of transferring fresh water supply to the shower rooms. Put your Girl/Boy Scout mode on! There’s nothing flashy with this facility and if you’re OC, you might not survive here.
Give a tip to the boy who delivers the fresh water. Maybe he’s already commissioned to do that by our tour organizer, but he works real hard. By the way, some shower rooms are designated for a specific travel organizer. If you are a joiner of their group, you may use the shower rooms for free but if not, you have to pay a certain amount (Php75 for unlimited use).
The genset in the island works most of the time, but for the water supply only.Starting in the afternoon, you can start having your batteries charged for a fee.
There is Waling Waling Resort if you want to take Calaguas a bit luxuriously. You can bring and pitch your own tent, rent a tent upon reaching the island, or rent the tent as an inclusion in the tour package.
Sand where the tents are pitched can be hard which means sleeping on it can cause backache. Best if you could bring blankets to cushion the tent. How you’ll do that while packing light, I don’t know.
There are stores in the beach where you could buy supplies – toiletries and food. There is one restaurant, too. These same store offers charging phones for a fee, during the late afternoon. Powerbank charging are at Php50.
At Vinzons Port kids sell low-priced pasalubong. If you will be offered small bread with pili nuts inside and that slice of custard with pili cake, buy lots of them. It will be hard to crave for those when you’re back in Manila.
Souvenir shirts are somehow costly at ph350 each. Don’t be a cheapskate! Tourism is one of the main sources of income for this underdeveloped community. Let’s love our beautiful country and fellow countrymen. That’s not to say that we should be stupid but every chance we get to help our countrymen, let’s grab it.
Coffee Shop Side Trip
If you have some 2-3 hours spare time (waiting time for you bus departure back to Manila) I highly recommend Cafe Morga situated between the bus terminal and the Centro of Daet. It can be reached by riding tricycle. Their caramel macchiato is better than the most popular coffee store. Ambiance and customer service is good. They have some nice books to serve as good reads if you’re reserving your phone’s battery for the long ride ahead. You can charge gadgets here for free and most of all,it has clean restroom where you can freshen up and do your thing comfortably.
See and experience Calaguas for yourself! When you island hop from Mahabang Buhangin you’ll see lots of other white, beautiful beaches which can make you think , how many other paradise are waiting to be discovered. Don’t forget to be responsible travelers. Treat the sea and mountain like cathedrals. They are given to us as God’s gift, allowing us to commune with heaven, here on earth.