It was July 2009 when I embarked on a solo trip to the now famous virgin beach of Calaguas (Mahabang Buhangin, also known locally as Halabang Baybay) undoubtedly one of Philippine’s best beaches. I haven’t read any bad reviews about Calaguas yet, and most of my travel blogger friends whose been to “The Beach” will most likely agree with me. Of course it makes me proud being a Bicolana, it’s another impressive tourist attraction in Bicol in addition to the Butandings/ Whalesharks of Donsol, Sorsogon, Subic Beach in Matnog, Mayon Volcano, CWC wakeboarding and Caramoan.
How to get to Calaguas from Manila (by land/ by bus):
Buses bound to Camarines Norte (Bicol,Philippines) where Calaguas is located are everywhere, you can find several buses in Ali Mall Bus Station in Cubao, Quezon City, along EDSA highway, Pasay, and Alabang (fronting Metropolis Mall). Famous bus lines are : Raymond, Philtranco, Amihan, Penafrancia, etc. Look for a bus bound to Paracale, if there’s none, then Daet is your nearest choice. There are buses bound to Panganiban / Paracale in Superlines Cubao and Philtranco in Pasay. Bus fare ranges from Php500-Php600 (cheapest is Raymond bus), for non-air-conditioned buses it’s Php 300-Php400 and most buses bound to Paracale are non-air-conditioned. Travel time is 8-9 hours so it’s best to leave at night and Bicol buses are usually night trips.
I’m from the south so I boarded a bus in Alabang,take note most buses will bring you to Daet, Camarines Norte, only a few would pass by Paracale and I was lucky to board one but was stupid not to get down in Paracale and and instead I got off in Daet because I had planned on visiting Apuao Grande first and then get to Calaguas via Vinzons port. Very smart decision Gael!haha
Coming from Daet, original plan was to board a jeepney to Vinzons or Mercedes and ask around for the fish port, hire a boat to take me to the island at Vinzons fish port, I will hire boats to Brgy. Banocboc –> I will rent a boat to take me to Mahabang Buhangin on Calaguas Island. But when I reached the fishport in Brgy. Banocboc, no one wants to take me there saying it’s too far. One tricycle driver offered to take me to a group of tricycle drivers who can take me to the highway called Talobatib junction where buses to Paracale passes, the nearest jump off point to Calaguas or Mahabang Buhangin beach (Halabang Buhangin).
From Daet, the town of Paracale can be reached in less than two hours by public vans, fare is around P150.00. But if you are coming from Manila by bus to Daet, you can get off at Talobatib junction (Brgy. Talobatib) in the town of Labo and ride another bus for less than an hour to get to Paracale town and then head to Paracale fish port by tricycle or by foot. You can ask around for fishermen’s boats to Mahabang Buhangin or Calaguas (facing the beach it’s on the right side not the port the left side where the old lighthouse is located), I paid Php1,500 for the entire bangka good for 6 people (they gave me a discount because I’m a Bicolana) but recently, the boat fare is said to have increased to Php 2,500 -Php 3,000. Boat ride to Calaguas from Daet will take approximately 2 hours, the sea is rough and the boats have no life jackets since they are usually used as fishing boats only.
In Daet, board a jeepney to Vinzons or Mercedes and ask around for the fish port. Hire a boat to take you to the island. At Vinzons fish port and pier, there are daily schedules of boat trips to Brgy. Banocboc at 11am. Return trips to Vinzons town proper from Banocboc is at 6am. In Brgy. Banocboc, you can hire a boat to Mahabang Buhangin/ Calaguas. In Brgy. Banocboc, you may rent a boat to take you to Mahabang Buhangin on Calaguas Island.
How to get to Calaguas by air/ by plane:
Naga Aiprort is the closest airport with flights serviced by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, AirPhilippines and Zest Air. Head to Naga Van terminal, forning SM Naga, looks for vans bound to Daet , fare is Php 145, 5Am-7pm. From Daet you can take a van to Paracale for Php 50 or alternatively you can take a jeep to Vinzons. (see by land/by bus guide)
Calaguas Travel Tips:
Paracale is a fishing village, life is simple and most fishermen who own boats for hire to Calaguas have no cellphone. But trust me, it’s easy to get a boat in the port, there are tons of them out there.
Mahabang Buhangin is a secluded beach, no food, no water and no store, better bring everything that you need and make sure your stock is enough. Camping when you’re in a group is recommended.
At Paracale, the last bus (non-air-conditioned buses only) to Manila is at 6pm so if you don’t wanna be left like me. Better leave the beach at around 4:00 pm (estimated travel time from Mahabang Buhangin to Paracale is 2hrs) to catch the last trip. If you miss it, you could stay at the only hostel in town (forgot the name , still waiting for the response of the owner’s son) for as cheap as Php 200 or hire a tricycle to take you to the highway (Talobatib junction) where you can take a bus to Manila.
But I suggest with the long ride and all, you stay at least overnight in Calaguas, bring your tent and other camping equipment and
Please be responsible . Do not leave your trash in the beach.
*Activities in Calaguas:*
island hopping- you can actually ask the boatman for other islands, other famous islands are: Maculabo Island and Pinagcastillohan Island
other offbeat islands: Comalasag Island (Brgy.Banocboc), Cagbalisay Island, Little Siapa Island, Siapa island, Huag Island,Ingalan Island, Amalia Island, and Paquita Island.
diving at Quinamanukan Island and Banocboc.
swimming and snorkeling – bring your beach gears
camping – bring your own tent, and camping gears as well as foods, drinks and booze (no resort nor store in Calaguas)
trek – Tinago hills is the hills on Mahabang Buhangin beach
visit Mangakawayan village – it’s a fishing community at the back of the beach, about 30 minute by foot.
*Other Attractions in Paracale, Camarines Norte:*
the old church of Paracale
gold mining process at Paracale gold shops
Pulang Daga Beach Resort (it means red sand beach) (Day resort only) can be reached by tricycle it’s on the far left of the lighthouse at the other side of the hills
Pabirik festival ( February 1-2) – “pabirik” street dancing, depicting the gold mining industry in Paracale.
*Other attractions in Vinzons, Camarines Norte:*
the century-old church of St.Peter, the oldest in the province
Wenceslao Vinzons Historical Landmark – Open Mondays-Fridays, 8am-5pm. Admission is free.
About the Blogger : Gael is a full-time Filipina travel blogger who had been to all 81 provinces in the Philippines. Her work has appeared in local and international publications. Follow her on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. For advertisements, sponsorship and partnerships, you may reach her at gaelhilotinblog (at) gmail (dot) com.