Boracay Island is considered as one of the best islands in the world and in a country with over 7500 islands to boot, it seemed to have taken the spotlight and has set quite the standard. If you haven’t noticed yet, we, Filipinos have gotten used to comparing other beaches to this world famous island that Patar Beach in Pangasinan has since been dubbed as the “Boracay Of The North” and other beautiful beaches have similar nicknames as well. Indeed, Boracay has set the bar high that even the famous beaches of El Nido and Coron of the world’s number one island, Palawan have only come to a close second. Throughout the years, none has truly challenged Boracay until there was Calaguas Island.
Calaguas Island was once a hidden paradise known to only a few and the bravest of travelers. It is a backpackers’ haven and a mountaineers’ refuge. I was probably still naive and young when I first heard about it in 2009 coupled with rumors of how ethereal was its beauty. What caught my attention even more is that many people prefers this island over the more popular Boracay. I couldn’t help but ask why. It haunted me for several years until January of this year, I finally got my answer.
Note: If you would look up Calaguas Island on the map, it will show you a group of islands that is named Calaguas. The famed Mahabang Buhangin Beach is actually located in Tinaga Island, one of the main islands of Calaguas.
WHY I THINK CALAGUAS ISLAND IS BETTER THAN BORACAY
Boracay Island for the record still has the most beautiful beaches. Well, that’s according to me. But seriously! Where else in the Philippines will you see sands as fine as the ones in Boracay’s White Beach? Where else would you see water with the same shade of blue and as calm or as gorgeous as the ones on this island? If we are to say which is the “Most Beautiful” then I wouldn’t argue if someone would answer Boracay but I wouldn’t also rest my case about Calaguas Island having qualities that makes it absolutely the better choice.
- Calaguas Island’s Mahabang Buhangin has fine white sands, the closest thing to those of Boracay.
- The water in Mahabang Buhangin has a beautiful shade of blue and green and is so refreshing.
- The beach stretches to over 3KM of white powdery sands and pristine waters.
- The beach water stays clear and clean despite the season which means no lumot scare during the summer months.
- Mahabang Buhangin offers more serene environment perfect for those looking for some peace and quiet.
- Calaguas Island is hardly commercialize that only small, native open cottages stood near the beach instead of fancy hotels.
- It is less frequented by tourists and beach is uncrowded.
- It is affordable and easy to get to.
- It offers a more stunning view atop one of its hills.
- More islands to explore if you would go on island hopping.
- Overall, Calaguas Island is the ideal tropical paradise. The way Boracay was before it was ruined by widespread commercialism.
HOW TO GO THERE
- Via Paracale – From Manila, ride a DLTB, Philtranco or Superlines bus to Daet (8-10hrs ; P552). From Daet, ride another bus or jeep to Paracale (1hr ; P75). Once in Paracale, ride a tricycle going to the port (15 min ; P10). Charter a boat going to Calaguas Island.
- Via Vinsonz – From Manila, ride a DLTB, Philtranco or Superlines bus to Daet (8-10hrs ; P552). From Daet, ride another bus or jeep to Vinzons (1hr ; P75). Once in Vinzons, ride a tricycle going to the port (15 min ; P10). Charter a boat going to Calaguas Island.
Note: Vinzons is more popular of the two routes since it is much nearer to Calaguas Island and travel time is less. However, boat cost are much cheaper in Paracale although travel time to the island is much longer.
IMPORTANT TRAVEL TIPS & INFO
- Open or daytrip cottages in the island cost P300 while overnight cottages cost P500/night. It can fit up to 7-10 people. It comes with a table and space where you can prepare your meals. Bring your own padlock to secure your stuff while you are out exploring.
- Pitching of tents is free in parts other than the beachfront which requires a fee of P100/tent.
- Buy your essentials such as food and water prior to your travel. There are stores selling goods in the island but supply can be pretty limited.
- There is no electricity in the island but some areas are lit by power generators.
- There is clean spring water available which may be charged P10/bucket or P50 unlimited use.
- There are toilet and bath rooms available and they are surprisingly clean and well-maintained.
- Aside from frolicking at the beach, other activity on the island and a must-try is trekking. Guide is not required but as means of helping the local community, you may get one for a price of P50/person. You may also have to pay 3 enviromental fees of P20 while passing by the trail going to the top of one of the hills overlooking the island.
- You can also go on an island hopping to see stunning rock formations and sandbar in the nearby islands for a price of P1000-P1500 a boat.
- In severe weather, the local coast guard may prohibit trips to the island so having a point of contact or a local tour coordinator who can give you timely updates is advisable.
- Please ensure to maintain cleanliness of the island. Dispose your trash properly. Avoid bringing in disposable plastics and paper containers.
- Refrain from making too much noise especially in the wee hours.
SUMMARY OF EXPENSES, SAMPLE ITINERARY & OTHER INFO
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||We got a tour package priced at P2600 for an overnight stay which covers everything from food, transportation and accommodation. If you wanna DIY, here is a sample expense breakdown.
2-Way Fare Manila-Daet - P1104
2-Way Fare Daet-Paracale - P150
2-Way Trike - P20
2-Way Boat - P300
Entrance Fee - P150
Water - P50
Food - P300
Tent fee - P100
Total <<>> P2174
|SAMPLE ITINERARY||Day 0
2100 ETD Paracale/Vinzons
0600 ETA Paracale/Vinzons. Breakfast
0700 ETD Boat Calaguas Island/Mahabang Buhangin
0900 ETA Mahabang Buhangin. Set up Camp
1000 Freetime. Photo ops. Swim.
1300 Island Hopping
1700 End Tour
0430 Wake up
0500 Trek to Calaguas Viewpoint
0530 Calaguas Viewpoint. Sunrise viewing
0600 Start Descent
0800 Swim. Explore. Some more photo ops
1000 Pack up
1030 ETD Boat Paracale/Vinzons
1230 ETA Paracale/Vinzons
1400 Trip back home
|THINGS TO BRING||Drinking water
First Aid Kit With Personal Meds
|FEES TO PAY||Water
Entrance Fee - P150
Small Boat up to 10pax - P3000
Big Boat up to 20pax - P5000
Island Hopping - P1500-P2000/boat
|CONTACT PERSON||We had our tour arranged with DREAMS AND DESTINATIONS - 09065784917 | 09272297777 | 09153355116 | 09258999962 | 0465374089|
PRECIOUS MOMENTS IN PARADISE
Once there was an island so beautiful people call it otherworldly, paradise and anything dreamy that sings sweet lullabies to the ear. And once there was a girl who dreamed of seeing this paradise that thoughts of running along the beach of crystal clear waters and sinking her feet along its white powdery sands haunted her for years. Then the time has finally come for the girl to fulfill her dreams that she created moments she will cherish for the rest of her days.