Calaguas is currently the Number 1 travel destination in the Philippines after a nationwide polling by Philippine Gems. My friends and I will not be the last to get to any place, and so off to Calaguas we went. Friends knew the owner of a hotel in Paracale and so we made bookings and left Manila early, arriving in Paracale, the gateway to Calaguas late afternoon. Ching, the amiable manager of the hotel booked us a boat that would take us to paradise very early the next morning. And prepared our breakfast and lunch.
The travel by sea took nearly three hours because the seas were rather rough. We were told that in summer, travel time is less because the water is much more calm. We were never afraid, though. We hired a big fishing boat that can navigate the high seas, and can accommodate 30 persons even if there were just 11 of us.
A big fishing boat good for 30 pax that can navigate the high seas. No real seats, though. Lifevests are provided.
No real seats
It seemed like paradise. Crystal clear waters on clean white sand. Unpolluted. The island is virginal Even while a resort has been put up, the municipal laws disallow the construction of huge concrete structures. And so the “accommodations” are picnic huts, even as they also have 2-level huts that provide more privacy when guests sleep on the second-level where mosquito nets are provided. No airconditioning here. No mobile phone signal, except if one goes to the far end of the island and climbs up a hill – – – where a weak signal can be had.
The photos should speak for themselves.
How to book your picnic hut in Calaguas
PARACALE. This town is the gateway to Calaguas. Known for gold mining, the town is a tourist destination in itself. The owner of Paliza de Rio, the basic but clean accommodations that we got is owned by Rio Paliza who is also a photo hobbyist like all of us in the group. He is the towns tourism czar.
PALIZA DEL RIO
the small but very friendly lobby of Paliza del Rio, with “Ate Ching” as your host
Accommodation rates are P550 for regular fan rooms, P995 for regular aircon, and P1,495 for de luxe aircon. Contact Ching Paliza at 09397182008 , landline (02) 5423888. Here is their facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/palizadelrio
One can not miss the town’s old church. It is not at all majestic like most churches we have photographed, but it is a real joy to shoot. I don’t know why, but its simple beauty sets it apart from grandiose churches. Yet it is so old – – and that is why the character of this church radiates thru our photos. We even climbed up the bell tower fr a good sunset view.
old church is not grandiose but so beautiful
solemnity inside this very old church
climb up the bell tower and see these antique church bells
On a late afternoon, this is the view from the top of the church
the old parola looks like it is ready to sink
the town hall in front of the church, at the town center
If Paliza del Rio is full, travelers may also consider a hotel at the town center. Prices are also reasonable, and one might say the rooms are a bit bigger. But for travelers bringing their cars, be forewarned that there is no parking area and you will have to park on the busy street (unlike at Paliza del Rio where there is secured parking).
the coffee shop/restaurant at the ground floor of the hotel at the town center
aircon room for two at the Malayan
family room accommodates 6-8
AROUND PARACALE : Tricycles abound but the town is too small you can go around by foot. Booking a boat for Calaguas should be easy when coordinated with the hotel owners/managers. A small boat for up to 8 persons can be hired for as low as P5,000 and you can picnic on the island while the boat waits to take you back. Go early so you can lso leave early afternoon to avoid the rough seas.
Or you an hire a big boat like we did, even if there were just 11 of us, for P10,500. Life vests are provided.
Most of my friends were so mesmerized by Calaguas almost everyone was planning another trip. Better get there before the whole world conquers Calaguas.
HOW TO GET THERE. Paracale is a town before reaching Daet in Camarines Norte. Travel time by private car is about 8 hours. You can ride a bus (SUPERLINES, Cubao Terminal) and the fare is less than P500, one way, aircon.