January 5, 2018

Calaguas Travel Diary 2017: Mahabang Buhangin Beach, Tinaga Island

Ever since I heard and read about Calaguas Group of Islands back in 2010, I've been wanting to go there. I was enticed by the idea of a long stretch of fine powdery white sand beach with turquoise blue waters; just like Boracay, sans the establishments, large crowds and loud music coming from bars. When I think of the beach, I see it as a sanctuary, a place where I can rest all my worries, watch the sunrise and sunset, my feet playing with the sand and just be carefree. I go to the beach for serenity that's why I would rather choose a beach that is chill rather than where I could party. I mean, I can always party here in Manila if I wanted to. 




I've made a couple of attempts to go to Calaguas for years but continuously failed to do so. Earlier this year my officemates planned this trip and we excitedly looked forward to Thanksgiving Day for the realization of the trip. It was a long journey by land but we made each moments to be remembered. Just like what one of my friends said, one scene equated/amounted to 50 laughter. We encountered lots of adventures and adversaries. I can't even find where to start relating the stories, likely that I'll mention some as I write the memoirs of this trip. 

But before anything else, here's a background to Calaguas. The Calaguas is located in the Philippine province of Camarines Norte. It includes the major islands of Tinaga Island and Guintinua Island, the minor Maculabo Island, as well as several other minor islands. Most of the islands are under the administrative jurisdiction of Vinzons, while the minor island of Maculabo is under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Paracale. Recently, the island of Tinaga where the well-known long beach called Mahabang Buhangin is located is experiencing an influx of tourists despite the absence of accommodation. Campers and backpackers visit Mahabang Buhangin to experience its powdery white sands.




But before anything else, here's a background to Calaguas. The Calaguas is located in the Philippine province of Camarines Norte. It includes the major islands of Tinaga Island and Guintinua Island, the minor Maculabo Island, as well as several other minor islands. Most of the islands are under the administrative jurisdiction of Vinzons, while the minor island of Maculabo is under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Paracale. Recently, the island of Tinaga where the well-known long beach called Mahabang Buhangin is located is experiencing an influx of tourists despite the absence of accommodation. Campers and backpackers visit Mahabang Buhangin to experience its powdery white sands.




I won't write about our itineraries or how much we spent for this trip because we availed of an exclusive trip going to this place. We saved every payday for this 3 days and 2 nights trip for a few months. You can look up Facebook or Google for companies that offers group tours to the island and I'm pretty sure you'll find a lot. Just been keen with the feedbacks and package inclusions, so as to get the most out of what you'll pay for.

Since it was November in the Philippines, rain ain't an unusual thing but we were hopeful and positive that we will be blessed with good weather. It was drizzling the whole time that we were driving to Paracale. The rain would stop and would turn up again. There was no storm looming but an LPA was alive somewhere in the Pacific near the Philippines causing strong winds and rain. 




We got held up in Paracale for a day because the Coast Guard dropped a no-sail advisory due to bad sea conditions; but that didn’t stop us from enjoying our well-deserved vacation. (You can read about it here: Calaguas Island Travel Diary 2017: Pulang Daga Beach, Paracale) By 10am the next morning, we received a go signal from the Coast Guard allowing people to sail to Calaguas. We couldn't be more excited and itching to get on the boat to go to Mahabang Buhangin Beach in Tinaga Island. 




At first we were like kids making fun of the slightly huge waves and acting as if we were all riding a roller coaster or some theme park ride, screaming and raising our hands in the air every time we would come across a wave. After an hour of the 2 hour boat ride, almost all of us were quiet. I for one was fighting the feeling of being nauseous. I swear I was gonna throw up any moment. I just psyched myself up and told myself over and over that it'll only be a few minutes more and we'll reach land. The Coast Guard wasn't kidding when they said the sea was rough the day before. It was still rough during our way to Calaguas. We realized that it was good that we didn’t risked sailing on our first day. It was November and monsoon winds were stronger, had it been summer, the seas would be calmer. 




After braving the 2-hour waves and slowly approaching the island, I was filled with awe. A slice of paradise is within reach. The waves hitting the beach was still strong but the beach had fine powdery white sand, it was fantastic! Mahabang Buhangin Beach is really like Boracay, it is 3 km long but none of the huge crowds and noisy establishments. Maybe in the summer there's more people out there but we were fortunate that we went during lean season.




We settled in our 2-storey 1 bedroom nipa hut then walked along the beach and took a lot of photos. As the sun sets, we just sat on the shore marveling on how beautiful Mother Nature is. She sure did showed off for the gram! It was glorious! This surely is one of those moments that will take your breath away. 




After darkness covered the island, we had sumptuous dinner and went to the beach to drink and chill. When it started drizzling, we went back to our nipa hut to continue were we left off.  Our camp was powered with a generator and it shuts down at 1am so we decided to sleep before that happens.  With little sleep, we woke up early to trek up the hills of Tinaga Island. We didn't get to watch the sun rise but the view was one for the books, most definitely. It is also the only place in the island where you can catch some mobile signal so we were able to contact our loved ones in Manila while we were up there, besides taking handful of photos (as per usual).




When the trek was done, we visited the community by the shore, returned to the camp ate our breakfast and did more photo-taking. Then we were off to visit other two nearby beaches which will be the topic of the next blog post. Being in Calaguas, you really would be disconnected from the business of the real world. I'm glad I was finally able to set foot in its beautiful sand and frolic in its turquoise blue waters. Another travel bucket list crossed out, yey!


Read more of my Calaguas 2017 trip: 
Calaguas Travel Diary 2017: Pulang Daga Beach, Paracale 
Calaguas Travel Diary 2017: Mahabang Buhangin Beach, Tinaga Island
Calaguas Travel Diary 2017: Balagbag Beach



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