January 3, 2018

Calaguas Island Travel Diary: Pulang Daga Beach, Paracale

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 laughters. We encountered lots of adventures and adversarie. 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.

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. At the port, the local Coast Guard didn't allow us to sail to Calaguas. The weather would be fine one minute then it would rain again. There was like a full two hours that the sun was out and everything looked like a fine day, yet the Coast Guard said, "The weather looks ok, but the sea is not." We waited the whole afternoon; lots of exchanges of words, explaining, begging and arguments took place. But it was still a no go. They only allow boats to sail to Calaguas until 4pm and all our hopes were lost when we didn’t hear any news from them. 

The tour planner's Plan B was for us to stay at this resort in Pulang Daga Beach in Paracale while waiting out the bad weather to clear. Some things are beyond our control, and instead of getting pissed off or killing the joy and fun of the moment, we decided to just make the most of what we have in hand. 

The cottage where we stayed at was beach front, 2-storey with its own CR and wooden dining table and bench outside. It was very rustic and far from comfort and luxury but we all managed to cope. Good thing food, snacks and booze weren't a problem for us on this trip. All were more than enough for every meal. I've never had so much salmon in my life, during our 3 days in Camarines Norte, every meal always includes a dish of Salmon! Yum!

We didn’t get to swim since the whole day we were still holding on to the hope that we will have the chance to sail to Calaguas. All we did was eat, chill, drink, sing, make jokes, talk about anything under the sun (or clouds) and tell stories. Good thing one of my friends brought his guitar, one brought a blue tooth speaker so we were always entertained. By 9pm we wrapped the party up for the next day's trip (hopefully to Calaguas). We were already talking about conspiracy theories, aliens and otherworldly things, so yeah, you know, that's the sign to call it a night. LOL! 

Another thing that made this stay at Paracale worthwhile was that we got to adopt a local dog for a day (there were lots of them in the resort). I named him “Baste” because he looked like my dog that died a couple of months ago. He was sweet, cute and loves to eat but afraid of little cats. There was also a baby goat roaming around and whenever I say “meeehhhh” she replies back with a “meeeeehhhh” LMAO!!!

You might be also wondering why this beach is called Pulang Daga or (Red Rat) or also known as Pulang Lupa. We kinda figured out why, the next morning. The shape of the hills by the beach resembles the shape of a rat and this is the cool part, the soil is reddish (volcanic soil, I suppose). Also when the waves were calmer, the water near the beach was kinda red or rust in color. It was like a lightbulb moment for everyone when we figured it out since we were curious as to why it was called as such. The sand here is caramel colored (not brown) and quite fine and powdery too. I like that it was clean even if it's near the town proper. The waves though are stronger maybe because this beach faces the Pacific Ocean.

I had no plans of blogging about our stay at Pulang Daga Beach in Paracale Camarines Norte, but as I was browsing and sorting through the photos, reminiscing our trip, I just can’t help but smile and laugh remembering all the stories and jokes thrown around and concocted behind those pictures. Well, we should collect memories right? Here's just my way of immortalizing those fun (and not so fun) memories. By 10:00 am the following morning, we received a go signal from the Coast Guard allowing people to sail to Calaguas Island. But that will be saved for another post.

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