Camarines Norte Travel Guide

Come Forth to Cam North – The Series Pt. 3

Day 3     Unspoiled Beaches

I have been to the best beaches in the country, but CamNorte serves the off white, the pink, the brown and the red beach all in one plate!

Don’t believe me? Indulge in their four course menu:

Off white appetizers – Apuao Grande and Apuao Pequeña with Pagasa beach sider

Apuao Grande is a secluded island where you can camp underneath the pine trees with crystal blue waters for a dip. On the other hand, Apuao Pequeña, is the sanctuary of flying foxes and wild boars, this private island offers breath taking view of the Pacific. Both are connected by sandbar and just two of the seven islands Mercedes has in store for us!

Apuao Pequena
Apuao Pequeña
Apuao Grande
Apuao Grande

How to get here:

By Land (Philtranco, DLTB and Superlines)

8-10 hours- Bus from Cubao/Pasay, Mero Manila  to Daet, Camarines Norte

15 mins- Jeep/ Trike from Daet, Camarines Norte to Mercedes

By Air (Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, Philippine Airlines)

45 minutes- Plane from NAIA, Pasay to Pili Airport, Camarines Sur

15 minutes- Bus from Pili Airport, Camarines Sur to Naga City, Camarines Sur

2 hours- Jeep from Naga City, Camarines Sur to Daet, Camarines Norte

15 minutes-  Trike from Daet, Camarines Norte to Mercedes Camarines Norte

Contact person: Ms. Nanette Ibasco – Municipal Tourism Officer

‘+63 54 444-1261 | +63 54 444-1151 | discovermercedes@yahoo.com

Pagasa beach

Pagasa beach

Entrance fee Php20
Open cottage or cabanas at Php 250-300; Closed cottages at PHP 500 to 700. Camp for free! Tricycle (special) going here will cost you Php 100 one way. There’s a nearby fish sanctuary where you can snorkel or scuba dive, just bring your own gears.
For more info, contact Ruth at +63910 – 827 – 3547.

Red salad – Pulang Daga / Pulang Lupa beach

Yearning for a fiery sunset? Fret not, Pulang Daga beach is exactly what you’re looking for.

How to get here:

Hop on a Superlines bus in Manila that will directly take you to Paracale, it can cost you to about Php 900-1000. If you are in Daet already, take a van going here at Php 60 or bus at Php 45.

Brown main course – Bulalacao beach

Bulalacao beach is located at Luklukan Sur, Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte. It is approximately 49 kms away from Daet. You will see a creamy fine sand, crystal water, coconut trees, fruit bearing trees and beautiful rock formation with some corals around it. Bulalacao beach is another good spot for picnic, swimming, kayaking and pictorials.

Bulalacao beach

How to get here:

  • You can ride a van for only 70 pesos or a bus for only 50 pesos going to town proper of Jose Panganiban.
  • When you reach Jose Panganiban, you need to ride a jeep for only 25 pesos going to Bulalacao Beach, Luklukan Sur.

Pink Dessert – Parola beach

I managed to capture the beauty of this uninhabited island with the help of these gorgeous bloggers Travel With Maria & Charlotte Anne. Go check these ladies out.

For details on how to get here and relevant information, please visit my article in this pristine island here.

Tip: If you have more time to spare, you can do a side trip to Mercedes from Vinzons in 30 minutes and do this!

Marco 1

By the way, that’s Marco, our Pinoy Traveler, go check out his Parola travel guide, too.

“CamSur is popular but CamNorte is handsome” words of our tourism officer Sir Abel.

 

Day 4     Locals, heavenly Bicolano cuisines and worthy pasalubongs

Aside from the colourful beaches, secluded islands, historic land marks and century old churches, Camarines Norte boasts its good natured and gallant people where our past can confirm how this lands became the cradle of heroism in Bikolandia.

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Mercedes’ Tinapa : Perfect Pasalubong

Undeniably the best tinapa in town! So thankful I hopped off the van and bought my one kilo of tinapa, fresh from Camarines Norte waters! I enjoyed it, my mom and brother loved it, my officemates devoured it! The best indeed. Whenever you are around the area, make sure to bring these goodies with you back to Manila. 

Some of the famous delicacies I tasted and complemented my food palette were these jaw dropping menu –

Villa Eusebia’s: Sinantol (You should not miss this!)

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Mercedes’ Tinapa plant

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Sugar cane juice at JSM Yellow to Green Organic farm

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Candist’s Kitchen: original bicol express and tinumok

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Mamitas’ burgers

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Jannah’s Pasalubong

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As we head back to Manila, we stopped by the pasalubong center in Daet. Normally, I don’t bring home pasalubong but it’s a good thing I made an exception this one time. For one, their tarts are the bomb! Legit AF. The tinapa from Mercedes sold out like pancakes at home and in the office!

Still craving? Let the expert take you to a gastronomic ride, here’s Rowena’s five must try Bicol dishes.

As my sponsored trip comes to an end, I can’t help but say my huge thanks to the people behind this effort who made our CamNorte trip fun filled and memorable. Thank you to the locals for your heart-warmingly generous welcome, even though the weather was giving us a cold treatment (literally with strong winds and heavy rains). #ByeJolina

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Thank you to Sir Mike of Katooga Ph and my new found friends slash bloggers during this 4 day adventure – I won’t forget all the laughs and good times we shared. You guys really opened my eyes on the ins and outs of the blogging world, while CamNorte offered such a humbling, memorable and educational experience all rolled into one.

Quickies, out.

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DIY Travel Philippines goes to my hometown

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If there’s one Facebook group that I am most engaged and hooked – it would be DIY Travel Philippines. DIYTP was indeed a  lot of help when I was travelling over the past year. Seriously. If not for this group, I won’t have tipid travels from Mike of Tripidito Travel. (I had the pleasure of getting their services for my mom’s birthday in Palawan and my Be Whole in Bohol escapade). There would’ve been no discounted tours, no random weekend getaways, not to mention the guides I have contacted for my Cebu adventures, Rizal hikes and of course – the friends I gained along the way.

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Speaking of friends, here they are to name a few, L-R: DIYTP Admin Midas, Dwynn, JP aka The Rustic Nomad, Redg, Ynoh, Mommy Edna, Wilbert, Joyce and another admin Bryan.

For the longest time, I have been planning on bringing my friends to Isla Verde.  There were plans, chat groups, official hashtags, even memes, but it never panned out. I can even fill an entire sketch pad with our island life drawings. Well not until last November 2016 where I actually brought three of my closest friends at work in my hometown. So – I wasn’t planning of returning anytime soon. However, there were recent unforeseeable events that literally blew me in a bad, bad way. For me to cope with it, I had to do something, I needed to be anywhere. I had to forget and think things through. Then, the DIYTP Summer Getaway happened.

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I didn’t quite realize how much the island changed the last time I was here – maybe because I was excited to tour my friends back then. But now, those “recent” events took me to a dimension like no other, a perspective no one should see. There was this certain gloom that loomed in the island. Perhaps since most of the people I know were either dead or relocated in the city.

Yes, this is a happy post, an eventually you-will-feel-good write up. Bear with me.

We arrived at Surface Interval resort around 3:00 pm. Some of us were tired and hangry (I think, aka me), but the DIY admins were very apologetic and accommodating you were not gonna be mad at them. Oh come on, we’ve been in their shoes – organizing, planning an event then things spiraled out of control.  We understood. And boy, the admins made it up to us big time. Feeding us with lechon, raffling off loads of stuff, tours to Cebu / Pangasinan / Sagada among others, travel gadgets and the coveted Trip for 2 to goddamn freaking Maldives! Thanks, Dragonfly Holidays #BakaNaman. The items to be given away were too many, we ended up getting one or two (or more – hello Mark with the three power banks). Thanks also to the organizers that sponsor the event, Robin, Geri, to name a few. Even Kim of TripZeeker was there, too!

The funny thing was, the first item to be raffled was a GoPro lanyard. The first ‘casualty’ to receive this item was a 16 year old girl named Joy. Little did we know, Joy would be the last. Yes, she got the grand prize! How lucky can she get, right? From lanyard to Maldives, real quick. Congratulations Joy!

Props to Midas and Jad who aside from hosting the program, made us laugh all the way through. Such fun times!

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DIY Admins preparing the feast. (L-R: Rach, Mich, Jad, Gold, and Midas)
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And by feast, I mean these!
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Everyone got their prize/s – now waiting for the announcement of the grandest prize of them all – Trip for 2 to Maldives c/o Dragonfly Holidays!

What did I win? A free trip to Hundred Islands from LMTA for one. Yes, I guess I’m going solo. Rub it in, DIY.

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Gimme some Open Forum vibes before Socials (pina susyal na term for walwalan)

The part I was looking forward – the walwalan portion. I had shisha c/o Muhamed, free flowing drinks, and this ingenious card game which will defo get you drunk. Thanks to Midas the mastermind. What more can I ask for! We were done at around 6am. Oh yeah, we drank, laughed, shouted, cursed more than we should, sang a few songs and maybe cried a little bit, the entire night. After we cleaned up the area, I took a nap on a bench and had breakfast on light head.

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I spent a total of 3 mins inside this tent. So much for walwaling.

The island tour began – first off to Bgy. San Andres where my father grew up. My brother and I used to go here almost every summer during our childhood days. I sort of toured some of the DIYers in the area and brought them to the light house, yes, it’s a photo ops spot.

Tower Life
View from Lighthouse

Next spot, the infamous Sampalukan corals. We snorkeled and free dived – it was exhilarating! Not that this was important, but these corals happened to be a few meters away from my cool Lolo’s place.

El Nido Feels
Sampalukan Sunset

Want to DIY Isla Verde? See my itinerary and expenses here.

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Sunset view from Surface Interval

Before I forget, the reason we’re doing this summer getaway was because DIYTP reached another year! We are now 2 years old with over 459,000 members and counting. So if you’re still not part of our community,  go ahead and join this wonderful bunch. Not only will you get access to countless itineraries, events, tips and promos, you’ll definitely gain new friends!

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Even Facebook took notice! Hi Tim and Mommy Edna who I met here in this summer getaway…
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Lighting up candles for that, congratulations DIYTP!

To know more about DIYTP, kindly visit this link. Yes DIYTP is expanding. Stay tuned for some exciting news.

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“Buti pa yung kahoy, may picture” #SquadGoals #KuyaKamiNaman

Let’s take it to the top, shall we?

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drone2Thank you JP for giving me permission to use your sick drone shots! Perhaps I bored you with words – let me show you some live visuals then.

Video credit to the amazing Tim of The Secret Adventures of SkywalkTim.

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Til my next escape to Isla Verde…

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Quickies, out!

 

Baler Joiner

Dingalan view

I was browsing Byaheng Budgetarian facebook group on  a Wednesday night when I happened to come across a group looking for joiners in their Baler weekend getaway. I didn’t have plans, so I asked myself, why not? I messaged Ejay, the group organizer from The RunawayS Travel and Tour, if he had a spot for me. I got an instant yes. So it’s settled. I was bound for Baler in 2 days time. Just like that. No stir. No ifs. No bs. 😜

Can’t wait to surf these waves!

Hit the waves

If the event will push through, it would be the 2nd time I joined an event where I get to meet them on the trip itself. Pretty exciting and risky at the same time. But that’s the beauty of it – I get to lose myself around people who have no clue about me. Well actually, not all, I did invite Lex and Josh to accompany me. I can be paranoid too. 😅

Anyway going back, you can do it too. You can be as carefree as you want to be – even just for a weekend.

Fast forward to Friday night, Lex, and I were seated at the back of the van silently eavesdropping to our new friends, Ejay, Cielo, Cherry and Mark as they chatted away while waiting for Tim and Ruth. Fine, I was eavesdropping. Lex was sleeping. We hit the road at around 11:30pm. Picked up Josh and Jhune in QC and the rest of the gang, Ella, Sev, Marj and Mara in Bulacan. We arrived in Baler at 7am. Had breakfast at the eatery near Baler sign. Did some photo ops with a local kiddo photographer before heading to our rented house.

Aura pa

After settling in, the Baler tour commenced. We hiked for about 40 mins to reach the ever majestic Ditumabo Mother Falls. And mother dear, it didn’t disappoint. Matter of fact, her presence was overpowering borderline frightening.

Mother Falls

We weren’t able to hike further and see Father falls. I mean look how raging the water was.  After taking some photos, and by some, I mean hundreds, the group decided to descend and ate at the food stalls located at the base.

Mother falls side

Below is what I call the daughter falls. Now they’re a complete family of falls. Yes, ang mga paasa come in three’s!

Daughter falls :P

The next destination was Dingalan lighthouse. It’s just a 10 minute hike from the drop off point. Mid way to the lighthouse, I turned and witnessed why this is the “Batanes of the East.” How steep the trail may seem, I didn’t hesitate to capture these breathtaking views.

View from the top

Hello mighty Sun

Tower life

What made our hike extra special were these cute little tour guides who kept referencing us to Encantadia characters. Apparently that TV series was a hit here.

Hello there #alltoourselves

Of course, I had to take a selfie at the top. Who wouldn’t, right?

Yup we fit here

I’m pretty that was where all of us had sun burnt skin. Well, it was worth it.

Embracing freedom

Diguisit falls and Aniao Islets were the next spots in our itinerary. Compared to the first two destinations, these two were chill, less strenuous as we just strolled, took some photos and silently appreciated how jaw dropping these places are.

To get a better  overlooking view of Baler, head on to Ermita hill.
Why were we in Baler in the first place? To walwal. Kidding, that’s for later . Of course – to surf!

Lex,  Josh and I took turn in surfing for 1 hour over the same board. That’s 350/3 haha sulit! Hashtag kakuriputan unleashed. This is the sport I really want to pursue; well not professionally, i just wanna advance my skills here. Surfing was so much fun!

Surf <3

At last, our jam packed day came to an end. Beautiful sunset at Sabang beach!

Chasing Sunset
Well, not just quite yet. Ejay and our surf instructors prepared dinner then set up the karaoke and beer pong table with cards on the side. Idle time was not on this tour’s itinerary. The night is young and so are we, I said to myself. We sang, drank, played cards, and laughed out loud the whole night. Don’t even get me started on the vibrating chair only Jhune can do!
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By 9am, we already had breakfast and ready to hit Dicasalarin Cove. No room for curing hangover! In fact, let’s make it worse with the occasional bumps as we sailed the Dicasalarin bay. We set foot at this beautiful chunk of paradise at around 10:40am. We got the whole place to ourselves! Good thing, we brought surfboard and skim board.
Hello Dicasalarin!!!
Gateway to heaven
Well aside from the view, there’s just one thing that kept on catching my attention – that lighthouse! So I led the group and hiked to the top.

Yes, I didn’t let the opportunity pass, I climbed the tower with my wobbly knees and trembling hands. The view was perfect.

Adrenaine rush

Then we headed down and searched for the hidden cave in the island. It’s an enclosed sanctuary where soothing waves collided with the rocks. This was the view inside the cave.

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By 3pm, we headed back and had late buffet lunch at Picnic By The Bay (a Gerry’s grill branch) for just 200php. So sulit. Plus we got to enjoy the beachfront where kids surfed on the beach.

By 6pm where everyone’s freshened up, we set out for City tour (night edition). First on the list,  Donya Aurora’s house, then stood Baler church on the side.

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Of course, what better time to visit this infamous Balete tree – at night. 👻 Then, dropped by Hanging bridge for a quick photo op.

 

ITINERARY 
DAY 01
12:00mn – ETD Shaw to Baler
06:00am – ETA Baler and breakfast (pax account)
07:00 – Check in and tour preparation
08:00 – Start of Tour
●Ditumabo Mother Falls
12:00nn – Lunch (pax account)
●Baler lighthouse
●Diguisit falls
●Aniao islets
●Ermita Hill
●Sabang beach surf spot
07:00pm – dinner (pax account)
Free time, socials and walwal time
10:00 – lights out (not really, we walwal-ed til 03:00am)
DAY 02
08:00am – wake up call and breakfast (hosted)
09:30 – Dicasalarin Cove tour
10:40 – ETA Dicasalarin via rented boat (included in the tour fee)
03:00pm– ETD Dicasalarin to Baler
04:00 – Late Lunch at Picnic by the Bay 200 buffet
06:00 – Start of City Tour (night edition)
● Donya Aurora’s house
●Baler church
●Balete tree
●Hanging bridge
08:30 – ETD Baler to Manila
02:30am– ETA Manila
————————————————————————–
Baler Aurora with Dicasalarin cove tour only for Php 1,999 all in na bes!

December 3-4, 2016 (weekends)

Inclusions
✔ Comfortable van transfers (Manila-Baler-Manila)
✔ One (1) night fully air-conditioned room accommodation
✔ All permits, entrance and environmental fees including Dicasalarin cove
✔ Roundtrip boat transfers for Dicasalarin cove tour
✔ Service of tour coordinator/ photographer
✔ Complete Baler tour with 10 tourist spots
✔ Exclusive mobile bar at night with fun games!
✔ Free breakfast on 2nd day
✔ Free use of gopro hero4

Optional activities and other exclusions:
Other meals not stated above
One (1) hour surfing with board and instructor (Php 350 per person)

EXPENSES
Tour – Php 2,ooo
Bottled water (2L) & Chips – Php 300
Breakfast (day 1)- Php 50
Lunch (day 1) – Php 50
Surf board rental – Php 350/3 (Php 117/pax)
Dinner, booze and breakfast (day 2) – hosted
Buffet Lunch – Php 200
Total Expenses: Php 2,717
Aside from the well organized event Ejay and the group organized, the all expense paid booze slash walwal party was what made me jump in and join hahahah! #KeepinItReal
I was really happy going back to Baler. I won’t mind coming over and over again especially with this group I just met but clicked right there and then.
What goes up must come down
Photo Credits to Tropang Lagalag and Frances. Hope to travel with you guys soon! Like next month soon?
Dicasalarin view
Bye for now, Baler.
No filter feet
Quickies, out x

Finding Boo In South Cebu

Couchsurfing, popular site for travelers and backpackers, paved the way for me to meet new friends from all over the world, be exposed to different cultures and changed the way I live my life.

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I was doing my rounds in that site, casually helping (and promoting my blog) to travelers going to the Philippines. Then I found Megan; and right there and then, we clicked. I found myself spontaneously booking a flight for Cebu with her host – Mark. Crazy? No. That’s just an ordinary day in my book.

The group’s first meeting was at the airport before our flight to Cebu. No turning back now. Usually, I would have a vibe and know if I could get along with a person, when I met them; everything was just a perfect fit. Upon landing, we made our way to SM Seaside City Cebu, had a quick breakfast, took a shuttle for 100php/pax bound for Moalboal. We arrived at around 1pm, hired a tricycle for 100php/ 3pax taking us straight to Moalboal Backpacker Lodge in Panagsama Beach. This is a dormitory type of lodge with public restrooms & shower rooms, dirty kitchen, refrigerator, multiple electrical outlets and hammocks everywhere! I would definitely recommend this lodge – it’s cheap, clean, and walking distance from sardine run and sea turtles! So dope, right?!

After buying fresh fruits from the market, the three of us wasted no time and went plunging straight to Moalboal waters. There was a storm brewing at the time bringing currents; hence, the sardine run wasn’t as exquisite in the photos. Nonetheless, the experience itself was marvelous. Go ahead, dive in, and see for yourselves.

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Walwal Night

The Chili Bar is one of the busiest pubs in the area – and yes that’s pretty much where I ended the day. Hashtag shocking. I have found new friends, delved into deep conversations, discovered I can be a Colombian, exchanged travel tales, danced like no one was looking, sang til my vocal chords gave up, walked deserted streets at wee hours of the night. Thank you Jessica, Kyle, Doug, Jordin, Lisa, Wout, and especially to you Ana. Ana – you’re just sneaky cute – I actually thought of ditching Oslob and accompanying you one more night in Moalboal haha. I guess, I will have to book a flight to Shanghai and let me couch surf at your place. Then tour me around and teach me how to dance and I will sing whatever you requested. [Update] You’re back in the Philippines and we haven’t met again, how frustrating 😦

Woke up 2 hours later with a massive hangover – but it didn’t stop me from seizing that brand new day. The group had complimentary coffee with Lisa joining us. Thank heavens for the caffeine fix. After quick chit chats, we hopped on a nearby tricycle that brought us to the market then paid 29php each for the bus to take us to Matutinao/ Badian. There, we were welcomed by our guide to Kawasan falls. We had three activities lined up – falls jumping levels 1-3 (running jump, 50ft and 15ft jump); bamboo rafting and water slide w swing. It also included life jacket, entrance & guide fees. All for 600 php per pax, not bad.

Series of Unfortunate Events 

Here I was. Again. Finding myself at the edge of the cliff with wobbly knees but ready to jump. So I did. The camera wasn’t. When I surfaced, I immediately checked if the gopro was on the right angle. To my horror, it was gone. Our guide didn’t think twice, jumped after me and dived to retrieve it. Thank heavens he found it. Not long after that commotion, Mark and Megan jumped. We hiked to the next cliff – probably 50-60 ft high. The view was surreal.

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 After the jumps, I found a spot and captured some shots for my blog. Mark and Megan did some photo shoot on their own. Later when I joined them, my pole being broken was just a tip of the iceberg in terms of the shit the group fell into. Mark and Megan slipped while doing their shoot. Pretty sure Megan said she had a mild concussion while Mark, on the other hand, wounded himself and soaked his thousand dollar camera!

Alright, enough bad luck for one day (or so I thought). To counter these, I say coffee, I won’t get tired of coffee. Right, Megan?

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Crazy Travelers

Mark, being the very generous one, hired a taxi from Moalboal to Tan-awan, Oslob. What a selfless gesture! Thank you Mark. We arrived at around 9pm give or take; unfortunately, all of the hostels were fully booked. This was a Saturday night, so it’s given. Lo and behold, there’s a one good find (or probably just good luck) – Lirasan Store in front of Brumini Resort. We paid Php 800/night for the entire group; that’s roughly Php 270 per pax ($6!!). Oh did I mention, the back door cases of the GoPro were stolen in the lodge and I almost lost my phone. No biggie.

Allow me to introduce the final, integral part of the Crazy Travelers group – Fabio. Yes, out of nowhere, after we were settled in, he showed up alight a bus looking for accommodation. And by settling in, I mean rush fumigation of our room. It  would be best if I kept the specifics to myself. Good thing, our stay-in compound has one vacant room left. After catching up over dinner with our lives scattered across the world, we called it a night. For tomorrow, we are in for a sight of the mights.

Encounter With Whale Sharks

Swimming with whale sharks is definitely one of the heated issues in the traveling community. Thanks to these gentle giants, I was able to fully grasp what travelling is all about – coexistence. It’s in this experience I saw how grand these life forms were and how intimidating their presence could be.

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 I have faith in our government and organizations that there will come a time where we can freely enjoy their humongous company without endangering their very existence.

And nope, our streak of bad luck continued when Megan’s flipper was kicked by one of the guides and was forever lost to oblivion.

[Tip]: Stay at a lodge near the whale sharks (Tan-awan, Oslob). Be early. Like 5:30 am early.

The Adventure Continues

Shrugging off the negativity, we set off to new adventures. We were done with the whale sharks by around 7:30 am. By 8:00 am, we were on our way to Samboan to see some majestic falls.

The falls took a toll in our rumbling stomachs. Our guide slash driver took us to a restaurant in Pebble Beach, Santander (the southern most part of Cebu where Dumaguete is a stone throw away). That might be a little exaggerated, but what I am exaggerating now is the fact that we saw dolphins casually passing through as we lay on the beach! What a treat!

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And we’re not just done yet. Not only the dolphins passed through but also this storm. Storm has no chill.

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We ran to the restaurant and grabbed a few beers. It’s Fabio’s last night in the Philippines so we’ll make the most out of it.

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We thought we lost you, gorgeous sunset. Hells yeah! FYI sunset in Pebble beach is stunning!

The Private Island

Fabio jetted off quite early in the morning bound for Cebu. We haven’t said goodbyes just see you later in Barcelona, right bruh?  By 7:30 am, we arrived at the reception (it’s just a 20 minute walk from Lirasan). After we paid 1,500 php per pax, off we go to the private island!

I highly recommend you guys to stop by this resort! Loads of stuff to do here, perfect for families, couples, backpackers; basically, everyone. You can snorkel in a marine protected area, kayak, fish feed, trek, play beach volleyball, badminton, chill in their pools or in the sand bar, why not. Loads of stuff to do – and did I mention there’s a lunch buffet included in the package? GUHREAT.

The City

Due to operational malfunction, Air Asia scheduled us on a separate, later flights. Mark and Megan took theirs while I opted to stay for one more day to explore the city. Hashtag one more.

Itinerary & Expenses

Day 1 (Cebu City – Moalboal)
6:00 am  Flight to Cebu via Air Asia
Transpo QC to NAIA (bus – 30php and cab – 100php)
Coffee – 53php
7:30 am   ETA Cebu
8:30 am   My Bus to SM City Cebu – 25php
9:15 am    Breakfast @ Sunburst – 100php
10:00 am Cab to SM Seaside – 120 php
Popcorn – 130php
10:30 am PUV to Moalboal – 100php/pax
1:30 pm    Moalboal market
Langka – 30php
2:00 pm   Moalboal Backpackers check in (400php/pax/day)
Snorkel rent – 150php
Unli Brewed Coffee – 80php
M O A L B O A L   A C T I V I T I E S
Sardine Run + Turtle Sightings
9:00 pm  Chili Bar
Beers – 500php (my total share)
Day 2 (Moalboal – Tan-awan, Oslob)
7:00 am Ride trike to market – 100php/3pax
Water – 25php
Paracetamol – 80php
7:30 am Market to Badian – 30php
8:00 am Badian
Breakfast – 50php
K A W A S A N   A D V E N T U R E
9:00 am Kawasan jumps + slide – 600php/pax
Tip to guide – 50php
Chips – 90php
Lunch @local eatery – 50php
2:00 pm The Coffee Shop -120php
3:00 pm Free time (Sardine Run)
7:00 pm Cab to Tan-awan, Oslob
8:30 pm  Lodge hunting at Oslob
9:00 pm Lirasan Store dinner – 100php
Beers – 90php
Day 3 (Oslob – Samboan – Santander)
5:30 am   Snooze off/ freshen up
6:00 am  Shuttle to whale shark drop off point -500php/pax (local); 1000php (foreigner)
6:30 am  Orientation
W H A L E S H A R K S   E N C O U N T E R
7:20 am  Brisk walk to our lodge to shower
8:30 am  Off to Samboan, Cebu
Tricycle rented for 1 day – 300php/pax
S A M B O A N   F A L L S
9:00 am  Aguinid Falls
Entrance – 20php/pax
Tip – 50php
Parking – 25php
11:00 am Hidden Falls
Entrance – 20php/pax
Tip – 50php
1:00 pm   Lunch at Pebble Beach – 160php
C H I L L I N ‘  A T   S A N T A N D E R   B E A C H
4:00 pm  Meryenda (beer + fries) -100php
Another round on me – 155php
6:30 pm   Back to Tan-awan
8:00 pm  Dinner at Brumini Resort – 280php
Day 4 (Sumilon – Cebu City)
7:00 am   Breakfast – 80php
7:30 am    Walk to Sumilon Resort reception – 1500php/pax
S U M I L O N   P R I V A T E   I S L A N D
1:30 pm     Back to lodge
Lirasan Lodge – 533php/pax for 2D/2N stay
2:30 pm    Bus to Cebu City – 149php
6:30 pm    Check in at Tr3ats – 350php/pax overnight
9:00pm     Dinner at Larsian -140php
Jeeps – 21php
Day 5 (Cebu City)
E X T E N D E D  S T A Y   I N   T H E   C I T Y 
Tr3ats 1 day stay – 900php
Breakfast – 100php
Jeeps – 21php
Lunch at Robinson’s Cyber Gate – 200php
Bar hopping – Booze – 1000php
Day 6 (Cebu – MNL)
B A C K   T O   R E A L I T Y
Cab to airport – 250php
Breakfast – 100php
Grab NAIA to Pasay terminal – 125php
Lunch – 170php

My Take Aways

Yeah, I may have not found my boo in south Cebu. But, to have these friends and the experience can somehow make up for it. Well, maybe not. But you get the point. 😀
S/O to Mark for that cab ride treat and some of your shots here were lit. Carol, as always, thank you for being generous – I still owe you dinner!
PS. Fabio, I still have the 70K IDR. I might have to use it in Bali someday haha 🙂
Quickie tip: Enjoy life like a kid!
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Cheers everyone!
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Quickies, out!
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INIDU ELNIDO

When one hit rock bottom, feel that pain, make it your drive to rise up and be whole again. I found myself in that state again. I said to myself…I do need you, El Nido. 

Travel. Make new friends. Enjoy.

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The Planning

Thanks to social media, it has now been really easy to spot on cheap af flights. When I saw promo flights from Air Asia almost a year ago, I immediately booked my entire famliy (we’re just three, maka-entire) bound for Puerto Princesa (PPS). They’ve been bugging me about my travels for the longest time – why am I the only one who traveled to nice places, rode a plane, you know the drill. So I figured for my mom’s 62nd birthday, I’ll take them to the place where I discovered my passion and love for traveling, Couchsurfing and travel blogging – El Nido.

Tip#1: If you’re planning to go to El Nido, allot at least 4 days in Palawan. Breakdown: 5-6 hours land travel from PPS to El Nido town. That’s 10-12 hours for round trip alone (combined with R&R that’s 1 day already). 3 days in El Nido is painstakingly enough to cover two island hopping tours then an inland tour on your last day. Remember to plan your travels ahead. It will definitely, definitely save you a lot of money and worry. Also for travelers on a budget, I suggest booking cheap inns in El Nido – island hopping will consume most of your energy, then what’s left off it for beach parties. Probably 2-4 hours will be allocated for sleeping, so. I always say why sleep in paradise when you can sleep at work? Well, this is just me.

Scratch that, forget everything I said. There won’t be enough days to digest these majestic slices of heaven.

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How much did I spend on the airfare? Roughly 700 pesos per pax. Yep, roundtrip. Here comes the hard part, I am a DIY traveler slash backpacker slash I can sleep on the beach if I have to – but my mom isn’t. This is our first ever trip together and I wanted them to have the best time. I am pretty sure El Nido won’t disappoint but the little things must be detailed and planned. Good thing, I have a wonderful friend. She hooked me up with an awesome, cheap quote from Kalipayan tours (below). Thanks, Lisa! Next up, Balesin? 😂

Note though, island hopping tours aren’t included in the quote. Pretty understandable, hence, I used another outlet – the DIY Travel Philippines facebook group. This group is amazing. I have never been active to any page or group til I came across this one on my feed. I highly encourage my traveler friends to add this group. Members and admins here were very helpful. So I was following a PPSxEl Nido thread on this group when I saw Michael Yao’s of Tripidito Travel comment. He mentioned 1900php per pax for Tours A&C – I immediately pm-ed him. Normally, Tour A cost 1200php per pax and Tour C for 1400php so it’s actually quite a nice deal. Yep, there are still way cheaper tours on the group but mostly are DIY on the island itself. I wanted to avail those but then again, I have a senior citizen in the midst – I opted for pre-booked tours for a smooth sailing trip. Thanks again Mike for making our lives easier on the island. Before I forget, you need to pay 200php as environmental fee once you start the tours. This is just a one time payment. So if you have multiple tours (say A,B,C), you’ll pay 200php that covers all those aforementioned.

Shall we start?

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The Arrival

We landed in Puerto Princesa on a one fine, humid night of June 8th. We checked in to Circon Business Inn and after settling down, went straight to Kinabuch’s for dinner. Kinda pricey but you’ll get your money’s worth. They even have this humongous TV screen – playing the NBA finals. Service was moderate to slow but the food made up for it. Es muy delicioso!

The Underground

Our van picked us up at around 7:30am the morning of June 9th then made our way to Sabang. We arrived at around 10:30am cos we had numerous stops  (picking up other people included in the tour and finalizing our permits) Even the Balikatan forces were there waiting for their cue to ride the boat that would take them to the infamous underground river. Good thing our fellow tour mates already had a reserved boat, we didn’t wait that much longer. This was my second time underground and I must say, the tour has improved a lot. Now we have this audio device where a synchronized voice over talked to us over our earphones as we pass through this magnificent creation. I found it very relaxing not to focus on what your boat guide had to say when you are seated in front of the boat. You just have to sit back and enjoy the view as you have a personalized voice guide muttering the underground wonders. The tour is about 45 min long and concluded in a sumptuous buffet lunch. I had a pleasure of talking to Fabi, my new found German friend. He introduced me to a place called Port Barton. Yes, that’s in Palawan. And I had no idea – shame on me.

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The City

The city tour is not my cup of tea. I wouldn’t take it if I was with my friends. But I wasn’t- so. Our half day city tour started at 9am of June 10. We visited Binuatan Creations, Mitra’s mansion and ranch, Baker’s Hill, Crocodile farm, bay walk, Plaza Cuartel, Puerto Princesa Cathedral and my favorite and last stop – Pasalubong center (souvenir shops). At the end of the day, I pondered and realized, oh yeah, I did enjoy the city and discovered things on a more personal level than just reading them online. So hurry book a city tour if you have ample time in PPS- plus it’s one of the safest cities in the Philippines so why the hell not, right?

The Last Frontier

Right after we had lunch, the van picked us up for our 5hr journey to the highlight of our weeklong trip – El Nido. We safely arrived at our lodge – El Nido (Bacuit) Sands Inn at around 8pm night of June 10. Note that this inn is for backpackers, solo travelers, travelers on a tight budget- they have public toilets and showers. Since it’s our first night in paradise, we decided to splurge a bit and ate at the beach front. Food’s bordering on the average – guess we’re just paying for the ambiance and this view:

What a sight to behold – picturesque view from our balcony.

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The Tours

Tour A – Day 1

7 Commando Beach (yes, senyora was commanding me 7 times at the back, magsaing na daw ako)

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Paglugaban Beach (Shimizu at the time was so crowded; this was where we had lunch )

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Secret Lagoon (pardon my orgasm face)

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Big Lagoon (candid moment as we head out of this lagoon hashtag priceless)

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Small Lagoon (our first kayak!)

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Tour C – Day 2

Helicopter Island (the island all to ourselves)

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Talisay Beach / Matinloc Shrine (we just passed through since we don’t wanna pay entrance fee – had buffet lunch on the boat instead)

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Hidden Beach

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Secret Beach

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Snorkeling Area (wait for the underwater photos below, it’s so good!)

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Inland Tour – Day 3

Nacpan Beach (yup, my Nacpan-Ko-Daw-Nipples-Ko shot)

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Calitang Beach (Twin Beach) actually for me, that’s a trio beach – 3rd beach on the left side

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Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls

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Las Cabañas

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It’s a completely different world down under:

The Itinerary

Kalipayan Tours – June 8 to 15, 2016 (Island Hopping tours excluded)                            Contacts: Venus – +63977 711 4332 | Grazel – +63917 526 2008 (Kalipayan Tours & Circon)

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Tripidito Travel – Tours A & C

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Inland Tour
Contact Kuya Wames Niel – (0950) 500 5419
Negotiated 1500php (for 3 pax via his tricycle whole day) for the tour mentioned above. He even volunteered to be our guide for Nagkalit-kalit waterfalls where there’s a 200php charge per head. Trek to the falls took us 30 minutes one way (blame my mom ha! nope, amazing she managed to finish the trek at her age – well folks, age is just a number!) We saved 600 bucks! Started the tour at 9am ended at around 6:00pm.

The Expenses

Kalipayan Tours Php 20,100 (3 pax)

Tripidito Travel: Tours A&C Php 5,700 (1900 per pax)

Night 1 (PPS)
400 Grab Bacoor to Terminal 4, NAIA
200 Toll fee
350 Airport food
30 Tricycle to Kinabuch’s
930 Kinabuch’s (dinner for three)
30 Tricycle back to Circon Inn
105 Beers before bedtime
300 Essentials & groceries

Day 1
200 Shakes at Sabang
120 Environmental fee (40php per pax)
45 Bottled water
60 Coffee sachets
218 Take out dinner from guess what, McDonalds

Night 2
97 Essentials & groceries
265 ChowKing dinner

Day 2
135 Baked goodies from Baker’s Hill
294 Lunch – Jollibee
70 Plastic Bag for pasalubongs and extra baggages
110 Lunch part 2 at Halfway restaurant (roughly 100km to El Nido)

Night 3 (El Nido)
660 dinner by the beach; hence the expense  (first night so we splurged)
30 wet wipes

Day 3
170 water & coffee

Night 4
320 (8) RH beers at Bacuit Grill #happyhour
120 fries
180 sisig
140 (2) SML beers
140 (2) SML beers
100 mom’s dinner
50 tip
70 sprite
320 junk foods

Day 4
90 groceries water
90 meds for hangover and flu like symptoms

Night 5
250 dinner at a local carinderia
388 groceries

Day 5
60 water
100 entrance nacpan
10 bata
1700 inland tour (200 tip)
30 gate pass wfalls
320 food in nacpan
40 water in waterfalls

Night 5
66 Bottled water
60 Mom’s dinner
100 Beer from somewhere I can’t remember
720 Happy hour RH beers from Las Cabañas
150 Hotdog – recovery food
100 trike back to El Nido town

Day 6 (El Nido – am then PPS – pm)
30 Water
240 Lunch at local carinderia
122 Essentials & groceries
360 Lunch part 2at resto beside halfway
50 Tricycle to terminal
100 Tip to Bonbon (Sands Inn front desk)
20 Tricycle to Pasalubong center
16 Tricycle back to Circon Inn

Night 6
340 Lunch again at Jollibee
2110 Pasalubongs
500 Cake

Day 7
60 Tricycle to airport
600 Terminal fee (200php per pax)

Air Fare RT  Php 2,203.20 (all in for 3 pax)

Grand Total of Php 43,078.20 (for 3 pax)

Expenditures Analysis

We definitely saved a lot in terms of the tours I already pre-booked and thanks to my haggling skills on the inland tour I negotiated with Kuya Wames. However, half of the cost of our 1 week itinerary is attributed to the miscellaneous items we bought in the island which can be trimmed down exponentially with careful planning.

Tip#2: Before you start your way to El Nido, make sure to bring your essentials (or buy in the city) with you – water (if you rented a van or taking a public shuttle, bring those 5L gallons with you), toiletries and miscellaneous stuff for your rituals. Trust me, you’ll save a few hundred bucks!

Tip#3: You can definitely spend less compared to what was written here. I, myself, is a poor traveler. This trip is one exemption to the rule cos it’s a first of many – first family travel, their first time in Palawan, let alone El Nido, their first airplane ride, among others. There are many carinderias (local eatery) in the area just 3-5 minute walk from the beach where prices are comparable to carinderias in Metro Manila. Go explore, talk to people.

Tip#4: If you love alcohol like me, utilize the Happy Hour! Bars and restaurants scattered across the beach front had this happy hour from 4-7pm. Beers and cocktails were cheap af!

Tip#5: Take pictures, build memories, mingle with people i.e, below.

Shout out to my new found friends from around the world. See you around beautiful people.

Fabi – I have a contact now in Port Barton, I think she’ll give me discount. Hi Ma’am Josie hehe. I met her the day after we did the underground tour haha!

Linda & Candice – It was so nice meeting you ladies from our first night in El Nido to your last. So happy bumping with you in the streets from time to time 🙂

Jon – Don’t ever slip again haha you got me out of breath for like 2 seconds! See you in Guam or back here? You decide and stay alive! 😛

Pablo, Greta/Carla, Crusti – Thank you for being such an accommodating group. You made our last night in El Nido extra special! I’ll invite you in my “resort”, you tour me in Madrid? Deal?

Kuya Bangkero and Kuya Chefs, thank you for serving a sumptuous feast! Sa uulitin!

It took me 4 years to go back here. I’m surely hoping it won’t take another 4 years for me to experience another slice of heaven here on Earth. *cough* sponsors *cough*

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Til my next quick escape, El Nido.

Photos were taken using iPhone 6S+, GoPro Hero 4 and SJCAM 4000. Special thanks to Tinai and RB for lending their awesome gears. Videos and mini vlogs coming soon!

Cheers!

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Since there’s no Laboracay 2018

I have created a short video on my trip last year to one of the most pristine beaches in the country, in the world rather.

What’s Laboracay though? It is a summer beach party there in Boracay during the Labor Day weekend. Hence, the coined term Laboracay is born, Labor x Boracay, you don’t say?!

Escape with me and take a quick plunge to Boracay, Philippines!

PS. Videos taken using GoPro Hero4 and Hero3+. Check out the entire adventure here.

PPS. Laboracay can kiss my ass!

Til my next travel, quickies out!

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Captivating Calaguas

“One hell of a ride yet heaven when we arrived!”

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I have used that line back when we went to Dicasalarin Cove; but I think, the trip to Calaguas toppled it all in every aspect.

Why is that? Let’s go back to where my quick escape started…

But wait, check out first our happy faces and the beauty of Calaguas caught on cam here:

I am always a DIY person when it comes to traveling and soul searching. But whenever I’ll be organizing a trip for more than 8 pax, I’ll ask for someone else to do it for me – hence; Cookies Travel and Tours is my go to agent. Full list of itinerary and expenses below.

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Our group met at 9pm Friday night in SM North and braved the place where forever existed – EDSA. We stopped at 2nd pick up point in McDonald’s Buendia to meet the other groups the travel agency was hosting. All in, we’re about 4 groups (40 people displaced in 4 Grandia vans). This was the major setback – we didn’t have control over our time. We had to wait for other people to arrive, not to mention, how frequent they insisted on having stopovers after a couple of minutes cause they wanna pee (they’re already drinking along the way). Another thing that prolong our already long agony drive was that one van lost his way and we had to convene and discuss the plan (which I thought, they already had since they won’t be a travel agency for nothing, right?) Our estimated travel time of 7 hours became a dragging 12 hours. It’s safe to say I am reverting back to DIY trips be it a large group or what not. We reached Paracale, Camarines Norte at 9am.

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But that was not the worst part.

We only got half an hour before we board our boat– our group dispersed in buying last minute essentials – (2) 5 gallon water, plastic bags for waterproofing our things, pulutan, coffee and booze. We hopped on to a 25-capacity banca hoping against hope – a safe, smooth ride.

Safe? Debatable. Smooth? That was the craziest, bumpiest,stomach- turning, worst boat ride I experienced to date. We’re like survivor castaways (yes we’re dripping wet, wet from the rain and waves!) with no staff and crew to help if the boat stumbled over. A normal person could’ve endured that ride given enough rest. Luckily, our case was entirely the opposite. Hashtag no pun. The other groups had it worse, yup the ones I mentioned drinking, you can imagine how comfortable their trip was –stretch it to freaking two and half hours of seesaw motion.

Finally, our faces lit up when we saw the captivating Calaguas’ coast!

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Huge surfer waves welcomed us as we alight the boat. I couldn’t care less since I was already soaking wet – I jumped off as soon as we reached the shore. The struggle was real when we needed to transport our belongings off the boat.
Tips: Waterproof your things! Bring raincoat or plastic jacket too!

We were exhausted from the trip that waiting for our travel agency to cook us food would drove us nuts. Good thing, one of our friends, prepared a packed lunch good for 10 pax. What a relief. Another tip right there!

Now a bit energized, we faced yet another roadblock – setting up the Vango (the humongous 10 people tent where you can glamp all night long). After an hour, we managed to erect the goddamn shelter. And the food from our agent were ready too. Round 2 of Man Vs Food commenced.

With no cellular service, we were left to enjoy what we have around – good company, majestic view, fine sand, amazing beach. who am I to complain right?! Sometimes, it’s exhilarating to disconnect from the world and strengthen your relationship to the real connections you got – your family, your friends. The virtual world will still be there when you get back, trust me.

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With our phones just for snapping pics, playing JB songs, and occasionally as flash light, time surely can pass slowly. We partied the night around in our rented nipa hut and drank til we drop in the sand. Dancing and shouting  in the shore like crazy, oh boy, hashtag no regrets. I remembered sleeping in the tent only to wake up an hour later. That’s my body clock telling me to sleep anywhere but here.

I was greeted by a cool island breeze as I step out of the tent. My friends and I decided to play volleyball and cap it off by a morning swim.

Ronnie of PlanB tours invited us for a quick 10 minute hike to a hill at one end of the island. We got to see an awesome scenic view of Calaguas and its neighboring islands. What a sight!

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The waters of Calaguas isn’t for the weak of heart – especially when you easily get sea sick. But for those who can endure the ride – this piece of heaven is for you. Boracay can boast its impeccable white sand and crystal clear waters but Calaguas can rival its spotless, powdery sand and the serenity this virgin island has to offer.

Itinerary 

Day 1

9:00 pm Pick up point SM North

10:00 pm McDonald’s/ Shell Buendia bound for Paracale

9:00 am Paracale, Camarines Norte

9:00 – 10:00 am Waterproofing, last minute shopping

10:00 – 12:30 pm Epic boat ride

12:30 pm Lunch, set up tent

1: 30 – 6:00 pm Beach time

6:30 pm Dinner

7:00 pm – 5:00 am Walwal aka party all night long

Day 2

7:00 am – Breakfast

8:00 am – 11:30 am Volleyball, swim, hike

11:30 am – Depart Calaguas

1:30 pm – ETA Paracale port

7:00 pm – ETA Manila

Expenses:

Cookies Travel and Tour: Calaguas

2D/1N stay at P 2,999/head

Package includes:

Roundtrip van transfer

Environmental fee

Entrance fee

Roundtrip boat transfer

3 Meals – Lunch, Dinner and Breakfast

Personals (transpo and dinner at McDo)  x contribution (booze, food, essentials): approximately P 1,000
I’m pretty sure my friends won’t be back here anytime soon. As for me, I am open for any invites!

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