QUINAMANUCA ISLAND, CAMARINES NORTE – An almost Calaguas paradise experience. Almost.
We booked our all-in package to Calaguas via Go PH Travel and Tours. We booked it last minute during the rush of finding a tour with available slots to anywhere. Yup, just anywhere. They were the fastest one to reply and confirm that they can accommodate us.
Land travel to Vinzons Port
Due to the traffic, we had to wait for about two hours in the designated pick-up point in Buendia. But I have heard that some people arrived late. I promise my self that late people cannot ruin this trip. Oh the joy of joining group tours :).
Good thing the van was brand new. It was a Foton View Traveller. I was quite impressed with the spacious headroom because of its extended roof.
The driver though, kind of made a goal of cutting the travel time to half at all cost. Remembering it, it was bewildering nobody in the van said something. Maybe because we were all sleeping.
Our first stop was in Lucena. Then the last one was between Gumaca and Calauag along the Pan-Philippine Highway.
The sad news in Vinzons Port
The jump off point for Calaguas is either in Paracale or Vinzons. The latter has been preferred by most tour operators since they have less fees and less complicated?
We stayed for a while in Vinzons Port waiting for news whether we will proceed to Calaguas or not. A storm was approaching. The weather was quite good that day but it could be the calm before this typhoon will hit land.
The “port” itself catered more to local boats and actually inside a mangrove/marshland area. Facilities were not that developed but the locals were very friendly.
Not sure how it happened, but our group was given permission to stay overnight to the nearest island of Quinamanuca, a 30-min boat ride versus the 2-hour boat ride to Calaguas.
I guess at that point after travelling that far, everyone just agreed that this was the next best thing for an almost Calaguas paradise weekend. We were also not sure how the weather will turn from bad to chillingly-stranded-in-an-island worst-case scenario.
Here we go to Quinamanuca Island!
What we missed was the opportunity to sail out early. It was hot all throughout the travel to the island. Certain part of the sea passage was choppy and the experience almost comparable to a roller coaster ride.
Once in the island, most of the members of the tour operator were on the other boat, hence we do not know what to do. Some of us decided to roam around.
There was a shady part of the island near the edge of the forest with one big tree giving shade in an open area. At the center of it is a makeshift hut. However a lot of other people has already made camp so we were left with a few space.
When the other boat arrived, we were able to get the tent. This was provided by the tour operator. It was a nice experience setting up a tent again. I think the last time I did that was 5 years ago. The challenge though is fitting 4 people inside the tent. To be honest, this was not comfortable.
By the way, the whole island has 1 functioning water pump and toilet. Be ready for a queue.
I decided to take a short nap. Not really in the mood to swim in the beach. Got out of the tent before sunset.
After dinner, it has been announced that we will be lighting sky lanterns at the opposite side of the island. We needed to go inside the forest for this. Kind of creepy.
Strong wind and sky lantern we found out were not a good combination. The scene was just really comical (and dangerous for the forest and the whole island!).
However, when we decided to go back to our campsite and do it across the beach, it was a spectacular scene. One sky lantern at a time though. They should have brought more lighters!
At least something in the itinerary almost worked?
An early morning ruckus made sure this was memorable for a person. Drink moderately they say.
The good news about the morning was that the weather was still calm and we were going back to Luzon island. The boat ride was shorter and calmer as well.
Side trip to Bagasbas Beach for Surfing
A good alternative to Baler if you do not feel like fighting for space for surfing.
We have eaten lunch here and some people decided to surf after.
Since we were already in Daet, the tour operator decided to bring us to the townproper to buy souvenirs and Bicolano delicacies.
Some hotels/accommodations in Daet:
Back to Manila
Our driver again is on a race to get first in Manila. Luckily we were all safe after more than 10 hours of road travel.
We failed to see and even reach Calaguas. But I think it is a good reason to plan it again and maybe that time it will not just be an almost Calaguas paradise.