48 hours of pure, stress-free magic ❤
Worked on our goofys and paddles too (will share once we actually get the hang of it).
I hit my “beach quota” well and above this month. 2nd week of May, I and my high school friends (plus our significant others) boarded a bus (well Ranie and I took a bus a little later than the others – we overslept bec. of a Mad Max screening) to Quezon to get to know Cagbalete, a camping site that was 2 hours away from Lucban.
We traveled 6 hours – 4 hours by bus to Lucban, 1 hour on a 2nd bus to Mauban, and a 1-hour boat ride from the Pantalan to Cagbalete. Skip the government-assigned big boat because the queue runs pretty long and the locals-in-charge are still figuring out how to make the system organized. Hire a private bangka for round trip service instead (pay during the return trip). It will be worth it and you can also ask for island hopping for additional fees.
Camping was fun. Fortunate to have a boyfriend and friends who actually enjoy chopping things and making a fire, so we were well-fed thanks to freshly-caught fish we bought from the locals. Unfortunately, the water was really, really low during the fortnight that we stayed there. The beach looked more like a desert, with the water was at least a kilometer away from its sunset mark; and even then, it barely grazed our knees. Still, there were mangroves, lots of little creatures, and I was with people I’ve known for 10 years now. I had a blast and I could not complain really.
Cagbalete is one long island that has several beaches on it. We happened to stay on the one farthest from Mauban Port – this was probably a factor as to why the water was so low. Come to this island for a laid-back, affordable getaway. Camping is comfortable, the island is raring to be explored on foot. During our boat rides, we spotted one beach where there was actually lights and some loud blaring music (although that is not my thing). Watching the sun fall from the sky, right in the water, beside mangroves is a pretty memorable moment.
I did manage to break my Mama’s camera during the trip :(. I hope to replace it soon as soon as I get to road test the best model.
Since I haven’t seen much posts about Cagbalete, I thought I’d throw in a break down of individual expenses for an overnight trip (approximate figures only):
TOTAL: P1555. Not bad right?
As Providence would have it I visited this paradise twice this summer (and this May)! First, for work again (read the stuff on Rappler), and then last weekend, with friends. The latter was scheduled earlier than the work trip.
I didn’t know that the island had at two other beaches that were less crowded, much cleaner, with the same blue skies and azure water. The sand wasn’t as fine as in White Beach, but there were no algae.
We dived from rock platforms, and went snorkeling for hours. We ate food especially cooked for us. Everything had a price, but our pace was unhurried and we didn’t have to worry about a thing.
I woke up way to early, but slept really well. I inhaled to flatten my stomach for bikini photos. My skin turned three shades darker. I was with 6 people I loved dearly. I hope we’ll get to do more of these vacations in years to come.
1. Puka Beach and Ilig-Iligan beach are quiet, clean, and exciting beaches where you can actually swim without worrying about hawkers or algae. You don’t need to hire a boat to get there – a 15 minute tricycle ride is only 150 pesos (you can split with your friends).
2. If you don’t have pearls yet, or are just looking for better souvenirs, freshwater pearls are cheap in Boracay. They’re not as beautiful as those in Palawan, but you’ll be hard–pressed to find long strings of “just right” pearls for the price anywhere else. They make for much nicer pasalubong than the usual shell paperweights, shirts, and the like.
3. Eat at SMOKE when you’re on a tight budget. If the queue at Jonah’s is massive, they have smaller branches on the roadside (behind the beachfront properties).
4. Book directly w/ hotels and hostels instead of through booking sites. You can haggle for more flexible check in times (lesson learned the hard way – we had to pay for an extra night since we arrived 2AM in the island).
5. Unplug and just enjoy. Sometimes, having no itinerary is the best.
I spent Independence Day weekend (and my birthday weekend) out of town, away from any phone or internet, and as close to Mother Nature as possible. We found a fairly undisturbed paradise in Calaguas, a small island group in the neck of Camarines Norte.
Calaguas is beautiful, plain and simple. The islands have been declared a conservation area by DENR, so no buildings or resorts will ever be built there (although the beaches already belong to private owners). No resorts, few motorbikes. The locals live on the other side, but some of them settle on the beach to provide assistance to visiting campers.
Mahabang Buhangin, the beach where we stayed at, is literally long. I think it’s as long as Boracay, but try to imagine it with Caramoan’s pristine, quiet, uninhabited quality and superfine white sand. The water is unbelievably clear.
We slept on tents, built our own coal fire, cooked our own food (though that was mostly Ranie), and basically spent the past 3 days just swimming, trekking, and enjoying the magical beauty around and under us.
We climbed hills, did snorkeling (this was my favorite, it was my first time and it was awesome to see a live, colorful forest under the water!!!), got to know the locals and how the tourism is helping bring income to their barrio, ate the freshest seafood and got really really burnt.
I think this was a good way to turn 26 – to be able to sit back and to do NO thinking at all. I’ve spent the past year accomplishing some milestones, but I’ve also been in such a warped state of worry because life is life and I’m getting old and I really need to start seriously thinking, preparing, and saving for a lot of things.
This weekend, I felt really OK. I can’t let go of the anxiety, but I can lose some of the fear. I feel that I can do that this year. So there.