First off -- a sweet escape to CALAGUAS ISLAND for beach camping!
Calagauas is a group of islands in the province Camarines Norte, in Bicol Region. It's about 2 hours boat ride from the mainland. It's a virgin island, unspoiled, and as beautiful as paradise!
How to get there? My friends and I took a Philtranco bus from Pasay terminal to Daet -- the capital of Camrines Norte and the jump off point to Calaguas. It's an 8-hour bus ride. We joined a tour so, the guide arranged everything for us apart from our bus trips. It's an option we decided on due to work schedules. From the terminal, we traveled to a port (I think named Vinzons) and then took a boat to the island itself.
We were quite surprised to find that there were a lot of people in the tour. And I mean A LOT. I think there were about a hundred of us (or less). If anyone reading this wants to know the tour organizer, his name is Melvic Briñas. He's pretty popular on the web, it's easy to search him out.
For the price we paid (Php 2,200.00 excluding bus fares), the tour was worth the money. It includes tent rentals, 4 buffet meals (yes, that's right, buffet) and all the transpo costs in between. During meal times, Melvic's team would set up the food in an area in the beach. Plates, utensils, glasses, and even water were provided for. Food was simple home-cooking -- rice, 3 viands, and a side dish. And there's always enough for everyone. Then there was a mobile bar with FREE DRINKS from 8pm to 12mn. That was probably the coolest, most unexpected feature from the tour! I thought it was a quiet, relaxing type of a getaway. It turned out to be a toned-down Boracay adventure of sorts :)
Everyone mostly kept to themselves. We didn't do much, really, activities-wise. Partly because of the heat, and partly because we didn't know there were beach activities available, like island-hopping and snorkeling. With pay of course. Stupid. None of us bothered to ask. It was extremely hot at the beach. Scorching hot. There aren't many trees on the island. And the trees that were there were short, they couldn't provide you with much shade. And like I said, it's a virgin island, so there aren't any permanent structures around, just little huts and tents, nothing tall enough to block out the sun. And as it is summer.. you can just imagine. Walking from one part of the beach to another was enough to give you a sunburn, even with sunblock on. We basically just hung-out. It's a good trip to bond with friends. The water was nice and clean. It was very clear, and the sand was just lovely. Even better than Boracay's I dare say.
The only down-side to this trip was the bathroom (or rather the lack of it). The bathroom is made up of a toilet bowl (no tank no flush) inside a small hut with a large piece of curtain for a door. For water, you had to fetch some yourself from a water pump. That part was actually okay. The frustrating part was waiting for pails to become available. After a half day's worth of sunblock, sweat, and saltwater, I was literally itching for a bath. But I wasn't able to have one until that evening. And I did so in the company of my friends, all 6 of them, boys included, near the water pump in open air. So if your a bit OC with the bathroom and personal hygiene (ours just went right out the window), you might want to re-think coming here.
The day after the camping night, we travelled back to Daet to Bagasbas beach for surfing and skim-boarding. None of us felt like it. So we stayed in the rooms that the tour provided. None of us wanted to subject our skins for more punishment from the summer sun. We also had very little sleep. Some of us had a wee bit too much to drink the night before. :P Melvic's team let everyone in a restaurant/inn for lunch and rest. Each room served as a holding room for our things. About 15-20 people shared a room so, mind you. But at least it had a proper bathroom with faucets and a door! We ate, and then left at about 7pm, on a DLTB bus this time. Scheduled time of departure was 6pm. We left an hour later, because many hadn't finished getting ready. We joined in Melvic's tour for the bus ride home.
So there. Whew, this turned out to be a lengthy post. I have a lot to say (obviously). So there. There's my sweet --err bittersweet -- Calaguas beach camping experience! :)