Mahabang Buhangin under the cloudy skies.

15 Things to do on a Rainy Calaguas Island

Like any other beaches, Calaguas Island as at its prettiest when the sun is shining brightly, when the purity of its sand and the azure waters are emphasized.  But what will you do if weather is not at your side by the time you visited this beautiful island?  I have listed the things we did during our visit to the rainy Calaguas last December.

A view of Mahabang Buhangin
A view of Mahabang Buhangin

1.  Capture the Scenic Land and Seascapes. 

There’s a reason why Calaguas Island is tagged by most backpackers as “the Paradise”.  Sun or sans the sun, the Island offers spectacular views.  Keeping your camera in your bag is pointless because there’s a camera-worthy sight in your every step.

No white sand for us but still alluring
No white sand for us but still alluring

2.  Climb the nearby Hill for an Early Morning Exercise. 

On both sides of Mahabang Buhangin sits two hills that can be climbed in minutes.  Since we are near the rightmost part of the beach, we choose to climb that hill with Raymond, the teenage brother of our host.   The view up there is amazing as it offers a vista of the whole Mahabang Buhangin on one side and Bunga beach and Balagbag Island on the other side.

Calaguas Island

View of Bunga beach and Balagbag Island from the top of the hill
View of Bunga beach and Balagbag Island from the top of the hill

3.       Explore Bunga Beach. 

With Raymond, leading our way, we trekked down to the other side of the hill.  After a few minutes of rambling down the muddy trail (because of the rain the previous night) and meeting some locals along the way, we reached this shorter, more secluded and yellower version of Mahabang Buhangin – Bunga beach.  Like a secret beach, we had this beach all by ourselves.  The waves here are crazier though because it rests right in front of the Pacific.

The stretch of Bunga beach
The stretch of Bunga beach.  See how my deep my footprints are?

4.       Give Rock Climbing a Try

Boulders of sharp, black rocks separate Bunga beach from Mahabang Buhangin.  With the rain pouring and the wind testing our balancing skills, we returned to Mahabang Buhangin by tramping through these rocks.  Below us are the mad waves ready to swallow and crash us into those very rocks should we dare to slip and fall down.  It was scary but also exciting that I didn’t notice the scratches on my arms and thighs until we’re back  in our cottage.

I must admit, I'm really scared to hike that rock
I must admit, I was really scared to hike that rock
Timing is the key.  I would jump on the sand and run to that rock to avoid the waves.
Timing is the key. From the first boulder, I would jump on the sand and run to that rock to avoid the waves.

5.       Bathe in the water pump

Fresh water is available in the island for Php10.00 per pail.  It is sourced from the pump and carried by your host to the shower room.  1 pail is not enough for each of us and our host did not have more than 1 bucket so we all went directly to the pump to bathe.  We just changed our clothes in the shower room.  It was like reliving the old times when our ancestors used to bathe in the river.

6.       Visit the Local Community

On our second day, when the morning rain did not stop and it was zero visibility in the ocean, we decided that it’s unsafe for us to go back home.  Our stocks were depleted so we have to find another source of food.  Raymond accompanied us to the Brgy. Mangcawayan where we bought fishes and other necessities from the market.  Along the way we chatted about how plain their life is, with no malls, no cinemas and how he wanted to go to Manila to experience those things.  Their town is as simple as it gets.  They have their brgy. hall, a church and a school with a yard covered with carabao grass (or that grass, whatever its name, that big companies would by to surround their building with).   Expect usual encounters with frogs, goats and carabaos.  We got our fish from a house with a big backyard in front of the shore.  Our drinking water and other groceries were bought from another store.  Prices are doubled because they still have to get it from the mainland.

Got this pic from their school yard.  If I were studying here, I would probably just stare outside the whole day! :)
Got this pic from their school yard. If I were studying here, I would probably just stare outside the whole day!🙂

7.       Pick vegetables at someone’s garden

From Brgy. Mangcawayan, we passed by this house with a beautiful garden and we asked if we could buy some chili.  The owner originally wanted to give it to us but seeing how precious each peso for the residents, we insisted on paying for our freshly picked chili.

Almost all of Brgy. Mangcawayan's houses have these fences.  Got'ta love the uniformity!
Almost all of Brgy. Mangcawayan’s houses have these fences. Got’ta love the uniformity!

8.       Ride with (Or Get Gobbled Up by) the Waves

According to the locals, the water surrounding the island is calm during the summer.  But during the ber months, waves as tall as an average man are normal.  Although I don’t know how to swim, there’s one thing I learned when dealing with waves – you have to go with the waves.  It’s easier said than done, I tell you.   Just when you thought you have your pride beaming by successfully conquering a big wave, the next big wave will smack you right into the sands underneath.  Believe me, I know.  :)

9.       Do crazy poses in the sand

With the sand that stretches like forever and the isolation of the island, you’ll find yourself doing things you don’t normally do in the city.  Failed yoga pose, superman pose, jump shot, planking, and whatever kind of selfie there is, I’m sure you’ll do any of these poses when in the island.  However crazy you look, the wide, beautiful background will do the work for you.😉 

My failed yoga pose attempt. :P
My failed yoga pose.😛

10.   Crash at a Nearby Island

We were fortunate enough to be invited to the neighboring Balagbag Island, free of charge, by one of the locals who was a friend of my colleague.  Balagbag Island, although not as stunning as Mahabang Buhangin, is beautiful in her own way.  The beach is full of pebbles and crashed corals.  The island is divided in two during high tide but the connecting sand is passable at dawn.  Most importantly, the sunrise here is exquisite.

Exquisite sunrise at Balagbag Beach
Exquisite sunrise at Balagbag Beach

11.   Live like Local, Eat like a Local

There’s no electricity in Balagbag Island.  It was pitch black at night and we only rely on lamps and cell phone lights.  We slept on  improvised wooden beds at a nipa hut with open doors and windows.  We took a bath by group in their water pump.  We ate cooked goat meat and kamoteng kahoy leaves.  At night, we joined the locals and each had one glass of their rice wine (tuba) to fight the cold night.  It was a kind of simple living that I wanted to experience every once in a while.

According to one of the locals, a sandbar that connects Balagbag Maliit and Balagbag Malaki lies on that part where there are big waves
According to one of the locals, a sandbar that connects Balagbag Maliit and Balagbag Malaki lies on that part where the big waves are.

 12.   Tape a Survivor Episode

On our first night in the island, we stood our tents beside a tree, near the right-most part of the beach, facing the sea.  We were all excited to sleep in the tent because it was our first time.  But when we were all freshened up and were about to retire, the winds blew like mad and the manic rain fell through our tents.  We were able to hold it at first but we collapsed our tents and ran to the nearest closed cottage after just about three minutes.

Sleeping in the cold and windy night of Calaguas, check.  Finding and preparing our food, check.  Braving the rain, wind and waves to get to our boat off coast, check.  Eating a cooked goat and a local crop, check.  Looking back at our whole stay in the island, our Calaguas weekend was like taken from an episode of Survivor.  We all went there to have a smooth and simple trip but we got more than what we asked for.  That’s what made it more special and unforgettable.   We Survived!🙂

The raw beauty brought by the island isolation is just right for anyone to be a survivor.
The raw beauty brought by the island isolation is just right for anyone to be a survivor.

 13.   Party with Friends

When the night falls and the stars lit the sky, have a drinking session with your friends over a bonfire or go to your most-trusted playlist and party the night away.  Just moderate the volume and be careful not to disturb the other people in the island (which may not be a problem because your nearest neighbor may probably be several meters away)

 14.   Have your Me Time

If partying is not your type, Mahabang Buhangin is perfect for your “me” time.  The bliss of the vast ocean is perfect for reflection and thinking things over.

Even with so many tourists, anyone can just spread apart and have a "me time".
Even with so many tourists, anyone can just spread apart and have a “me time”.

15.   Sit Back, Enjoy the Moment

Who would want a rain when you’ve travel so far to reach a beautiful beach like Calaguas Island?  But since we’re already there and we cannot do anything about the weather, what’s the use of whining and sulking over how the weather ruined our well-planned vacation.  After all, when you’re in the paradise, it doesn’t matter if its raining, or cloudy or sunny.  A paradise is still beautiful no matter what the circumstances are.  Calaguas is still beautiful.

Happily stranded in Paradise!
Happily stranded in Paradise!

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