Calaguas Island: A Long Journey to Paradise

“Paradise, for me is not about the beauty of the place.  It is about feeling extreme joy and overwhelming admiration of the place, no matter what the circumstances are.”

Mahabang Buhangin under the cloudy skies.
Mahabang Buhangin under the cloudy skies.

My colleagues and I went to Calaguas for our year-end trip.  At first, I thought we made a good decision going there on December because there will be less tourists.  We forgot one thing, though – that December brings treacherous waves enough to make me say a prayer for the whole duration of our two and a half boat ride.

The crazy waves did not permit our boat to dock on the shore so we have to jump from the boat to the thigh-high water and run before the waves could swallow us.  Our bags were placed in a big plastic bag and transported by the boatman and my male friends to the dry part of the beach.

While on the boat, I thought Calaguas is just one of the many light-sand beaches of the Philippines with an extra kilometer.  But everything changed on my first few steps in the island.  As my feet sank on its creamy sand and the residual waves kissed my ankles, I looked around and saw the yellowish sands radiantly glistening from the foam of the waves.  No one’s in sight and the stretch of sparkling sands looks like eternity.  I don’t know why but I felt something inside me that made me just jump around, scream squeals of joy and throw sands in the air.  Yes, with no exaggeration, that’s how euphoric I was on my first minute in the island.

I remember how good it is to lie down in the sand and just feel the raindrops on my face
I remember how good it is to lie down in the sand and just feel the raindrops on my face
A view of Tinaga Island's Mahabang Buhangin
A view of Tinaga Island’s Mahabang Buhangin

When the euphoria subsided, we were back to business.  We stood our tents, gathered dry twigs for our bonfire later, collected water from the sea and prepared our dinner.  From our dinner to our bonfire, everything was going fine, save from some frogs daring to join us in our bonfire.

Our Calaguas plan was quite simple:  Enjoy and camp in Mahabang Buhangin on our first day and tour the surrounding islands and go home on our second day.  However, nature had other plans for us.  The rain made us do a whole new set of exciting activities and go home on the third day! While my rational self was thinking about my work the following day, the traveler in me was jumping and cheering for I get to spend another day in this beautiful place. Thanks to the friendly locals, our stranded days seemed to be a blessing and we experienced Calaguas differently (check 15 Things To Do in Rainy Calaguas for our activities). Yes, we were stranded but happily stranded that is.

Hiding my fear and my fats at the same time. :P
Hiding my fear and my fats at the same time. 😛
Pebbles and crushed corals line the beach of Balagbag Island
Pebbles and crushed corals line the beach of Balagbag Island

GOING THERE (via Paracale)

  • Take a Daet-bound bus in Cubao or Pasay. Superlines, DLTB, Amihan and Philtranco are the bus lines that have regular schedule to Daet. Tell the conductor to get you off Daet Van Terminal going to Paracale
  • From Daet, ride a van going to Paracale. Tell the driver to drop you off near the fish port where several boatmen are available to bring you to Tinaga Island.
House stilts of small scale gold miners in Paracale
House stilts of small-scale gold miners in Paracale

What is known to many as Calaguas Island is actually the Mahabang Buhangin beach of Tinaga Island, which is part of Calaguas Group of Islands. While in Tinaga, you may want to make the most of your long travel and visit the neighboring islands, in agreement of course with your boatman.


  • Amihan Bus to Daet Php580.00/pax. During peak season, it is better to purchase your tickets day(s) before your actual trip. For Amihan ticket reservations, you may contact their Edsa-Cubao booking office at 474-8708. For the return trip (Daet-Cubao), you may contact 0917-552-3876 / 0917-574-6667. We rode their 9:00 PM trip and reached Daet at 6:00 AM. (I’m sorry, I cannot tell you about the number of stop-overs because I was asleep the whole time. :P)
  • Daet to Paracale Php60.00 /pax
  • Paracale to Mahabang Buhangin Php5, 000.00. Our boat good for 10-15 pax was actually Php 4,500.00, including the island hopping but we also gave a Php500.00 tip.  We had our boat from one of my colleague’s friend who owns a boat (Aaron – 0927-3517818). The boatman assigned to us was a pastor in Mahabang Buhangin so security was not really our issue.
  • Entrance/Camping Fee at Mahabang Buhangin 150.00 Php / pax / night
  • Ordinary Bus from Paracale to Daet Php45.00.
  • Air-conditioned bus from Daet to Cubao Php575.00
Sunrise in Tinaga Island
Good morning! Looks like we can go home now. 🙂


  • You can pitch your tent anywhere in Mahabang Buhangin. There are, however, a number of structures that are available for rent;
  • There are available toilets along at the left side of Mahabang Buhangin but water costs PHp10.00 per pail;
  • It is best to purchase all the things you need in Mainland because prices of goods in Tinaga Island is twice or even thrice of the price in the mainland;
  • If the weather did not permit you to pitch your tent out in the vast stretch of Mahabang Buhangin, you may pitch your tent instead in one of the cottages in the island – for a fee of course.
With no luck, I have longed to see a sand dollar on all the beaches I have previously visited.  In Balagbag beach, there's no shortage of this urchin specie.
With no luck, I have longed to see a sand dollar on all the beaches I have previously visited. In Balagbag beach, there’s no shortage of this urchin specie.

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