Showing posts with label Camarines Norte. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Camarines Norte. Show all posts

Friday, April 13, 2012

Camarines Norte: Island-hopping in Apuao, Apuao Grande & Caringo in Mercedes

Apuao Island
After the Calaguas Group of Islands, the islands off the coast of Mercedes are another popular beach destination for visitors to Camarines Norte. We visited Apuao, Apuao Grande and Caringo Islands. Plus we passed by Canimo, Canton and Quinapagyan Islands along the way.

Our day actually started very early since we motored to the Mercedes Fish Port at five in the morning to witness the Bulungan sa Pandawan. Bulungan is an early morning fish trading practice at the Mercedes Fish Port where bids for the lots are whispered to the broker who determines the highest bidder.

The place was abuzz with activity before sunrise with boats unloading crates of fish and other seafood, and bidders trying to outdo each other for the freshest catch.

Canimo Island
After breakfast at the port, we boarded a small boat to visit the different islands. Being in the Pacific Ocean side, expect waves to be really high. I'm actually motion sick and it was quite difficult for me. But the islands are worth the visit. We were the only visitors it seemed. So it's a great place for those who want to enjoy some quiet time.

Our first stop was Canimo Island where there's an old lighthouse. Unfortunately, the waves were too high, preventing us from landing at the usual place. And since the walk would have taken much longer at the alternative jump off point, we decided to forgo the stop.

Apuao Island
Behind Canimo, the waves got even rougher. But when we finally arrived at Apuao, the hammock and huts, the cover of trees, and the cream sand beaches erased all thoughts of discomfort. I simply wanted to take a nap and enjoy the strong breeze that hit the island.

Apuao Grande Island
Apuao and Apuao Grande Islands
Next to Apuao is Apuao Grande. It's actually separated by a very narrow gap that you can easily cross especially during low tide. There used to be a resort on the island. But it was abandoned after it was badly damaged by a typhoon. Both islands are also great for picnics.

Part of the plan was to visit the cave in Canton Island. But since it was high tide and the waves were a bit rough, the entrance was submerged under water and it would have been dangerous to get close.

Caringo Island
Ibasco House on Caringo Island
Our last stop was Caringo Island to visit the oldest house in Mercedes, the Ibasco House which amazingly has been preserved in this remote island all these years. We then made our way to Cayucyucan Beach back in mainland Mercedes where we were picked up at one of the local beach resorts there.

Visit the Ivan About Town FB page for more photos of Camarines Norte. Thank you very much to Camarines Norte Governor Edgardo A. Tallado and the Camarines Norte Tourism Office for inviting me to visit their beautiful province. Thanks also to the Mercedes Tourism Office for assisting us.

Camarines Norte Tourism Office
Provincial Capitol, Daet, Camarines Norte
Tel. No. +63 (52) 7213087 / Fax No. +63 (52) 4402013

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Camarines Norte: Surfing & kitesurfing at Bagasbas Beach, Daet

Bagasbas Beach in Daet, Camarines Norte is a good place to go surfing. But it's also popular for kitesurfing. A two hour introductory course would cost about Php2500. You could also opt for five or ten hour courses. If you just want to rent equipment, the daily rate for a complete set of kite with bar is Php2700.

After visiting Calaguas, we motored from Paracale to Daet, Camarines Norte. We first stopped by the town proper where the first ever Rizal Monument in the country can be found. It's actually part of the Rizal Heritage Trail. And you can get your Rizal Passports stamped at the local tourism office.

We checked-in at the Bagasbas Lighthouse Resort. Since the group was exhausted from the overnight trip in Calaguas, we decided to relax in Bagasbas Beach the rest of the day.

Visit the Ivan About Town FB page for more photos of Camarines Norte. Thank you very much to Camarines Norte Governor Edgardo A. Tallado and the Camarines Norte Tourism Office for inviting me to visit their beautiful province.

Camarines Norte Tourism Office
Provincial Capitol, Daet, Camarines Norte
Tel. No. +63 (52) 7213087 / Fax No. +63 (52) 4402013

Bagasbas Lighthouse Hotel Resort
Bagasbas Beach, Daet, Camarines Norte
Tel Nos. +63 (54) 4415855 | (917) 5101856

Monday, March 26, 2012

Camarines Norte: Overnight at the Calaguas Islands

The Calaguas Islands are no doubt the crown jewels of Camarines Norte. With pristine white sand beaches and almost no development, this is as pure a beach can get! Just a week after visiting Bicol, I found myself in Camarines Norte, the gateway to Bicolandia.

Thursday, March 1, 2012
I joined a chartered bus of the Photography Roadtrippers who were also on their way to Camarines Norte. We left Cubao at about 8 p.m. and found ourselves in the town of Paracale, Camarines Norte early the next morning.

Friday, March 2, 2012
Paracale is one of the three possible jump-off points for the Calaguas Group of Islands. The other two are Vinzons (most of the islands are part of Vinzons) and Daet. But I was told Paracale is the closest.

The boat ride from Paracale is usually an hour and thirty minutes. But today, the waves were a bit rough. And we also had to deal with some wind and rain on the way. As a result, the really bumpy ride took close to three hours. But that's to be expected given that Calaguas is already in the Pacific Ocean.

There are several islands which form the Calguas Group. And our destination was Mahabang Buhangin Beach in Tinaga Island, the largest of the Calaguas Islands. The view of the white sand beach and aquamarine blue water as we approached Mahabang Buhangin erased all the discomfort I had to deal with while on the boat. It was paradise!

Note that there are no accommodation facilities in Tinaga Island or anywhere in the Calaguas Islands. So you'll have to pitch your own tent or sleep on the sand. The Camarines Norte Tourism Office has available tents and they helped us set-up camp. They also prepared lunch for us. Yes, you'll also have to bring food and cook on your own. So it's really best to coordinate with the tourism office if you want someone to prepare food for you and your group.

After a sumptuous lunch, the only afternoon option was siesta time. It was too hot to get anything done (plus the weather was very unpredictable, from really hot to strong rain showers at times), and with no electricity, mobile phone signal, much less Internet access, there really nothing much to do except enjoy the scenery and be one with nature. It's been quite a while since I've spent hours doing nothing. And that was fun!

One thing I regretted though was I wasn't able to bring a comfortable sleeping bag or a small pillow at the very least. Sleeping in the tent without one was quite an ordeal and I ended up waking up several times later that night since my back hurt. So if you're not used to sleeping on a hard surface, make sure to bring a small pillow when visiting Calaguas. Or you can just ditch the tent, sleep on the softer sand and enjoy looking at the stars on a clear night. Just make sure you don't get caught by high tide.

By late afternoon, it was time again to take photos. Dinner was again prepared for us by the tourism office. If not for the flashlights some members of the group brought with them, we would have eaten dinner in total darkness. So make sure to bring a lamp or two for your group when staying overnight. It's also been quite a while since I slept early. But with no Internet connection, I really had not much of a choice.

Saturday, March 2, 2012
We were up quite early. But after breakfast, I went back to sleep as others in the group took more photos. I really enjoyed the much needed rest I had in Calaguas. We were supposed to go island-hopping to visit the other islands. But since we were running late, we had to rush back to Paracale. Thank God the water was calmer than the day before and the weather much better. So we made it back in less than two hours.

From Paracale, we proceeded to Bagasbas Beach in Daet where we were to stay for the night. But of course, we made sure to stop by the old Paracale Church for some photos.

Visit the Ivan About Town FB page for more photos of Camarines Norte. Thank you very much to Camarines Norte Governor Edgardo A. Tallado and the Camarines Norte Tourism Office for inviting me to visit their beautiful province.

Camarines Norte Tourism Office
Provincial Capitol, Daet, Camarines Norte
Tel. No. +63 (52) 7213087 / Fax No. +63 (52) 4402013

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Camarines Norte: Calaguas Islands, Bagasbas Beach & Apuao Islands

Camarines Norte, in particular the Calaguas Group of Islands, is becoming a popular destination for those who are looking for pristine beaches. With no facilities, you can spend the night in Calaguas under the stars, on the sand or in a tent. I got to visit Mahabang Buhangin Beach on Tinaga Island recently where we stayed overnight.

During the same trip, I got to visit Bagasbas Beach in Daet, and the different islands off the coast of Mercedes, particularly the Apuao Islands. I'll share more information in detail in the next posts. But in the meantime, here are photos of Camarines Norte in the Ivan About Town Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Top surfing areas in the Philippines

Unknown to many in the country, the Philippines has a long list of great surfing areas. Here are some of the more popular surfers' haunts where you could ride the waves or simply get lessons if you are a beginner. The Philippine Surfing Federation gave me the first eight and I added two more.

1. Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte (Cloud 9)
On top of the list is none other than the "Surfing Capital of the Philippines." The Cloud 9 wave can be found in the town of General Luna and has put the Philippines in the world surfing map. Other popular breaks in and around Siargao Island include Jacking Horse, Tuason Left, Rock Island, Stimpies and Pacifico. Check out the Sagana Resort website for detailed information. Thanks to Sagana Resort for the Siargao photos.

According to Sagana, the best months for surf in this area is from August up to the start of November when the area gets the most typhoon swells and the best winds. From May to July, the surf is generally smaller. From December to April the winds are often strong and cross shore. But they say that the swell is always pretty big and some surfers prefer this time of year.

2. Puraran Beach, Baras, Catanduanes (Majestics)
Puraran Bay in Baras, Catanduanes is home to the famous mighty Majestics reef break that produces awesome long-barrel waves. The waves are at their finest in August and September. The place itself is a picturesque backdrop of coconut trees and small hills. Although course, the white sand is clean and the water is crystal clear. But as they say, if you are a surfer, "Puraran equals Majestics period!"

3. Cemento Beach, Baler, Aurora
Most have heard about Sabang, a beach break 5 to 10 minutes away from the town proper where most of the tourism establishments are found. Cemento on the other hand is a reef break which is 30 minutes away from the town proper. But you can easily get lessons in Sabang Beach. Check out my Baler surf adventure: More summer fun in Aurora.

4. Calicoan Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar
Calicoan Island is home to The Surf Camp. And the great news for surfers is that ABCD Beach has both left-hand and right-hand waves. The season runs from April to November, with the summer months perfect for beginners (with gentle 2 to 3 foot waves). Latter months offer bigger and more challenging waves.

5. Maira-Ira Beach, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Few people know that way beyond the resorts of Pagudpud is a secret hideaway called Blue Lagoon, the best beach in that part of the country. Saud Beach may be great, but Maira-Ira is astounding! And what's great is that on a windy day, the beach is perfect for surfing!

6. San Juan, La Union
Home to the Billabong San Juan Surf School of Luke Landrigan, San Juan is a perfect place for longboarders. And it's very accessible too since you can take any bus to Ilocos and get off just a few meters from the San Fernando-San Juan boundary. This is another surfing haunt I got to try for myself.

7. Lanuza Bay, Surigao del Sur (Doot Poktoy)
According to the Surf Lanuza website, "Doot Poktoy is endowed with some of the best waves in the world. And when the waves are good, they can measure up to the world renowned waves of Siargao and Hawaii. Located on the southern edge of the Northwestern Pacific typhoon belt, the waves driven by the winds of the typhoons are unpredictable. If a strong typhoon passes close enough, surf can reach almost 15 feet, with 9, 11 or 14 waves per set and up to twice as many waves per hour as a long groundswell like affecting Indonesia and Hawaii.

The Surf Report Magazine describes Lanuza as "a place with a flawless river mouth. Its waves spin long perfect rights on a big swell at low tide. There is a hollow tube section at take-off and there are long section walls up to 200 meters."

8. Cabugao, Ilocos Sur (Kido's Point)
Kido's Point has been a popular site for surfing competitions in Ilocos Sur, attracting participants from surfing areas all over the country. The place got its name from Cabugao's local surfing hero Kido Cabasug.

9. San Narciso & San Antonio, Zambales
The Canoe Beach Resort in Pundaquit, San Antonio is where professional surfer Joseph "Joe" Villatora from Kauai, Hawai conducts his surfing lessons.

10. Bagasbas Beach, Daet, Camarines Norte
This is another great surfing area located on the Pacific coast of Luzon. When you're hungry, check out Alvino's Pizza, a popular surfers hangout.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Albay & Camarines Norte: More Bicol destinations

On our way back, we passed by Daraga Church and the Cagsawa Ruins, both in Daraga, Albay; and the towns of Daet and Vinzons, Camarines Norte. Our plan was to wake up at 4 a.m. but that didn't work. So we ended up leaving at 6 a.m.

First stop was the great viewpoint of Mayon Volcano along the national highway a few kilometers from the Daraga town proper. You can see the entire town, the church on top of a hill and Mayon as a background. We then proceeded to the Daraga Church to take some photos of the great facade. But we didn't go inside anymore since I knew the interiors were uglified and modernized already.

Our next stop was the Cagsawa Ruins. People have been saying that it was buried further by lahar last year. That is not a bit true. In fact, it was unscathed. Although you'd notice that structures in the park are missing since they were looted after the devastation. Reminds me of the Mount Pinatubo eruption. As people were evacuating, the looters ransacked the entire place. How heartless these Filipinos are, making profits at the expense of a suffering populace.

After a brief breakfast stopover in Ligao City, we started the long drive to Camarines Norte. We finally made it to Daet, the capital of Camarines Norte, in time for lunch. I called up HCS Trustee Melivin Patawaran who is a regular in Daet. What a coincidence since he was on his way there too! He suggested that we eat at Alvino's Pizza in Bagasbas Beach, a popular surfers' haunt. Great suggestion!

Bagasbas Beach in Daet is among the popular surfing areas in the Philippines. Melvin was inviting us to use his long board. But surfing was still later in the afternoon and we had to rush back to Manila. So we had to save surfing for another day.

From Bagasbas, we checked out the very first monument in the Philippines built to honor Jose Rizal. It was on December 30, 1898 that the people of Daet unveiled the Rizal Monument to honor our national hero. From Daet, we drove to Vinzons (formerly Indan) to check out the Vinzons Church and the residence of World War II hero Wenceslao Vinzons, which was declared a National Historical Landmark. Vinzons is popular among UP Diliman students since the student center is named Vinzons Hall.

We were still quite a distance from Manila so our stopover in Vinzons was the last. We got back in Manila late in the evening. Check out these photos in Multiply.

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