In the Philippines, cowboy is a street slang used to describe an adventurous trooper who can adapt to almost any situation. He or she rolls with the punches and isn’t fussy about vacation amenities. He is the opposite of high maintenance.
You have to be a cowboy to survive a trip to Calaguas Island. There’s a 9-hour bumpy bus ride from Manila to Daet, Camariñes Norte. As soon as you get there, you travel to the mainland boat dock and hop on a 2-hour boat ride to the pacific coast of Vinzons where you will find that long stretch of white sand at Tinaga.
Calaguas is a virgin island with no electricity, no hotels or buildings, and no modern facilities. There are basic public toilets and makeshift shower areas. You need to get fresh water from the water pump to take a shower or manually flush the toilet. You sleep in tents and eat fresh catch from the sea. You’re in charge of tidying up your own tent and cleaning up your own rubbish.
I unleashed my inner cowgirl and enjoyed every moment of my no-frills trip. I pity my friends who said no to this trip when they found out that there are no decent bathrooms. They missed out on the secluded island’s white sand, smog-less and clear blue skies, and unpolluted pristine waters that the locals refer to as “mas malinaw pa sa gin” (clearer than gin).
Two days and one night of living like a jungle girl wasn’t as difficult as you’d think. We got the services of Calaguas Hullaballoo, a local tour organizer that’s been giving visitors the best Calaguas experience since 2005. They took charge of everything, from booking our roundtrip bus ride to the food and basic amenities at our site in Calaguas Island. For only P3,200 per person, we had absolutely nothing to worry about except packing our bags.
Calaguas Hullaballoo’s head organizer, Melvic Brinas, was THE man. A Daet dweller, he’s the type of townie who everyone knows, from the best local surfers to the most trusted business owners. He made sure we got our money’s worth and were well cared for.
Calaguas is not as popular or easily accessible as Boracay and Bohol, but I highly suggest you put this on your bucket list.