Cowgirl Goes to Calaguas (2011)

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.




Our lodging
See that hut? It’s a sari-sari store (a small, private convenience store), the only business establishment in the island.

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).

The mainland boat dock
En route to Calaguas Island



Other than my party of five, there were other groups who booked on the same weekend. I was dismayed to see a number of Manila slobs who couldn’t pick up after themselves. I even had to pick up some of their trash because I couldn’t bear seeing this beach turn into a wasteland.
Almost there
Hello, white sand and blue water!

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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.

Tinaga Island is one of the islands and islets of the Calaguas Group of Islands off the pacific coast of Vinzons, Camariñes Norte.



They call this 1.2-kilometer stretch Mahabang Buhangin (Long Beach).
The organizers helped us pitch our tents.
A generator gave us temporary power for the night. Lights out at 10 p.m.
Beach dogs are cool. They sure know how to chill. I named this one, Fuzzy.




We didn’t worry about our food and drinks. The guys from Calaguas Hullaballoo took care of everything.
If you’re booking a trip to Calaguas soon, please make sure you pick up after yourself. Do not litter. Let’s not turn this piece of paradise into another Boracay or Puerto Gallera.

Calaguas is not as popular or easily accessible as Boracay and Bohol, but I highly suggest you put this on your bucket list.

Date of visit: May 2011