The highlight of the trip was Mahabang Buhangin in Calaguas Island, but we checked out two more beaches since we were in the area. On the way back to Paracale, we stopped at Maculabo island.
Unlike Mahabang Buhangin, which is mainly uninhabited, Maculabo had a small baranggay living by the seaside. Fishing boats are docked all around the beach, but there is still a stretch that is clear and great for swimming. Like in Calaguas, the sand is fine and water is a beautiful shade of blue. Maculabo is about 40 minutes from Paracale, and its proximity to the mainland means they get cellphone signal. While the girls walked around the beach to take photos, I went up to the village to take shelter from the midday sun to get my internet fix. There was a small hut that is free for everyone’s use, and I take advantage of the shade to hydrate, re-apply my sunblock and check my mail.
Maculabo is a great stop over on the way to and from Calaguas. Not only is the island right smack in the middle of Calaguas Island and mainland Luzon, it prepares you for Mahabang Buhangin (a place with no cellphone signals, no electricity, no running water) and for your eventual return to civilization.
Our second night was spent in Daet — halfway between Paracale and Naga, where we’ll take a flight back to Manila. Since our flight wasn’t until 2pm, we were up early for one last island hop. We took a jeep to nearby Mercedes, to the fish port. Unlike Paracale’s fish port, Mercedes’ is big and quite close to a very disorganized wet market. The boat ride to Apuao was around 40 minutes, which could have been just 30 (or less), if we didn’t have to avoid this spot where the waves are huge.
I wasn’t as excited about going to Apuao. After Calaguas, I was already quite contented to just sleep in and take my time going to the airport in Naga. Maybe Mahabang Buhangin raised my standards too much — Apuao was quite underwhelming. It showed promise: clear blue sea, beautiful beach (not as fine as Calaguas’ or Maculabo’s), lush greenery. In fact, there’s a resort there: Apuao Grande Resort — or what remains of it. Story goes that the island is always hit by strong typhoons that most of the money made by the resort just go to maintenance, so it was just left to ruins. The resort had a swimming pool, several villas and even a golf course. The villas are still there, and can be rented for Php 3,000 per night (2 bedrooms, 2 toilet and bath, kitchen, dining, living area, veranda, electricity for limited time). The place reminded me of Manukan island in Kota Kinabalu. It’s close enough to the mainland, yet has that remote island charm.