Camarines Norte has been abuzz lately simply because more people are enjoying the dazzling and fine white sands of Calaguas Islands in Vinzons. But even before Calaguas islands came into the limelight, there were other island gems in Camarines Norte. We were going to Apuao Islands, one of the seven captivating islands off the coast of Mercedes. While not really part of Daet for our #DateinDaet tour, Mercedes is a neighboring municipality, so close its like an extension of Daet at the eastern coast of the province.
Seven Islands of Mercedes
Our huge outrigger boat bobbed in a rhythmic fashion over the moderate waves of the Pacific Ocean as we approach the set of islands. It was only a 30-minutes ride to the islands. The first island that greeted us was Canimog Island, the biggest of the seven islands. Now a private island but with inviting white sands. It also has a lighthouse built in 1927. Down south Quinapaguian Island also has white sand beach. The smallest but unspoilt island of Malasugui leads to the bigger Caringo Island. The latter island is known for its white sandy beach, coral reef and the Ibasco Ancestral house on the island. All the three islands mentioned can clearly be seen from Apuao Islands. On low tide, the adjacent Canton island can be reached on foot. An ideal destination for rock climbing also have a mysterious cave locals believe is the home of mermaids.
Our main destination are the Apuao Islands. For a time, the island is a privately owned resort by the Swagman Hotel Chain until Typhoon Reming battered Bicol in 2006. The resort damage was so extensive the owners were disheartened and just decided to abandon the island. Shades of its former glory still linger on the island but the natural beauty of Apuao Islands remained.
Emerald waters, blinding white sandy shores and inviting shade under the agoho trees fringing the islands is a perfect formula for a tropical paradise in which Apuao Islands has in abound. It was something I didn’t expect to see but a welcome scenery. While I quickly just wanted to lie on the beach under the shade, we were invited to explore the island. We were in the presence of the Mayor of Daet, Tito Sarte Sarion who joined us in our escapade. The Mercedes tourism was our guide on the island.
[pullquote]Apuao Islands is a set of two islands, the bigger Apuao Grande and the smaller Apuao Pequeña.[/pullquote]
We explored Apuao Grande first walking to the eastern part of the island. We passed by the ruins of the old resort as well as a few houses serving as accommodations as well to visitors. We reached a wide grassy plain which used to be the golf course but now a grazing ground for cows.
On the other end, we tracked back to our campsite and proceeded to Apuao Pequeña. A beautiful sandbar that connects the two islands during low tide. The former resort owners originally wanted this smaller island to be a zoo. The zoo never materialized but our guide still warned us of wild boars living on the island. One in particular is a 100kg wild boar with already two sets of fangs jutting out. Learning that, we just followed his lead.
From the beach trail we entered the low-lying forest where a habitat of bats lived. Out guide told us they used to live at Caringo Island by the lighthouse but somehow they moved here and found this island as their new home. We continued to climb to a hill which opens to a view of the Pacific Ocean and the surf swells on the beach in this side of the island. The brisk air was so comforting amidst the afternoon heat that it was just too tempting to stay on that hill. But time was short on us and we made our way back shortly.
We got a little beach time waiting for our boat to return. We enjoyed what’s left of the fruits for snack. Went to the water and enjoyed the beach. It was all sand and the slope was gradual perfect for swimming. There were a few jellyfish at that time but it didn’t hinder us from enjoying the waters. The sun was getting low and it was time for us to go. The burning sky bid us farewell tot he islands with a promise that I shall be back here one way or another.
The municipality of Mercedes can be reached via Daet. To go to the seven islands including Apuao Islands it is best to coordinate with the Municipal Tourism Development Operation Center (MTDOC) of Mercedes to help arrange boats to the island. There are no regular trips to Apuao Island. They can also provide snorkelling gears and camping tents for overnight stay. The MTDOC is located at the fish port adjacent the Pandawan Fish Trading Port. In Apuao Islands there’s a Php 25 entrance fee per pax.
Municipal Tourism Development Operation Center
Contact: (054) 444-1261
email: [email protected]
DATE IN DAET (#DiD2014) is tourism advocacy campaign organized by AppleAllison of SoleSearchingSoul.com in partnership with ChoosePhilippines.com, supported by DigitalFilipino.com and co-presented by the Local Government Unit of Daet
headed by Mayor Tito S. Sarion under the Daet on the DOT Program.
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SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR PARTNERS & SPONSORS:
Accommodation – pineapple island resort – daet / Pineapple Island Resort – Daet, Camarines Norte
AM Snacks – KICK Milk Tea
Lunch – Bigg’s Diner Daet SM Hypermart Branch
PM Snacks – #Kundalini Healthy Cuisine
Dinner & other arrangements – Mayor Tito Sarte Sarion & LGU #Daet
Breakfast & Boat ride to Apuao Islands – LGU Mercedes
Lunch – COP
PM Snacks – Alvinos Roast, Grill & Fry
Dinner – Chef Mama
Yummy Goodies & Gift Packs – Jannah’s Pasalubong
Giveaway & Prize Tshirts – Gush Shop
#Calaguas Getaway Prize – Travel and Sand
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.