Did you know that there’s more to the Black Nazarene than the one in Quiapo? In the remote municipality of Capalonga, Camarines Norte, there exists another revered Black Nazarene that draws hordes of devotees every May. Nestled within the Diocesan Shrine of Jesus, this centuries-old religious icon attracts pilgrims from both near and far, despite being situated approximately 285 kilometers away from Manila. Once visitors pay their respects to this miraculous image, they can delve into the exhilarating ecotourism adventures that await in this picturesque coastal town.
As I embarked on my kayak, the tranquil ambiance of the San Vicente – Talisay river system in Talisay, Camarines Norte enveloped me. The chorus of cicadas and the melodious songs of countless birds created a symphony of nature. My aim was to catch up with my friends who had already embarked on a floating cabana towards the Centennial Wharf. However, my paddling skills fell short, and I found myself embracing the serenity of the San Nicolas Mangrove Forest instead.
As our coaster maneuvered through the winding mountain road in Labo, Camarines Norte, I couldn’t help but marvel at the breathtaking views that unfolded before my eyes. Unlike my previous nocturnal journeys to Bicol during my childhood, this daytime adventure through Labo municipality was a delightful revelation. Little did I know that this unassuming destination held a myriad of hidden gems waiting to be explored.
Camarines Norte’s current main draw is the Calaguas islands in the municipality of Vinzons. I was first mesmerized by the beach and islands of Calaguas almost a decade ago. The soft and fine white sand beach in Tinaga island with clear lime waters (Calaguas means lime) which is ideal for swimming is a true gem situated at the Pacific Ocean side of the country. I won’t be going into detail on this post as most of the things I’ve written on my Mahabang Buhangin post stay relevant to this day. Instead, I’ll be sharing some noticeable changes since the pandemic.
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.
Oh I got myself a date last weekend. I had to travel more than eight hours to get there. Despite being cramped inside a van, I’m not about to leave her hanging in the air. Yes, I caught your glance when I went to Calaguas last year. I knew there was more to you than what I’ve initially seen. It was time to get to know you more. Would a weekend suffice? Let’s see. It’s a #DateinDaet then! Yes Daet! The underrated town in Camarines Norte has something to share.
It’s been much talked about by my backpacking friends how wonderful the island of Calaguas is. Finally this month, I was able to visit the place many thanks to Isla Lipana who initiated the Philippine Gems campaign, a search for emerging tourist destination in the country. Calaguas Islands and its Mahabang Buhangin didn’t disappoint. The journey may be long but it was well worth it. It eventually won the top spot in the Philippine Gems.