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.
It seems I have revisited many places this year which I really don’t mind since it’s been years since I last visited them. I’m always interested to see what has developed and retracing back my routes sure brings back fond memories in different places. When I had the chance to go back to Kota Kinabalu, I knew I didn’t want to miss that opportunity as it was my first destination out of the country.
My life in El Nido didn’t turn out as I expected it to be. My plan to stay longer got somehow waylaid due to unforeseen work circumstances. Though I no longer have work commitments I took it as an advantage to do more exploration in El Nido. Visiting more islands and off-beat destinations in the region.
With the Philippines’ thousands of islands, there’s no surprise that there are still a few that are relatively untouched by development. One which has been making a buzz among backpackers and adventure travelers these recent years is the Mahabang Buhangin Beach (Long Sand Beach) in the Calaguas Group of Islands in Camarines Norte. It has even become one of the top contenders for the Philippine Gems, a campaign spearheaded by Isla Lipana & Co. (PwC Ph) to recognize the emerging destinations in the country. Despite the erratic weather, I gladly took the invitation by folks at Fleishman Hillard and PwC for an ocular trip to see why this Calaguas Islands is making waves at their campaign.
Coron Palawan can speak for itself in terms of its natural beauty. I’ve seen the wonders of Halong Bay, while I admired its thousands of karst wonder, it can’t really compare to how clear and spectacular our Palawan turquoise waters is. The best way to see the islands which is through day tours offered in town. Like El Nido, Coron have also grouped the sites to several island tours. We’re doing the Coron Island Hopping tour (offered by Coron EcoLodge) and has just visited Kayangan Lake. The only need in these tours is a comfortable swimwear (expect to be wet throughout), an open sense of wonder and fun.
It’s been photographed many times. There’s little room for composition in the area. It’s been posted in many billboards and printed on magazines a gazillion times already. So why do I want to go back to Kayangan Lake in Coron Island? Because photos cannot capture what it’s feels like being there. To be surrounded by stunning karts formations towering over the clear emerald lake of Kayangan Lake. It literally feels like stepping inside a scenic wallpapers that’s too good to be a real place.
I remember how excited I was almost 8 years ago when I was finally going out of the country to travel for the first time. Kota Kinabalu was the first stamp on my newly acquired passport and I finally got to experience riding an airplane via AirAsia. It was so memorable as we climbed Mount Kinabalu then,enjoyed some islands and nature parks. A similar kind of excitement was brewing when I joined Zest Air’s inaugural flight to Kota Kinabalu last weekend. There was no climbing this time but I still recall the cold air and the somewhat hangover-state-of-mind while climbing the summit of Mt Kinabalu when I saw the mountain through my plane window. The rain-cloud draped city looks back like a familiar friend but noticeable is the aging state and a few constructions to perk up the city skyline. Off coast, the islands of Tunku Abdhul Rahman Park still looks pristine. I immediately recognized Manukan Island there and remembered our fun beach bumming and snorkeling excusion. Ah yes, its nice to see you again Kota Kinabalu.