For a sense of impossible beauty and a thrill on the edge of danger, climb the perfect cone of Mayon Volcano in Albay. For a journey back in time to the Spanish era of the Philippines, find the Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City, one of the older testaments to the spread of Catholicism in this nation. But for a taste of the world-famous beaches of this archipelagic nation, take a boat to white-sanded Calaguas Island in Mangcawayan.
Calaguas Island is made of white sands, caused by most of the sand being coral pieces ground into millions of extremely fine grains. White sand beaches are natural signs of amazing snorkeling and scuba-diving areas, as well as clean swimming areas–the whiter the sands, the more likely the water is clean and clear.
Calaguas Island sands blush the soft pink of red and white coral grains near the sea. Farther into the shore, the sands turn a sun-baked whitish-gray, almost soft as powder, perfect for drying feet after a dip into the water. It is bound to get everywhere, as sand does, but even better it is perfect for taking home as a souvenir in a glass bottle.
The color “aquamarine” would be an exaggeration anywhere but in Calaguas Island. True to the white sands’ promise, the sea is so clear that the depth is impossible to guess from the boat. It’s the kind of water that is impossibly blue from afar, but incredibly clear when you are actually standing inside it.
The water nearest the shore, the section that rises and ebbs with the tide, is the best part for just swimming in. The growing parts (coral, anemones, seaweed, sea creatures) live a little farther on. Anyone tired of playing in the sand and water can snag a pair of goggles and hover over the rocks and corals near the shore. Even that close, bright-colored fish abound.
Almost-Perfect Lack Of Signal
For anyone trying to get away from the incessant slave-chains of vibrating phones, bold-lettered emails, and bleepy-bloops of Facebook messages, Calaguas Island is the perfect paradise. Signal is so rare that the locals have one (1) location for it and a sign that says so. Despite the honor, signal rarely drops by there either.
No Modern Resort Buildings
Some may violently disagree, but what is a paradise without a hint–more than a hint, in this case–of its virgin state? The only modernity to be found in Calaguas Island is whatever is brought by the tourists. Bring tents if you want, or rent one of the nipa huts (we suggest the tents, they have so much more protection from the elements). There is no running water on the island. On the positive side, everyone’s muscles will get quite a workout with the old-fashioned pump. At least the pipelines can’t break, but the water will always be cold.
Calaguas Island: Pristine Paradise
Calaguas Island is not as well known as Boracay, for example, or Palawan–both examples of over-crowded tourist spots. The island draws the hardier tourists, and even the hardier citizens escaping modernization or attracted to nature. When it comes to travelling in the Philippines, there are few places better to go to sense the peace of its once upon a time.