(Calaguas Islands, Camarines Norte, Philippines) – If you live in the Philippines, I am pretty sure that you have been in summer trips before. You have probably gone to a beautiful beach, rented a nice room by the shore and pigged out every chance you can get then, if the venue would permit it, partied until dawn.
All that sounds like a good vacation but why settle for an ordinary vacation that you have probably done a hundred times before when you can settle for something awesomely great.
Last weekend, I succumbed to yet another beach call and this time with Byahe AdvenTours. The team is known for its virgin destinations like Anawangin Cove, Nagsasa Cove and Calaguas Islands where there is nothing but naturally beautiful landscape and an outhouse (with plumbing) for your camping needs. Yes, camping and an outhouse. It does sound daunting at first but another thing that makes you forget about all that fear of being in the wilderness is how they can transform their campsite to some sort of an outdoor hotel accommodation.
The team is spearheaded by two people: Kuya Nano, a full-time professional photographer, whose talent is above any lens operator I have ever known and Chef Janjie who works as an executive chef, runs his own restaurant and cooks for island hoppers like myself in the Byahe AdvenTours trips.
“Dubbed as the Lakwatserong Kusinero, Chef Janjie builds his BergHOFF-sponsored kitchen on top of wooden tables by the beach to teach and demonstrate how lunch is being prepared for the guests. The attendees of his Culinary 101 class may also help out in prepping and cooking.”
The entire tour is pretty cheap and is priced at PhP 3500 ($80-85) for an overnight stay in Calaguas with tent accommodation. The fee covers your transportation from Manila and back (with Cubao as the pick-up point), boat transfers, gourmet food on the island prepared by Chef Janjie, Culinary 101 class, skimboarding lesson, poi dancing lesson, photography lesson, cocktail mixing and drinking, fire dancing entertainment at night along with profile-picture material photos by Kuya Nano for the entire trip.
Getting to Calaguas involves an 8-hour bus ride and a 2-hour boat ride which could get extended depending on the whim of the waves of the sea between the islands and the mainland but the island itself is breathtakingly untouched by civilization so it is definitely worth the travel.
“Almost sunset in Calaguas. This stretch of white beach is called Mahabang Buhangin. No hotels and restaurants anywhere.”
“A nearby island”
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“I love going to the beach and being under the sun yet I find a cloudy summer day a plus.”
“Home for a day”
“Skimboarding is about perfect timing, patience and balance.”
“Chef Janjie looking for the base drink in his cocktail mixing session.”
“The talented Chef showing off his fire dancing skills”
“Buffet by the beach, anyone?”
“Lunch: chicken ala king, boneless bangus cutlets in bean sauce and buttered veggies”
“Dinner: Pork meatballs in mushroom gravy sauce, chicken fingers with honey mustard sauce and fried noodles”
“Breakfast: hotdog, sausage, scrambled eggs and daing na espada”
If you want to experience the Byahe Adventours / Lakwatserong Kusinero’s package, you may contact Kuya Nano at +639272508522.
The Calaguas Gang:
From left to right: Mitch, Aaron, Rainier, Julie, Val-Casmir, Jules, Abhie, Kath, Froi and me holding the camera.
“So posh that we were drinking from goblets”