When you say Camarines Norte, Calaguas automatically comes to mind. Sure there are other tourist spots like Bagasbas and Mercedes group of islands, but Calaguas reigns supreme in terms of tourist visitation. This month, I went with a group of fellow travel bloggers to explore the rest of Camarines Norte. We’d toured JSMS Farm, island hopped in Parola Island and Calalanay Island (Jose Panganiban) and relaxed for a whole day in Selfie Beach (Capalonga).
To give you a bit of background, Jose Panganiban is a second-class municipality in Camarines Norte, while Capalonga is a third-class municipality just 2 hours away.
Before anything else, let me say hi to the people who were in the trip! Karla and Ian of The Hungry Traveler PH, Jan Darren of Kapampangan Traveller and Bobby of Travel Tayo PH.
This trip was organized by Efrelinda Travels and Tours.
We arrived in Jose Panganiban early in the morning and proceeded to JSMS Farm.
JSMS Farm is an organic farm that promotes sustainable development and offers eco-tours. We were shown how to make sugarcanes and tasted a special drink of sugarcane with passionfruit (a very viable product and something we all liked), toured around the plantation and fields, saw livestock including wild pigs and carabaos and finally fed fishes in the pond. Our guide also explained how the farm practices small-scale mining and turns their profit from gold to budget for the farm’s development.
JSMS isn’t a full-blown tourist attraction yet, but it’s a promising eco-destination in the future once all the developments are finished. We were told it’s just one of the few farms that will be open to tourism in the coming years.
Our next activity was island hopping in Parola Island and Calalayan Island. The port to these islands was very basic, it reminded me of the port to Calaguas Island a few years back before its boom. It takes 30-40 minutes to reach Parola Island, depending on sea condition.
If you don’t know yet, Parola Island is Camarines Norte’s Pink Beach. Like other pink beaches in the Philippines, the pink shade of the sand is noticeable only when the sand is wet and if you look up close. (See also: Tikling Island in Sorsogon and Camiaran Island in Balabac.)
Parola Island got its name from the parola (or lighthouse) that was built in the island. According to Ms Ruthie, a tourism officer, the island is closed during Wednesdays for cleaning. This is important since trash can get swept ashore from the ocean, especially during the monsoon season.
It remains pristine in that there are no commercial developments here — just a long stretch of pinkish sand and a grove of coconut trees to provide shade for beach-goers. We found a dilapidated cottage, but there was nothing else.
There was intermittent rain and dark clouds during our stay in Parola Island, so you can see there were dark clouds in my shots — but I hope you still see the beauty of the island. Anyway, we still enjoyed exploring and swimming in the beach. The waves here are a little strong, so non-swimmers should take care not to go far from the shore.
Calalayan is a privately owned island about an hour away from Parola Island. Guests need a permit before they can visit here — our travel agency luckily is allowed to go here.
The beach in Calalayan Island has caramel sand, green water.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a group of dogs. They look so adorable, although one or two is noticeably thin. I asked our tour guide if there is someone who’s taking care of the dogs, he said there’s a newly built house in the island that must look after them. I hope that’s true and the next time we go back, we’ll see them again. Our tour guide gave some leftover food from our lunch to the beach dogs.
Anyway, back to Calalanay Island. I like swimming here better than Parola Island because the waves aren’t that strong. It actually looks calm, but don’t be deceived — the sand underneath is undulating, so one step forward and you might yourself nose-deep in the water. Just precaution for non-swimmers and scaredy cats like me.
We stayed overnight in Selfie Beach in Capalonga. We were actually supposed to visit Guijanlo Island the next morning, but the sea conditions didn’t permit it. It’s not surprising — anyone who’s been to Camarines Norte knows that the sea can be fickle especially on the rainy months. So we spent the whole day in Selfie Beach instead.
I really like Selfie Beach because even though it’s your regular beach (no white sand or sparkling blue water), there’s a constant see breeze that reaches the cottages. The smell & sound of the sea is calming and refreshing. It’s easy to doze off in one of the many beach beds.
For accommodations and everything else, there’s the Selfie Beach Resort. Again, this is a newly developed establishment that opened just months ago. There’s a lot of cottages for guests camping overnight or on day trips. If there’s one thing that I would like to be improved — it’s the use of videoke. I hope they limit it. When we stayed there, the singing went past midnight; the day after, there were videokes left and right. Videokes are fun for families, not so much for travelers who want to sleep and chill.
Exploring Camarines Norte
Camarines Norte is just 6 hours away from Manila. If you’re going to commute, you can ride a bus in Pasay or Cubao to your destination in Camarines Norte.
Aside from the Selfie Beach Resort, here are other attractions you can check out in Capalonga:
- Guijanlo Island (which has a long sand bar)
- Palong Beach, Lom-oc Beach, Sabang Beach
- Banca-Banca Falls, Itok Falls, Banokbok Falls
- Alayao River, Camagsaan River, Mataque River
- Sabong-Sabong Reef and Dive Site
- Mount Samat
For tours in Camarines Norte, including island hopping in Parola Island, Calalanay Island and/or Guijanlo Island, get in touch with Efrelinda Travels and Tours.
Disclaimer: Thanks Efrelinda Travel and Tours for inviting me to this weekend trip! As always, all opinions are mine.
Have you explored these places in Camarines Norte?