Daet, the capital of Camarines Norte, takes its name from the Bicolano word that means “close to each other.”
This is probably why tourist attractions in the province are never too far away.
Here, islands filled with pine trees ideal for camping, surfer-friendly waves are next to beaches with fine and luminous white sand. Camarines Norte is also home to Formosa, the Philippines’ sweetest pineapple.
So if you are looking to make the most out of your trip to Bicol’s northernmost province, here’s a sample one-week itinerary that gives a sampling of what Camarines Norte has to offer.
Day 1: Where To Stay (Mainland)
Hotel Formosa is a 16-room boutique hotel located at the heart of Daet. It is near shopping malls, supermarkets, restaurants, and 10 minutes away from beach spots such as Bagasbas and Sabangan.
The hotel’s most affordable rate is at Php1,800 per night. On the other hand, the most expensive is the Family Suite at Php3,550 per night.
The suite is good for three people inclusive of complimentary breakfast and access to Nespresso machines with free capsules.
Mambulao Pacific Resort & Hotel
The 16-room Mambulao Pacific Resort & Hotel is located at the municipality of Jose Panganiban, 55-minutes away from Camarines Norte’s capital.
The hotel is for tourists who wish to visit the renowned Calaguas Islands. The management is looking into catering direct private boat rides from the hotel to the island reducing travel time from 2 hours to 45 minutes.
The hotel’s Premier Room is at Php3,500 per night, good for four people with a balcony facing Carol and Calalanay Islands. Its most affordable, the Deluxe Room, is at Php2,500 per night.
Day 2: Surf at Bagasbas Beach
Eleven minutes away from the city center, Bagasbas Beach is a must-visit for water sports enthusiasts. It is recognized for being a beach break; this means that the 5-kilometer beach strip has nothing but fine sand.
There are no reefs or rocks underneath, which makes surfing here a little less dangerous.
A local surfing community named Bagasbas Surfers Club also offers equipment rental and lessons for activities such as skimboarding, kiteboarding, and bodyboarding. Hourly rate starts at Php400 per person.
Food To Try
There are many restaurants and bars along Bagasbas Beach. Here, guests may try one of Bicol’s local dishes, Sinantolan. This is made from grated Santol or cotton fruit rinds mixed with chili and cooked in coconut cream.
Camarines Norte also has their local vodka called Barik, made from softened branches of Nipa palm that were cooked, boiled, and distilled through firewood.
How to Get There: From Daet Municipal Hall, take a 18-minute tricycle ride at Php50 going to Bagasbas Beach.
Day 3-4: Calaguas
Calaguas is quite remote and requires a two-hour boat ride from its jump off point.
This spot is ideal for visitors in need of a peaceful environment, as you will be surrounded with nothing but stunning beach views and lush green hills.
Due to the limited number of hotels and restaurants, locals greatly advised that tourists set up camping tents or hammocks during their stay. Expect the cell signal to go out here.
Where To Stay: Travelers may choose from the 4 resort accommodations within Calaguas namely Calaguas Paradise Resort, Calaguas White Sand, I love Calaguas, Kagedama Agri Resort. Cottage rates start at Php3,500 to Php4,500 good for 3-4 people.
How to Get There: The jump off point to Calaguas Island is at San Jose Centennial Wharf, a 20-minute tricycle ride from the city center. A tourism development fee of Php120 per person must be paid prior visit.
DOT-accredited travel agencies in Camarines Norte offer different packages inclusive of boat fees, tent accommodation, and food for a seamless trip.
Day 5: Island Hopping at Siete Pecados
Siete Pecados, also called Mercedes Group of Islands, is for travelers seeking to hop and relax amid unspoiled and charming spots.
Different adventures from trekking, camping, spelunking, and snorkeling can be experienced at the seven islands namely Apuao Pequeña, Apuao Grande, Caringo, Quinapaguian, Malasugui, Canton, and Canimog.
Some islands like Apuao Pequeña and Apuao Grande are connected by a luminous sandbar. Apuao Pequeña is known for being the camping spot because of tall pine trees taking up almost the entire area of the island.
Meanwhile, Apuao Grande is the choice of island hoppers looking for beach cottages or spots where they can set-up tents for an overnight stay.
Next to Apuao Pequeña and Grande is Quinapaguian Island where tourists often swim and snorkel. Same goes with Caringo Island that is considered as the Mercedes’ marine sanctuary.
Malasugui Island is the smallest island, facing the west, suitable for scenic photoshoots and sunset views. While Canton Island has caves where travelers can do spelunking but only during low tide.
Canimog Island is Siete Pecados’ biggest island. This is where tourists would often trek going to Bicol’s oldest lighthouse.
How to Get There: 22 minutes away from the city center, Mercedes Fish Port is the jump off point to Camarines Norte’s Siete Pecados.
Day 6: Chase Waterfalls
Camarines Norte is also rich with enchanting waterfalls. One of which is just an hour away from the city center, Maligaya Falls, famous for its curtain falls and natural infinity pool at the top.
Maligaya Falls can be reached through a 30-minute trek and it is highly recommended that travelers coordinate with the tourism office before going to Barangay Submakin.
Towering at approximately 70 feet, another falls named Colasi is considered to be one of the highest falls in Camarines Norte. It can be reached via a 30-minute hike and offers a rewarding panoramic view of the San Miguel Bay at its peak.
Colasi is located at Barangay Colasi, Mercedes.
Day 7: Take a stroll through history
The best way to know Camarines Norte is to learn about its culture and history.
Along Vinzons Avenue, formerly Indan, tourists will get to appreciate ancestral houses with small shuttered windows called Ventenillas and capiz shell panes.
This architecture was eminent during the Spanish era and one of them was owned by Filipino patriot and Philippine armed resistance leader, Wenceslao Vinzons.
Aside from the ancestral houses, Parroquia de San Pedro Apostol is also a must-visit. This 400-year-old church has become the bastion of Christianity in Camarines Norte.
Food To Try
While in Camarines Norte, tourists may try the Philippines’ sweetest pineapple, Formosa and other delicacies such as Pandecillos, Angko, and Pili Tart.
Pandecillos is a pastry filled with crushed Pili nuts while Angko is a glutinous rice ball filled with a paste made of coconut and Pili nuts. Other authentic local delights can be found within the municipalities of Daet, Vinzons, and Paracale.
Outsource the Planning
For a seamless trip, you may leave the planning to DOT’s accredited tour operators in Bicol. Click on this link for a comprehensive list of agencies.
Explore Camarines Norte responsibly by making sure that you comply with the province’s health and safety protocols, such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.
For the latest travel information about Camarines Norte, you may visit their official website or Facebook page. You may also review updated safety protocols and requirements on Philippine destinations at www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel