It sure is easy to say life’s a beach. You can score a seat sale and go to Boracay, the paragon for an exciting beach life in the country today, or you can opt to take the short inexpensive two-hour land trip to Batangas for a quick beach fix.
The accessibility of beaches in the country presents an instant gratification but owning a piece of paradise – one that spells fun, excitement, and reward – all to yourself even for just a day does not come along too often. That is the kind of relaxation that you should create for yourself. With everyone heading to the same beach destinations, everybody can claim life’s a beach. I know you do not want that for yourself. So say goodbye, life’s a beach, and say hello, life’s a paradise!
If you’re on the lookout for the country’s stunning beaches, you have to keep in mind that to get there is not easy. No pain, no gain. Getting there is half the fun, yes. But you have to make sure that where you’re headed deserves the bumpy ride. The tougher it takes to get to the destination, the better things await you there.
Think Calaguas. I have a special bias for this island’s long beach because it allows me to live the kind of island life I imagine to spend in a beach bum’s paradise. A piece of solitude that’s hard to come by these days, a 360-degree stunning vista, crystal clear water that gently slopes into different gradients, fresh seafood, clouds that are within your reach, a sweet sunset, island dogs that run around freely – wouldn’t you want to stay here forever?
You know you are in for a very amazing holiday with this kind of view that gets your heart to stop beating for some nanoseconds. Unspoiled beach, fine white sand, crystal clear water.
And you realize that you are in for an even more exciting day on the beach when you cannot help but gush like this even when you haven’t gotten out of your boat after enduring a two-hour ride.
Wherever you look, the sight of crystal clear water assures you that you are going to have a grand time relaxing on this island.
The water is just unbelievably clear, so you take lots of photos of it to show proof of their existence in this universe.
And just when you cannot contain your excitement anymore, island dogs approach to welcome you. They are too friendly to be ignored. You are enamored by them and now you know you are home.
You ditch any of your gadgets and spend some time playing with the dog because, really, there is no home for technology here. You thank God there’s still a place in the Philippines which does not enjoy a strong cellular network connection. You put your mobile phones away and you let go of your worries that surely belong to the city. You read a really good book, try to remember the meditation you’ve been meaning to practice, or have a luxurious time frolicking in the water. If you want, go au naturel when you swim as no one would really mind since you are the only guest on the beach. I suggest you do.
Enjoy the sun for as long as you want and work on your sun-kissed tan that does wonder to your soul. Just don’t forget to put on your sunblock, though. At this point, you just cannot help but be grateful for this day in paradise. So, laugh. Like you are the happiest person in the world. Because you are. It is so easy to feel that way when you are surrounded by this stunning work of beauty.
While you are at it, bring out the kid in you and have fun looking at the cloud formations. The sky here is always clear and the clouds appear bigger. Pretend that you are reaching for some cotton candies. Giggle.
Or fix your eyes on the grand view that surrounds you. On your left, verdant green abounds.
On your right, the beach gently bends and appears like it’s connected to the rolling hills from afar. You heave a sigh of contentment.
When you are done with your me-time, you explore the rest of the island with your friends or partner. You enjoy doing some stuff (wholesome activities, that is) that you just won’t or cannot normally do on other beaches teeming with people.
You spend an hour perfecting your jump shot as a group. You bring out your beach paraphernalia that makes restful afternoons on the beach fun and colorful. You run after your partner like you are some star-crossed lovers from France. You are just into the moment that you do not really realize you have enough pictures to spare you from hiring the services of a photographer for your prenup pictures.
At this time, you are glowing from loving your stay in paradise and grinning at the realization that you do not have to spend a fortune for this kind of happiness.
Even when your tummy gets hungry, you never worry. You know that boat from afar is fishing and will be back on the shore in no time. You take time appreciating the water glittering at this time of the day when the sun is at its hottest.
When the fishermen come back, you are surprised to find their catch for the day. Some of these fish you haven’t seen before, or perhaps you had already on some books or someone’s aquarium. You try to recognize if one of the fish happens to be Flounder, from The Little Mermaid.
The little island boy, who went fishing with his family, could not help but be fascinated with your innocence. He smiles at you. You find him adorable and decides to buy all the fish they have for PhP400.
You end up with a pail-load of fresh fish. You kindly ask the caretaker of the beachfront lot where you built your tent to prepare your late lunch and she comes back with loads of seafood cooked in various ways: there’s grilled fish, sinigang (sour soup), and paksiw (fish steamed in vinegar). You fancy the idea of a feast day. You ditch your spoon and fork and head to the beach and eat to your heart’s (and tummy’s) content.
And when it is time for the sun to take its rest for the day, you utter a silent prayer of gratitude. After enjoying the sun’s spectacle for the last time, you finally take a bath. The moon is on its full glory so you decide to bathe by the shrubs, fully-naked. You feel like there is no disconnect in your world today. You thank the universe for bringing you to this place and for allowing you to own this paradise for a day. You secretly and smilingly tell yourself, “Tomorrow’s another day.”
- P O S T C R I P T
Calaguas is getting more popular these days, so go on a slow weekday to have the place all to yourself. Tuesdays until Fridays are your best bet. The crowd can get bigger during summer, especially on weekends and holidays. If the number of nipa cottages in the area right now is any indication, I can tell Calaguas is going to transform in the coming years. I have also heard from a local official that some Australian investors have taken interest in developing Calaguas.
When I went to Calaguas two years ago, there were only three small nipa houses where the caretakers live and some five nipa open cottages that were for rent. Three different people own the beachfront, each has its own caretaker. The entrance fee (which is used by the caretakers for maintaining the place) in 2010 was PhP50 per person. The rate now costs from PhP75-100. Open cottages are for rent for PhP150 (day-use) and PhP300 (overnight-use). Close to twenty open cottages are now to be found on the beach.
This development adds a different charm to the island life in Calaguas. There is still no electricity on this side of the island.
Calaguas’s beauty is definitely one for the books. If you’re up for an adventure that requires you to take a two-hour boat ride on top of a 7-8 hour bus ride, sleep on a tent, rinse from a water pump, and then relax with nature’s grandeur in sight, head to Calaguas now!
Love and light, everyone. Go, juanderlust!
- Except for the sunset photograph, all photos taken with a Canon 550d.
- Sunset photo courtesy of M. Aficial.
- All photos taken on March 2012.