An Early Summer Visit to Apuao Grande Island in Camarines Norte

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With summer fast approaching, most get busy packing their bags for a stimulating vacation. If you are someone who is drawn to the calm blue seas, then the beaches in the Philippines are among of the best options to plan a holiday. Apuao Grande Island should certainly be high up on the list. The island situated in Camarines Norte, the northern most province of Bicol is named the “ZigZag Capital” of the Philippines, for its breathtaking twists and turns along the island. Visitors would certainly enjoy a trip down this island.

Apuao Grande Island
Apuao Grande Island

Yes we can do it! Mocha (a local surfing instructor) said when we were planning to visit Calaguas on our first day in Daet in Camarines Sur. After a short discussion while having breakfast, we decided not to pursue Calaguas due to the heavy rains and strong winds. For the rest of the day, we just stayed within the vicinity of our hostel and had an awesome afternoon with a pair of SanMig and Laing on our table.

Day Tour in Apuao Grande Island
Day Tour in Apuao Grande Island

Apuao Grande Island in MercedesCamarines Norte

On our second day, we were lucky to have a sunny weather so we immediately planned for a beach escapade. Calaguas is quite far and waves are still high according to Mocha – our resident surf instructor / guide, so we agreed to visit another beach destination called Apuao Grande  Island.

Apuao Grande Island Resort
Apuao Grande Island Resort

We all headed to Daet Wet market to buy rice, fruits, beer and something to grill for our picnic lunch. Taking Tricycle to Mercedes port is a bit expensive so we decided to take the jeepney instead.  From Mercedes, we took a small flat passenger boat to the town of Basud then we proceeded to a sitio called Kayukyukan to meet our bangkero (boatman).

Island Caretakers
Island Caretakers

The original Bangkero that “Mocha” contracted was not there when we arrived, good thing we met a guy who owns an outrigger boat who agreed to bring us to the island. The first 20 minutes of our boat ride was smooth but as we get closer to the island, the waves are becoming bigger but not that dangerous. The boat ride was rather exhilarating and fun:)

After an approximately 45 mintues of boatride, we finally reached the island. The islands of Apuao Pequeña and Apuao Grande (the two islands connected by a white sand bar) are covered with pine-like agoho trees similar to the trees in Jomalig Island. We stayed in the island for only three hours. During our short stay, we just played with our cameras, resident cats & dogs and we had an awesome alfresco lunch while enjoying the sea breeze.

Picnic Lunch
Picnic Lunch

Dotted with pine trees and calm beaches, It is a beach resort that was famous in the 1980’s and boasts today of a number of spectacular unspoiled beaches, diving sites, and charming bays. It is located in Mercedes (The Mercedes group of islands is mainly composed of 7 islands) in Camarines Norte at a distance of ten minutes from Canton Island its landscape it brushed with astonishing caves and rock formations. The island is laced with sublime shorelines of white sand and clear blue waters.

Afternoon in Basud Camarines Norte
Afternoon in Basud Camarines Norte

Apauo Grande Island, the once high-end resort has in recent times fallen into a state of disrepair, with most of the villas being leased out to expatriates. Today it is seen more as a fishing town rather than a private resort and only a portion of the island which features the white sandy beaches and Agoho trees are owned by the resort. The people in the island are warm and hospitable and would fill in any void for homesick travelers.

Getting There

Daet Camarines Norte can be reached by land travel from Manila by buses. Amihan (Pasay City) – 02 8543735, 02 3855025) , Superlines (Cubao) 02 4143319), and Philtranco (Pasay City – 02 8515420, (Cubao) 02 7227567)- buses ply the Manila-Daet route and vice versa.

From Daet, you can reach Mercedes town by riding a tricycle or Jeepney. Boat rentals from Mercedes, Caramines Norte cost around Php 2,000-2,500. At Mercedes you ask for the fish port (pantalan or pandawan) and from there hire a boat which should take you 45 minutes to get to the island. From Mercedes Port, You can also go to Kayukyukan in Basud to rent a boat to Apuao Grande Island.

Where to Stay?

While visiting Apauo Grande, bear in mind that the accommodation here is usually very basic. There is just 1 villa available for rent at a cost of Php 2,500, and the villa features only 2 rooms but can accommodate up to 10 people. At times when the villa is booked tourists have the option of staying in houses beside the villa. It might be a good idea to book well in advance if you plan to stay overnight.

Why visit Apuao Grande Island?

The island is mostly off the list of travelers due to the serious lack of tourism promotion which in other words implies that it is a place worth considering if one chooses to be away from the crowds and hustle and bustle of a city life.

If you aren’t looking at an extravagant holiday or beach side parties, then Apauo Grande Island is worth giving a serious thought, the calm beauty and serene beaches will prove to be far more cathartic than a luxurious hotel room.

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