Apuao Grande Island, Camarines Norte

Apuao Island
For beach lovers, if we're talking about the beauty in Camarines Norte,  Calaguas is on top, correct? Now, I'll bring you to one of the unrated paradise in the entire Bicol region - the Apuao Island - it is one of the small island in Mercedes Group of Islands. This deserted island has a lot to offer, from the cool and crystal clear and emerald waters, wealthy underwater, breathtaking landscape, has tranquility and relaxing ambiance, and of course, the good people. Well, travel time is about 7 to 8 hours from Manila to Mercedes via private van but I was able to see and experience those.

Location, How to Get Here, and Our Travel to Bicol
Time of Arrival: 5:30 AM. Our first destination was Mercedes Fish Port - the largest fishing bowl in Bicol Region. At this port, fishermen and fish vendors use "bulungan" as their method of selling. It is way the vendor bids with the buyers by whispering - to keep the price secret. Photo above was captured while our loving locals were segregating the tiny water creatures for human consumption or can be used as a food for those being cultured in fish ponds.

Since it's a fish port, expect for tons of fresh sea foods. Inside the port area, there are carinderia where we had our breakfast. And by the port entrance there's a wet market where we bought our supplies. When everything was finalized, we left our van at the parking area inside the port area - of course, with additional fee.

Island Hopping, Activities and Tourist Spots
Our island hopping started on Canimog Island or others call it as crocodile island, a 30 minutes boat ride from the fish Port. It is a small island surrounded by crystal clear waters and pebbles. From the shoreline, we walked on a concrete and uphill pathway to the oldest "parola" or lighthouse. According to the marker, this lighthouse was erected on 26 June 1927 and until today, it remains functional. Instead of using the old way, locals installed solar panels, with batteries, to light up the bulbs at night. We stayed at the area for about 30 minutes. No Entrance fee.

Apuao Pequena is abundant with Agoho trees.

The Gorgeous White Sand Beach of Apuao Grande and Pequeña
Next was our main destination and the most prominent island in Mercedes. From afar, the fine white sand shoreline and the Agoho trees usually greet the visitors. Let's go with the History first: If you're searching on google, you will see the Grande and Pequena. According to the locals, before, it was separated by the water. There's really a passage for the boats, but one day, they noticed a sandbar appeared in between  and connected the two islands and it became - not Coco Crunch - and it became Apuao Island!

Where To Stay: Camping by the Beach
We camped and set up our hammocks at the resort, by the beach. If you have budget, cottages can also be rented. This resort has generator set that lights up the area in the evening. Sari-sari stores, wash rooms and toilet are available. Fresh water is not for free because the locals need to fetch water from Apuao Grande main via boat. Basta nakita ko silang nagbababa ang mga drums ng tubig. Tourists can also camp or set up hammocks at the part with Agoho trees. However, insect repellent is a must!

Darwin Dalisay

Mercedes Group of Islands - Tourist Spots in Camarines Norte
One of the most fascinating part of our island hopping on Mercedes Group of Islands is stepping on Malasugui Sandbar. According to our boatmen, we were fortunate! It is very unusual that this sandbar shows up, especially for a weather that is not so good. It is a long and curvy stretch of fine white sand that appears during the low tide. Water is still crystal clear and underwater creatures treat this white sand as their paradise, like those star fishes. Drone footage will be uploaded in my YouTube Vlog Channel.
From the sandbar, we traveled for about 20 minutes to Malasugui Island. This island has a curvy stretch of fine white sand, mixed with pebbles, corals and shells. There were two grand couples staying on the island and according to our tsimosong boatmen, they have professional children but chose to stay here. Boat docking fee: 200 pesos.

Next is Caringo Island. We just passed on its surrounding waters, so I can't give you specific details about what's on this island. Again, according to our tsismosong boatmen, it is where the oldest house can be found, built in circa 1920. While on the boat, few meters away from shoreline, I noticed the boats parked by the shore and there were children playing on the fine white sand - a sign that there are locals living here. The island has a relaxing ambiance because of the trees surrounding the area.

Next was heading back to Apuao. If you're interested to see weird but lovable looking mammals, you can also visit the bat sanctuary. I always see bats, but those who are staying here are different, they are really big. They were upside down on the branches of the trees. There's a question left in my mind, I haven't see any fruit bearing trees on the island, anu kaya kinakain nila? Feeling ko insects. Pero feeling ko lang yun. Pwede ring pinapadala lang sa kanila via LBC - ang hari ng padala, diba? Entrance Fee: 20 pesos.

While the sun is still on, we started preparing our dinner. Rice, seafoods and many other fresh seafoods. While preparing these, we were able to catch a glimpse of the golden sunset. At 8PM had our dinner. Then, socials while waiting for Tin's birthday at 12 MN. Ayun, inom-inom ng kaunti, with reggae music on the background - thanks to Spotify! Kwentu-kwento, tawa-tawa hanggang tulugan ko na sila ng 12:30 AM. Para mas fresh, di ako natulog sa tent, sa labas lang.

Apuao Island
The next day, we don't have itinerary and it was a lazy morning; it's time to see the beauty of the island (photos above). Infairness, Apuao is surrounded by fine white and beige sand. There were crablet (maliit na crab) running, corals mixed in the sand, the water is cool and really clear - this is a paradise!  Since it's far and not so prominent, what's the best during our visit? We owned the island that day!