Mercedes, Camarines Norte: Biyahe Lokal Goes To Apuao Grande Island
Decades before the pristine islands of Calaguas bedazzled us with her mesmerizing seascape, Camarines Norte treasures a near-forgotten gem silently kept behind the shadows of the famous beach destination. To bring out even just a tiny speck of sparkle back into this jewel, me along with an army of wanderers in search for new destinations, traveled to the fishing town of Mercedes and re-live the former grandeur of Apuao Grande Island Resort, roughing it up a bit – Biyahe Lokal style.
Three groups, two destinations, one great weekend.
Swagman Manila, a 32-year veteran in the hotel business, ran the exquisite Apuao Grande Island Resort back in the 1980’s until abandoned. Equipped with a nine-hole golf course, an airstrip which can accommodate light aircraft, and classy beachfront villas, the 45-hectare island exudes luxury – a glistening jewel that outshone the rest of Mercedes Group of Islands.
Ruins of the old resort.
The golf course is now a grazing area for cows (they trim the green as well)
Through time, however, the luster slowly fades. The grass grew, and some facilities crumble in ruins while others hung by a thread like the restroom. Apuao Grande’s lavish allure slowly deteriorated. On the contrary, the island developed a rustic appeal which attracted another type of travelers. Apuao Grande Island brings her visitors much more closer to nature.
The shores of Apuao Grande Island.
Camping by the beach in Apuao Grande.
Fish pen nila Ate Mel.
Sunrise in Apuao Grande.
Fully-furnished beachfront cottages became rugged tents pitched under the cool shade of Agoho trees. Limited electricity a day gets campers more connected to Mother Nature than the outside world. And who could resist a swim in Apuao Grande’s calm and clear blue waters gently brushing the white-sanded shores? This is a luxury a wider market can definitely afford.
Bagasbas Beach greets you a good morning.
Bagasbas Beach is also a spot for kitesurfing. Bagasbas local kitesurfer Aris Cilones
Before capping thing off, the group went to Bagasbas Beach, the watersports mecca of Camarines Norte, and got our adrenalin pumping by learning how to surf. Bagasbas is known for its consistent waves almost all-year round and swells that rise more than 8 feet on certain times of the year. In addition, the sandy bottom makes the surfing spot ideal for beginners, even for kids.
Surfing lessons in Bagasbas Beach. (photo by Mac Centeno)
Yngwie is no stranger to the waves of Bagasbas. This is his second time to surf and look at him ride. (photo by Mac Centeno)
Many would probably ask why visit Apuao Grande Island, when there’s the more idyllic paradise of Calaguas. First, travel time by sea is relatively much shorter than Calaguas, which means cheaper boat ride and easier access to the island. Second, Calaguas, currently being a top beach destination, has attracted a multitude of visitors every summer especially during weekends. Mahabang Buhangin gets a little crowded and a bit “chaotic” sometimes. But honestly, it’s hard to compare the two because both have their own different features and adventures. I believe every place has something which makes it a special, makes every destination unique. So, I leave it to you, see it for yourself, and be the judge of it.
And there’s another sunrise shot.
Here are some fast facts that may help you on your trip:
1. This trip was organized by Biyahe Lokal. My sincerest thanks to everyone who tagged along. We hope you had a fun weekend. Great to see old travel buddies and meet new friends. Astig kayo!
2. There’s a C.R. near the campsite.
3. Sari-sari stores are located in another barrio, so better buy food and supplies from Mercedes Port.
4. When waves are rough at the river mouth of Mercedes, chartered boats can pick up visitors in Brgy. Cayucyucan in Basud.
5. For surfing lessons in Bagasbas, contact Mocha Vargas (0921 251 87 48) or just visit their station at Bagasbas Park.
6. Surfing lessons costs P400.00 including instructor and board rentals.
7. Thank you for the wonderful surf photos, idol Mac.
8. More destinations in Camarines Norte
9. Please LIKE Biyaherong Barat on Facebook
10. Follow @BiyaherongBarat on Twitter
11. Always be safe. Happy travels.