Mercedes, Camarines Norte

“You are not being hurt by the love that you give. But you are hurt by the love you expected to receive.”

Part of my goal as a solo traveller is to visit small islands in the country because whenever I check the map, I get curious of what are the beautiful spots and also wanted to face the challenge of going there. One of the places I wanted to visit is the Mercedes Group of Islands in Camarines Norte. It was my first time to visit Camarines Norte and at the same time, my travel buddies Marsha Godino and Niña Platero are from Mercedes. I took the opportunity to organize a group tour last June 10-12, 2017 and yes, it’s a group tour because it is expensive if go there solo.

Mercedes is one the municipalities of Camarines Norte. It lies in between Daet and Libmanan which are part of the Bicol Region. There are several barangays in Mercedes but this article will be featuring the seven islands which are not part of the mainland namely Apuao Grande Island, Apuao Pequeña Island Caringo Island, Quinapaguian Island, Canimog Island, Malasugui Island and Canton Island.

How to get to Mercedes, Camarines Norte

There are no direct flights going to Camarines Norte. By plane, you can book a flight going to Pili Airport to Naga City. Then from Naga City, you can either take a bus or van to Daet then another jeep ride to Mercedes.

Daily bus schedules from Manila to Daet through Superlines, Philtranco, DLTB, or Amihan with terminals in Pasay and Cubao. I preferred to take Superlines because of no recorded road accidents. Travel time may take up to 8 hours but you can also take their special trips every 9pm for 6 hours. However, you will arrive in Daet by 3am and there is still no available jeep to Mercedes. Tickets for air-con buses range from P550 to P600+ from Daet-Manila and vice versa. From Daet, you can take a 10-15 minute jeep or tricycle ride to Mercedes town proper.

Siete Pecados: Seven Islands of Mercedes        

Since my goal was to visit the seven islands of Mercedes, it is going to be difficult to go there solo. So, I organized a non- profit tour in order to save money especially for the island hopping. With the help of my travel buddy Marsha, she was able to get in touch with Sir Ruel Santelices, a local operator that offers the cheapest tour packages in Mercedes that includes food, island hopping activities and tent accommodation.

The Siete Pecados is composed of islands namely Apuao Grande Island, Apuao Pequeña Island, Caringo Island, Quinapaguian Island, Canimog Island, Malasugui Island and Canton Island. I decided to visit the first four islands in day one then the rest of the three islands in day two so we can take our time in enjoying the beach.

Canimog Island

This island is roughly about 15-25 minutes from Pandawan Port in Mercedes. This was the first island we visited. Upon arriving at the shore, I was really amazed that there are no resorts in the island. This is the closest island to the mainland. There is also a small death pool on the other side of the island.

Apuao Grande Island

The Apuao Islands are two connecting islands with white sandy beach and pine trees connected by a sandbar to Apuao Pequeña Island. There is no usual beach resorts in the island but there are beach cottages and tents for overnight stay. The island is only for about 15-20 minutes away from Canimog Island.


Apuao Pequeña Island

This is an adjacent island to Apuao Grande which is connected by sand bar, sandbanks or gravelbars. This is the process when surface waves moves towards a shallow water like a beach shore and when two opposite waves pass through, it creates a sand bar. Through years of wave shoaling, it created a large sand bar that interconnected two separate islands. We decided to stay in the island because it is suitable for camping or installing hammocks and at the same time, the pine trees provide shelter. Take note that there is no electricity in the island.


Quinapaguian Island

This was the fourth island we visited after we had our lunch in Apuao Pequeña Island. This  island is just near Apuao Grande and Apuao Pequeña. Good to note that our boat was much faster than the regular boats because it will only take you minutes to go from island to another island.

Caringo Island

We went to Caringo Island the following day because of the fish sanctuary. According to the guide, the locals are prohibited to catch fishes along the hectares of the marine sanctuary since it is a breeding ground. I was able to witness what was underwater. A vast of live corals with a lot of different types of fish really amazed me during my free dive. The snorkeling fee is already included in the tour package. You just need to bring your own swimming gears so you don’t need to rent. Take note that you will need to transfer to a smaller boats because they do not allow motorized boats at the sanctuary.

Malasugui Island

The island is known to have a small sand bar facing the west side of the side suitable for sunset shots. This is the smallest island out of the seven and you can even navigate the whole island for less than an hour.


Canton Island

This was the last island we visited. We decided to do sightseeing only because the underwater current was so big enough that it will be difficult for us to dock. The island is facing Butauanan Island in the east and composed of stiff rock formations for cliff jumps. There are also series of caves in the island but we decided not to take the risk of going inside. But we were already satisfied of just looking at the island and appreciate its beauty.

 We went back to Apuao Pequeña Island to have our lunch and prepared to depart by 1pm. Visiting the seven islands of Mercedes was an awesome experience and able to free dive at the marine sanctuary was epic. We arrived at Pandawan around 3pm and did a side tour at Bagasbas Beach in Daet before going to the terminal for our 8pm trip back to Manila.

Contact Information:

Ruel Santelices  – 09482345689

Travel Expenses:

Bus Fee (Manila to Daet) – php 515 (php 1030 round trip)

Tricycle Fee (Daet to Mercedes Terminal) – php 20

Jeep Fee (Daet to Mercedes) – php 8

Tour Package – php 1, 600 per pax with minimum of 10 participants

  • Day 1 ( lunch & dinner)
  • Day 2 (breakfast & lunch)
  • Socials (alcoholic beverages & musical instruments)
  • 7 island hopping
  • Snorkeling fee at marine sanctuary
  • Boat transfers
  • Tent accommodation

 

 

 

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Nasugbu, Batangas

“He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”

Nasugbu is one of the municipalities in the Province of Batangas under the CALABARZON region. The town is bounded on the north by the municipalities of Maragondon, Magallanes and Alfonso in the province of Cavite; on the east by the Batangas municipalities of Laurel, Calaca and Balayan; on the south by the Batangas municipalities of Lian and Tuy; and on the west by the South China Sea.

Most of the barangays in Nasugbu are located near the coastline. So it is expected that there are a lot of beach resorts in the area from the cheapest up to the most expressive ones. One of the must – visit beach resorts in Nasugbu is the Tali Beach. My friend Gene Vicencio invited me to join together with her teammates for a day tour at the Tali Beach. I took the opportunity not only to experience what Tali Beach can offer but also to gain new set of friends.

How to get to Tali Beach House, Nasugbu, Batangas

Going to Tali Beach House necessitates you to rent a car because it situated far from the town proper. Though there are buses from Manila to Nasugbu via Tagaytay but it will be difficult for a solo traveler since it is a privately own beach area. Aside from that, you are also required to rent one of their “Villas” which is more expensive. It is recommended to join a group or invite more people if you wanted to go to there.

There are many ways to go to Tali Beach. You can either choose from the following routes;

  • Manila – Cavite Exit (Cavitex)- Tanza – Maragondon (Kaybiang Tunnel) – Nasugbu
  • Manila – Tagaytay City – Nasugbu.
  • Alabang – Daang Hari Road – Dasmariñas- Trece Martires- Maragondon (Kaybiang Tunnel) to Nasugbu.

When you get inside the Tali Beach House, do not expect that it will be like regulae beach resorts in San Juan. Like what I said, you are obligated to rent a house if you wanted to stay overnight. However, you also have an option to have a day tour where you get to experience the beach areas inside Tali and their famous cliff jump. Here is the list of the beach areas that you can enjoy while you are in Tali Beach House.

  • Tali Beach Cliff Jump Site
  • Sunset Beach
  • Palm Beach
  • Main Beach
  • Coral Garden Beach
  • Barrier Beach

Tali Beach Cliff Jump Site

Tali Beach House has been known to travelers because of its famous jump site. For those who love cliff jumps and wanted to experience a heart- thrashing activity, then the Tali Beach Cliff Jump Site is for you. The cliff is about 30 feet high. When are below the cliff, it seems that it very easy to jump but when you are already on the top of the cliff and ready to jump, that’s the time you will feel the difference especially when you are afraid of heights. Here are the tips before you jump.

  • Pay attention to your tour guide, they know the place more than you do. When he says that it is not good to jump due to strong waves, then abide.
  • Do an ocular before you jump. Evaluate first to which area you wanted to land.
  • Learn the principles of proper cliff jumping. There are a lot of instructional videos in YouTube.
  • Listen to your body. If you are afraid of heights, don’t jump.
  • Don’t get pressured with your friends.
  • Respect the height of the cliff.
  • If you are eager to jump, don’t think twice. Just JUMP. Be sure to jump far away from the ledge.

Once you are done with the cliff jump, you can proceed in enjoying the other beach areas in Tali Beach House such as the Sunset Beach, Palm Beach, and Barrier Beach, go snorkeling at Coral Garden Beach and the Main Beach. One thing that you need to remember is that there are no lifeguards within all the beaches in Tali. Swim at your own risk. Parents must be with their children at all times. It is also important to know that when you are in Tali Beach House, you are already facing an open sea, meaning there are no other islands in between near the mainland. The current is unpredictable since the area it is located at the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

You can visit their website at http://talibeachhouse.weebly.com/ to get more information for rates and other amenities or you can also contact Mr. Allan Manuel at 09228398127.

Thank you guys for a wonder day tour at the Tali Beach House. It was definitely a fun day and I really enjoyed every moment. You all are amazing people.