Quaint little towns in the Philippines are part of my travel bucket list, and discovering the beauty of the surfing town of Daet was really life-changing.
“Where could be the closest province I haven’t been to so far which I can plan to travel to last minute?”
This is the question I always ask myself each time a long weekend or an upcoming break is approaching. I used to feel like I always have to go somewhere during every free time I get. I used to feel like I always need to have the next best thing figured out. I used to feel like I need to feel every void or space in my life and I am not supposed to stay idle.
Now that I think about it, that mindset kinda feels exhausting. Lately, I’m honestly all about slow living.
Anyway, so my usual ‘scratching that travel itch’ moment has led me to decide to go somewhere new: the surfing town of Daet.
The Surfing Town of Daet
Just like some of the past trips, I had in Bicol Region, I randomly hopped on a bus from Manila and picked a bus which leaves the soonest going to my town or city of destination. I have done this in the past for my trips in Legazpi and Naga, and I will be willing to do this again for the rest of the places I haven’t been to in the region.Specifically for the surfing town of Daet, I don’t have any expectations from this town. I just want to set foot there just because. Boy, I can’t even find any tourism-related information online apart from this Jose Rizal statue and a beach area. (Hmmm perhaps I should write about it? I really want to, but I always find myself feeling lazy about it.)
“A beach area? Girl, you came all the way to this town for a beach area? You are surrounded by a lot of beach areas nearby!” No, I was wrong.
I took a tricycle from my hotel to visit Bagasbas Beach during my first afternoon in Daet. I posted an Instagram Story of a static video of Bagasbas Beach with the sound of the air and waves, and those who viewed my Story seemed to get a calming feeling watching the short clip. Also, one of my classmates from graduate school (who is also an avid surfer) told me, “I’ve been wanting to travel there to surf, but it’s really far.”
And that hit me. There may not be anything special in this town, but I was very brave and lucky to have endured that long bus ride from Manila to Daet and have been to this beautiful beach that some people are just only dreaming of going. I admit, the beach was really beautiful and relaxing, and I could sit by the shore for a long time just meditating and listening to the waves. The whole area seems very clean and well-maintained as well. There are a couple of surfing board rentals nearby, but nope, I don’t know how to surf yet, so I’ll give it a pass. Also, it’s not crowded at all!I even met some friends — some cool locals and a Spanish girl studying English (wait, studying English in Daet, of all places? That seems cool!).
I might not be willing to endure that looooooong bus ride again for Daet itself, but I would love to go back to visit Calaguas Island. That would be nice.
For a local travel, will Daet, Camarines Norte be a top of mind destination of yours? Me, not really. What will I even see here? Okay lemme just Google. Oh, there’s the first Rizal Monument and an underrated surfing spot. But I believe there’s still something else. But before that, I have to find an accommodation! That’s when I came across my home in Daet: Calaguas Gateway Hotel.
I’ve been randomly looking for nearby places to explore if I happen to have time to go somewhere far. As I checked the map for nearby destinations I haven’t been to, Camarines Norte is one of them. After all, it’s just one bus away. The usual me packed my bags and hopped on a bus at Pasay City bound to Daet.
Where to Stay in Daet: Calaguas Gateway Hotel
My stay in Daet on a solo travel was very relaxing, safe, and worthwhile because I was able to stay in a nice place: Calaguas Gateway Hotel. Prior reservation can be done thru email and the very efficient staff (Ms. April and Sir Matt) will be very attentive to your inquiries. I was able to ask them about their late check-in policy and the directions going to the hotel from the bus station.
CALAGUAS GATEWAY HOTEL
Calaguas Gateway Hotel is located at the heart of Daet, Camarines Norte. Its location is very convenient for all travelers because it is near almost every important establishments. A 7-Eleven branch, the town market, and an SM Hypermarket is just a walking distance away, and it is located along a busy highway hence it is secured.
The Check-In Process
They practice a very efficient check-in process where you will just have to show your confirmed reservation and provide your ID card. They have a small reception area but comfortable enough as you wait for the process. You will then be escorted to your room. The rooms are located at the second floor of the building. The first floor is where the reception area and dining area are located, and function halls can be found on the third floor.
These are the room categories of Calaguas Gateway Hotel:
I stayed in a room which is good for two persons. Since I traveled alone, I was able to enjoy the whole room by myself. It is so spacious and comfortable. What I love about this particular room is the presence of a big dresser.
The bed is comfortable and it smells nice. The TV has a good reception signal. They provide the basics like slippers and towels.
The comfort room is clean and well-maintained. They provide basic toiletries such as shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as tissue papers.
THE COMMON AREAS
There is a lounge at the second floor where guests can stay and mingle. The reception area can also be a place to chill. The balcony of the second floor will give you a view of the street and observe the hustle and bustle of the town.
Calaguas Gateway Hotel’s breakfast comes in a choice of typical Filipino silog (or fried rice with egg) meal. You can choose between fried fish or pork (tocino or longganisa). It also comes with a coffee. The dining area is nice and well-maintained as well.
CALAGUAS ISLAND TOUR
Calaguas Gateway Hotel also offers a Calaguas Island tour to its guests. In my case, however, I was not able to avail the tour package because there was an advisory from the Coast Guard that the weather is not good enough for the boats to be allowed to go on a trip to the island. Maybe next time.
Daet is something not everyone will consider of going to, but my experience at Calaguas Gateway Hotel made my trip a comfortable and memorable one. Calaguas Gateway Hotel might not be your high-end hotel type, but the kindness and hospitality of the staff, the location of the hotel, as well as the quality of its rooms and amenities are enough for me to consider my stay as relaxed. If ever I will go back to Camarines Norte (hopefully to go to Calaguas Island), I will plan to stay in this place again.
Bicol Region, Philippines (composed of 6 provinces – Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate, and Catanduanes) is one local destination I will always keep on coming back to travel – the food is great, the views are spectacular, the people are naturally kind, and there will always be new places to see. This is nothing but a typical provincial area in the Philippines, but there is some kind of a magic spell in this place which makes me go back here over and over again. Legazpi City would of course be my favorite, but Naga City is also a nice place, and I like the quaintness of Daet town.
Since I’ve been to this area a few times, I would like to share the spots I’ve been to when I went to travel to Bicol, Philippines, specifically in the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur. Forgive me if I haven’t visited the rest of the Bicol region, but I will try my best to visit them next time so that I could complete this list. But in the meantime, enjoy the best spots on my list from the three provinces I’ve been to.
SPOTS TO VISIT IN BICOL REGION, PHILIPPINES
So without further ado, here are some spots in Bicol, Philippines that are worth snapping that Instagram photo when you travel to this beautiful region:
INSTAGRAM SPOTS TO VISIT IN BICOL: ALBAY PROVINCE
This was the place I stayed when I went to travel for the first time alone in Bicol, Philippines. This hostel is located at Legazpi City.
2. Kawa-Kawa Hill (Ligao)
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Trivia: I don’t really look good when laughing and I have the ugliest and the most graceless laugh according to my friends (to the point that they sometimes want to disown me as their companions in public places HAHA), buuuut #sorrynotsorry, those times were my happiest times. 😂😂😂
The sunflower garden atop Kawa-Kawa Hill is just a short (but steep!) climb from the foot of the hill, but all the sweat and energy are worth it. The City of Ligao celebrates the Sunflower Festival annually to commemorate its cityhood. The city government is also doing a good job maintaining the sunflower garden. Tip: the sunset view here is also perfect.
3. Mayon Volcano (various locations in Albay)
You can have a view of Mayon Volcano in many spots in Albay and Camarines Sur provinces. This time, I was able to view the volcano in a new spot – at Barangay Penafrancia, Daraga, Albay.
4. Cagsawa Ruins
Behind me is a remain of the former Cagsawa Church which was destroyed by Dutch pirates sometime in 1600s.
5. ATV Ride to Mayon Volcano
Several companies are offering ATV rides to the different areas of Mayon Volcano, and the guides are good photographers and videographers as well!
6. Albay Park and Wildlife
A place where families bond together, Albay Park and Wildlife is also a good place to familiarize yourselves with Kingdom Animalia.
7. Bigg’s Diner (various locations in Albay)
Bigg’s Diner is the largest food chain in the Bicol region with branches in Batangas province (Lipa City and Batangas City). What I love with Bigg’s are (1) its very beautiful retro-inspired interior, and (2) the food! I always make it a point to dine at Bigg’s everytime I visit Bicol region. Their must-try is their chicken – it can practically compete with either Jollibee Chickenjoy or KFC Chicken. Tip: try their garlic parmesan chicken. I promise, it’s worth it!
8. ‘Hepa Lane’ (Legazpi City)
There is a street near the Post Office and LCC Mall called the ‘hepa lane’ because you can have all kinds of street foods there – isaw, dynamite, barbecue, name it. The Master Sisig stall provides the yummiest sisig in hepa lane. You can buy a Sisig Rice Meal for only PHP40.
9. Penaranda Park
Just in front of the City Hall of Legazpi City is another ‘hepa lane’ at the Penaranda Park. The best time to go here is during sunset.
10. Lignon Hill
Lignon Hill is a nice place to hike (don’t worry the pavement is completely concrete!) and you will eventually be rewarded by this view!
Embarcadero is a shopping mall and a port area with a nice view of Mayon Volcano. Since Mayon Volcano is sometimes shy to show up, I just snapped a photo of the beautiful chapel there.
12. Daraga Church (Daraga)
Daraga Church is one of the historical treasures of the province of Albay. It is currently undergoing rehabilitation with the supervision of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts. The white coating is a lime coating meant to protect the outer layer of the church and will wear out over time to go back to its original color.
13. Sumlang Lake (Camalig)
Located at the Municipality of Camalig, Albay, Sumlang Lake also provides a good view of Mayon Volcano while cruising in a bamboo raft (balsa). You also have the option to ride an aqua bike or kayak. Be sure to go hours before sunset becuase it closes at 6PM and people are lining up early.
14. Legazpi City Museum
Since most of you know that I am a museum person, this was my first stop upon arriving at Legazpi City. It is located inside the premises of the City Hall.
15. Chili Ice Cream Stalls (various locations in Albay)
Bicol Region is famous for its spicy cuisine. The sili ice cream is one of the most popular desserts in the region and is really a must-try. Some restaurants (like the 1st Colonial Grill, another restaurant chain in Bicol Region) serve sili ice cream. This time I got my sili ice cream in a cone from the kiosks at the foot of Kawa-Kawa Hill in the Municipality of Ligao, Albay.
16. 1st Colonial Grill
As indicated in the cart, 1st Colonial Grill is the home of the original chili ice cream. You can order either level 1, 2, or 3 of the chili ice cream. Oh, did I mention their laing is the best?
Jasmine Restaurant at the Oriental Hotel Legazpi serves delicious food and at the same time gives a nice ambiance with its beautiful interior and a nice view of Mayon Volcano at the same time. Their cookies and cream milkshake is really, really worth the money.
18. Legazpi Airport
My photo just did not give justice to what I’m about to say, but upon arriving at Legazpi Airport, you will be greeted by the beauty of Mayon Volcano. I swear, in other days, it’s there! 😀
INSTAGRAM SPOTS TO VISIT IN BICOL: CAMARINES NORTE PROVINCE
1. Calaguas Gateway Hotel (Daet)
This is where I stayed when I went to Daet. The location is perfect and almost everything is accessible from here.
2. Bagasbas Beach (Daet)
The perfect place to chill when in Daet! Even if you don’t know how to surf, just sitting by the beach area is already enough.
3. Daet Municipal Library and Museum
This small place is where the city government keeps all artworks and memorabilia of the Municipality of Daet.
4. The First Rizal Monument in the Philippines
This was said to be the first memorial monument for Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero. Inscribed on each side are his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and his third but unfinished novel, Morga.
5. Martyrs of Camarines Norte Historical Marker
Where are you, history buffs? Are you like me who also gets excited seeing markers like this? 😀
6. Camarines Norte Provincial Government Building
Very, very typical pillared government office, right? But the vicinity is so garden-ish and looks like a nice park.
7. Bagasbas Lighthouse Hotel and Resort (Daet)
This was one of the nice beachfront hotels in Daet and their restaurant area is nice. You can also use their swimming pool for Php100.
8. Mampurog River (San Lorenzo Ruiz)
I could use a peaceful morning by the river, and just the sound of the waters flowing at Mampurog River (and nothing else) was priceless.
9. Mang Bok’s Kinalas (Daet)
My desire to try some local food led me to try out kinalas, a local Bicolano food which kinda tastes like lomi in Batangas.
10. EATcetera Food Garden (EATc)
Located just near the Provincial Capitol area, EATc was a nice al fresco restaurant with very cheap but yummy food!
11. The 21 Cafe and Resto (Daet)
One of the nearest coffee shops at Calaguas Gateway Hotel, I had the chance to have a quick snack here before my bus ride going back to Manila.
12. Funfrappe (Daet)
My usual aimless walking around the towns I’m traveling to sometimes leads me to beautiful underrated cafes like this one.
13. Caramel’s Fried Siopao (Daet)
I heard this was famous in Daet, so I searched for it and gave it a try. And true enough, it’s very, very yummy!
14. Those restaurants near the Daet Public Market
Haha forgive me if I forgot the name of this place, but this was a random place I stumbled upon to chill and listen to nice music.
INSTAGRAM SPOTS TO VISIT IN BICOL: CAMARINES SUR PROVINCE
1. Naga City Ecological Park
Naga Ecological Park is perfect for families and group of friends who want to spend some quality time. The area is very child-friendly and it has a huge playground built by Graceland, a local bakery and restaurant chain. Adults and kids-at-heart can also enjoy the playground, especially the hedge maze.
2. Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) (Pili)
I wish I can afford to write a separate blog post about CWC, but there’s just a lot to do here.
3. San Francisco Church (Naga City)
Just very near the Centro in Naga, I paid this church a visit when I was having my own walking day tour of the city.
4. Penafrancia Cathedral (Naga City)
I made it a point to visit this church when I went to Naga because it’s very popular and cultural.
5. Travel Cafe (Naga City)
Anything travel-themed will always be my thing! This cafe was really cozy and relaxing. The London telephone booth-designed door will greet you in here.
6. White Bean Cafe (Naga City)
Just in front of the EMall, I couldn’t help but give this cafe a check because it really looks beautiful from the outside. It’s intimidating to enter the cafe because it’s very beautiful, but it has a home-y vibe once you enter.
There you have it! Are you excited to travel to Bicol Region in the Philippines now? Let me know by sending me a message at my Instagram account @wheressherlyn. Happy and safe travels!
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