Backpacking Philippines,  Luzon

Mercedes, Camarines Norte: The Belle of the Pacific (A Travel Guide)

Philippines is known to have more than 7,000 islands. Though a surge of tourists have been visiting more or less thousands of these, a lot are still unknown to many. If you are into exploring the undiscovered, the seven islands in Mercedes, Camarines Norte perfectly fit into your list.

The Siete de Pecados of Mercedes

This group of islands include Caringo, Apuao Pequeña, Apuao Grande, Malasugui, Quinapagian, Canton, Canimog islands in which each of these islands would pamper your inner mermaids and tickle your inner thalassophile, satisfy your sight with the hues of aqua and the greens and give you a taste of the pacific ocean. Indeed, it is the “Belle of the Pacific”.
We were supposed to go to Calaguas Island that time, Summer 2017. However, due to the threat of an inclement weather, we were told by the coastguards that we cannot sail due to the behavior of the waves. Since ‘Safety First’ is at the top notch of the travelers’ rules, we did not insist on this one since Pacific Ocean waves are not something we would want to dare play with. There and then, we searched on the spot for a destination in Camarines Norte in which we would be allowed to safely sail and we came across with ‘Siete Pecados de Mercedes’. We didn’t knew that such paradise existed around the corner of the upper Bicolandia.
Beach and pine trees, yes?
 The campsite, Apuao Pequeña Island
The trail up to Apuao Viewdeck ?
The trail got concrete steps halfway up to the lighthouse.

Things to Do in the islands of Mercedes, Camarines Norte

1. Island hopping

Docking at Apuao Pequena!

2. Beach bumming

The beach of Apuao Pequena

3. Swimming

A good swim after the trek and rapel from the lighthouse of Canimog Island!

4. Camping

The Campsite of Apuao Pequena! Lovely beach with golden sand and a grassy campsite with pine trees!

5. Stargazing
6. Sunset watching in Apuao Pequeña

waiting for the gorgeous sunset at Apuao Pequena

7. Trekking to the lighthouse

Up into the lighthouse of Canimog Island

8. Rapeling from Lighthouse and trek to an islet nearby Canimog

A trekking can be down from up into the area where the lighthouse is down to that rocky beach below

9. Trekking in Apuao Pequeña

A glimpse of Pacific Ocean after a short trek in Apuao Pequeña Island. From there, we traversed and we were lead to the other side of the island.

10. Fruit Bats watching

The enormous fruit bats of Apuao Pequeña

How to get there

By Air

1. Take a flight from Manila to Naga Airport located in Pili, Camarines Sur. The trip might take 40-45 minutes. Cebu Pacific has several flights daily to and from Camarines Sur.
2. ride a jeep/ taxi from the airport in Camarines Sur to Naga City.
3. From Naga City, ride a bus or van to Daet Bus Terminal
4. From Daet Bus Terminal, take a jeep to Mercedes boundary. Fare is at Php 40.00 for a special trip and Php 10.00 per head for a non special trip.

By Land

1. Take a bus from Alabang (Php 749.00), Pasay or Cubao bound for Daet. Look for bus liners such as DLTB Co., Amihan and Superlines. Trip might take ten to eleven hours and fare ranges from Php 700.00 to Php 750.00. Get off at Daet Bus Terminal.
2. From the Bus terminal, ride a jeep or tricycle to Mercedes boundary. Fare is at Php 40.00 for a special trip and Php 10.00 per head for non-special
3. From Mercedes Boundary take a tricycle to the port. Trip would take 10-15 minutes and would cost you Php 10.00 per head and Php 60.00 for special trip.

Boat Rental Rates

Our jump off was at Cayucyucan/ Kayukyukan Beach. From there it was a 25-30 minute boat ride going to our first island, Apuao Pequeña.
Rates range from Php 2,500.00 to Php 6,000.00 depending on the number of tourists and the days that the boat will be rented. For 4-8 persons who would rent the boat for the whole day only, it would cost Php 2,500.00 inclusive of boat transfers and island hopping. If they would rent it overnight, it would be Php 3,500.00. For a tour with a maximum of 16 persons, it would cost Php 6,000.00 with the same inclusions.

Where to Stay

If you want to pay Cayucyucan/ Cayukyukan Beach a visit or check in to a resort nearby, you may want to go straight to Brgy. Cayucyucan through a tricycle either from the port or Mercedes boundary. Nearest resorts include Villa Criselda, Palms Farm Resort which also offers island hopping activities to the aforementioned islands. Or, if you want to spend and a night or camp in the island, you may either choose from Caringo or Apuao Pequeña.
There’s a resort in Caringo Island which offers cottages for rent and may also allow you to pitch tent for a certain minimal amount. There’s also electricity in the island powered by generators. Apuao Pequeña, vastly bedded by carabao grass and roofed by tall pine trees, on the other hand, promises a relaxing campsite. Its sand is comparable to that of Jomalig Island in Quezon because it turns golden at a certain time of the day. There’s only one washroom in the island and watersource is a pump. Hence, it is advised that you bring your own drinking water. Lastly, cellphone signal isn’t a problem in this island.
Palms Farm Resort
Facebook page: Palms Farm Resort
Villa Criselda Hotel
The beach of Canton Island
As regards the accommodation, if you want a less hassle trip you may contact and avail a package from Kuya Ruel Santilices and Ate Annie. We availed a package from them for two days and one night inclusive of tent rental and sharing, boat transfers and island hopping, sumptuous hosted meals which are buffet in style and local wine. They made our trip and stay indeed worthwhile. The foods were quite commendable! It was only in there where we tasted such. We had fish, pork, seafood, fruits and veggies prepared in their local cuisine! We chose to stay and camp in Apuao Pequeña, by the way.
Always ready to soak in a lot of sun!

Contact Information

1. For tours, you may reach the following:
Ate Annie/ Kuya Ruel Santelices – 09985811396
Facebook: Ruel Santelices
2. Mercedes Tourism Office
Facebook page: Love Ko si Mercedes
Special thanks to Ate Jen Bechayda for the photos and Kuya Ruel for helpig me out on this travel guide and a wonderful trip! ?

Anne Elizabeth Gumiran, also known as Queenie, is a 20-something, full-time public school teacher, a part-time travel blogger and a freediver. She started putting her stories of adventures and misadventures into words and pictures in 2017 and continues to do so as she shares her advocacy, Sustainable Traveling.

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