Camarines Norte is one of the six provinces in the Bicol Region. It used to be merged with Camarines Sur, forming the province of Ambos Camarines. Much like its southern counterpart, the province is a lovely tropical paradise. Blessed with beautiful beaches and rich marine life, Camarines Norte is a great destination where guests can enjoy swimming, boating, sailing, surfing, and diving.
The capital city of Daet is one of the top destinations in the Philippines for surfers. The Bagasbas Beach is a long stretch of powdery sand and salty clear water pummeled by huge waves directly from the Pacific Ocean. It is the playground of both local and foreign surfers. Even beginners are encouraged to visit the beach as surfing instructors and coaches are available in the area. Surfing competitions, beach volleyball tournaments, and other sporting events are also held in the area every year.
Near Daet is the municipality of Mercedes where you can explore The Mercedes Group of Islands. Composed of seven (7) remote islands, it boasts some of the most amazing seascapes in the country. Virgin white sand beaches, coral and fish sanctuaries, a forest of pine trees, and massive rock formations are just some of the natural wonders that make up the island's unique ecosystem.
Camarines Norte is also famous for Pili nuts and the Formosa Queen variety of pineapples, which grow abundantly in the province. Popular take home items from the region are pili nut tarts, candies, and the Pilipiña—a pie made from both the Formosa Queen pineapple and pili nuts.
Although Camarines Norte has an airport in the town of Daet, it is not served by commercial flights. Tourists can opt to fly to Pili Airport in Camarines Sur instead. From there, they can ride a van or bus to Camarines Norte. Total travel time takes about two to three hours.
A more affordable option would be to ride a bus. Travel time takes about seven to eight hours. Daet Express, Philtranco, Superlines, and DLTB are just some of the bus companies that offer direct bus trips to Camarines Norte from Metro Manila.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys ply the roads of Camarines Norte daily which can take you to destinations within the town as well as the neighboring municipalities within the province.
Tricycles are better for short distances and for destinations that are off the beaten path.
What to See
Camarines Norte has a handful of Roman Catholic churches that are worth visiting because of their historical and architectural importance.
Unknown to some, Quiapo Church in Manila is not the only pilgrimage site for the Black Nazarene. The Parish of St. Lucy in the town of Capalonga also enshrines a centuries-old image of the Black Nazarene. Like its counterpart in Quiapo, is also deemed to be miraculous. The shrine is a popular pilgrimage site among the region, especially during the Feast Day of the Black Nazarene held every May 13.
Meanwhile, the rustic town of Paracale is the location of the oldest church in the province. The Nuestra Señora de Candelaria Church is now over 400 years old. A stone church built in 1611, it houses an image of the Our Lady of Candelaria. Aside from the church of Paracale, St. Peter the Apostle Church in Vinzons and St. John the Baptist Church in Daet were also built during the 17th century.
Aside from churches, there are other notable landmarks in the province such as the Jose Rizal monument in the provincial capital of Daet. Locally known as "Bantayog ni Rizal," it is considered the first monument built in honor of the national hero. It was established in 1898, two years after Rizal's death.
Another important historical landmark is the ancestral house of Wenceslao Vinzons. Vinzons was a former governor of Camarines Norte and a hero during the Japanese occupation. The late governor's house was turned into a public library and a museum displaying some of his memorabilia.
Camarines Norte is fast emerging as a favored beach destination because of its many gorgeous undeveloped shores and islands.
The Calaguas Group of Islands is perhaps the most famous among tourists. It is located in the town of Vinzons and boasts virgin beaches that feature white sand shores and sparkling azure waters. Among the most popular islands are the Tinaga Island, Guintinua Island, and Maculabo Island. Tinaga Island's Mahabang Buhangin beach is the most visited because of its long stretch of fine white sand and clear blue waters.
The seven islands of the town of Mercedes should also be included in the itinerary of beach bums. Go island hopping and see the Apuao Grande Island, Apuao Pequena Island, Caringo Island, Canton Island, Quinapaguian Island, Malasugui Island, and Canimog Island.
Meanwhile, watersport enthusiasts can head to Bagasbas Beach in Daet. Because of its massive waves and strong winds, it has become a favorite spot for surfing and kiteboarding.
Aside from its islands, Camarines Norte's waterfalls are also a must-see for nature lovers like the
Colasi Falls in Mercedes, Mananap Falls in San Vicente, and Nacali Falls in San Lorenzo Ruiz. Meanwhile, the town of Labo is famous for its many caves. You can try spelunking at Cadig Cave, Mambuaya Cave, or Pintong Gubat Cave.
Both the Museo Bulawan and the Daet Heritage Center chronicle the rich history of Camarines Norte through its galleries of memorabilia and artifacts. Swing by these two museums if you want to learn more about the province's historic past.
Events and Festivals
Bantayog Festival is a province-wide celebration in Camarines Norte which highlights the first Jose Rizal monument. It is held every April to coincide with the anniversary of the foundation of the province.
Another event to watch out for is the Feast of the Black Nazarene which is held every May 13. On this day, many Catholic pilgrims from all over the region come to Shrine of the Black Nazarene to participate in the event.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
Daet has branches of popular fast food chains like Jollibee and McDonald's. There is also a branch of Bigg's Diner, a homegrown fast food chain serving American dishes alongside Bicolano fare.
The cuisine in Camarines Norte is dominantly Bicolano. Some of the popular native restaurants are Paseo de Bienvenidas. PICA Corner, K-Sarap Restaurant, and Chef Mama's.
However, there are also choices for tourists wanting other cuisine when in Camarines Norte. Brankolei Pizza Italian Vero serves Italian and Mediterranean dishes, while KFisher Restaurant specializes in seafood dishes and Japanese cuisine.
Make sure to try Bicol's signature dishes like bicol express and pinangat, which are cooked using the region's most popular ingredients: gata or coconut milk and chili peppers.
Where to Shop
Central Plaza Mall in Daet is, so far, the only shopping mall in the province. Shopaholics can enjoy a wide array of shops and boutiques while there.
Jannah's Pasalubong is a popular pasalubong center in Daet. It sells bottled pili nuts as well as treats and pastries such as their famous pandecillo bread. Bottled bicol express and otap are also available.
What to Buy
Daet is known for producing the Formosa or Queen pineapple variety, which is said to be the sweetest. Make sure to visit the public market if you want to buy some for pasalubong.
ATMs and Money Changers
Banks and ATMs are available in Camarines Norte.
Fare: PHP 500.00 to PHP 700.00 (By bus); PHP 3,000.00++ (By plane)
The bus fare to Camarines Norte ranges from PHP 500.00 to PHP 600.00, depending on the bus type and amenities.
Food: PHP 100.00 to PHP 300.00
Camarines Norte has lots of affordable dining options. Expect to spend PHP 100.00 to PHP 300.00 per dish.
Shopping: PHP 50.00 to PHP 200.00
The price of a Formosa pineapple at the Daet Market ranges from PHP 10.00 to PHP 30.00, depending on the size.
At Jannah's Pasalubong, you can buy a box of pandecillos or a bottle of candied pili nuts for PHP 150.00 to PHP 200.00.
Accommodation: PHP 700.00 to PHP 1,000.00
For only PHP 700.00, two persons can already share an overnight stay at an inn like Surfer's Dine-Inn in Daet.
Activities: PHP 200.00++
Surfing lessons in Bagasbas Beach cost around PHP 200.00. You need to pay another PHP 200.00 for board rentals.
For island hopping in Mercedes, boat rentals start at PHP 5,000.00, which can be shared among eight to ten persons. For Calaguas Island, boat rental fees start at PHP 7,000.00 and can be split among 15 persons.
Day 1 (Daet Itinerary)
||Arrive in Daet after an eight-hour bus trip from Manila.
||Have breakfast at K-Sarap Restaurant.
||Visit the St. John the Baptist Church.
||See the artifacts and artworks displayed at Museo Bulawan.
||Have another museum tour at Daet Heritage Center.
||Take photos of the Provincial Capitol and see the oldest Jose Rizal monument.
||Have some tasty Filipino food at Chef Mama's.
||Check in at your chosen accommodation.
||Travel to Bagasbas Beach.
||Arrive in Bagasbas Beach. Go beach bumming and learn how to surf. If you're brave enough, you can also try kiteboarding and other adventurous watersports.
||Watch the sunset by the beach. Afterwards, head back to the town proper.
||Have dinner at Brankolei Pizza Italian Vero.
Day 2 (Calaguas Itinerary)
||At the Daet terminal, ride a bus or van headed for the town of Paracale.
||Arrive in Paracale. Have breakfast at a local eatery and buy groceries and supplies for your camping trip.
||Ride a tricycle to the port. Once there, make arrangements for boat transfers. When everything is settled, you can now travel to Calaguas Island.
||Arrive in Calaguas. Set up camp and prepare your lunch.
||Have lunch at your tent. There are some cottages for rent if you need shelter.
||Use your free time swimming, snorkeling, and taking photos. You can also arrange for island hopping.
||Cook your dinner.
||Have dinner and build a bonfire.
||Bond with your fellow campers.
Don't forget to bring medicine, first aid supplies, and insect repellent with you whenever you travel. Should you be in need of any medical assistance, Camarines Norte has many hospitals and clinics for check-ups or treatments.
Safety and Security
Camarines Norte is generally a safe place, but there's no harm in being extra careful on your vacation. Make sure to keep your valuables in a safe place and always be mindful of your surroundings.