CamNorte Island Hopping (Bantayog Festival 2018)

The town of Mercedes in Camarines Norte is one of those quiet beauties that often gets overlooked. But when you dig deeper, you’ll find that she has so much substance. Mercedes has a serene and quiet charm that just grows on you. The longer you stay, the more you’ll realize just why the town is called “The Belle of the Pacific.”

An 8-Hour bus drive from Manila through the South Maharlika Highway to Daet. Bus companies with daily trips to Daet include Superlines, Philtranco, DLTB, or Amihan with terminals in Pasay and Cubao, Quezon City. From Daet, visitors can take a 10-15 minute jeepney or tricycle ride to Mercedes town proper. Thanks to an invitation to join #ComeToCamNorte Bantayog Festival 2018. I got to see firsthand just how beautiful the place is.

We took a ride bound for Mercedes and we reached the Mercedes fish port. As it was still very early in the morning, the fish port is so busy with fisherman arriving with their fresh catch. I was able to witness what they call “Bulungan sa Pandawan”, a trading practice where bidders whisper to the fish broker his price and whoever bids highest gets the fish.

I was so amazed at how big and fresh the fishes are. If only I could bring home some, I would have bought a kilo as pasalubong for my family.

The little restaurants nearby are very good value and the fish is the freshest you can get.

The municipality of Mercedes lies along the eastern part of Camarines Norte, a province of the Bicol region in Southern Luzon in the Philippines. The Northern part faces the Pacific Ocean, while the Eastern part is bound by San Miguel Bay. Its neighboring towns are Daet and Basud, located west of the Municipality.

Mercedes’s main tourist draw is Siete Pecados or seven islands, each with its own unique features. These are Apuao Grande, Apuao Pequeña, Caringo, Canton, Canimog, Quinapaguian and Malasugui. During our visit, we were able to visit 4 of the 7 islands, as some islands are only accessible in the right tide or sea conditions.

Malasugui Island-The smallest among the seven islands in Mercedes, visitors can actually circle the whole island in an hour. The island’s shore is a mix of rocky and white sandy beach. Some visitors head here for overnight and bonfire camping.

 Caringo Island – You know your trip is off to a good start, when the first words you are greeted with are:“Kain na po!” (Let’s eat!). We had just set foot ashore Caringo Island in the coastal town in Camarines Norte in the Bicol region. Home to a small community of fishing families, Caringo is the furthest of the seven islands of Mercedes, yet it is well worth getting to. The invitation to eat  and the sight of the island itself was very welcome.
You’ll be taken to the snorkeling camp on a small paddleboat. Encounter Nemo and beautiful corals in the Caringo fish sanctuary.

Canimog Island – The biggest among the 7 islands of Mercedes, Canimog Island is also called the “Crocodile Island” because of its unique silhouette. The island, which is famous for its wildlife and bat sanctuary, has terrain suitable for trekking and hiking, while the waters surrounding the island are ideal for scuba diving and game fishing. The island contains a sand-pebble and rock beach, with a stairway leading up to Canimog Lighthouse.

Apuao Grande Island – The Apuao Islands are two adjoining islands with white sandy beach and pine trees connected by a sandbar. Apuao Grande offers beach cottages with amenities for rent that make it ideal for overnight camping, family picnics and beach bonfire parties. Apuao Grande Island contains the ruins of an old resort that was abandoned in the 1980s.

 Apuao Apequena Island – With its thick grove of pine-like Agoho trees, Apuao Pequena is another good spot for camping and just relaxing by the beach. Visitors can take a leisurely 15-20 minute hike through a Bat Sanctuary and hike up to a point with a grove of trees overlooking the rocky coast known as “Surfer’s Paradise.”

Interested in going island-hopping in Mercedes? Please inquire at the Mercedes Tourism Office through the following details:





Daet, Camarines Norte — The Bantayog Festival, which pays tribute and honor to Filipino heroes during the Spanish era and World War II, rolled out its colorful street dance parade here last Saturday, giving spectators a show to remember. 

The festival is celebrated alongside Camarines Norte’s 97th founding anniversary from April 15 to April 29.

The Bantayog Festival is also celebrated in each town of the province with their own festivals


Where to stay:
This is supposed to be one of the better place to stay in Daet unless you want to stay at Bagasbas where hotels cost more.

This is the hotel to stay if you are in Daet. For the basic accommodation, the hotel is extremely reasonable priced. But the thing to shout for is the exceptional service. The hotel staff was very courteous and polite in accommodating to our every needs.

Visit Nathaniel Hotel Facebook Page for more information.

The Food and Travel Buff

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