Camarines Norte— As tourist arrivals skyrocketed from an estimated 10,000 per year to more than 15,000 since it topped an online poll for tourism gems in the Philippines, the Calaguas group of islands in Camarines Norte is now in danger of turning into another Boracay—pretty but packed.
Due to a common fear among residents and officials of their island suffering the same fate as Boracay did, private-sector groups and the local Coast Guard of Camarines Norte are taking the initiative of keeping the islands’ pristine white sands as “virgin” as possible.
Noli Pajarin, tourism officer and accountant of the municipal government of Vinzons that has jurisdiction over Calaguas, said waste management, boat traffic and docking are some of the major problems that officials face.
He said the sudden surge in the number of visitors made these problems more glaring on the group of islands, which has no concrete structure or modern facility simply because officials and residents don’t want these.
The Calaguas group of islands is found off the northern shores of the Camarines Norte towns of Paracale and Vinzons.
It has two major islands—Tinaga and Guintinua—and 11 minor islands—Maculabo, Cagbalisay, Bendita, Comalasag, Siapa, Huag, Cagbalisay, Balagbag, Pinacuapan, Samur and Pinagcastillohan.
Mahabang Buhangin beach is on Tinaga Island, which is also known as Calaguas Island for easy reference and for tourism purposes.
Tinaga is about 2 hours by boat from the port of Vinzons.
The islands are under the jurisdiction of the town of Vinzons, except for Maculabo, which is under the municipality of Paracale.
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