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Travel Guide to Camarines Norte: Where to Go and Where to Stay

Camarines Norte, Philippines

Almost home. This is what I have felt when I went on a trip with fellow other bloggers to visit Camarines Norte, it's a province located in Bicol - the region where I was born. Located just 300 kilometers south of Metro Manila, you can reach CamNorte in 7-8 hours. My hometown, Irosin Sorsogon is literally just another 7 hours away so my heart is jumping with joy because it indeed feels like home. It's a pity though there was a low pressure area so we had to endure rainy moments. That means less tourist spots of Camarines Norte that we were able to see and less photos for us.

Camarines Norte is the lesser known and smaller sister in terms of geography of Camarines Sur. This actually makes CamNorte a tourism gem slowly spreading its light to the world.  The term "Camarines" was given by the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo which means "storehouse" because of the many farm barns and riverbanks back in the colonial days.  Composed of only 12 municipalities, Camarines Norte speaks Tagalog and Bicol. Labo, Capalonga, Sta. Elena, Paracale and Jose Panganiban speaks Tagalog. Daet, Talisay, Vinzons, Mercedes, Basud, San Vincente and San Lorenzo Ruiz speak varieties of Bicol dialects.

Our trip to Camarines Norte made me believe that there's more to see in this province aside from the famed Calaguas Island.  Here's a list of tourist spots in Camarines Norte worth checking:

1. Visit the Bantayog Monument, Jose Rizal's first ever statue 
Would you believe the very first statue of our National Hero was not in his home province nor where was executed? In Daet, Camarines Norte there's a monument of Jose Rizal made of coral stones which were taken from the old Spanish prison house where many Katipuneros were tortured. It was declared a national historical landmark by the NHC in 1961. By 2008, by virtue of Resolution No. 12 it became a National Momument.

bantayog rizal monument daet camarines norte

2. Glide at the Longest Zipline in Barangay Matacong, San Lorenzo Ruiz.
It's the longest zipline in the whole Bicol region. The best part of this is that you have an option to do the zipline and tramline or cable car all the way to Nacali Falls (different price, please contact them for the info). 

List of fees below:
Sitting position (two-way ride) = Php 250
Superman position (two-way ride) = Php 350   

san lorenzo ruiz zipline camarines norte

3. Beach bumming in CamNorte
Beaches are Cam Norte's ultimate destination! These are Bulalacao beach in Jose Panganiban, San Jose beach in Talisay, Cayucyucan in Mercedes, Mangcamagong in Basud, Maculabo + Pulang Daga in Paracale. 

My personal favorite is the Parola Island in Panganiban. It's a pinkish slash golden brown beach that is so raw and so beautiful. My fellow blogger participant Rowena Cond of Travel Eat Pinas made a blog post, WHEN IN CAMARINES NORTE: PAROLA ISLAND, click HERE to read it.  I am putting another blog post dedicated for this gorgeous island alone so stay tuned as well.

4.  Island hopping in Camarines Norte
Certainly, CamNorte is not gonna run out of beautiful islands. In Mercedes, there's a group of islands called Siete Pecados. It's composed of Apuao Pequeña, Caringo Island, Quinapaguian, Canimog, Apuao Grande and Canton Island. The first one is so Instagrammable - it's dotted with tall, slender pine trees. We even saw a couple doing their prenup shots. 
Canton Island is said to have caves that are enchanted. Caringo is known for its marine sanctuary with unbleached corals. It could be your jump off point to kayaking in San Miguel bay. Bagasbas has a lighthouse.

The towns Jose Panganiban, Vinzons and Capalonga have its own share of beautiful islands as well.

5. Pray at Camarines Norte's historic churches 
Dwellers of Camarines Norte are majority Catholics. It won't be a surprise to find churches that are as old as time. Some of these are the Saint Peter the Apostle Church in Vinzons and Saint John the Baptist in Daet. The one I was able to see myself is the Nuestra Senora de Candelaria Church in Paracale. It is already 400+ years old. We were able to see the original Inay Candi or the statue of the Virgin Mary made of pure gold and ivory. There's also a huge Balete tree that seems to guard the church and believed to be of the same age of this church! 

nuestra senora de candelaria paracale camarines norte

6.  Take a plunge at some of Camarines Norte's stunning waterfalls
There's a lot of choices: Mananap Falls in San Vicente, Colasi Waterfalls, San Vicente Waterfalls, San Felipe Twin Falls, Mananap Falls, Malatap Falls, Twin Falls in Santa Elena, Colasi Falls in Mercedes and Nacali Falls of San Lorenzo.

We were only able to visit one which is the Binuang Falls which has 3 tiers inside the Binuang Waterfalls and Resort, a community-run resort. Entrance fee is only Php 10. You can contact Kagawad Luz dela Tore mobile num 09052032272.

Malatap Falls and Binuang Falls are just 100 meters away from each other while Maligaya Falls is about 8 kilometers away from the highway.

binuang waterfalls in camarines norte

7. Eat Bicolano dishes
This is my favorite apart from the island hopping thing haha! I am by blood a certified Bicolano so this trip was like at home. It was divine to have eaten the famous sinantol, a dish of ground flesh of santol (cottonfruit). This is the only type of dish I always wish my mom would serve whenever I am in my hometown so imagine the heavenly feel when I ate this!

More local dishes in Camarines Norte to try: tinumok - ground shrimp or small crab wrapped in taro leaves then cooked in coco milk, angko - mochi balls with sweet peanut paste filling and ginumis - a frozen treat for hot summer days. Of course Bicol Express pizza and Laing pizza are always included.

Villa Eusebia Restaurant in Labo, Camarines Norte serves the best ginataang santol I have ever tasted with a view of a river.

sinantol or ginataang santol in bicol cuisine

16. Taste the world's sweetest pineapple variety - Formosa
You'll never ask any types of pineapple, once you taste Camarines Norte's Formosa variety. It is so sweet, you'll be asking for more.

pineapple formosa camarines norte

More places to visit in Camarines Norte

8.  Climb Bicol's one of the largest and oldest trees
Only if you can... there's a red lauan located at Bicol Natural Park in Barangay Tuaca Basud. It stands 27 meters and 2.06 meters in diameter! 

9. Learn CamNorte's History through the Bulawan Museum 
Photography is not allowed inside Bulawan Museum. It's a relatively small museum that houses memorabilias of Camarines Norte's local heroes such as Captain Thomas Zaldana, Jose Maria Panganiban, Francisco Boayes, Wenceslao Vinzons and more. It also showcases some gold jewelries made by locals of Paracale town and Fernando Amorsolo's. Another one is the Museo de Labo where you'll see extensive collection of artifacts and personal items of the town's previous prominent families.

Paliza del Rio Tourist Inn, the only accredited guesthouse in Paracale has lots of old photos of locals from yesteryears all in black and white hanging on its walls. You'll be lucky if you stay as their guests.

10.  Find the Rafflesia, the world's biggest flower 
I have seen one in Antique though I regret I didn't have a camera that time to capture the moment. If Antique is too far for you, check out Mount Guinatungan in Barangay San Isidro in San Lorenzo Ruiz. 

11. Surfing in Bagasbas Beach
When you've had enough of Baler, Zambales and La Union, Camarines Norte is the place to be for surfing.  It is the first internationally recognized surfing spot in the Philippines and currently occupies the 62nd top surfing spot in the world. Not only that, it also has the largest number of accredited surfing instructors in the region.

12. See Camarines Norte's Provincial Capitol Building with 12 massive pillars 
These pillars represent the 12 municipalities of the province.

13. Pay homage to the Capalonga's Black Nazarene
If Quiapo has the Black Nazarene, Camarines Norte's Capalonga shares the same religious icon.  It is said that Chinese businessmen flock to this town every first Sunday of the month and especially on its feast day every 13th of May. 

Other attractions in Capalonga:
Tawid na Malaki mangrove - a fish sanctuary
Pulong Guijanlo island - home of migratory birds 
Punta de Jesus - believed to be where the Black Nazarene got its tree

14. Hunt Daet's Famous Landmarks  
Aside from the Bantayog Rizal's monument, there's a few more to check out. 

Daet Heritage Center - the former town hall that is now converted into a museum, art gallery library, cultural and multipurpose center.
Rufino Pabico Mansion - a postcard pretty mansion built in 1917. Daet has a number of typical Spanish "bahay na bato" architecture complete with lattices, barandillas, frescos and capiz shells.

15. Go there during fiestas 
Fiestas are celebrated in the province more colorful and with much enthusiasm compared in Manila. That's why there's no better time to go to a local destination aside from summertime than during local celebrations. Camarines Norte has a few celebrations that make up the Philippine's best festivals. Here's a list of Camarines Norte's schedule of fiesta celebrations:

Main festivals
Bantayog Festival - April 15
Pinyasan Festival  - June 24

The rest
Pabirik Festival (Paracale) - February 2
Tambuli Festival (Sta Elena) - June 7
Pineapple Festival (Daet) - June 24
Kadagatan Festival (Mercedes) - August 8
Busig-on Festival (Labo) - September 8
Boyuboy Festival (San Lorenzo Ruiz) - September 28
Babakasin Festival (Vinzons) - September 28
Paruyan Festival (Talisay) - October 4
Mambulawan Festival (Jose Panganiban) - October 7
Rahugan (Basud) - October 24

Where to stay in Camarines Norte
Click HERE to view the list of affordable hotels and accommodations in Camarines Norte.

Where to dine in Camarines Norte.
Click HERE to see the list of restaurants and fastfood chains in Camarines Norte.

How to go to Camarines Norte
Take a bus either from Cubao or Pasay bus terminals by choosing any of these: Philtranco, Superlines, DLTB or Amihan.

By plane, you can book a 45-minute flight to Naga in Camarines Sur via Pili Airport then ride a UV Express van for 2 hours to get to Daet.

More tourist spots in Camarines Norte below:

Note: This is a media trip sponsored by the Provincial Tourism of Camarines Norte including the Local Tourism Offices of the towns we visited. This was organized by Mike Zuñiga of to promote the #ComeToCamNorte Campaign. All opinions are mine, as always.

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