Apuao Island: The Road Less Traveled


Chino: We’ve heard it before: for life to change, we have to embrace change. These meaningful vacations take you on the path less traveled.

Mercedes is an exquisite destination waiting to be explored. Seeing the Islands of Mercedes is like having a glimpse of paradise. The unspoiled islands and wildlife of Mercedes is equal to the other local tourist spots. It has to be recognized for its own uniqueness and spirit, making it a class of its own.


Our huge boat seemed to be revving up so fast only to find out that we were running at a normal speed. It was roughly a 30-minute boat ride to the island. We passed through an inviting white sand beach in Canimog Island, one of the largest islands of Mercedes. Dubbed the “Crocodile Island” (name after for its crocodile-like shape), it is known for its wildlife and bat sanctuary. It’s natural environment is ideal for trekking, hiking, scuba diving and game fishing. Down to the Southern part is the Quinapaguian Island boasting fine white sand beach teeming with rich marine life. The smallest but pristine island of Malasugui will lead you to the bigger Caringo Island. The neighboring Canton Island can be reached on foot. A perfect place for rock climbing with a mysterious cave which locals believe is the home of the mermaids.


Camp beneath the pine trees along white powdery beach and take pleasure in the crystal blue waters of Apuao Islands. It’s tranquil nature is perfect for meditation and relaxation. The island is privately owned by the Swagman Hotel Chain until a strong typhoon hit Bicol region causing major damages in the area and later on decided to abandon the island.


We explored Apuao Grande by walking to the eastern part of the island. We found ourselves walking towards a wide grassy plain, which used to be a golf course but now a playground for cows. Apuao Grande offers cottages and amenities on a practical daily and a monthly rates. Ideal for family picnic and bonfire camping.

From the beach trail we headed to the low lying forest where a habitat of bats live. These bats used to live at Caringo Island by the lighthouse them stayed in this island. We climbed to a hill which opens to a fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean.


Via Air

45 minute direct flight from Manila to Pili Airport in Camarines Sur. From the airport, 15 minutes drive to Naga City. The van terminal to Daet is located in front of SM City Naga. Another 2 hours-drive from Naga City to Daet, Camarines Norte. From Daet, jeepneys or tricycles for hire are available to take you to Mercedes town proper.

Via land

Take the bus from Manila through South Maharlika highway to Daet. Bus companies with daily trips to Daet are Philtranco with terminals in Pasay City and Cubao, Quezon City and Superlines in Cubao, Quezon City. Buses available are air conditioned and non-air conditioned. From Daet, take the jeepney or hire a tricycle for a 15-minute drive to Mercedes town proper.

The municipality of Mercedes can be reached via Daet in Camarines Norte. We encourage you to get in touch with the Municipal Tourism Development Operation Center (MTDOC) of Mercedes to go to the seven islands, including Apuao.

Municipal Tourism Development Operation Center //  (054) 4441261 // discovermercedes@yahoo.com


Mercedes is a progressive town in the province of Camarines Norte. There are quite a few decent accommodations in Mercedes. Apuao Grande Residential Houses // Apuao Grande Island, Mercedes, Camarines Norte // +63 927 428 3211

Chino Pantua runs the blog Juanderfulpinoy.com, a community of wanderers who love to share stories about a developing nation, the beautiful island Philippines, that features ideas for people who love to travael, take photographs, and want to live their dream.

Have you been to a destination worth featuring lately? Email your story and high resolution photos with subject: “Submissions” to editorial@stark-publishing.com for a chance to get published on livetoexplore.projectdemosite.com or Explore Philippines Magazine


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Our journey began with an idea to discover what it means to travel the Philippines, beyond the alluring images of sparkling blue waters and powder white sand. We seek to share travel stories to inspire the wide-eyed traveler, moving them deeper into the destination with stunning images and narratives about its sights, tastes, textures, smells, and local life.

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