The island of Caramoan is one of Philippines’ best kept secrets. Located in the province of Camarines Sur, it is a favourite shooting location for the TV show Survivor. It is isolated from the rest of the Bicol Region by a boat ride, and only has a population of a little over seventy thousand. It is often referred to as a virgin island and although tourism has boomed over the past couple of years, the island remains unexploited and untouched. It is a slice of paradise with its crystal clear turquoise waters, blue skies and white powdery beaches.
For about twenty six US dollars per day, you can tour the islands of Caramoan. Gota Beach is the mainland and the most popular beach in Caramoan, but some other famous islands are, Lahuy Island, Lahos Island, Cotivas Island, Sabitang Laya Island, Hunognan Cove, Matukad Island, Minalahos Island, Pitogo Island and Tinago Island. Manlawi island is peacful and picturesque. Thin, white sandbars line the blue waters. There is a hut on the island that you can rent for about four dollars. You can also buy coconut juice refreshments and sea shells for souvenirs that cost about fifty cents each. Lahos Island is beautiful and has a sandbar in the middle that is visible during low tide. This connects two rock formations that look alike. Matukad Island has steep and large limestone cliffs that you can climb. Matukad, in fact, means steep in the local dialect. Inside the cliff is a lagoon and a tropical forest. There is another cliff on the other side too.
Walk along the Centro, or the town proper. Check out the market, the river, the local city hall. There are many souvenir shops too. Be sure to visit the Parish of St. Michael, the Archangel. The church is old, probably erected during Philippines’ colonial era, and is made of red bricks. Hike the Lady of Peace Grotto, but be sure to prepare your legs for the more or less five hundred steps to the enormous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There are no fast food chains or ATM machines on this island. It’s just laid back everyday life.
There are many activities on the island. Enjoy kayaking, island hopping or night fishing.
There are many options for accommodation too. Residencia Salvacion is probably the most luxurious in the area. Rooms are air-conditioned with hot/cold showers and flat screen TV. The hotel is clean and the staff is friendly. CK – Inn also offers good accommodation with air conditioned rooms and clean facilities. The inn also arranges tours for kayaking and island hopping. Breeze and Waves is close to the beach and arranges tours as well. They offer check in and check out anytime. There are other hotels and inns on the island, or you can choose to camp on the beach or the lush greens. If you decide to do the latter, be sure to ask permission from the local government and to clean up after you camp. The local government is very particular in keeping the island as it is.
Most of the hotels and inns have restaurants. But restaurants on the island only offer Filipino food. This region of the Philippines is famous for making dishes with coconut milk and lots of pepper – really spicy! You will find restaurants serving international cuisine and fast food chains in the cities surrounding the island.
There are daily international flights to the Philippines. The international airport is in Manila and you can travel to Naga City either by plane, for forty five minutes, or by bus, for eight hours. From Naga City, its a two-hour bus ride to the Sabang Port where you can take a boat to Caramoan Islands. When you get to the island, there are trycicles and boat that you can rent to take you around.
Caramoan is s piece of heaven on earth untouched by commercialism. It is the perfect getaway from your busy city life, the perfect breather, the dream vacation. Guest post written by Rachel at Explore-Earth, a blog about world travel by people who love to travel, and love to write. Thank you for reading.