Travel Date: February 15 – 16, 2017
This blog is a continuation of my previous blog Making the most out of my two-day Solo Travel journey in Albay Province since I opted to have a side trip at Caramoan Islands in Camarines Sur. This blog is quoted on a solo travel journey with jump-off point at Naga City.
February 14, 2017 (DAY 1)
Following the last paragraph of my previous blog mentioned above, I arrived at Naga City at around 8PM. It was a 2-hour travel from Legazpi City via Bus. Upon arriving at the city, I immediately checked in at my accommodation – JoMcKayl Apartment located at Sebastian Street corner Isarog, Naga City. From the bus station, it is accessible via chartered tricycle (since its late at night already) at P40. Its just 5-8 minutes away from Naga Bus Station. The Apartment is located within a very peaceful village. The room only cost me P500 without breakfast. For booking, you may call them at (054) 472-4721.
Room is actually okay. Its like a bedroom on house. Its worth the price actually. Room has its own restroom and Flat Screen TV as well. I highly-recommend this to budget travelers. Again, thanks Google Reviews for the recommendations. Gave it a high score by myself too in Google Maps.
February 15, 2017 (DAY 2)
The day started so early for me. I have to leave at 6AM in the hotel since I had limited time for my next destination. Since its early, I had to walk a few meters going to the next block and waited for a tricycle. Fare is at P10. Prior going to the Naga Bus Station, I had my breakfast at the nearby 7 Eleven. After which, I went to the station and explored the means of getting to CAMSUR for Caramoan Islands. I was lead to a Non-air Bus (JC Liner) bound for Lagonoy. I just informed the bus driver to drop me at the Municipal Hall of San Jose, Camarines Sur. Travel time is from 2 hours to 2.5 hours and fare is at P73. Non-air bus was not bad at all since majority of the places we will pass by are plains with trees and crops. Spell FRESH AIR! Also the bus has several stops so if now with the stops, going to San Jose will surely be less than 2 hours.
After 2 hours, we arrived at San Jose, Camarines Sur. As advised, I will inform the bus to drop me at the Municipal Hall.
Upon arriving at the Municipal Hall, I waited for a jeep going to Sabang Port (my Jump-off Port to Caramoan Islands). Fare is at P15 and travel time from the highway is more or less 20 minutes. There is a name card of SABANG on the jeep so it is very easy to find.
In Sabang Port, go directly to the waiting area and list your name inside. I arrived there at around 8:40AM.
Unfortunately, there is no system in place here at the Port. As per schedule, the next trip should arrive at 9AM but this schedule is not fixed since waves could not be generally smooth along the way. The boat arrived at 9:30AM. The barker then called out all passengers for Carmoan Islands to board the vessel. Well, the boat is big but not that comfortable at all.
We just find our seats at the boat. Thank God I have packed light during this trip. After 20 minutes, the journey started. Well, the 2-hour journey is fairly enjoyable since there are wavy parts and you can be wet with the splash of the waves at some point. The view is just awesome. I loved the water too.
After a very wonderful journey at the sea, we arrived at Guijalo Port in Caramoan Islands. The boat did not dock. It actually stopped over another boat. We will pass by a series of boats and a very challenging plank before arriving at the main port. Its like First Challenge of SURVIVOR Series.
CARAMOAN ISLANDS is located at the lower eastern part of Camarines Sur in the Bicol Region. Because its isolated from the rest of CamSur, the island remained unexploited from commercial tourism. The island is home of lush forests, limestone formations, caves, crystal clear waters and a rich marine life. It became popular after SURVIVOR, a Reality TV show began filming their seasons here.
Going back to my trip – After Sabang Port, I chartered a motorcycle going to my hotel and paid P20.00 for the fare. Before we go out the Port, we have to pay P10 for the Environmental Fee of the island.
I checked in at La Casa Roa Hostel which is located in their town proper which the center of the whole island. The hostel is located at Sirangan Street, Barangay Tawog in Caramoan. You may call them at (054) 472 7887. It is just a block away from the main highway and is very much accessible to everything. The whole central district is actually small.
Google Reviews are right. I so loved La Casa Roa Hostel. Aside from its the most trusted accommodation in the island according the reviews, the hostel is actually a house before. I loved the interiors since they are very homey. Loved my room as well. Amenities are good and staff is really friendly and accommodating.
After settling down, I started negotiating for my island tour in the afternoon with the locals around. again, there is no system of tourism here so you have to put an effort in asking everyone especially that the Town Proper has less tour operators. Much of the Operators are in Paniman Port area. Caramoan Islands is divided into two major group of islands – the Matukad and Manlawi Group of islands.
Matukad Islands include Busdak beach & cave, Matukad Beach, Lahos island, Minalagos Island & Cagbalinad beach. Fixed rate of Boat good for 6-8 pax is P1,500 for whole day boat rental. This is exclusive of food and entrance fees. This is the nearer route from the island.
Manlawi Islands include Sabitan-laya, Manlawi Sandbar, Cotivas Island & Bag-ing Beach. Fixed rate of Boat is at P2,500 good for 6-8 pax for a whole day rental exclusive of food and entrance fees. This is a farther group of islands.
During the negotiation with the locals on the packages, I found out that Coast Guard has not allowed travels within Matukad Islands due to strong winds and waves. The only island allowed is Manlawi Islands which is a father group of islands. I was a bit disappointed bu I don;t have any choice but too abide by the rules. After reviewing everything, I decided to cancel my afternoon’s trip and rescheduled it tomorrow morning at 6AM. I was able to book One (1) boat at P2,500 bound for Manlawi Islands with P400 additional for Lunch provision and P300 for back and fort pick-up and delivery via motorcycle. Oh well, at least I still have reason to go back to Caramoan for Matukad which is the most famous spot in the island. Forgot his name but the KUYA BOAT OPERATOR/GUIDE who entertained me can be contacted at 09196589491.
It was 2PM that I decided to roam around the quite and small town. I visited one of their most famous spot nearby – the St. Michael Archangel Parish.
This is Caramoan’s oldest church which is believed to be 300 years old already. This church was founded by the Franciscan Missionaries in 1619. From La Casa Roa Hostel, this is accessible via a 10-minute walk. Since there is no more other things to do nearby, I decided to enjoy the laid-back feeling of the place over a cup of coffee.
The town is relatively peaceful and locals are friendly. I know February is an off-peak season here so tourists are very scarce. Also, waves and winds are not generally friendly as well during this month. I decided to take an early dinner since I was informed that majority of the stores or mini restos here are closed by 6PM. There are no decent restos here aside from those in the hotel and the resort so be prepared to eat in roadside eatery or food house. Since my call time will be at 5:30AM tomorrow. I settled early that night to get some sleep.
February 16, 2017 (DAY 3)
Today is my only time to explore Caramoan so I woke up at 4:30AM to prepare everything. I already check-out at my hostel since I will be heading to the terminal right after my island tour at around 3PM. Part of my arrangement with my local tour operator is a pick-up from my hotel via a motorcycle or habal-habal. We head to Paniman Port. Our jump-off point for the Island hopping.
TRAVEL TIP: Paniman Port is more or less 20 minutes away from the town proper but this is the main jump-off point for Matukad and Manlawi Island Hopping. Several beach resorts are offering decent accommodations here too.
The boat for my Manlawi Tour is actually big. It can fit up to 6 pax. After settling with the tour guide, I and my 2 boatmen started the trip.
Well, the first 30-minutes of the travel is a bit wavy. I’m actually wet because of the splash of the waves. Boatmen said that the waves are calmer this day but as what I have experienced, it was never calm. But, it did not scared me at all. After that, the waves became friendly as we are entering the cove area. Minutes later, it became wavy again upon reaching our first stop: LAHUY ISLAND. Travel time from Paniman Port to Lahuy Island is 45 minutes.
Nothing special nor extraordinary here in Lahuy beach aside from the overrated fact that Nora Aunor filmed here. Sand is nice and water is okay. Its more of a small private resort with inconsistent rules. They are suppose to charge us with Entrance Fees but ended up paying nothing since they don;t have loose change for my bill. We headed directly to Cotivas Island. Travel time is approximately 20 minutes crossing another wavy route. Upon arriving at Cotivas Island, the real Caramoan adventure begins.
The island is amazing. Sand is powdery in nature. The water surrounding is crystal clear too. Plus, they have unique nipa huts as well. Place is ideal for lunch time too. I fell in love with the place. They also sell seafood here and of course my favorite, coconut! The fresh coconut is sold at P50.00 plus Entrance Fee of the place is P50 too.
After some wonderful time at Cotivas Island, we head to Manlawi Sand bar. Unfortunately, due to high tides and big waves that time, the sand bad is nowhere to be found. All I saw was just the Nipa Huts. I was a bit disappointed since the sand bar is really vast according to pictures online but hey, we are in the mercy of the waves and the tides.
We stayed for a while for some picture-taking moments and directly sailed to the main island in the tour set – the Sabitang-laya. My disappointments subsided when I saw this beautiful island. The place that really gave me the SURVIVOR FEELS. It was 30 minutes away from Manlawi Sand Bar. By the time we arrived, we settled for lunch while my 2 boatmen is fixing something in the boat. Literally, we are stranded in the island for sometime. Now, that’s a taste of SURVIVOR.
Yehey! My lunch was a feast. The P400 charge is worth it. I didn’t mind getting stuck in the island due to some repairs of our boat. The whole island is literally MINE! We were the only people there actually at that time we arrived. After lunch, I explored the whole island with such a long stretch of pristine and crystal clear water and very great powdery sand too.
Sabitang-laya is the MAIN AREA for all SURVIVOR Challenges. This is where usually all the games of the franchise are held. Area is usually closed for tourist during the filming of the challenges. Aside from being a SURVIVOR ISLAND, Sabitang-laya has great limestone formations too.
All the disappointments are worth it at this place though it is way better to experience Matukad Group of Islands too. At least, I still have reason to go back to Caramoan Island very soon. After an hour, we decided to go back to Paniman Port. We arrived there after 45 minutes. Just had a quick shower nearby and immediately took off the place for the Caramoan Bus Terminal. Since I did not catch up the 11AM last trip for the boat, I had to endure to long and winding journey via bus. Upon arriving, I catch the bus bound for CUBAO at around 3PM since it stops at Naga City. Travel time is 4-5 hours since the road in Caramoan is really small, dangerous and under construction. Yes you heard it right! CARAMOAN can be accessible by land too. At least I tried both means. Bus Fare is at P240. The LAND TRAVEL is tiring but comfortable since I can get some ZzzzZ along the way. I arrived at Naga City a 8:30PM. Spend the night at JoMckayl Apartment (same Room and Rate).
February 17, 2017 (DAY 4)
I decided to leave Naga City at exactly 6AM to catch my flight to Cebu via the Legazpi Airport. Thank God I made it on time for my flight despite the rain in Legazpi. Just a realization, I will definitely go back again to explore Caramoan and other islands nearby. CARAMOAN doesn’t deserve to be a side trip.
BUDGET BREAKDOWN (from Naga City)
- BUS FARE from Legazpi City: (P140.00)
- HOTEL at JoMckayl Apartment (1st Night): P500.00
- Trike Fare from Bus to Apartment (Day 1): P40.00
- Trike Fare from Apartment to Bus (Day 2): P10.00
- Breakfast and Snacks at 7 Eleven (Day 2): P150.00
- Bus Fare from Naga to San Jose (Day 2): P73.00
- Jeep Fare from San Jose to Sabang Port (Day 2): P15.00
- Boat Fee from Sabang Port – Guijalo Port (Day 2): P120.00
- Environmental Fee in Caramoan (Day 2): P10.00
- Motorcycle Ride from Caramoan Port – Hotel (Day 2): P10.00
- La Casa Roa Hostel (Overnight; Day 2): P900.00
- Snacks in Caramoan (Day 2): P100.00
- Dinner in Caramoan (Day 2): P110.00
- MANLAWI ISLAND TOUR SET (Day 3) Boat Fee: P2,500.00
- Lunch Fee package from the Guide (Day 3): P400.00
- Motorcycle Pick-up from Hotel and Delivery at Bus terminal after (Day 3): P300.00
- Snacks at the Bus Terminal (Day 3): P100.00
- Bus Fare from Caramoan – Naga (Day 3): P240.00
- Trike Fare from Naga Bus terminal to Hotel (Day 3): P40.00
- Overnight at JoMcKayl Apartment (Day 3): P500.00
- Trike fare from Hotel to Naga Bus (Day 4): P10.00
- Breakfast and Snacks (Day 4): P150.00
- Bus Fare from Naga to Legazpi City (Day 4): P180.00
- Trike Fare from Legazpi City Proper to Airport (Day 4): P50.00
- Terminal Fee at Legazpi City Airport (Day 4): P150.00
GRAND TOTAL: PHP 6,798.00