Fine sands, colorful fishes, creepy crustaceans, scary treks and glowing plankton can all be seen in the Caramoan Islands. If you want a change of pace and is already tired of famous beaches in the Philippines like in Boracay, Batanes and Palawan, then a Caramoan itinerary might be your best bet!
The Best of world Travel was luckily included in the first TravelBook Philippines travel getaway, so we took our chance to deploy one of our members to tried and conquer the famous Caramoan of Camarines Sur.
A long ride to the south was ahead of us. We were all ready that the travel will eat up almost half a day, but we weren’t ready that the ride will be so uncomfortable to our body and souls.
A 12hr-ride from Robinsons Cyber Gate 3 to Barangay Bikal, Caramoan, Camarines Sur was a feat to everyone that were included in the whole trip. Not to mention that the drivers were in a hurry so that we won’t get caught up in a heavy traffic when the sun rises. They were stepping on the brakes and accelerator like there was no tomorrow!
Upon arriving at the Caramoan, the Al del Rio Villa Resort had already prepared our breakfast on their very long set of tables. The feel was provincial-like and they were very warm on receiving us. Chicken and dogs were just a few feet away. The air was fresh and unsullied. The temperature of the air was perfect, not too hot and not too cold.
After picking our rooms and eating breakfast, our Caramoan trip had begun.
A 2-day / 2 nights Caramoan itinerary was enjoyed by the travel bloggers who had won the first TravelBook PH contest. The Caramoan itinerary that we enjoyed were something like this:
Caramoan Tour Day 1
Our free Caramoan tour package was sponsored by TravelBook PH and hosted by Al del Rio Villa Resort. We started to island hop to the eastern side of the whole group of Caramoan islands. In this part, we experienced a Boracay and El Nido like getaway!
We arrived late in the Al del Rio resort, so we had to hurry and sail to our first destination, which is the Matukad Island.
The Matukad Island served as a warm up for all of us, it was just a few minutes from the sea port and was consisted of steep rock formations and a very beautiful beach.
A blurry photo from the top
Another blurry photo from up above
Before exploring the island, we had to learn about its legend that spreads in the whole Caramoan Islands just like a rumors that lingers through the night. But first, let me tell you that the word “Matukad” came from the root word “mataas” (English: high, steep). It is known because of the high peaked rock formations in the island.
Now, the legend is all about a fish god. Behold and kneel to the one true fish!
The Legend of Matukad (A fanfiction created by Best of World Travel according to imagination)
Once upon a time in far far away in Matukad, there were two happy milk fishes as big as a babyshark.
I will call them Mr. and Mrs. Fishers.
They are called milk fishes not because they sell milk in their neighborhood, but because they are foreigners that came from far far away…. with white skins.
Yes, white skins. Imagine some foreigners going to the Philippines, or something like that.
One day, Mr. Fishers was chatting to his little friends about extra judicial fishing. He was the leader of the resistance and wants to fight back the current administration of the Fishident of the Philippines.
While talking with his friends in FishBook, he saw in his timeline that many of his friends were killed. They were spotted in the flea market and had a cardboard within them saying,
“Tuyo, Wag Tularan. 50 Php/kg”.
He was in rage and immediately went to his wife, Mrs. Fishers to pass the bad news. When he went home, he learned that another tragedy befell upon him. His wife was abducted by the Fishing Government. Oh no!
“My wife! my wife! my wife!…..Mrs. Fishersssss!” (I guess he also calls her Mrs. Fishers)
As he shout louder and louder, a great rumbling shook the entire Matukad island. Dark clouds, heavy rain and extreme lightning were swirling in the entire island.
All of the fishes, sponge bob, plankton and even the Krusty Krab went closed.
Since then, the extrajudicial fishings were put into halt. The Fishing Government can’t even lift a finger to a single dilis. They didn’t even know who are the vigilantes that took Mrs. Fishers.
In order to stop the rage of Mr. Fishers, the government closed a deal by bringing a new milk fish in the Matukad island that can join Mr. Fishers in his whole life, ’till death do they part.
And guess what? Mr. Fishers agreed to the terms that he will stop the swirling lightnings if he will be given a new wife (Mrs. Fishers #2) and be left in peace with her, ’till death do they part.
And they lived happily ever after.
I guess this isn’t your typical romance fairy tale huh? What happened to Mrs. Fishers #1? No idea.
In short, the Matukad’s (two) milkfishes must not be removed from their home or a great disaster will befall upon the Caramoan group of islands.
After learning the fairy tale like story from Mau, our travel guide, we immediately went to the awesomely spiky rock formations to find these milk fishes. I saw the two fishes, the big one might be around 1-1/2 feet long and the smaller one (which is new) was around 1 foot long.
They were living in this small lake inside the rock formations. Going up the steep rock formations was risky, but going down to near the lake was riskier.
View when you go down to the lake
The rock formations were a bit dangerous, steep and spiky, but if you have the courage to risk your life for a spiky-licious adventure and a majestic selfie poses, then those rocks are your best friends.
After a dangerous rock climbing, we headed down to take our lunch above the light brown but fine sands. The sands were very fine that it almost felt like we were in Boracay.
There were also a few merchants in the middle of nowhere, selling coconut juices and “halo-halo” for around $0.5 each. They sell there to let tourists have a little refreshments after a spontaneous rock climbing.
The sea water of the Matukad island was blue-green and slightly clear near the shore, perfect for a warm-up swimming.
After the warm-up rock climbing and swimming at the Matukad island, the captain of our ship brought us to the Lahos Island.
The Lahos island was named after the root word “Lagusan” (English: path) which depict its geographical formation that looked like a path to another island.
The angry side of Lahos
The island’s water current were actually different from one side to the other. The side where we docked had calm waters. While on it’s opposite side, the waves of the sea were extreme like they were very angry to the rock formations. But the best thing in here are the colorful fishes and corals that sit by in this part of the island — just a few feet from the shore.
I started warming up my snorkeling gears and waterproof camera. I also let others to use it so that they can film the colorful fishes in my stead. A truly wonderful idea just to be away from danger. Remember, strong waves!
Our Caramoan tour package Day 1 was almost done when we left the Lahos Island. The next stop was the Cagbalinad… in the middle of the ocean.
What did we do there? Swimming and snorkeling!
“Bring out those waterproof action cameras and start filming the corals!”
Swimming and snorkeling in this area was fun. There were a lot of colorful aquatic animals and corals just a few feet from the surface, a perfect distance to find Dory. I was able to do such things because of the power of the life vest. Without it, I’m done for!
Cagbalinad doesn’t just offer snorkeling and swimming, within it’s reach, there were a lot of beautiful islands surrounding the area. It was a great place to take photos since we were in the middle of the ocean with beautiful islands.
After a few minutes of swimming at Cagbalinad, our ship directly went to our very last stop for the day, the Yupakit Island.
The Yupakit Island was a special island in our Caramoan tour because it was owned by the House of Mau (I mean, owned by Mau’s family).
The island had a combination of black, grey and white sands that were very fine. I actually loved stepping on the sands since it relaxes my nerves. I played like a 5-year old boy.
There were a few cottages in the island. And pitching tents are actually allowed in this area.
There was also a bonfire mark which showed the presence of human activities in the ancient era. According to Mau, if you pitch a tent in this island, some bioluminescence plankton might show up at night time.
Sunset was nigh
Being the last island that we have visited, I think the Yupakit Island was truly fit to be the last because of the relaxation aura that it gives to the travelers before going back to base. I think the true ability of the island can be experienced before sunset, it just gives a chill and a majestic feeling of accomplishment.
And here he comes! Darkness..
The sunset we faced was so magnificent that can make your heart feel the warmth of it. That sunset was one of the best things that I saw in the whole day tour. After that, we returned to the Al del Rio Villa Resort.
Caramoan Stay Night 1
“Videoke is theFilipinos best friend”
A “provincial aura” is incomplete without a videoke, and the Al del Rio Villa Resort happily offers a set of videoke. This videoke machine became the best friend of tired travelers during our first night in Caramoan.
As for me, I went directly to our bed after a couple of chatting sessions, since my body and soul wanted a good ‘ol rest.
Caramoan Tour Day 2
If the first day of our Caramoan tour package was like a visit to Boracay, then in our day 2, we were like in the Batanes group of islands.
Bag-ing and Sabitang Laya
“The island is three at high, buta piece at low”
Our first stop for Day 2 is an island that can be seen as three islands at high-tides and stay as a single island at low-tides.
Seems like a riddle?
Bag-ing or Bagieng is an island that has three high peaksthat seems to show three islands when the water covers the lower part of the shore, and these islands merges when the tide is low. It is also kknown to harbor most of the Survivor challenges, not just the local Survivor in the Philippines but of the international shows as well.
This island is mostly closed when a Survivor Challenge is shooting their show. Luckily enough, there were no shows that were shooting during that time.
Around 3km wide. The fine sands were awesome!
Bag-ing has one of the finest sands that I have ever seen in our whole Caramoan tours. It was light brown, and with proper reflection of the light, the sands appeared to be pinkish. She is also famous in Caramoan because of the “pool-like” effect created by the sea stones just a few feet from the shore.
Check out the rock formations on the right. Creating a “pool-like” effect
In this part of the beach, the water was clear and full of cute marine animals.
We also tried to swim in this beach, but the waves were too strong and going further was very much risky.
On the other side, the Sabitang Laya lies. Guests can just walk from Bag-ing to this part of the island, or ride the boat to reach the other side. But I recommend to just walk it all over there because there were a few spots that amazed me while walking.
Sabitang Laya is another great spot for relaxation on a Caramoan trip. This side of the island houses different rock formations that can be used as a picture taking spot. We took several photos in it’s beautiful rock formations.
After Sabitang Laya, it was already past one in the afternoon. A great lunch was already needed by our stomach that shouts, “lunch lunch lunch!”.
We arrived at the Sand Bar at high tide, so I can not call it a “sand bar” anymore, but a Floating Bar in Cotivas Beach.
The Floating Bars and a photogenic boat
The water’s was more than four feet height, so it was really easy to stroll in the whole group of Floating Bars. We took our lunch in this bar, and behold, it was so hard to control the stability of the cottage. One minute and you’ll find your cottage unbalanced.
According to Mau, the floating bar should have been better if the tides were low. “The effect of the white sands greatly enhances the beauty of the place”.
A sea snail merchant
A group of merchants were also lurking in this part of Caramoan. Few things like colorful seashells ($ 1 ea), Halo-halo and Coconut ($ 0.5 ea) as well as kayak rent were all available.
After eating lunch, guests can just jump on the waters to walk around. The sands were white, a few star fishes were lurking, but I hardly saw some fishes that were swimming in this part, except one.
After a few strolls in the Floating Bar, we directly went to the Ginahoan Islands. The distance between each of the islands in the western part of our Caramoan tours were very far from each other. I really thought that we will go to the other side of the world, because it was really really far.
And I somehow dozed off….
Upon arriving the Guinahoan Island, I already noticed the dirty waters and shore that welcomed us.
“Ahoy humans! Welcome!”, said by the rotting algae.
Humans live in this area. And some trashes were visible floating on the sea water.
In this island, we were to conquer a light house that was at the top of the hill. And so we did.
And the death march starts here
A 20 minute trek was promised upon us. But in reality, we only had a 5-minute trek because we traveled the shortest path. For future guests, be ready to learn how to play “patintero” because a group of moo craps will be waiting on the road, saying “Aloha travelers!”.
Just a few more steps and it‘s the lighthouse!
At last! The Light House!
Just like what I have promised you, a Batanes feel befell upon us when we reached the peak of the hill. There was this huge light house that can be your photobomber when taking selfies. A group of photogenic weeds and a stunning clear blue sky that shook our nerves were also present. But the best part in Guinahoan is the view of the Pacific Ocean and Philippine Sea.
The promised photogenic weeds
Another stunning weeds
Just pointing at the weeds on the other island
During our stay in Guinahoan, I also saw a whirlpool in the Philippine Sea for just a moment while the waves were thrashing to every part of the gulf. The water’s color were a combination of dark blue and clear blue-green. Truly a majestic view in our tour in Caramoan.
The Ginahoan island was very far from the sea port, it actually took us more than an hour before reaching our home base. But before that, we experienced a spectacular view along the way.
Since it was already almost dusk when we depart Ginahoan, the night welcomed us when we were still on our way to Al del Rio. It was a bit dangerous because there were just a few lights that can lead us to sea port. Not to mention that the tide was beginning to lower and rocks or corals might hit our ship.
Along the way, the sky cleared up, and I saw that the night stars started to looked beautiful. They were twinkling, twinkling like a littler star, how I wonder if our boat will hit something.…*bam!* and it did!
Shock and startle were upon everyone for a few seconds. The night was dark and full of terrors. But the boat was still floating. My goodness gracious! The trip continued.
As I continued to look above, my colleagues were wondering why was my neck bent like that way and my eyes glued up above like praying to the heaven. When they looked that way too, they discovered that a beautiful sky was smiling upon us.
Just a representation, not the actual photo
While looking up above for a few minutes, a beautiful shooting star just greeted us! It had an awesome timing.
As I get tired looking up, I tried to look down for a moment and my eyes saw two little twinkling sparkles on the water. I asked the captain’s ship about what I saw, and he replied,
“Nah, it’s just a reflection”
A few minutes the sparkle became four, ten, and they multiplied to hundreds and thousands as we sail through the night’s sky. They were like fireflies in the water. I told myself, “This is not just some reflection”.
And so it were a group of Plankton.
It was my first time seeing those Plankton, and they were very beautiful. The BioLuminescence plankton were green when they were glowing up. It was more beautiful when our boat stopped and needed to be paddled forward. The ship captain’s long stick was disturbing the Plankton, thus giving us a rare sight of light under the clear water at night.
The Plankton continued to glow as we reach the sea port, it was one of the best experience in our whole Caramoan tour.
Caramoan Tour Highlights
This is our video compilation taken from a SJCAM SJ4000 WiFi. The quality isn’t the best, but I we still managed to make this video.
After a very tiring day tour in the western part of the Caramoan Islands, we headed back to the Al del Rio Villa Resort. We took our precious dinner, had our stomach full and relaxed.
After a brief relaxation from the dinner, the TravelBook staffs arranged a little game for all of us. The winners’ prizes were gift coupons.
Going Home at Day 3
After our Caramoan tours for two straight days, the third day was to say goodbye to Caramoan herself. Our Caramoan island tours had officially ended during that time.
Going back to Manila is another pain in our body and souls, but luckily, that return trip was better compared to our first trip.
Souvenir shop at Pili, Naga City
Our lunch break at Bigg’s Diner
We had some stops for souvenirs at Pili, Naga City. A lunch at Bigg’s Restaurant, all taken cared by TravelBook PH. And our dinner at Chowking along the high-way, again, taken cared by the TravelBook PH.
After that, we went ahead to Robinsons Cyber Gate 3, the building where the TravelBook PH resides. And everyone went to our separate ways.
While the TravelBook Philippines only had their very first travel blogger contest getaway, I can say that it was a huge success. Our experiences in Caramoan was majestic and truly unforgettable. If we will be allowed in the future, the whole Best of World travel team will surely visit the Caramoan and conquer more islands compared to this trip.