Monday, November 09, 2015

I get so excited about the thought of sharing my Caramoan adventure here in my blog. It was my first time to be in Bicol Region. Caramoan is a group of islands  located in the province of Camarines Sur. The place started to become famous when the 'Survivor' reality game show started leasing the islands as shooting location, not only the US version but also other franchises like France, Poland, Sweden and many more. It's a paradise, serene and untouched and now many tourists are attracted to this place.

From Manila, we traveled to Bicol via Isarog Lines. We've chosen the lazy boy seats for a comfortable sleep since we departed at 11 PM, fare is P1000 per head. As far as I can recall, we arrived in Naga City terminal at around 6 AM. At the terminal, we already purchased bus tickets in advance for our return to Manila. At that time, it was peak season, almost all the bus lines had fully booked seats.

The travel time from Naga City to Guijalo Port was 2 hours and 30 minutes. On the port, we transferred to a boat going to Caramoan proper. Although we booked a tour online and paid reservation fees, no tour guide welcomed us upon arrival so we were so upset. We knew that they missed our schedule when we called the contact person so we decided to ride the tricycle and pay 300 pesos to drop us to Breeze and Waves Cottages, the hotel where we were supposed to stay. As agreed, the travel agency reimbursed the tricycle fare. Another disappointment was at the hotel reception, there was no reservation made for us and there were no more rooms available on that day and the following days. We were again so upset and afraid, we thought we were scammed! A few more minutes, our tour guide on a motorcycle came to fetch us and he kept apologizing as he was not informed by their office that there were guests scheduled on that day. The three of us on a motorcycle, we manually kept looking for hotels/lodges with available rooms. It was really hard to find one with available rooms since it was peak season. We ended up staying in a newly opened lodge, facilities were still incomplete, there was no TV nor ref available. At that time, there's also a rotating brownout. There's no electricity in the morning and supply comes back at 5 PM. In our case it was fine, we're on island hopping activities at that time.

We visited several islands and caves on our three days stay. Our disappointment on the first day were paid off by the enjoyment we had on all the activities. Kuya Randy, our guide, assured us that we will enjoy the tour and make the most of what we paid for. It was tiring and relaxing at the same time. Caramoan has it's own beauty to offer, it's calm, serene and unspoiled beaches are the top factors. It's nice to know that the local government is proactively taking care of this tourist destination as well as the Survivor production Team.

Matukad Island - This island was our first stop, known for its powdery white sand and surrounded by large cliffs. There's a cliff on one side where visitors can climb. I was afraid to do so but according to some tourists who did, visible on top was a small lake and there's a big milkfish swimming on it. 

Lahos Island - One of my favorite stop, unbelievably it has a large pile of powdery white sand visible during low tide. The shore was like sandwiched between two beaches. During high tide, it disappears, the reason why the island was named 'lahos'. The shore is also spacious and perfect for playing frisbee.

Hunongan Cove  - This spot is serene and hidden, known for its giant rock situated in the middle of the shore. This is near the Gota Village Extension and perfect for kayaking activities.

Busdak Beach - out of all the islands we've visited, this has the grayish sand. The rock formations near the shore were filled with 'tulya' shells. It may not be as beautiful as the other islands but I did enjoy swimming in this area as 
the water was cooler probably because the sun was about to set. It was the last itinerary on our first day.

Guinahuan Island - This is probably the largest island in Caramoan. Normal tours do not include this in their itineraries but we're lucky enough that our tour guide added this in our list. We had a super minor trek to reach the lighthouse. Amorseko grass is abundant and while we were busy taking pictures we didn't notice that hundreds of small spikes were stuck in our clothes. They were so hard to remove from fabric. The whole time we were there, It felt like I'm in Batanes, 'though I haven't been there! 
I found this the most picturesque among all the islands we've visited. We were accompanied by the kids belonging to the tribe that lives in the island.

At the rear part of this island is the Liwan beach facing the Philippine Sea (of the Pacific Ocean). We're so thrilled with its amethyst waters and the fact that this beach is not visited by many people. It was summer but we were the only people swimming at that time, the kids who were locals accompanied us and they were all great swimmers. We walked the entire island since the boat waited for us on the other edge.

Liwan Beach at Guinahuan Island

Cotivas Island - this is the coolest island for me because this place is best for resting. A lot of nipa cottages are located here. It's perfect for barkada swimming and kids because the beach is shallow given the fact that the shore is actually a sandbar.

Manlawi Sandbar - this is the largest sandbar I've ever seen! The tide was perfectly low when we arrived, the water was really shallow like only my feet were dipped. Floating nipa huts were present and on the farthest sides were small hills with pine trees, t
he entire horizon was so picturesque.

Crystal Cave - A hidden treasure of Caramoan, the stalagmites and stalactites inside this cave were shining at its full glory. Bright crystals were formed all over the cave's body. It was really an amazing experience to get inside this small cave.

Omang Cave - This cave was named 'Omang' which means 'hermit crab' because of its shape. We crossed a river to reach this hidden gem. This cave has a high ceiling and larger compared to the Crystal Cave. It was beautiful how light passes through the holes and openings. We climbed up the rock formations, they were huge and sturdy. It was peaceful and quiet inside, we stayed for some time and just listened to the sound of the chirping birds. When we went down, our guide gave us free coconuts freshly picked from the tree near the cave.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Mother of Peace Grotto - this is a Church at the top of a mountain far from the beaches but still part of Caramoan. We went here by riding a motorcycle, driving along zigzag and sloped roads. On our way to the grotto, we enjoyed every second feeling the fresh wind and looking at the sceneries. 
There are about 500+ steps to reach the giant statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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