Philippines

The Ultimate Guide to the Caramoan Islands

January 15, 2016
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Caramoan has been on Filipino tourists radar after groups of Isareli, Turkish, Siberian, and other foreign groups visited the area characterized by dense vegetation and bored by powder white sand beaches splashed by crystal clear waters. These visitors weren’t typical beachcombers that we are use to seeing on the likes of Boracay or Palawan but rather groups from the reality TV show Survivor. For many years Caramoan has hosted the show for different participating countries, thus closing down it’s beauty for those wanting to visit (*This is something you will need to check for when planning). Fortunately for Camille and I, we were both able to first visit in Dec 2013/Jan 2014, ringing the New Year on the Gota Island Resort. During our 4D/3N stay we had a great balance between adventure and relaxation.

 

On a recent trip (Jan 2016) we rolled into Bicol with over a dozen family members intending on staying on a mainland beach resort but being disappointed with the beach and the resort we decided to drive an extra 4 hours. Thinking it would be an easy few couple hours after having already driven for 9 hours from Manila we chose to go to Caramoan with everybody, none of us were prepared to drive up and down the surrounding jungles that take us to the Caramoan Peninsula.
We did two island tours outlined below:
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Tour 1- nearer islands
If you opt for the shorter, closer tour the swimming is better at Matukad Island as the water is very clam and there are spots in the water without coral
and seaweed. *Note- many boatmen will take you back to this island after visiting some of the other islands. Matukad also has a secret lagoon that requires what can almost be called rock-climbing. Caramoan is scattered with limestone islands and walking on limestone can be a bit dangerous with it’s jagged edges. When climbing up the “trail” to visit the secret lagoon shoes are highly recommended. Once up there you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the beach and a small lagoon containing a 10 kilogram milkfish.
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Lahas Island is directly across from Matukad and a short 5 minute ride. There’s a twin beach in the middle of the island that has two shoreline on opposite sides.
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4 islands (Matukad, Lahas, Kagbalinad, Sabitang Laya) and Grotto – 1,500 pesos
Tour 2- both near and far
 
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7 islands (Matukad, Lahas, Kagbalinad, Sabitang Laya, Bugtong, Cotivas, and Manlawi Sandbar) and Grotto – 3,000-4,000 pesos
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LOGISTICS
Getting there: 
Fly- To Naga then take a van from the Naga Van Terminal to Sabang Port (100 php, 1 hour). From Sabang Port take a boat to Guijalo Port (120 php; 2 hours) then a tricycle from the port to Caramoan town (300 php per tricycle; 30 minutes)
or
Fly to Virac, Catanduanes. Hire a tricycle to Codon Port (300 php; 1 hr). Hire a boat to Caramoan Island (2500 php; 30-45 minutes)
Bus (via Sabang Port) Take a bus from Cubao/Alabang/Pasay to Sabang Port. 800 php; approximately 10 hours
From Sabang Port take a boat to Guijalo Port (120 php; 2 hours) then a tricycle from the port to Caramoan town (300 php per tricycle; 30 minutes)
Bus (via Naga)
Take a bus from Cubao/Alabang/Pasay to Naga. Ordinary bus 600 php, A/C and First class bus 800-1000 php; approximately 9 hours. Then take a van from the Naga Van Terminal to Sabang Port (100 php, 1 hour). From Sabang Port take a boat to Guijalo Port (120 php; 2 hours) then a tricycle from the port to Caramoan town (300 php per tricycle; 30 minutes)
Drive from Manila to Caramoan- We did this with our family and don’t really recommend it as the road for the last couple hours is pretty rough even without any rain. If you do drive you can go straight to Barangay Paniman. From Manila the drive will be 13-15 hours or once in Naga about 4 hours.
Accommodation:
The best cheap alternative is Residencia Salvacion which is beachfront, provides free kayaks, and has slow wifi (rather than no wifi)- 400 per person including breakfast. There are also tons of homestays and if you end up going to the port you can arrange there rather than pre-booking.
Alternatively we stayed at Gota Village a few years ago on a package for 4d/3n and it was around 10,000 php for the both of us and was inclusive of meals, tours, a hike, rock-climbing, and karaoke!

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