Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Caramoan Island, Camarines Sur ~ Day 1

Are you a fan of the hit reality TV show in the US, 'Survivor' ? Just two years ago, two consecutive seasons of the show -25th and 26th season were shot at Caramoan Island in Camarines Sur Philippines. I was able to watch some of its episode and was amazed on the beauty of the island. From then on, I have listed this place on my bucket list. And that’s why I was so excited when my friends were able to plan on this trip, because I will be able to tick off another item on my travel bucket list! J

Caramoan Island is a first-class municipality located in the lower eastern part of Camarines Sur in Bicol Region, Philippines. It is surrounded with limestone cliffs, beautiful white sand, and crystal clear water. It is also filled with marine life, exotic islets, diving spots, underground cave and rivers, lagoons, and rock formations. It has now become the favorite location site of the producers of the said TV series. Truly, the natural and unique features of Caramoan made it as one of the well-known tourism spots in the country today.

Here’s how we reached the place…

We have availed a 3Days/2Nights Caramoan Tour Package from PH First Travel and Tours that includes Caramoan service transfers. (Read Full Details of our Itinerary here ).

From Manila, it took us a 9 to 10 hours travel time to Naga City or to Sabang Port. And from there, we registered first then hopped into the boat for another 2 hours travel time to Guijalo Port. So expect really to endure a butt numbing and tiring ride. 

By the way, there is a nearby eatery at Sabang Port where you can dine or rest first while waiting for the next boat trip. Also, just a reminder to watch carefully with your baggage as some people claim that there are thief baggage carrier at the port. But you could actually bring your own baggage inside the boat and just put it on your lap or under the seats. But if you don’t want to risk for your bags to get wet just in case waves get higher, you could also put your baggage inside a plastic. There are ‘manongs’ who sell some plastics at the port and be the one to carry it inside the boat. Then you could just give any amount to them for the work done.

                                                                             Inside the boat. Off to Guijalo Port

Then from Guijalo Port, a jeepney service (also included in our package) picked us up and drove us to River View Vacation Inn which was our accommodation for the whole trip.

River View Vacation Inn is located in Barangay lli, nestled in the heart of Caramoan, CamSur. The hotel is not too far from the city center and takes about minutes to reach the airport or Guijalo port. They also provide great facilities and services such as Wi-Fi in public areas, restaurant, car park, room service, and all guestrooms feature a variety of comforts that would ensure a pleasant stay for guests. []

One thing that I really commend on this hotel is the meals that they have cooked for us on our 3 day stay. It was really great! They surprised us in every meal that they served to us. All of it was really yummy! 

Yummy crab!

We ate first our lunch in the hotel and also relaxed for a while before we started our island hopping in the afternoon.

For Day 1, we visited Lahus Island, Matukad Island, and Cagbalinad Island. We were then picked up in our hotel by our jeepney service and dropped us off to Bikal Port which is the jump off point to island hopping.It took us only 15 – 20 minutes travel time to get there. 

                                                                           Bikal Port (photo from Sheena Casta) 

Our first stop was the Lahus Island…

Lahus Island consists of two white sand beaches divided by two huge limestone rocks. The Visayan word 'lahus' means you can pass through. It is easy to pass from one side of the island to the other side, which is the exact description of the island. The island is also a private property owned by Bicharas, a politician in Albay.

As our boat docked and the moment my bare feet touched the shore, I was amazed on the powdery white sand of the island, the crystal clear waters of both beaches and limestone rock formations that are really sharp.

 Fine white sand (photo from Marion Montiveros)

 Rock formation

 The other side of the beach where you can swim

                                                                        The boats dock on this side of the beach

The place is really cool and just a great place to relax or unwind.  And it’s beautiful that’s why we really can’t get enough of taking pictures around the island.

                                                                                           Excuse this pic :p 

Then for our second stop, Matukad Island...

Only a few minutes from Lahus Island is another powdery white sand beach, Matukad Island. Unlike Lahus Island, it is a long stretch of powdery white sand and the place has a big shaded area because of the trees. There are people who usually camp out in here. The sand here is whiter and finer. We were also told by our tour guide that this was the perfect place for us to swim as the water is so clear and clean.  

Then on one end of the island is a limestone cliff which is on a vertical route that would lead you to Matukad Island’s enchanted lagoon. We were surprised then when our tour guide said that we need to climb that approximately 20 feet high sharp rocks (without wearing any gears) if we wanted to see the lagoon and the mysterious huge milkfish. And so that explains the name of the island Matukad (local dialect in Caramoan), it means ‘to go up’ or ‘climb up’. 

Marion first to climb; Tom Sawyer on the help

We were hesitant at first if we are going to climb up, because of the steepness and sharpness of rocks. It looked really dangerous, one false step and you could really fall off. But then we don’t want to miss the chance on seeing the mystery lagoon, and we are all adventure seekers here!

The first few steps were challenging but once you are on the middle part, it’s not that steep anymore and there are branches that you can hold on to. This is really an advantage for the rock climbers and mountaineers; otherwise, you really need to have the strength and endurance to climb up this hill.

Upon reaching the top, witness the panoramic view of the nearby islands and the whole stretch of Matukad Island. The view on top of the lagoon was really amazing and beautiful. Then of course, we got the chance to see the giant milkfish down the lagoon. Our initial reaction was “is that it? The one they call a HUGE milkfish?” Because from afar, the size and the looks of the fish is just ordinary. But then we realize that if we encounter the fish closer, it would really be a huge one.

Just a short story or tale about the giant milkfish (according to our tour guide)...

"There was once a two giant milkfish living in the lagoon. And there was a man with his son who went out to search for food. Then they found the lagoon, saw the two milk fishes, and caught one. They brought it home and ate it. Then the day after, the son died. Since then, no one ever tried to catch the milkfish that was left in the lagoon. Also, there is a common belief that there is a mythical guardian in the area".

On top! Our background is the lagoon. where you can find the mysterious milkfish

Friends selfie-ing on top (photo from Marion Montiveros)

Indeed, rock climbing here in Matukad Island is another memorable experience for me. And seeing the natural beauty of the island is a plus.

Then for our third and last stop, the Cagbalinad Island…

Cagbalinad is an islet with small beach which is swallowed by water during high tide. The island is so rich in marine life; the surrounding waters are shallow with lots of sea grasses. That’s why our tour guide suggested that we could swim on this beach.

Enjoying the water!

And just across the island, is the famous Gota Village which is a top end resort. This is where the crew of the TV show Survivor usually stays, and also been the headquarters of the show where they shoot some of its episodes.

We weren’t able to check out the place as there would be an additional fee for the entrance, and also according to our tour guide, there was an on-going shooting of the new season of Survivor.

Gota Village nearby

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