Survivor ka ba? If you watch the US series or its counterparts in France, India and other countries, you probably have seen glimpses of the Caramaon Peninsula in Camarines Sur, Bicol Region. The peninsula is made up of several small islands, apart from the mainland where the town center, and several resorts and homestay accommodations are located.
Of these islands, around 14 can be visited by travelers. Some can even accommodate campers, as long as they pay a small fee to the barangay.
If you love lazing around stunning beaches while looking out to a gorgeous view of endless island chains, this is the place for you.
What to Do
The main activity while in Caramoan is island hopping. You can arrange this with your resort or homestay. Since there are 14 islands that you can visit, you need two full days if you want to see everything. If time’s limited, choose either the East islands or the West islands.
My two stand-out islands belong to the East island group. These are Lahos and Matukad islands.
Lahos is Cebuano for “through.” During high tide, ocean water goes through the island, and the strip of white sand in between the limestone cliffs on the left and right sides of the island totally disappears. The beach is amazing – golden and powdery, like how I imagine paradise. There are also a few corals and interesting small fish 30 feet away from the beach.
You can stay at Lahos Beach for a night. Just ask permission from the barangay and pay a small fee.
Matukad island is also a must-visit. Like Lahos, the beach is golden and powdery. Its waters are crystal clear. The view from the island is spectacular. I couldn’t help but gasp at the beauty in front of me. I wanted to just stay there forever, staring out to the sea.
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, consider climbing a 20-foot coral cliff to view the “mahiwagang bangus” (enchanted milkfish). It is a steep climb so you need to be fit. It’s best to have wall climbing gear with you. If this is not available, make sure you’re with a local who knows the best way up.
The milkfish is the sole resident of Matukad’s enchanted lagoon. Stories have it that it had a partner milkfish in the past. A local fisherman captured the other fish and fed it to his family. This angered the “guardians” of the lagoon and promptly took the life of his son as payback. This was just in the 1990’s and the rest of the family is still alive to tell the story. And yes, no one has since dared disturb the lonely milkfish.
When in Caramoan, feast on the freshest seafood. Seriously. This is where I found out how fresh fish, crabs and prawns should taste like. Seafood, straight from the sea to the kitchen, there’s no other way to have them!
You will get most of your food from your resort or homestay accommodation. Homestays are the best here because you can make food requests, and they make arrangements to get the day’s freshest catch. Their accommodations plus food packages can also save you some money.
You can also opt to cook your own food. Homestays like Al del Rio open their kitchen to their guests. Al del Rio also owns a strip of beach on a nearby island where you can stay the night, and enjoy barbecues and drinks with your companions.
Where to Stay
I stayed at a homestay – Al del Rio – because I prefer personalised services, and syempre cheaper rates.
If you have more to spend, there are medium range and high-end resorts to choose from. Popular here are Gota Beach Resort and Tugawe Cove Resort, both featured in Survivor US. Gota Beach Resort was developed by the crew to house the production staff. The cabins are now rented out to visitors. Tugawe Cove was a reward destination in Survivor US Season 26: Fans versus Favorites.
How to Get to Caramoan
Fly or take a bus to Naga City, Camarines Sur. It is ideal to get to Naga by dawn. Buses that leave Manila at 8PM arrive at 5AM, the next day.
At the Naga City Central Bus Station, choose from these options (ranked hardest to easiest). Costs amount to around the same: Php300.
A. Take a van going to Sabang port in Poblacion San Jose, Goa. From here, take a boat going to Caramoan Guijalo Port. First van leaves Naga at 6AM. This is pretty straightforward but the transfer from van to boat can be inconvenient if you have a lot of luggage.
B. Take an aircon bus going to Caramoan – no transfers necessary. First bus leave at 7AM. Depending on where you’re staying, you either get off at the Bikal intersection or at the Caramoan town proper.
Links and Contact Information
Al Del Rio Villa Resort
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Al-Del-Rio-Villa-Resort/186382324794577
Mobile: 0949-7431937 or 0918-6349258 (look for Allan)
Gota Village Resort
Tugawe Cove Resort