Captivated by Caramoan

This picturesque peninsula off the coast of Camarines Sur offers travelers the chance to laze on the beach, snorkel in clear waters, hop from island to beautiful island, and camp out under the stars.

By Dindo Fortuno
December 01, 2011

When people hear the words Camarines Sur, they immediately think of the CWC or Camsur Watersports Complex, where sports such as wakeboarding became popular. What most people forget is that before it became a haven for watersports enthusiasts, Camsur was--and still is--a province filled with vast natural sights that will appeal to beach bums and nature lovers.

Photo by Dindo Fortuno

Caramoan, also known as Camarines Sur's secret paradise, is a group of islands that are fairly isolated from the rest of Camarines Sur. If you're the type who loves the sun, the sand, and Mother Nature, it might be worth your while to pay Caramoan a visit. Here's how we did it, and how you can do it too:

Getting There, Part 1: Naga > Sabang

The main entry to Camarines Sur by plane is through the Naga Airport. From there, take a Php10 trike to the Naga Central Terminal, where buses leave every hour from 7am to 3pm. Take a bus to Goa. The trip is about two hours long, and will cost you Php80 for an ordinary bus. Once you get to Goa, ask around and take the jeep to the Sabang Pier. Travel time is about 10 minutes, and costs around Php10.

Photo by Dindo Fortuno

Getting There, Part 2: Sabang > Caramoan

Once at Sabang Pier, you have to hire a boat to take you Guijalo, the main entry point to the Caramoan Peninsula. The first boat leaves at 8am and the last one at 2pm. The trip costs around Php120 and takes about 2 hours. Once you get to Guijalo, take a tricycle or a motorbike (around Php20/ passenger) to Caramoan Town about 10 minutes away. There are only two places I would recommend staying in in Caramoan. They are La Playa Camp and Picnic Grounds and Gota Village Resort. Located in Puerto Merced, La Playa's most unique feature is its picnic area located at the shoreline. Travelers who aren't the outdoorsy type can check in at Vista del Mar Guesthouse located near the campground. The more luxurious Gota Beach, meanwhile, is known as the place where several international "Survivor" seasons have been tapes taped. Since we wanted a more rustic experience, we opted to stay in La Playa.

Photo by Dindo Fortuno

Enjoying the Islands

Most people come to Caramoan to do one of two things: island hop or do nothing at all. The second one is easy enough to do, as the islands' soft sand and lush greenery make it easy to fall into a sense of purposeful indolence. If you are under the first category, you can either hire a banca (outrigger boat) and go island hopping or go camping. A banca that sits six to eight persons will cost about Php3,500 for the whole day. Make sure you visit Sabitang Laya Island, which is believed by the locals to be watched by the gods. The island is a tourist favourite, as it has a beautiful fine-sand beach, waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling, and small trees where one can seek shade. It also contains nearby rock formations that resemble the Virgin Mary, and two towers. Camping is allowed in some of the islands, but campers are required to register at the Caramoan Municipality Hall (located beside the hospital) first.

Caramoan can be fairly hard to get to, but believe me, this is one of the few cases where the destination is worth the journey.

See La Playa contact details here.
See Gota Village Resort contact details here.

Find a list of hotels and resorts in Camarines Sur here.
See more articles on Camarines Sur accommodations here.
Read more about Camarines Sur here.