Caramoan Island Hopping via Catanduanes

Rugged, wild and untouched are just some of the words used to describe Caramoan Island. It is located in the lower eastern part of Camarines Sur in the Bicol region of the Philippine archipelago. A peninsular town, Caramoan is a group of islands and islets scattered in the Pacific Ocean, endowed with nature’s beauty and preserved by its seclusion.

Something about Caramoan 

I should say without being biased, a paradise that is uniquely and exquisitely created by God in the Philippine archipelago, hidden in an unexploited, uninhabited and rural soil where white sand beaches, coves, lagoons, limestone cliffs, islands and islets can be explored. In fact, Caramoan has been off the grid to majority of tourist in the Philippines until it became the site for several editions of the competitive reality television show Survivor.

Survivor
“Premiere” – The Gota Tribe during the premiere episode of SURVIVOR: CARAMOAN – FANS VS. FAVORITES. The Emmy Award-winning series returns for its 26th season with a special 90-minute premiere, Wednesday, Feb. 13 (8:00-9:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. #Survivor. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS© 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

My Hometown

Going to this place is like becoming a contestant in Survivor series though. Proud to say that Camarines Sur is my hometown! And yes, I am blessed to have an islander hubby coming from Catanduanes too … so going to Caramoan via Catanduanes is like hitting two birds in one stone.

Geographically speaking, Caramoan can be accessed conveniently via Catanduanes. Take note, Catanduanes is another island province in the Bicol Region.

Island Hopping Adventure 

Some of the popular beaches in the islands and islets were unfortunately off limits because of the Survivor series. But then, this beautiful peninsula has more to offer and for us with only a day to spare, decided to explore and feel the beaches less visited by tourists.

1) Catanauan Island

Our first stop Catanauan Island, which was called home by the Tandang and Gota tribes in Survivor: Philippines and Survivor: Caramoan, respectively. A little known treasure, this less popular Caramoan island makes for the perfect day time retreat with its long stretch of sugary fine off-white sand and crystal clear waters. Catanauan is the perfect place to enjoy some isolated peace and quiet while surrounded by a tropical paradise.

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2) Small Catanauan Island

After we enjoyed our 7AM dip at Catanauan Beach, we headed to a small version of the Catanauan island.

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3) Matukad Island 

Undeniably one of the most visited islands in Caramoan. Matukad is actually a Bicol word which means to climb or to hike has one of the best beaches in Caramoan. It is where you will be able to find the Enchanted or Matukad Lagoon too. You need to climb though but once you reach the top, the view is definitely worth climbing.

As curious as we were, so we climbed up to see the famous Enchanted Lagoon, a small lagoon surrounded by an intriguing mythical tale. There’s a “giant milkfish” swimming around the water, and it is said to have just appeared magically in the lagoon. According to locals there were two of them here, but a family caught one for dinner. The entire family died because of it. No one touched the fish since then. Tourists can see the lagoon and the fish (if you’re lucky) by climbing the sharp cliffs. Oh well, Filipinos have always been fond of the unknown and the supernatural, hence why we have so many urban legends pervading the country.

After basking in the sun and getting serenaded by the breeze rustling through the palm trees, head to either right or left side of the shore, where you can sip a fresh coconut juice for a very cheap price.

4) Tinago Island

Tinago is a bicol word which means hidden. Literally, this island is a hidden gem. You will not be able to see it if you are already close to the area and if you are not aware of its existence. The gateway to Tinago is the narrow gap between two limestone mountains. Mostly, boatmen who also frequently act as tour guides will not take you to this place because they find it difficult to maneuver the outrigger boat due to strong current.  This cove is deserted, no hut and fresh water but the place retains a relaxed, beachy sense perfect for a  quiet getaway. 

This is one of the islands where Survivor series has been filmed.  The water is cool and calm. Truly an exquisite paradise! The panoramic view of silky, powder-gold sand slopes gently into a shallow emerald lagoon, and is backed by a thick curtain of trees and tropical foliage.

5) Malarad Island

This is where you will find a coral pebbled beach called Tayak Beach. The island is accessible only during high tide since the broad coral formation prevents any boat from entering during low tides.

Tayak Lake

Tayak beach

6) Tayak Lake

My favourite part in our island hopping. If you love thrill and adventure, here is a challenge for you. To see the lake, you have to climb up and down slippery trail and sharp cliffs behind Tayak Beach. And a calm body of emerald water barely separated from the sea will surely struck you. Encircling the tranquil lake are towering rocks hosting greeneries hanging on the cliff sides; a perfect place to meditate and feel nature’s healing vibe.

 

7) Lahos Island

The bicol word “lahus” means you can pass through and through. This is exactly the description of the island because it consists of white beaches which is easy to pass from one side of the island to the other side.

Fronting Matukad, Lahos Island is famous for its two-sided beach which seems to divide the sea in halves; each side providing a breathtaking view of the surrounding islands. Recently, the local government declared Lahos island a protected area and part of the Caramoan National Park ~ to preserve the natural structure of rock formation of the island. They say, during the Japanese era, mining was prevalent in the island. Natural minerals such as iron and manganese were abundant in the island.

8) Cagbalinad Island

This island is famous with Skull-like rock formation apart from white fine sand and emerald water. Travel time from Lahos to Cagbalinad took about 10 minutes. Cagbalinad is actually an islet with small beach that is swallowed by water during high tide and known to be the snorkeling area for tourists.

Cagbalinad Island in #caramoan #islandsofadventure #camsur

A post shared by sharon manlangit (@sharon.manlangit) on

9) Pitogo Island

Our last stop! One of the islands closest to Catanduanes, Pitogo is off the usual island hopping route. However, including it in your itinerary won’t be a bad decision because the island offers some of the most spectacular views in the whole of Caramoan.

Pitogo Island comprises about six to seven hectares of the total land area. It has a unique smooth-edge stone shoreline known as Lantangan Beach.

Lantangan Beach

On the other hand, Lantangan Beach situated on Pitogo Bay will change your idea of the usual beach. It has unique white-pebbled shores which feature smooth-edged stones rather than white sand.

Amazing! It’s my first time to see this kind of beach as if landscaped by an unseen hand on purpose.

Observing nature is always an awe-inspiring, spiritual experience for me; I could sit and watch waves crash for hours. The ocean, in particular, reminds me how incredibly fascinating our planet is, and how little we know, despite what we think we know. There is nothing more humbling than being face-to-face with something so much bigger than yourself.

How to get there? 

Indeed, there are three ways getting to Caramoan – 1) by land (bus & train) 2) by air and 3) by sea. And there are three routes to Caramoan 1) via Naga City/Pili Airport 2) via Legazpi Airport and 3) via Virac Airport.

Let me share with you first the unpopular and the road less travelled yet the easier, faster and more economical, the Catanduanes way!

Getting there by air via Virac Airport
1. From Virac Airport, ride a tricycle going to the Virac Bus Terminal- P10.00, 10 minutes
2. Take a bus going to Pandan and alight at Codon Port – P50.00, 45minutes

Another option

From Virac airport, ride a van going to Pandan. Tell the driver to drop you off at Codon Port in San Andres. Fare is P100. Travel time is 45 mins or less.
3. Ride a bangka going to Caramoan – P100.00, 1 hour 30 minutes
Estimated Travel Time –  2 hours 25 minutes

In less than 2.5 hours you’ll get to feel and explore the paradise. How about that!

Well, if you find it exciting to have long hours of road trip then you can opt for bus or private vehicle. There are beautiful sceneries along the way, too. And remember, hitting two birds in one stone is worth traveling.

Getting there by land via Catanduanes
1. From Cubao or Pasay,  take a 12-hour bus going to Tabaco Port – P650 – 900.00
2. Catch up a 2-hour ferry ride to Virac Port or Calolbon Port – P200-300.00
3. Ride a bus going to Codon Port – P25 – 50.00
4. Take a bangka going to Caramoan – P100.00

For convenience you can also book for travel packages at the local agencies and hostels which include rental of private transportation, boat and packed lunch. No worries, the price is right!

Reminder

Take note that public transportation in Catanduanes becomes more difficult later in the day. So after your Caramoan tour and you have to go back somewhere else in Catanduanes, you might need to hire a tricycle which costs around P300-P500 depending on your location. It would be better to talk to a driver as soon as you arrive in Codon, so that later, you are guaranteed to have a ride back.

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