Travel Guide: Caramoan
In the farthest coast of Camarines Sur is a paradise hidden in an underdeveloped and rural soil, where white sand beaches, limestone cliffs, islands and islets are common scenery. This is Caramoan!
Caramoan, a peninsular town, is a group of islands and islets scattered in the Pacific Ocean, endowed with nature’s beauty and preserved by its seclusion.
Made famous by the hit global reality show franchise “Survivor”, the group of islands is blessed with numerous islands with fine white sand, lagoons, caves, limestone cliffs and rocks, and rich marine life that give new definition to an island experience. But even before the “Survivor” series, there was already Caramoan – beautifully unspoiled and unexploited.
With its natural beauty and rich history, Caramoan stands proud as a real tourism gem of Bicolandia that holds a promise of a perfect tropical island adventure!
Come south! Cam Sur! Caramoan!
How to Get There
Manila to Caramoan Direct Bus
With the opening of RoRo terminals in Sabang and Guijalo, Raymond Bus now offers direct Manila to Caramoan for only P726.00 inclusive of RoRo ferry. Travel time takes 12-13 hours. If you missed this bus, Peñafrancia Tours (P780.00) and Raymond Bus (Contact No: 02-7339380) go directly to Sabang from Manila, travel time is 9 to 10 hours. (As of November 2012, Raymond Bus Manila to Caramoan is suspended due to repair works on the port. Operation is expected to return before summer of 2013.)
Manila to Caramoan via Naga/Sabang
Barangay Sabang in the town of San Jose, Camarines Sur is the common jump-off point to Caramoan Islands. There are RoRo and trigger boats that leave every hour from 6AM to 11AM from Sabang going to Guijalo, Caramoan. Trigger boats charge P120 per passenger. However if you miss the last public RoRo or boat, you can hire a private boat en route to Guijalo. Range varies depending on the size of the boat and your haggling skill. A boat that can accommodate up to 16 persons can be rented from P2500-P3000.
When it is low tide in Sabang, the boats couldn’t get near the shore, but the porters are there to carry passengers on their backs. They charge P10 per passenger.
Occasionally though (when the weather is good), there are jeepneys from Naga going to Caramoan that charge P250 per passenger, travel time is five hours by land on a very rough road.
Peñafrancia Tours (P780.00) and Raymond Bus (Contact No: 02-7339380) go directly to Sabang from Manila, travel time is 9 to 10 hours.
Meanwhile, RSL Bus, Phitranco, Isarog Bus, Amihan Bus, Raymond Bus and Executive Bus have daily trips from Manila (Cubao/Pasay/Alabang) to Naga, fare varies from P500 to P700 one-way.
Land trips direct to Caramoan from Naga are available only during good weather, and catching these trips need some luck as the trips are limited. Naga to Caramoan takes five hours by public jeepney and the fare is at P250 per passenger, while Goa to Caramoan takes four hours at P200 per passenger.
From Naga though, there are jeepneys, vans and buses going to Sabang at Naga Central Terminal, fare is around P60-P100 one-way. Travel time is two hours.
Manila to Caramoan via Virac
Another alternative, which is unknown to many is to go to Virac, Catanduanes and catch a two-hour boat going to Caramoan. This route is easier compared to Naga. Cebu Pacific flies directly from Manila to Virac.
Where to Stay
The town has a lot of hotels and inns to choose from for those tourists who prefer staying indoor. But for more adventurous type, camping in one of the islands is a cheap and fun way of experiencing Caramoan.
Here are the hotels, inns and lodges in the area:
- Rex Tourist Inn
- Villa Juliana Inn
- La Casa Roa
- CMC Villa Caramoan
- BC Hometel Tourist Inn
- Caramoan Kayaks Inn
- Gota Village Resort
Landline: (+632)8170831/ (+632)7109086
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Caramoan Bed and Dine
- West Peninsula Villas
- River View Vacation Inn
- Golden Hub Tourist Inn
- Wow na Wow Tourist Inn
- Vista del Mar Caramoan
- Hunongan Cove
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Breeze & Waves Cottages
- Residencia de Salvacion Bed and Bath
- La Playa Camp and Picnic Grounds (Puerto Merced)
- Island and beach hopping around Caramoan Group: Sabitang Laya, Manlawig Sandbar, Cotivas, Lahuy, Gota, Lahus, Matukad, Pitogo, Minalahos, Hunongan, Tinago, Haponan, Basod
- Swimming/Snorkeling (be careful of the jellyfish though)
- Camping – just bring your own camping equipments, enough foods and water supply, there are a lot of islands to choose from (those that aren’t use in Survivor taping)
- Spelunking in Culapnit Cave
- Visit St. Michael Parish, an old red-brick church
- Trek to Mt. Caglago with the 500-steps to the summit and see the 360 degree view of the Caramoan Islands and the gigantic statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Mother of Peace
- Explore Naga, visit Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex and Penafrancia Church
- Head south and visit the spots of Albay and Sorsogon
- Head north and explore the islands of Mercedes Group, Calaguas Group and Maculabo or surf in Daet’s Bagasbas Beach
- The best time to go there is during dry months (November to May)
- If you will go camping, be sure to choose an island not being used by the Survivor
- Survivor rented the island for 25 years starting 2008, meaning, tourists will not be able to explore the island freely up to 2033 if the contract is not extended
For the accounts of Lakwatsero’s experience in Caramoan, please click here.