I took a short leave from work coinciding the 2 days holiday here in Singapore, and went home to the Philippines. I have to two reasons on going home, one is to settle some design issues of the on-going renovation of our house, and second to finally explore the Caramoan Islands. It would be my third attempt this time, so the excitement and determination to finally pushed it this time is there.
The day I went to Caramoan, typhoon Mina was ravaging the northern part of the Philippines. But the weather in CamSur is fair and sunny. Because of typhoon the Philippine Coast Guard has prohibited traveling by sea I think the entire Luzon island. I was not aware of the situation and learned only at the jetty in Sabang where the boats to Caramoan departs. The weather was good and normal but the regular boats cancelled their trips as per PCG instructions. But there are small boats who are willing to ferry passengers to Caramoan by evading the authorities. Determined to push my trip to Caramoan, I took the risk by joining with 6 other passengers. Little did I know that the small boat we took as an escape boat will be the same boat that will bring us to Caramoan. I thought we will be transferred to a bigger boat stationed somewhere away from the jetty. It was a scary trip, because the boat is small, we were not wearing safety vest,and the waves were big in most part of the sea as we approach Caramoan. The boat has a small engine so we have to stop three times to fill gas right in the middle of the sea. Thank goodness for the beautiful view of the mainland, it somehow help me diverts my attention from the big waves in front of us. There will be no next time, imagine a paper boat in water subjected by a blowing fan. We arrived at the Guijalo Port safe and I sane. The boatman initially asked for Php3,500, but we managed to lower it to Php2,500. The regular boat ride cost only Php120 from Sabang Port. Sabang Port is in San Jose, CamSur which is an hour away from Naga City, and 8 hours from Manila by bus.
I arrived Caramoan at around 10 in the morning. I stayed for a while at the port and took some photos while trying to listen to locals offering services, accommodations, boat rental for island hopping, tour guides. I spoke with the same dialect since I live in the same province. I befriended one of the local who offered me a ride and knew a place where I can stay for a night, and who will refer me to a boatman for the island hopping trip. I sensed they were all his relatives, which is good for me since i can bargain and sure not to be treated as tourist. He suggested that I should stay at the vicinity of Paniman beach instead at the town center or Centro where most of the accommodation can be found. he charged me Php70 from the port to Paniman beach. We passed by Centro on our way to Paniman and dropped by the Church of St Michael.
the Guijalo Port
The Church of St Michael
Centro or town proper
Paniman Beach has a long stretch of beach front and the water is still all day. Ideal for swimming but the sand is ordinary and dirty in some part. The locals resides on the banks and most of the beachfront is occupied by the boats. There are few beach resort lined on the beach, and local residents made their rooms available for rent. Paniman beach is a good spot for sunrise viewing. It offers a magnificent view of the sunrise as early as 5 in the morning where it flooded of red burst as the sun started to rise. That is exactly I have seen the next day I was there. I woke up and my window view turned red orange. Too bad I was not able to captured it since my camera runned out of battery, nevertheless iPhone managed to captured it.
Paniman beach is also the starting point of the island hopping, and there are a lot of boats to choose from. I rented a boat for Php1000 after negotiating. The regular boat rent is Php1500. The price covers only the nearby islands near Paniman. The northern group of islands cost higher by Php500 on a separate package so I was told. So if you want to cover the islands of Caramoan, you need at least two days to do so.
Paniman beach has its on Willy's Rock
My island hopping will be on my next post. I was fortunate that the weather was good so I was able to appreciate the beauty of the islands, but I was not prepared for the scorching heat. The boat has no sun shade, so at the end of the day I had a burnt skin. Aside from the islands, there are rock formations of different shape and sizes scattered in between islands. The island hopping ended at around four in the afternoon, and before we heed back to Paniman beach the boatman brought me to the nearby cave. To reach the entrance you need to climb a steep slope. As the cave were used by Survivors show contestants as tribe living quarters, there was temporary wooden stairs constructed so somehow access to the cave becomes bearable. The cave has an interesting limestone formations, and has a very high doomed type ceiling, and has a very deep opening below the entrance level. The cave can be reached from Paniman beach and it is located at the farthest end of the beach.
Rock formation scattered in between islands
One of the islands' hidden beaches
I opted for a home stay, the room cost me Php500 for a night stay. I was not lucky though since there was no power supply in the area due to bad weather condition earlier in the week. Should I have known earlier I should have opted for a regular room in the resorts nearby where there is generator on standby. But the weather was manageable at night so I still have a goodnight sleep.
I left Caramoan on the first boat trip schedule in the morning. The boat left the port at seven in the morning and two hours later we arrived in Sabang port. Thirty minutes later I was already home.