Caramoan Island Hopping: The Long Trip


 Caramoan in the Philippines is one of the favourite shooting location of the tv reality show Survivor. Because of the exposure it gets from the show, Caramoan became a holiday destination for both locals and overseas tourists.  Caramoan is famous for its island hopping. The several islands that scattered around the Caramoan peninsula has its own characteristics and attraction worth exploring. Some of them were close to the mainland while others were quite far away. That is why the island hopping tours are group into two trips, the short trip which is half-day tours covers the nearby islands, and the long trip that will take whole day covers the farther islands.

I have been to Caramoan in 2011, my first time. During the time I took the short island hopping tour. Last week I went back to Caramoan with cousins and choose the long trip island hopping tour. We went to Caramoan by land. It was my first time to travel on this side of our province and took us more than two hours from our house in Lagonoy to reach Caramoan and to Bikal port where the boat I have prearranged is waiting for us. The road to Caramoan is relatively okay on its first half of the journey but the other half is treacherous as there are blind spots and at the same time it is rough pave-damaged road. To add there is on-going road rehabilitation works so extra careful is needed and the vehicle must be in good condition to survive the trip.

Bikal Port
Bikal Port is one of the jump-off points of the island hopping tours. There are a lot of boats on standby at the port. The long trip island tour depart at this port.
The boat cost us Php2,500 for the whole day trip for the 10 of us. We leave the port immediately after we settled in the boat. We brought with us our food for lunch, we intend to grill fish and meat in the island were we intend to swim and lunch.
One of the jump-off point of the island hopping tours
The boatman leading us to the first destination.


Manlawi Sandbar

Our first destination is the Manlawi Sandbar. We arrived just in time before the water start to rise up. We were able to witness the vast sandbar and frolic the area and took opportunity for the photo-op and now-famous selfies. I myself took the opportunity for the photo walk. It was a good experience to once again practice photography as the place is just captivating and photogenic.

These cottages floats as the water rises up

While at sandbar, people watch can be entertaining too.

 Cotivas Island
We left for the next island after half an hour or so. The next destination was Cotivas Island. It was close to lunch time so we decided to stay in the island for our lunch and swimming. There is an entrance fee of Php100 and we can stay in one of the cottages made of bamboo and coconut palm. The fee we were told is for the upkeep and maintenance of the island. There is one resident in the island probably the caretaker. They allowed us to use their kitchen for us to grill the meat and fish we brought. As token we give them some of the grilled food.  After lunch we erected the beach umbrella nearby the spot where we swim. The beach sand is relatively white but sandy. The area farther from the beachfront has a rocky bed so it was a bit inconvenient. We spent more than two hours in the beach under the scorching sun. As the hours passed the water becomes warmer. You need to go deeper for a cooler water, but by doing so your feet will be tormented by the bedrock.
The smaller sandbar spotted while we're on the way to Cotivas Island
One side of the beachfront

The other side of the beachfront

Bagieng Island

We targeted to be back at Bikal Port by 4:00 in the afternoon so that there is still sunlight during the land travel. I have no idea that the next island destination is still a bit far from Cotivas Island. So we decided that we will not stay long in the island and it will be the last destination. The boatman docked us at the end part of the beach. Almost the whole beachfront was off limit to public due to Survivor shooting.  There was no on-going shooting when we were there but the props were there and maybe the crews were in other islands. It was cordoned off but I still see few people running to the props and doing photo-shoot using the props as background.
Appreciating the rock formation as the boat approaches the island

Survivor location shoot
Right after we touch beach, I felt that the sand is soft and powdery. It is so smooth and cold to the feet. It could have been a perfect place to swim as there are trees that provide shade while you are in the water. Nevertheless the 15 minutes stay there was more than enough to sum up the experience Caramoan has to offer to its visitors. The Bagieng beach is comparable to Boracay beach sans the buildings and tourists.

The view of the mainland as we're returning back to Bikal port.

We managed to leave Caramoan at around 5:00 in the afternoon. We were supposed to take shower and change clothes before we travel back but because of time constrains we just rush to change clothes and off we go.