Caramoan is a rural place that considered as a 1st class municipality in the province of Camarines Sur, Bicol region in the Philippines. Caramoan island is located in the tip part of the Caramoan province peninsula. Just like any other typical provinces in the country, power distribution to residential houses and hotels is a common problem for every locals and tourists in the area. Interruption of power occurs in every 2-3 hours (same situation in Coron, Palawan). Caramoan local residents have a simple way of living for their daily survival needs. Agriculture, fisheries and tourism are among on their income sources. Caramoan has ten famous main island groups among on those numerous small islets in the peninsula, namely; Cotivas, Gota, Hunongan, Lahus, Lahuy, Matukad, Minalahos, Pitogo, Sabitang Laya and Tinag. Caramoan island has its own description to showcase its beautiful scenery for both local and foreign tourists. In this group of island, numerous islets with very clear shallow water will hook you up teasing you to the highest level to jump down and swim, with several rock formations in and out of the island and virgin forest around. No wonder that even the hit reality TV show, Survivor, shoot different nation season series in the island due to its isolated beautiful place with good atmosphere feeling like you’re really in the middle of nowhere. Survivor versions such Serbia, France, India, Israel, Bulgaria, Sweden and even USA are among those reality TV shows that were hooked by this attractive peaceful virgin island. Since its geographical location is being surrounded by majority of sea waters, activities like diving, snorkeling, swimming and spelunking are the most commonly itineraries of the tourists in the group of island.
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During the time we booked a flight heading to Pili, Camarines Sur, I immediately surfed the net and searched about the tour package for Caramoan considering the tight budget condition. I noticed this http://www.caramoantourpackage.com/ website from my Google search, and review the package lists and its rate. As I see the ad post, it’s really cheap and practically convenient to a low-budget traveler like me. I inquire my desire tour package thru their email address posted in the net. Brgy. Capt. Emilio Victor “Totem” Avila is the General Manager of Caramoan Travel and Tours whom I’ve had a conversation with in the emails regarding my queries. He responded to my questions so quickly and so we had a swift and smooth transactions and confirmation on the desired tour package for as low as Php4,300 per pax. Initially I deposited Php500 only for the reservation, and the remaining balance shall be settled personally once we arrived in Caramoan. Yeah, you read it right! Only Php500 down payment is needed in order for you to be surely reserved on your desired tour package regardless on how many pax you are. Well, in my case we are only two persons (me and my girlfriend) who booked for a reservation during that time (for only Php8600) .
How to get there in Caramoan Island?
There are several ways on how you can get there in Caramoan Island. You can choose from many options via surfing the net blogs as what I also did during the time I was researching on how to get there. And in our case, we chose to have a flight via Cebu Pacific Airlines heading to Naga Airport in Pili, Camarines Sur because we wanted it to have a shorter time travel (for about 55-minutes only) as compared on riding a bus in Araneta Bus Terminal Center in Cubao, QC that will head towards Camarines Sur province for about 8 to 12 long hours trip. From NAIA Terminal 3, we arrived at Naga Airport at around 1025am exactly 55-minutes air travel from Manila. We decided first to take our brunch (breakfast-lunch meal) in SM City Naga, so from Naga Airport in Pili (it is actually located in Pili, Camarines Sur) we rode a pedicab going outside the airport (700meters away) with Php20 per head fare. In the highway, we took local bus heading to Naga City proper that will pass along SM City, the only shopping mall in the heart of Naga City, the fare is only Php10 per person.
There are lots of fast food restaurants you can choose to eat inside the mall, of course it is just the same mall we have here in the metro. We opted to eat chinese lauriat in Chowking due to our hungriness and food starving hehe. After our stomachs have been full-filled and satisfied, we directly went to Jessie Robredo Coliseum where van terminal is located. It’s just a few meters walk from SM. There, many vans are awaiting to be fully occupied by the passengers going to different parts of the Bicol provinces. Since we’re intended to go in Caramoan Island, we rode a van which will be heading to Sabang port. Van fare is only Php100/head, traveling for one-hour, where you will pass along nearby such provinces like Pili, Ocampo, Tigaon, Goa, Lagonoy and San Jose in Camarines Sur. When we reached Sabang port, we immediately verified with the locals there about the scheduled trip of the boat going to Guijalo port. Because according to some blog sites, traveling from Sabang to Guijalo port and vice versa is actually scheduled only in the morning. Luckily, despite of 3pm of arrival, there is still a last boat trip intended to sail to Guijalo port, and so we immediately rode with Php120 fare per head. Traveling in the sea via boat ride for two-hours is not easy especially if you experience a heat-ass-kicking on the wooden boat seat plus an encounter of huge sea waves just like what happened during our trip. It was late afternoon since we had a boat ride, and so that time the wind blown so strong that creates the current waves a little bit higher which our boat made a minor difficulties to face those waves in the opposite motion. Along the ride, in the left side you will see the beautiful Cam Sur mountains in green scenery with a few local resident houses, while in the right side you will see the open view of the ocean. After a two-hour boat ride, at last we arrived in Guijalo port in Caramoan. From there, our tour guide Kuya Tope fetched us in the port and brought us to our accommodation in Caramoan town proper in Brgy. Tawog Centro.
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The islands and rock formations in Caramoan
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Where to stay in Caramoan?
There are lots of accommodations you can choose to stay in Caramoan depends on your budget. If you’re not after paying extra for a some what more luxurious beach escapade, top end resort in Caramoan such Gota Beach Resort is one of those few hotels in a far away island that you can choose from but it is quite expensive to stay at this resort compared to other resorts but its location makes it all worth it. It is also where the staff of Survivor occupied for accommodation that’s why often it is closed for public. For an average type of a budget, there are; Rex Tourist Inn, CMC Villa Caramoan Hostel, Caramoan Kayaks Inn, Wow na Wow Tourist Inn, Golden Hub Tourist Inn, River View Vacation Inn, BC Hometel Tourist Inn, and a lot more. In our case, accommodation was inclusive in our tour package. And so we stay in Paraoma’s Guesthouse for 4-days and 3-nights, with free wifi access in the lobby, private room with restroom plus a cable TV in the inside is not bad at all. There’s a free coffee in the morning that was already being prepared by the staff.
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Since we’re kinda choosy as far as meal is concern, we prefer to exclude it in the package. Instead, we explored the town proper for some food hunting. During lunchtime, we requested Paraoma Guesthouse to cook some food for us to bring in the island for our lunch meal. But on the evening dinner it’s a different story, as we’re walking along the National Road in the town proper, we found this native type restaurant, Caramoan Bed and Dine Restaurant, and we tried to have our dinner there on our first night. For me their services was a bit poor,you have to wait for a several minutes for them to serve your order. Their meal is a bit pricey and not worthy at all. We were not happy on our ordered menu, the grilled liempo was served in a so much thin layered cut and in a small serving. Bicol express which is usually served with some pork meat is in contrary on their serving. Their menu (bicol ex) served with plenty of red hot chili peppers on top, with a single super small in size of pork meat (smaller than a size of my 25-cents) mixed with bagoong alamang?? Damn, I won’t recommend this resto to all travellers, their ambiance is good but their services is poor. Hope I was just being wrong and unfortunate to eat a food that they don’t really specialized in preparation. Here are my grades to them, with 5-smileys as being the highest;
Caramoan Bed and Dine Restaurant
On our second night, we caught up so late in our supposed to be a dinner meal since we were tired from island hopping itineraries. All restos in the town were already closed (it was already 9pm), despite of uncertainties in the place and since we were hungry already, we still continued to walk along Alvarez street and found this quite peaceful hotel, La Casa Roa Hostel and Restaurant. Upon entering the hotel, we were a bit surprised with the ambiance and interior decors of the hotel. It was so clean and well arranged interior designs such as the lobby, reception, restaurant etc. Their services is a 24×7 duty even their resto can cater a customer anytime. I did even think that I wish we stayed in that hotel the whole four-days of our vacation, they have a very hospitable, friendly and accommodating staffs. We ordered sisig and chicken curry during that night and while we’re waiting for our menu to be served, their friendly hotel staff invited us to check-out their vacant rooms. We were hooked-up on the interior designs they have in the rooms, from single, matrimony to a triple bedrooms. It seems like they adapted their decor designs from European themes of hotel. We did also checked the rate of their rooms and tour packages, it is a bit pricey though but definitely and I’m surely all worth it. We were also surprised on their food serving because per meal I think it is full serving that is good for 2-3 persons, as in WOW! Our food starving were fully ended when we finished eating our dishes. Their foods were so good as its best. Unfortunately we failed to bring our camera to took some photos of our meals on that first night dinner in that hotel. Of course, the following dinner night we didn’t even think twice but to came back there ‘coz we were a very satisfied customer of La Casa Roa kitchen. But on that time we brought our camera already in preparation for some photos of the hotel. foods and its ambiance. By the way just for your info, no wonder that their foods taste so yummy and delicious, they have a very good skilled chef graduated from DLSU who took a Culinary Arts course.
La Casa Roa Hostel and Restaurant
Going in a far away distance from Manila for a vacation trip will not be completed when a traveler or tourist won’t be able to buy some souvenir items to treasure. In Caramoan, better if you go to Caramoan Centro (town proper) for some souvenir shops. Souvenir shop in Brgy. Tawog is the place to be, where all tourists are acquiring clothes and other souvenir items. Island Wonders Souvenir Shop is located along the National Highway, there are two stores where located within the same building.
I can say that the Island Wonders shop is really a souvenir shop compared to the other. It sells more of gift items, souvenir keychains, bags, hats, bracelets, fans, etc. They also sell souvenir shirts but of limited designs only. You can also buy there local crafts. Most of the stuffs are imprinted with the word “Caramoan”, some “Bicol” and some “Camarines Sur”. Various souvenir keychain designs cost around Php35-50 each, 3 items for Php100. They also sell food stuffs like pili nuts, jams, etc. The pili nuts cost Php70-100. They also sell locally made handbags and abaniko (fan). Refrigerator magnets- Php45-60 each. Bookmarks- 3 for Php100. Hats- Php125-300
*You can buy any 3 items with the same price offer for the “3 for Php100 and even lower to Php90”.
i.e. you can buy 2 keychains and 1 bookmark
You should definitely buy the SURVIVOR Souvenir shirt before leaving Caramoan Island! I really like the shirt, imprinted infront is the SURVIVOR CARAMOAN PHILIPPINES with the same font style of the reality show and printed at the back are the Survivor edition logos of each of the countries who chose to film their show in Caramoan. You can choose what shirt color and size you want. You can’t ask a bargain though since the vendors really stick to sell their souvenir shirts at only one price- 150php (not bad).
There are also other shirt designs that are very attracting and still costs same price of Php150.