How to Survive Caramoan Like a Real Islander

9:45:00 AM Christian Aligo 4 Comments

Enduring a 12 to 15-hour van ride from Metro Manila. Climbing rocks with blade-like edges. Waiting for the tide to rise. Trekking to the peak of an island.  An infinite dose of patience and stamina is needed to be able to undress this untouched paradise caught between two combating oceans.

Moaning in Caramoan may be an accepted, understandable behavior among travelers crossing this group of islands in Southern Luzon, the Philippines. Panoramic views of the pristine beaches, unspoiled greens, majestic rock formations, and glorifying sunsets explains why there is a climactic effect when someone hits the islands.

Caramoan Islands sit hours after the perfect-cone Mt. Mayon volcano in the nearby province of Albay. When I went off for Caramoan with a pool of online writers or bloggers, I proved to my very self that rough roads always lead to beautiful destinations. No wonder Survivor, the very reality show that has been keeping us thirst for more island adventures on television, has set foot to this island to showcase what it is like to live like an islander multiple times already.

Whether you are traveling to the set of islands to unwind, look for a new love, or simply to checkout what your friends have been talking about, it is important to make the vacation more than just a day in your life. Here’s how.

1. Connect with a Caramoan Local for a Value-Added Itinerary. Maureen Constantino, a local in Caramoan, is a smart lady who knows almost every corner of the peninsula. The bubbly lady, who toured us around like a Carlo Celdran without a lapel, prepared a two-day itinerary for us to catch the best of Caramoan Islands.


a. Matukad Beach and the Lagoon with the Mystical Bangus

Matukad means “maakyat” or a body of land accessible by climbing. What's best about this beach? You enjoy fair white sand with texture of flour. That is on top of the adventure when you climb the rock walls to see the lagoon carved in the inner part of the island.

b. Lahos Beach As a Connector of Two Islands
Lahos is based on “lagusan” which means 'exit'. This acts as a beach by low tide connecting two islands. When it is high tide, it becomes part of the sea bed.

c. Cagbalinad Beach for Snorkeling

Because I did not bring any snorkeling gear, I had to borrow one. Staying in the water for about 20 minutes gave me much delight. 

d. Yupakit Beach Against the West 

A private property owned by Maureen's family, Yupakit is a good camping site with a view of the delightful sunset. It has black sand. The horizon flashes glowing colors: from blue to pink to violet and orange.


a. Three Island Apexes: Bag-ing, Sabitang- Laya, Baliti

During low tide, the sea bed of the island appears noting the fact that there is only one island in that area. However when the water rises, the sea bed is covered with water and only the three apexes are seen creating an impression of three islands.  

During our second day, Bag-ing was our first destination. This prides its own natural pool, ornamented with its very lovely beach.

When we went to Sabitang-Laya, I told Maureen that I think it is the best part of the island hopping tour. The calm water has its own magic caught in the eye. 

Baliti is another snorkeling site in the area. We went there on the evening of that day.

b. Manlawi Sandbar Slash Floating Restaurant

During low tide, the cottages land on the sand. During high tide, the cottages dance to the wave, making floating restaurants. We ate lunch there while exerting effort to balance the cottage so it won't get drowned.

c. Guinahuan Island's Lighthouse and Epic Horizon

The lighthouse on top of the island shows the best pastoral view of Caramoan. Cows graze around; a hut awaits travelers who want to stare at the kissing North Pacific Ocean and East China Sea in the horizon.

2. Pack what is beyond the essentials for extra perks. Traveling light is always recommended, but if you like to make the tour extra-special, make sure you have all of these:

a. Sun block after sun glasses- This was the first thing I double-checked, because I do not want to get darker.

b. Snorkeling goggles after rush guard- I forgot this so I had to borrow from Paul Pisig of Pisig Club to see the lovely corals.

c. Sturdy footwear please- You will need this when you go climb off Matukad. I am glad I had a pair of quality slippers.

d. Cell phone water-resistant bag- I bought one from Puerto Princesa but forgot to bring it. Fortunately, Miko of Best World Travels lent me a seal-able plastic bag. I placed my other stuff inside Charlotte De Peralta’s water proof bag. My theme song during this trip was, "That's What Friends Are For". 

3. Always bring cash even though you know it is not needed. In some spots, there are people selling halo-halo, buko juice, and mais con yelo. You do not miss the fun of eating halo-halo in the middle of the ocean, do you?

What caught my attention was a local selling off shells as a form of token. Some of the tiny shells were being traded for P10 while the bigger ones were at P50 to P200.

4. Before taking photos, EXPERIENCE the panoramic view of Caramoan first. I understand you want to capture the moment to have something to post on Facebook or Instagram for your bragging status. But it is best that you let yourself listen to the splashing waves, feel the Pacific breeze on your cheeks, enjoy the fading horizon, and feel the texture of the sand before you put everything to digital memory.

Additional tip: you do not need to bring your heavy DSLR camera. Just bring a smartphone with good quality camera. It will be very inconvenient to bring that heavy gadget especially when you ride the boat. Instead of enjoying the beach, all you need to do is to secure your expensive camera.

5. Choose a guest house that will make you feel you like a Caramoan local. Admit it, you did go to Caramoan to escape the view of hotels. So all you need is a simple room that has a window boasting the natural surroundings of the island. 

Luckily, Travel Book Philippines booked us at Al Del Rio. It is an ancestral home turned guest house. When I got inside our room, I knew through my eyes and by my heart I was in Caramoan. 

Aside from regular rooms, they also have a bamboo and tree houses for a more nature-inspired night relaxation. I need to try the tree house when I get back there.

6. Taste dishes that you cannot find in your hometown. For me, I was really amazed with what was served at Al Del Rio. We were served with steamed banana, egg plant, and corn freshly-picked from the farm. We also ate buro, guinataang alimasag, bicol express, lainglapu-lapo, which are all local food in the area. For dessert, we were given jack fruit. Everything was just authentic!

7. Pick companions that will make you laugh at life, challenge new heights, appreciate God's creations, and eat anything served on the table. You are spending for a holiday and you have all the choice to pick the kind of people you want to make you feel relaxed. During our tour, the online writers and the Travel Book personnel were very witty and friendly, making the entire trip a happy one. I also realized that no trip could be completely fun without------------------------------- gays.

8.  Use Globe Telecom. I noticed that Globe signal around Caramoan is very superior. I was able to post photos instantly to update my co-workers who were waiting to see photos of Caramoan. On the other hand, Smart subscribers were complaining of getting poor signal.

9. Listen to myths and see the local color. One of the most important part of the tour is knowing the story of Caramoan through myths and stories of locals.

The Bangus: One story is about the huge whale-looking bangus in the lagoon. According to the myth, there were originally two bangus there. However one day, it was taken by a fisherman. The family of the fisherman died as a revenge for separating the two bangus. According to one of our tour guides, fishing bangus in the area is prohibited.

Bugtong Beach. Bugtong means 'riddle' or 'puzzle'. A group of children drowned in this area. When the locals looked into the profiles of the victims, they realized all of them were solo children.

10. Be a responsible tourist in Caramoan so it will be preserved for your comeback. I am from Sagada in Northern Philippines and I know the feeling of seeing tourists dumping their trash anywhere. Caramoan is clean. I hope that tourists continue to manage their waste properly. I also hope that people will not see the booming tourism as an opportunity to do unhealthy transactions like trading drugs or selling their lot properties to big companies.

The four-day tour of the Caramoan Islands did not just give me enough time to relax. It also showed me another dimension of the "travelling life": the convenience of being a social person, the fact that Mother Nature is an ultimate solution to stress, and the blissful taste of communicating what is beautiful about the Philippines.


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To book at Al Del Rio, click HERE.

DISCLAIMER: This is an honest write-up published for the establishment mentioned above. While no financial favors have been given to the writer in exchange of this article, free items/services were provided to have a basis for the content of this review. 


Sam said...

"I also realized that no trip could be completely fun without------------------------------- gays."

-Couldn't agree more!!! :))

lee rosales said...

Malakas tlga glibe sa bicol. Glad you enjoyed ur caramoan trip. Lets all go with #teambyaherosmnl

Korek. Gay companions are the best, the happiest.

Yes kaya mabilis akong nakapag upload ng mga photos ko nun.