In the lower eastern part of Camarines Sur lies what was once Bicol’s prime clandestine island destination. It would have remained a near secret or a place merely mentioned in passing via obscure travel books if it had not been for the reality TV series “Survivor.” Back in 2012 the series chose a specific place in the Philippines as its setting, and since then the island group considered by many as a masterpiece of nature has attracted favourable attention and admiration at an international level.
Draped in lush greens and surrounded by crystal clear waters in ever changing shades of blues, where travelling by foot or island hopping by boat would reveal secluded spots of sublime beauty and majesty, this is the place collectively known as the Caramoan Islands.
And so our group’s adventure began via chartered bus and van to Sabang Port and by a pumpboat to Guihalo Port. Transportation to the island took around 15 hours from Quezon City with stopovers. Enough time to daydream and add a slightly different flavour to this piece by adding a tinge of the “Divergent” series of Young Adult novels. So if you identify yourself with the Dauntless in the series, then try these 5 daring activities in the Caramoan Islands:
5. Spelunking at Umang Cave
Getting to Umang Cave was a scenic adventure in itself as we trekked by huge limestone formations and crossed through the Manapot River’s shallow remains during low tide.
Umang Cave posed a challenge. We had to climb sharp slippery rocks to reach the entrance but it was all worth it! Initially I imagined the place would be dim but there was sufficient light from sunbeams that streaked through openings from the cave’s three entrances that shone off the stalactite and stalagmite formations. Further enlivening the place were the soft clicking sounds of bats. I think they were saying in bat language “Why do we fall? (a few of us fell flat on our bums btw) So we might learn to pick ourselves up” just like Alfred said to Bruce.
As the water rose during high tide, a boat transported us back to Paniman Beach where our resort was located and which served as the jump-off point to our island hopping adventure.
4. Island Hopping
The Caramoan Peninsula is composed of unblemished beaches accessible by boat. Each island we visited had a unique characteristic and its own set of activities. Lahos Island, my favourite, has powdery white sand which glowed under the violet sunset. It was like a thin sheet of paper in between identical rocks. It disappears during high tide (“Laho” in english means vanish) so we had to vacate the beautiful beach to avoid drowning, and possibly turning into mermaids.
Another fan favorite called Matukad Island is one of the more popular island hopping destinations. We visited the island early in the morning and it felt like the serene sea and soft white sand were ours to enjoy exclusively.
3.Rock Climbing at Matukad Island
If you crave more excitement than what swimming gives, then the option to rock climb and have the chance to see an enchanted lagoon might satisfy your wild spirit.
After a sweaty clamber to a rock which I think was the reason my calf muscles formed, we were rewarded with a splendid view of the island. Just kidding, no muscles were formed nor short limbs were harmed during the climb.