When in Manila and at work, you’d probably think of places to visit to get some r and r. One place that fills the fancy of many travel junkies is Caramoan island, in Camarines Sur, Bicol. It boasts of pristine waters and almost white beaches that many beach bums find awesome. On my first trip there, however, all of my thoughts about the island have been proved wrong wrong, to be honest.
Thought # 1. I thought that upon landing in Naga, we would travel by land then get to a resort
Thought # 2. From the resort I thought we will take a boat then go island hopping, just like in Pangasinan
Thought # 3. That I would get “tanner”
The morning after my birthday, I met up with my good friends from Baguio at NAIA Terminal 3. Our flight was scheduled at 6:30 in the morning, but since they left Baguio at 9PM, they were already in the airport by around 3. I got there just in time to check in, get past security, buy pizza pandesal, and have my own bus to the ATR-72-500. Apparently the smaller planes don’t get their own ramp, and a bus needs to take you to the plane. I’ll now cut you on the boring stuff since I was practically unconscious during the flight – I just woke up when we were on our final descent.
May 6, past 7 in the morning. We landed on a sort-of-gloomy Naga Airport. Whatever happened to all that sun I got on my birthday, I have no idea. After getting our check-in luggage and after waiting for a few minutes for the driver of Rex Tourist Inn, we took the 1 hour ++ drive to Sabang Port. The fun began when we saw the banca that would take us to Caramoan Island. Aside from Thought # 1 bursting like a bubble, the sand was very dark, the water was darker, and the weather was the darkest! By this time, it was already starting to rain and the waves were starting to get bigger. Seeing the boat that was supposed to take us to the island didn’t help. It looked over crowded, and it was far from looking like a fun ride. My friend even jokingly asked if it’s possible to get a boat to ourselves. But there’s no turning back now. Na-ah.
If the locals say it’s safe, then it probably is. I trust the judgment of fishermen when it comes to sea faring.
After what seemed like the longest two hours of my life, we finally arrived at Guijalo Port – the entry point of Caramoan Island. By this time I was already tired, exhausted, and a little frustrated. If I’ve expressed my disappointment with Sabang Port, Guijalo Port has frustrated me more.
Maybe I should blame my ignorance, but when we left Sabang Port, I thought Guijalo would be the awesome Caramoan I’ve seen in photos. Boy was I wrong. It was just like Pasig River and Manila Bay combined. The water was murky, and it smelled like how polluted Manila Bay smells like. This better be good, I was thinking. When our “tour guide” arrived, the first thing I asked him was, “Where can we go swimming?”. Jay, our tour guide from Rex Tourist Inn, then explained to me that we still have to go to the islands to swim. That’s 15 minutes of going to Centro, and roughly 15 minutes more going to where the island-hopping-boats are.
After a heavy lunch (they made my day by serving sugpo), we just changed our clothes then off we went to the islands.
Badly needed this one. Thank you, San Miguel!
Then our Caramoan Island adventure continued. Since the tides were still low, we had to take a small canoe (pulled by a fisherman) to take us to the “real” boat that we were to use for island hopping. It was freaky! We had to keep still for five minutes or so just to make sure it won’t topple over.
After not being in a boat for a while (The last one being the time I was doing my thesis about echinoderms; I rented a fisherman’s boat, went to the sort-of-middle part of the water, tied one end of the rope to my foot then tied the other end to the boat, then jumped. It was either innocence or ignorance. Anyway..) As I was saying, it was thrilling to be in the middle of the Pacific ocean after not being in a boat for a while.
Supposedly this is where survivor something something stayed, but that’s not much of a fuss I guess. The water was pristine even if it was raining! Usually oceans get murky when it rains. The gods of Caramoan sure know how to take care of their peninsula.
After a few minutes we headed to Gotah beach.
Day 2 – Typhoon Bebeng decided to come along.
I literally woke up to the sound of the wind wheezing, news that some flights have been canceled and that coast guard’s not allowing any boat trip, and that it’s signal number 2, from where we are. Well hello there and good morning! The guys from Rex Tourist Inn were already cooking up a Plan B for us, but after breakfast, people decided that we can still go with our little adventure. By people I’m not sure if it’s coast guard, our tour guide, or the boatmen.
We had to take two boats now since “we” is now a bigger group. My first reaction when we reached the mangrove dock? Are we sure? The tides were high and the water didn’t look friendly. And so did the sky. But we went island hop, hop, hopping anyway. And right now I can still feel the thrilling feeling. lol
First Stop – Our Lady of Peace Shrine in Mt. Caglago, Tabgon
600++ steps. Yes, we made it! Under the rain!
The shrine of Our Lady of Peace is on Caglago Island. The shrine is host to a gigantic statue of the said, how should I put this, mother(?). I’m not really a fan of statues. The view from the top is awesome, though.
We had to stay for awhile after going down from the shrine. It was raining kinda little hard and the water looked like it was gonna have us for lunch.
Second Stop – Bitang Laya
- Caramoan Island, Bicol
It was funny ’cause the rain was crazy on one side of the island. Yes, just one side.
The other side was calm. Serene. Either it stopped right then and there or it was just raining on one side of the shore. Crazy, huh?
We took it as a signal to go home. And boy, I couldn’t have prayed less on that trip.
You know what’s awesome about going back to the inn? Gladys asked the staff to buy a “surprise” cake for us 🙂 see, five of us celebrate our birthday on the merry month of May.
Happy birthday, birthday girl!
The surprise was enough to keep us happy even without the comforts of electricity .
Third Day – The expected unexpected part of the trip.
6AM and we thought we would be going home. We packed our stuff like we’re supposed to, had breakfast the way we had to, but going home.. Ohh, must you be so difficult? There was already talk that coast guard, again, wasn’t allowing any trips. The boatmen agreed. They were saying, habagat has come. And it sounded eerie.
What do we know? 10 minutes later and we were already on our way back to the hostel. There we were, bags in tow, planning what we can do, calling relatives and friends, calling the airline and asking them if our trip was canceled, making arrangements with Rex Tourist Inn. We had to stay for the day, that’s for sure. For the rest of the day we found ways to entertain ourselves – played cards, made friends, told stories from distant and not-so-distant pasts.
The view from our room.
Thanking heaven for playing cards.
Day 4 – Coast Guard Says…
In all honesty, this was the first time in my entire traveling life that I’ve wished to be home. It got scary every once in a while and sometimes I wanted something comforting. Good thing I was with good company.
Remember what Gladys said in Sabang Port, before our boat trip? Is there a way to get a boat to ourselves? The gods of Caramoan decided to grant her wish. Hehe.
The boat ride from Guijalo Port back to Sabang Port wasn’t the longest 2 hours of my life, as expected. I even fell asleep during the trip (probably the rocking of the boat and carbon monoxide). I’ll skip you the boring part, like CWC, being stranded with the survivor cast, being in Naga Airport and almost pleading and arguing (at the same time) with CebuPac about our flight, and getting our welcome-back-to-civilization-meal in Bigg’s Diner. I’d say this is one of the rather memorable trips I’ve had so far. We’re looking forward to going back to Caramoan some time soon. I’ll plan this trip when in Manila – this time with a side trip to Legazpi and maybe Donsol.
‘Til next time, Caramoan!
We had our welcome-back-to-civilization-meal here, at the infamous Bigg’s Diner. Read about this from a good friend of mine (is there a bad friend? lol).
Pili! Pili na!
Rex Tourist Inn
Address: Caramoan, Camarines Sur, Bicol
Contact Numbers : +639153295658 and +639198821879
E-mail Address : email@example.com