Caramoan is the Travel Equivalent of #DeleteFacebook
The producers of the international hit reality TV show Survivor were on to something when they set their sights to the islands of Caramoan as their backdrop for one season of the popular physical and mental game of survival. Pristine white beaches, crystal clear blue water, and majestic limestone formations complete the ideal castaway scenario.
But this dream of an island isn’t one that was conjured through television magic. For one thing, it's really remote: Located at the easternmost tip of Camarines Sur, Caramoan is about 128 kilometers away from the capital city of Naga. Getting there takes several hours of traveling by air, land, and water.
From Manila, one can fly to Naga and then take a jeep from the airport to the city. Another option would be to take an overnight bus from Cubao which lasts for about eight hours. From the city, hop on van or a jeep and within an hour, you’ll find yourself at Sabang Port. There you’ll need to board a bangka to Guijalo Port, where the boat ride takes about an hour and a half to two hours. And when you finally reach Guijalo Port, alight and take a trike to your accommodation.
What's in a Name
Caramoan used to be called Gota de Leche—which means "drop of milk"—by the Dutch traders who were said to have been trading with the locals since befoe the Spanish conquistadores crossed the Pacific. The area officially became Caramoan in 1618, when our European overlords came and named it after “Carahan,” a sea turtle that then populated the area.
Caramoan’s unspoilt beauty is best seen from a chartered bangka whose only duty for the day is to take you from one island to the next. Matukad Island, Lahos Island, Busdak Island, and Minalahos Island are some of the most famous stops that should be on your itinerary.
Caramoan might remind the traveler of Palawan, with its limestone formations and breath-taking beaches. Every spot on every island is as instagram-worthy but in Caramoan, it feels like you have all this pretty much to yourself. Thus it seem like a sacrilege not to pay attention to nature itself.
With hardly any sign of civilization in sight, the place demands you to disconnect from distractions and just be. Listen to the waves crashing, look at how the light changes on the lime stones over the course of the day, trek towards hidden lagoons and caves. All this while nourishing yourself with freshly caught seafood that was lovingly prepared by the locals.
Where to Stay
Caramoan welcomes anyone who would make the effort to see her, may you be a backpacker or a well-heeled traveller. There are several inns and hostels in the area who like to keep it simple. The Traveler’s Camp seems to be popular for its location in the heart of the town and the generous servings of “lutong bahay” food.
For a more island resort feel, make your home at the Gota Village Resort. Made up of cabins, this resort definitely feels like you’re in some village. It's best for when you’re traveling with a group.
A luxury hideaway, Tugawe Resort is the place to stay when you’re keen on keeping the world right behind you and being pampered while you’re at it.
The magic of Caramoan comes from its remoteness, resulting in Mother Nature at her finest and a solitude that’s harder and harder to find in today’s digital world. Nowhere are the all-night partying crowds or the endless tiangge stalls filled with kitschy souvenirs begging to leave the island. Out here, in Caramoan, it’s all about you, the sand, and the water.
If you're suffering from a broken heart or digital fatigue, run away and heal yourself in Caramoan. There, you’ll be free from outwitting, outplaying, or outlasting anyone.