A Thousand Kilometers to Bicol – Caramoan

Odometer check at Shell SLEX.  We left at around 6 ish – two cars, boys versus girls.  Who can drive faster all the way to Naga?  We have a native Bicolano on the team, a native from the Caramoan Group of Islands – let’s call him Bum.  He was our assigned tour guide.  During the trip we realized that our assigned tour guide missed his calculations as to our ETAs (estimated time of arrival) by roughly an hour and a half.

Armed with a hectic itinerary, a budget allocation of only Php 2000/ head, bags of groceries which includes coffee, plastic cups, loaves of bread, peanut butter (my favorite), cheez whiz, the bar!, water, softdrinks and a cooler that is already filled with ice, we were determined to make the most of our four day trip.

Lesson 1:  Expect not to have a good night’s sleep if you plan to have an IT like the one that we did.  Bring comforter and a pillow.  Get heavy on the caffeine, you’ll need it.

We reached Naga at around 1 AM – we only did two stopovers, a pee break and a very late dinner at a carinderia (Lita’s Eatery at Gumaca, Quezon)- this is the place where most buses do their stops.  I am not really into carinderia food – but upon tasting their pusit and the pork giniling, I was shoving and chewing food all at once.  .

The roads leading to Naga are not well-lit – this applies to almost all national highways in the Bicol region, hence driving at night is very tricky, add to that the idea of ghosts and “mumu” stories.  Some towns have decent street lighting, but most of the time there aren’t.  The gap between two vehicles are pretty far that somehow driving along the highway gives you this eerie and creepy feeling that you have someone on board that is not a member of the group.

Naga to Sabang is almost 2 hours and a half.  It was here that we realized how Bum tends to shorten the time distance between point to point, because his forty-five minutes was two hours and a half.  Sabang is your point of entry to the main island of Caramoan.  They have overnight parking spaces – rates are 150/car/night.  The first trip out is at 5:30 am.  Fare per head is Php 100.  There are porters around who’s willing to help you carry your bags.

Lesson 2:  Wear slippers.  Expect to get wet when boarding the ferry-boat.  You need to squat and bend in order to get in.  If it’s raining, put on your life vests.  The ferry ride is two hours.  It is achingly slow.  You will be using the classic line “are we there yet?” more than you ought to.

From the port, it will take you roughly 15minutes to  the town proper.  I have to give credit to Bum for making our Caramoan trip as hassle free as possible.  He has arranged for our accommodations at 1500/head which includes full board, transport from the port and back, island tour and guide – and a delicious, sumptuous meal that I will never forget.  (picture of the place inserted)

We settled in at around 8:30 AM, the breakfast prepared was dried fish and egg (yummy), changed into our swimming outfits  at around 9:30 am and took another 15 minute ride to where the little pump boats are docked for our island tour.

Lesson 3:  Lunch will be served ala picnic.  Remember the cooler that we were carrying?  Well we brought it all the way to the islands.

Our first stop was the island of Sabitang Laya, this was where we opted to have our lunch.  Our hostess prepared us shrimps, the famous Bicol laing, chicken adobo and grilled tanguige.

Lesson 4:  Travel time between islands is approximately 20 to 30 minutes.  But it will be worth it, each island’s beauty is different from the other.  And since you’re there, you might as well enjoy the experience.

The second island is called Bitchara.  Bitchara is a stretch of white sand in between two rock formations.  Imagine a sandwich, the spread is Bitchara.  The grain of sand is not as fine and as white as Boracay, but it is better than any of the beaches in Batangas.  The water is very clean and clear.  When we were there, there were already three groups ahead of us doing their photo op.  One thing about Caramoan though is that there isn’t anything to do other than appreciate nature at its finest.  And it would be best to stay a bit longer like two days for you to really explore the islands.

Due to time constraints we were only limited to exploring three islands, the last one – Matukad was my favorite.   Pristine waters, sand so fine like powder – comparable to that of Boracay (even better if you’re not into crowds), little fishes swimming about, and you have a cove where you can hang your clothes on.  I love Matukad!  It made all the hassle of the trip worth it.

We headed back to the main island tired, sunburned, hungry and looking forward to dinner.

We were not disappointed with dinner when it was served.  Lobsters and crabs were prepared for us.  Big mouth-watering lobsters! We were supposed to get drunk that night but we were too tired to even bother drinking up the supplies.  Lights off at 12 midnight.

Six AM was the set call time for the next day’s activity – which was CWC.

Trivia:  The buzz about Caramoan started when Survivor France used it as their location for the reality show.  A lot of countries followed thereafter, like Survivor Israel – which did two shows.  While we were there, some islands were off-limits – particularly Gota Beach, due to Survivor USA which was said to be currently filming.

Roro’s are now operating within the Sabang – Caramoan Island routes (mainland).  This would mean that you can now bring your vehicle all the way to the main island.



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