Finally! After putting off writing this entry for the longest time here it is.
TRIVIA: Caramoan Peninsula’s claim to fame was being host to several Survivor franchise i.e. Serbia, Bulgaria, France and Israel.
Since it was summer and knowing that it is super peak season in Boracay, we chose Caramoan instead. We went there last March 26-28, 2010. There were 11 of us in the group so we just opted to get a tour package from Caramoan Travel.
At Php3,100.00 (Php2,500 + Php600 for full board meals) per head, the package includes:
- Air conditioned accommodation at hotel or homestay
- Round trip land transfers inside Caramoan
- Island hopping
- Entrance fees
- Tour guide
We were supposed to stay in Rex Tourist Inn but by the time we made the downpayment, it was already fully booked so we had no choice but to go with homestay. Homestay refers to a house or part of a local’s house that they convert into a temporary accommodation for tourists. Rooms are air conditioned and can usually accommodate 4 to 5 persons per room with a common bathroom.
For the transportation, we reserved roundtrip tickets with Peñafrancia Tours. We opted to take the Benz Elite which is a Mercedes-Benz bus that has lazy boy seats and CR onboard. I think it costs Php900-Php950 (one way) to and from Naga. In retrospect, I wish we just took the bus with ordinary seats since the lazy boy was not that comfortable (at least for me) and I was not able to use the CR.
The group met up at Cubao Terminal for our 9:00 pm trip. This is the last trip I think. It was rainy that night and the road to Bicol was scary. Walang sinabi ang zig-zag ng Baguio! Anyway, we arrived in Naga at around 7:00 am (10 hours) and had breakfast at one of the eateries in the terminal.
We walked a bit to get to the van terminal that would take us to Sabang. I think the fare is Php100.00 per head, and the ride was about 1-1.5 hours. When we arrived at Sabang, we had to wait for the boat that will take us to Guijalo Port. Take note that the boats only travel to and from Guijalo Port from 7:00 am to 11:00 am. When the boat arrived, we were shocked that we had to be carried by some men to get to the boat! See picture below:
The boat ride took an excruciating 2 hours and I was seated (on a wooden plank) at the rear part of the boat without a roof/shade! Sunog na ko by the time we reached Guijalo. Upon arriving at Guijalo, we were picked up by our guide in a van. It was another 15 minute ride to the town proper. We stopped at Lutong Bahay to have our lunch (part of the package). Then we headed to our host (homestay) to leave our things and have a shower. By the way, since the place can only accommodate 8 people, 3 of our friends had to stay at another house which is quite a walk from where we were staying. Anyway, after taking a shower it was time to go.
We took a 15 minute van ride (yes, again! As if traveling half of the day wasn’t enough). On our way to the port we saw some parts of the island being set up for the Survivor castaways’ challenge. From the port, it was another 10-15 minute boat ride to reach our first destination: Matukad Island. The boat was so small that it can only sit two people side by side per row. The waves were so strong it was one hell of a scary ride.
We could’ve also visited the caves but our guide said it was already late and we need to go back to Bikal. 🙁
We were supposed to take the 10:00 am bus the next day since we already had the tickets but it was only then that we realized that we can’t make it on time because the earliest boat ride from Guijalo is 7:00 am and it would take about 3-3.5 hours before we reach Naga terminal. So we decided to have our tickets re-booked for the last trip which is at 9:00 pm the next day. BUT since the last trip for the boat ride is at 11:00 am, we also have no choice but to leave before that time.
It was low tide when we got to Guijalo so we had to be transferred by a small boat to the boat that will take us back to Sabang. It was only 2:00 pm when we reached Naga and since our bus ride home wasn’t until 9:00 pm, we decided to kill time in SM Naga.
To date, I feel like this was the most tiring and most remote place I have been to. Although the view is rewarding, I wish they would invest in bigger and faster boats since the islands are far from each other. It eats a lot of time so you can consider yourself lucky if you’re able to visit 2-3 islands per day. Islands you can visit also varies depending on which islands are being used by Survivor.