Before I start writing my adventures in Caramoan and my side trip to Albay, let me just congratulate myself and two other baristas for surviving the 3-day trip to this part of Bicol. Because some people were a little bit skeptical about us going to a one way of 10-hour bus ride for only having 3 straight vacation leaves. Hahaha so there.
Anyway, this is probably the easiest way to get to Caramoan.
HOW TO GET THERE?
- Ride a bus that goes directly (if not directly, at least close) to Sabang Port. (Raymond and Penafrancia have a daily trip going directly to Sabang Port) In our case, we rode an air-conditioned Raymond Bus, 10:00 pm trip. The fare is P795/pax.
But before we hop on the bus bound to Sabang Port, the driver told us that he could only drop us at Goa Terminal and not directly to Sabang Port. Clueless, we agreed okay. The bus ride was roughly 7-8 hours.
- Arriving at Goa Terminal, we walked to the jeepney station and looked for the one that travels to Sabang Port. The fare is P22/pax for a 20-minute ride.
- From Sabang Port, you will be needing to take the passenger boat going to Guijalo Port in Caramoan. Travel time is 2 hours and the fare is P120.
When you reached Guijalo Port, pay the environmental fee of P30 and ride a tricycle going to Paniman (a 40-minute ride) where most hostels, hotels, and inns are located. Their standard rate is P300 and the ride is good for 6 pax. You may join other tourists and locals if you are traveling alone.
Luckily, we met a very wonderful tricycle driver, Kuya Jun, who happened to be so kind to us he only charged us P250 for the tricycle and looked for our accommodation and island tour for a very considerating price! (Here is his contact number (0920) 506 2926)
Here’s the story.
It was raining when we got there, but we were not hesitated to not take the island trip to the beautiful Islands of Caramoan. That morning, my two friends were worrying about the sun for not showing up. But I keep on telling them that it was okay because we were about to get wet anyway. At least it was not the usual “starting my summer” posts on Facebook with all the sun, right? Hello, it’s March!
Deep inside, I think it was perfect for me knowing that I was about to see the location of Survivor. And I know it was going to be one hell of a castaway experience. Which is my dream, by the way.
After eating our very first meal of the day at 11 in the morning, we went back to our room and decided which tour to pick. And in Caramoan, there are two to choose from; the long trip and the short trip. The short trip includes 5 islands that are close to Paniman beach while the long trip includes 4 islands that are far from the beach of Paniman. The standard rate at Caramoan for these trips is P1,500 for the short trip and P2,500 for the long trip.
Me and my friends decided to take a long trip. So yeah.
Getting to the boat, the rain poured stronger. But it was funny we were under an umbrella going to the shore considering that we were about to get wet in a few minutes. I still don’t get the point haha! Perhaps we were not ready for the rain yet.
After weeks of waiting, our moment was finally there. With swimsuits and board shorts and colorful flip-flops, there was literally no sign of the sun. I told my friends “Let’s just embrace the rain!” and then we sailed away.
On the first minute of our sailing, the sea was all smooth even when the rain was strong. Then right after a couple of more minutes, I can see the waves rushing coming towards us. Big. Waves. Grey skies and heavy rain all saying hello to our tiny boat! I was sitting in front but I didn’t know why I wasn’t scared. With all honesty, I was enjoying the ride! I was screaming and laughing and so are my friends (even though I can feel their terrified faces behind my back) it was just super amazing. Except the raindrops kissing my cheeks, or should I say slapping my cheeks? For an hour there, I was thinking that it might be my karma for being a bad island boy back in the city. Kidding. And that, my dear, was one for the books!
That one hour or so felt like forever because I was freezing to death. Thanks to the waves that made inside our boat though, they kept our bodies warm.
We reached Manlawi Sandbar first. And even it was cloudy and all, with a long stretch of sun bars, clear waters, and starfishes along the way, I can tell that it was one hell of a fine island. Walking there was a pain in the ass, I mean I was totally shaking because the wind keeps on blowing cold breeze. There are also floating huts on the island, which, I thought was a perfect spot for cold beers.
On the second one, we just docked on a pretty sand bar (I swear Caramoan is super-rich when it comes to sand bars) and play with the little waves. I forgot about the place. But it was probably an extension of a big island.
Our 3rd stop was Cotivas Island where we spent most of our time eating plates of seafood and beers that we bought back at Paniman. And the crabs that we bought there were hella big! I promised myself before we left the store where we bought our beers, that I’m not going to eat on this trip. But there was me, licking crab feet.
The rain stopped for a while there, but still cloudy. We saw one group of people besides us, but we felt like we had that island solo. I remember after finishing our second bottle of beer, we went to see the other part of the island. And it felt like I was in a movie. Castaway, maybe? The strong wind, the cloudy skies, the wide stretch of beach, and the rawness of the moment all contribute to such a wonderful feeling. I wish I could film myself as I walk there, but I’m still shaking like hell.
Our last stop before we go back to Paniman beach was Sabitang Laya. And as what they say, save the best for last. That island is very beautiful! “This is so raw,” I told myself as our boat approached the island. As I take my first step on its beach and as I walk there, my jaw was dropped and my eyes? Amazed. Sitting there and looking away from the shore reminds me so much of El Nido.
The islands in Palawan are world-class, that’s what I thought when I went there a few months before this trip. And I was afraid I might already saw the beautiful and fail to appreciate what’s coming next. But Caramoan did not disappoint.
That time, the temperature was colder than ever. And I wished I stayed more in the waters but I’m afraid I might get hypothermia. Also, the sun behind the clouds was about to set.
It was still raining when we went back to our room at 5 in the afternoon, and since it was a tiring and fun day, we felt sluggish after we took our baths. We scheduled our dinner by 7 that evening and I told my friends I was just about to take a nap. But then we all woke up at 9pm and yup, the canteen near us has closed already. Thank goodness for tindahans that were still open, we bought noodles, canned tuna, rice and of course, because I was with a lasengga friend, we bought red horse extra strong beer.
The rain stopped already when we drank at the little veranda of our homestay in Caramoan. And we spent the night talking about vulnerable things that happened in our lives for the past years.
The next morning was wonderful. You know that morning walk you do in the province and all of a sudden you felt peace inside of you? Yup, that was it. I will always know that feeling. It was intensely sunny! I was craving to see the islands from the short trip but we have to leave Paniman after breakfast. Which was sad.
Before Going back to Guijalo Port, we stopped by to see the beautiful 400-year-old church of St. Michael The Archangel Church of Caramoan. It first got our attention when we were on our way to Paniman the day before. Its captivating color was such a head turner! I cannot explain how much I love historical places and my fascination with the old corners of the world is deadly serious. So I made a deal with my friends that we had to stop by before leaving the place.
On the boat going back to Sabang port was peaceful. The roof of the boat protecting us from the Bicol sun, the lunch wind, and the blue waters, are telling me: what a perfect way to fall asleep.
Arriving back at Sabang:
- We rode a van to Naga City (P100) for 1 hour.
- From Naga, we took another van going to Legaspi (P120) and that’s a 3-hour bus ride.
It was like around 5 in the afternoon when I first saw the majestic Mayon Volcano. First time! Before I only see it in postcards and photographs but that day, it finally said hello to my eyes. But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to admire it passionately while standing in the ruins because we got lost (and I’m not going to talk about it here hahaha!) but anyway, I must say, Mayon Volcano looks very stunning from a vantage point of a moving vehicle. It was so beautiful.
So to make it short, we still went back to Cagsawa even if it’s 7 in the evening already. Actually, the only reason why we pushed to go there was to be familiarized, and to make a promise to that place that we will be back soon. And by that time, earlier hopefully.
Going back to Legaspi town proper, we were debating whether to stay overnight or take the last trip of the bus going back to Manila. My friend, Danica, was willing to book a hostel and have more beers in Legaspi. While Karen, wanted to go home already because we already hit our P3,500 budget.
Of course, we couldn’t leave Legaspi City without having a feast with Bicolano Cuisine! Spicy overload and the very famous, sili ice-cream.
After a 15-minute jeepney ride, we asked the guard on duty at the bus terminal for the last ride, and he told us that there were no buses already. But right across the street, a bus (probably from another terminal) was calling us!
12 hours, yup. And it was my first time to take that long hour bus ride without going down the bus during stopovers (there’s a urinal inside) to pee! So after sleeping that long, back at Cubao, we were damn hungry.
It was 9 am and Danica still craved for one bucket of beer. Amazing.
Did we say yes to it? Maybe. But it was time to go home.