Island hopping packages in Caramoan usually come in two. One is for Matukad group of islands or those near Paniman. The other one is for the more distant islands from two jump-off sites in the peninsula.
Part 1 of this blog features those near Paniman, where almost all island hopping in Caramoan peninsula starts. This is the second part, so the islands that are featured on this post are the more distant ones from Paniman.
Here is the list of islands I have had visited in my three-time visits.
Sabitang Laya is actually not that far from Matukad group of islands, but since it is out of the way from islands near Paniman, it is usually crossed out in package A.
It was not opened to tourists when a Survivor franchise was filming in the peninsula, because like Matukad, Sabitang Laya was one of the two islands in Caramoan where castaways had stayed.
On the other side of Sabitang Laya is another secluded beach called Bag-ing.
The farthest island we reached during our first visit.
Another white sandy beach located just opposite Cotivas.
Boatmen tend to bring island hoppers here at lunchtime maybe because it is the only island in Caramoan with cottages. Staying at the cottages has a fee.
Another sandbar discovered by my friend on the other side of the hill in Manlawi.
Setting foot on this anonymous island is a prelude to the exciting island adventure in Caramoan peninsula. Those who chartered a trip by boat from Sabang Port to Guijalo Pier instead of opting to ride in a passenger boat can have the opportunity to drop by on this island. All they have to do is ask their boatman.
It is the island nearest Paniman, one of the jump-off sites for island hopping in the peninsula.
Gota Beach. A private beach resort where the production team of Survivor stayed. Tourists can also visit this island with a fee.
The island opposite Gota. The water is just as clear, and the view as picturesque.
Lahus. Open on both sides. Sandwiched by two rock formations. It is the island closest to Matukad, one of the islands in Caramoan used in filming Survivor episodes.
Aerial view of Matukad Island, where the lagoon with an enchanting tale is located.
Tinago Beach. A cove that only skilled boatmen can access. It is very serene here as it is hidden among the limestone cliffs. Hence, the name tinago or hidden.
Another secluded beach near Paniman. Like Lahus it is facing an open sea, thus the slightly stronger current and the bigger the waves than those in completely walled islets. Its position makes the waves a lot of fun to play in.
*These islands are a 15 -minute (more or less) boatride away from Paniman. Part 2 of this blog will consist of islands farthest from Paniman.
Caramoan is considered as Bicol’s best kept paradise. Even if there have been man-made changes in some islands, the rest remained unspoiled.
Like the tourists that flock to the peninsula all-year round, here are five reasons you’ll love Caramoan, too.
1. It offers unparalleled coastal exploration opportunities. Whether you visit the nearest islands or those farthest from Paniman, you’ll discover that every island is an ideal spot for endless outdoor adventures. Island hopping is the big drawcard, but travelers can also experience Caramoan through snorkeling, rock climbing, trekking, as well as spelunking, mountain biking and camping.
When beach hopping, visitors can choose whether to explore the nearest islands or opt for the islands located farthest from Paniman. The islands near Paniman – namely Matukad, Hunongan, Lahos, Tinago and Gota Beach – can be reached via a 15 to 30-minute boat ride.
On the other hand, reaching the more distant islands would take at least an hour or more for visitors to know how it feels like to be in the middle of nowhere when they stepped foot on Cotivas island, or experience once again the thrill of playing with abandon on the wide stretch of Manlawi sandbar. The longest and triangular-shaped island that is Sabitang laya is also waiting to be explored in ways only every group could think possible.
2. No islands are ever the same. Each island found in the peninsula is incomparable to others. For instance, the postcard-perfect view that is Matukad is a 125-meter stretch of pristine powdery white sand walled with jagged limestone cliffs. It has a lagoon (with an enchanting tale) tucked between the island’s lush tropical forest and limestone formations. Lahos island has sugar-like powdery sand whose shoreline is sandwiched between two beaches and two identical giant rocks. What makes Lantangan beach on Pitogo bay interesting is its pebbled covered shoreline which will make you realize that Caramoan islands are not all about fine white sand.
3. You can have some of the islands all to yourselves. This is particularly true to islands located farthest from Paniman. But if you don’t want to travel that far and spend more on boat rental, consider visiting Tinago beach. In Bicol dialect, the root word tago means hide. True to its name, Tinago beach/lagoon is surrounded by imposing rock formations covered with lush green vegetation. It’s hard to get through the entryway of the lagoon when the current is strong.
4. Encounter An Underwater Garden. Tayak lagoon in Malarad island has a vast coral garden where the corals resemble those of the coral garden in Coron, Palawan. The broad coral formation is spread just a few feet from the water surface, which makes it ideal for snorkeling. However, you need to swim underneath the rocks on the side of the beach to access the lagoon.
5. Caramoan offers some of the “best mountain-meet-the-sea vistas”. Mountains of Caramoan also have distinctive shapes — some resemble those rolling hills in Batanes or the lush, green meadows of Palaui island. These sights, along with the scenic and some insanely shaped limestone karsts, make the trip from one island to another less exhausting.
The trip to the peninsula could be excruciating, but tourists seem not to mind especially since enduring it comes with a reward. That is, experiencing a natural high that only nature’s ultimate wonders like Caramoan can give.
*Photo credit to my travel buddies and cousins, as well as to Gota Village Resort. Pictures were used with permission.
Caramoan offers unparalleled coastal exploration opportunities. But that’s not the reason why I still want to go back having visited twice some of this peninsula’s must-see islands.
Perhaps, it’s the secluded islands and the exclusivity that they give. Who would not want to laze on an exotic island and have it all to yourselves even just for half a day?
Here are the must-see islands that we were able to visit and enjoy only for ourselves in my first visit to Caramoan.
Cotivas island in the middle of nowhere.
Tinago (hidden) beach/lagoon because it is within these imposing rock formations covered with lush green vegetation. In Bicol dialect, the root word tago means hide.
Manlawe’s neighbor “desert” island.
What’s the antidote for icy cold water? Keep moving like we did in this lagoon. So swim, play with the waves and shout, if you must.
Upon seeing this island, it is as if we didn’t mind that we had to travel for thirty minutes more to reach our destination- the Guijalo port. This sight was simply captivating that we had to beg manong bangkero to drop us off and let us stay on the island for a few minutes.
Can you imagine how our excitement had kicked in at that time?