Simple ways to make travels more memorable (Part 1)

Travel is an investment in experience. If you think it’s expensive, try doing the suggestions below. They will not require you to spend much to make your travel experiences memorable and one-of-a-kind.

1. Do something new. Bring the spirit of gift-giving this Holiday Season to your next destination by exchanging gifts. Having ‘Monito-Monita’ will not only make the travel experience more fun but also unique.

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Kurangon islet in Tiwi, Albay

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 For more pictures of the islet and related story

2. Participate in a local activity, especially when tourists are encouraged. It’s already entertaining to see a group of local pre-teens performing a cultural dance, with costumes, harmonious moves and all. But joining the fun is an entirely different thing. It will make you feel welcome and one with the locals without you doing anything but accept a simple invitation to dance.

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Children dancing Tinikling at Loboc River, Bohol

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3. Go back to the basics. Forget about your gadgets for a while to enjoy nature by biking, walking or playing with kids. It will not only reward your physical health but also your mental and emotional well-being. You’ll even wonder why you get invigorated instead of feeling exhausted after exerting a lot of energy.

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This used to be planted with rice, corn and other root crops. But now it’s a wide, open field, perfect for biking, flying kites or walking while enjoying nature. (Tiwi, Albay)
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The two famous, not to mention equally beautiful,  mountains in Albay are also visible in this area. What a picturesque view they make.

4. Try learning something new. You don’t have to be adventurous to try learning new things when you travel. A good dose of curiosity and openness is enough to make you see the people around you and their way of life, and want to try it yourself. When you start noticing their culture, you’ll be interested in the language they speak, the songs they sing, the story behind those timid smiles, how they make a living, and so on. In this respect, travel becomes no longer about you.

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Philippine Ceramics at Putsan, Tiwi, Albay

5. Visit a place that is not a part of your itinerary. Sometimes unintended side trips make you “see” more of a place and its people than most of the suggested places in your itinerary.  These brief excursions you’ll make off the main route will allow you to see more locals, walk alongside with them and have a glimpse of their everyday life. The things you’ll see (and experience) in these places may be ugly and alarming and not to your liking. In other instances beautiful and awe-inspiring. In short, if you want to add an element of unpredictability to your travel go wander.

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Mangcawayan  is the village opposite Mahabang Buhangin. You’ll never know how poor the village is until you visit it.
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Mahabang Buhangin, one of the main islands in Calaguas group of islands
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Delightful surprise. I wasn’t aware of this lagoon (Twin Lagoons) in Coron, Palawan until our boatman brought us here.
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A secret cove that isn’t usually part of the island hopping packages in Caramoan. Thanks to our boatman for bringing us here to snorkel before we get back to the mainland.

 

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Islands of Caramoan at a glance

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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.

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It is the island nearest Paniman, one of the jump-off sites for island hopping in the peninsula.

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Gota Beach. A private beach resort where the production team of Survivor stayed. Tourists can also visit this island with a fee.

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The island opposite Gota. The water is just as clear, and the view as picturesque.

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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.

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Aerial view of Matukad Island, where the lagoon with an enchanting tale is located.

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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.

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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.

 

The trip that started it all

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An island we happened to pass by on the way to Caramoan

What is it with first-time experiences that make them hold a special place in our memory?

When I think of my travels and the places I’ve been to, the first things that come to my mind are the experiences I never had before until I visited the place.

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walled with limestone karsts

For instance, when I think of Caramoan, it’s not the second or third visit I remember the most, but the first. Not that the second and third visits were terrible. In fact, they had been as fun and as memorable as the first.

But if someone would show me a picture of Caramoan, and ask me what comes to my mind, I’d immediately say my first time.

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Bag-ing Beach, the other side of Sabitang Laya
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A prelude to an encounter with more unspoiled islands in Bicol’s best kept paradise, Caramoan

Caramoan was the destination I chose for my first ever travel since I started working. It wasn’t a solo trip, because I recalled inviting my college friends for this trip and most of them had enthusiastically responded to it. I was glad (and still am) that they did not just say yes but also took the initiative to do their part in making the trip possible.

So off we went and made memories together as friends and as individuals with shared interest for traveling. For the first time.

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Travel wasn’t visible in my goal map until I made this trip with college friends three years ago. I am so glad I did. And as long as I find it true, I’ll keep remembering how special this trip was.

[photos: travel buddies: dos, cath, gin and may]

Secluded Caramoan islands all to yourselves

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.

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Cotivas island in the middle of nowhere.

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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.

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Manlawe’s neighbor “desert” island.

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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.

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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?