|The gang strutting our stuff at Sabitan Laya, ala Survivor|
|The vanishing Manlawi Sand Bar in Lahuy Island|
|The less-visited Guinahoan Island boasts of Batanes-like rolling pastures and dramatic cliffs|
|Friendly islanders welcome us in their village of nipa (palm) huts at Guinahoan Island|
Unfortunately, due to the unpredictable weather last weekend, the postcard-pretty karst spots of Gota Beach, Matukad Island and Lahos Island were crossed out of the itinerary. (I'm hoping to return within the year to check out these remaining islands.) In lieu of them, we were taken to Guinahoan Island, next to Cotivas. Because Guinahoan is not often frequented by travelers, our arrival prompted a sunny welcome by the villagers, many of them children who eagerly offered to guide our group to the lighthouse at the highest point of the island. According to our boatman, only guests of West Peninsula Villas are permitted to visit Guinahoan Island since a staff member of the resort is from this island. Just when I thought that Caramoan Islands were all about jagged limestone islands, Guinahoan was a welcome surprise with its rolling pastures, dramatic cliffs, crashing surf and languid cattle, very reminiscent of the famed isles of Batanes!
|Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Caramoan town|
Back in Caramoan town, not to be missed before leaving the peninsula is the red-brick Church of St. Michael the Archangel, which harps back to the Spanish period, when the town was first established as a settlement called Baluarte amidst impenetrable rainforest by a zealous missionary named Francisco de la Cruz y Oropesa.
|Small bangka at Guijalo Port, Caramoan|
Getting to Caramoan involves transfering from Naga to Sabang port (1 hour) in San Jose, then catching a lantsa (outrigger ferry) (PHP 120, 2 hours) or ro-ro ferry boat (PHP 150, 2.5 hours) to Guijalo port in Caramoan municipality.
Though connected to mainland Luzon, Caramoan proper is more accessible by sea because the road that connects it to the rest of the province remains undeveloped. From Guijalo, it's a 20-minute ride to Caramoan town, where most of the budget guesthouses are, halfway to the northern jetty of Bikal where bangkas (outrigger boats) take tourists to the numerous offshore islands. A full-day boat rental would normally cost 1,500 to 2,500 depending on the distance of the islands to be visited.
For a DIY budget breakdown, check out this entry by Tripadora.
|West Peninsula Villas offers best-value accommodations!|
• Round-trip A/C van transfers - Naga Airport to Sabang Port
• Round-trip boat transfers - Sabang Port to Guijalo Port (Caramoan)
• A/C Villa Accommodation with CATV, CR and free wifi zone (4 pax per room)
• Six (6) meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner)
• Boat rental for two (2) days of island-hopping
• Service Vehicle within Caramoan town
• Entrance fees
• Friendly tour guide
• Free souvenir
• Free one (1) night karaoke at Lake Bar
For inquiries, contact Mr. Jean "Dens" Sancho Jr. of West Peninsula Villas at +63 9153295669 or +63 9212642538.
WHERE TO STAY: West Peninsula Villas offers the best value in town with A/C thatch-roofed rooms that accommodate 4 to 6 pax each. The 4 pax villa is only PHP 1,500. Billiards. Amenities include a floating bar, videoke room, mini gym, free wifi, dart game, pool table and basketball court. When filming the Survivor series, some of the production crew stays here. Some props and obstacles used in the show decorate the resort grounds.