Wednesday, June 13, 2012

125. First Backpacking Adventure: CARAMOAN ISLANDS!

LAG POST at its finest.

As mentioned in one of my previous previous post, this was what I got giddy about. And now, time allowed me to update this blog regarding this unforgettable, first time, fun backpacking adventure at CARAMOAN!

Remember, or did I? Anyway, our initial plan way back August/September was supposedly November of last year. But our pockets didn't allow us to. Blessedly, February was good to us, because we were expecting our SL conversion! The budget automatically went to Caramoan trip. :) No regrets, 'cos we deserved this trip.

The curiosity of 'how does it feel like having a long train ride?' led us to try PNR from Divisoria to Naga, Bicol. This is added to the fact that we planned this trip to be tightly-budgeted. It's way cheaper than a plane ride, but also took way longer as well. The islands are not easily accessible. And since we're on a tight budget, we have to do the commuting the 'rough' way. San niyo gusto mag-start ang commuting? Okay, let's take off from Buendia station. No, not MRT, the PNR train. Kwento type. PNR to Divisoria. From Divi to... okay an unnecessary longer than usual stopover at Lucena! Nasira si PNR. We stopped there for an hour. Which made us arrive at Naga Station at around almost 6AM already instead of 4AM. From Naga train station we have to ride a tricycle to the shuttle van station, which lead us to Sabang port. From Sabang port, we had a rough boat ride!! The waves were rough. Someone who has motion sickness would definitely not make it to the islands without vomiting. I don't intend to scare, it's just my way of telling how rough the ride could possibly be. After an hour of the rough boat ride. We finally reached Guijalo port! The ride to Guijalo already teased us with what's awaiting us at the islands.

At the sleepers coach, PNR.

NAGA station finally and en route to the islands. On the way to the islands already gave us spectacular views!

At the Guijalo port, the son of the owner of the boat that we rented, fetched us and took us to where we stayed. It was a 30-minute ride and we finally arrived at West Pen Villas. Our room is a cabana type. One doesn't really need an excellent room since you will be outside doing island hopping most of the time.

Upon checking in. We didn't waste any time. We just had some snacks and then off we went to enjoy the rest of the day!

West Pen Villas! A sulit accommodation.

It was another long, rough road tricycle ride to the Paniman beach, where boat rides to the different Caramoan islands take off. Yes, rough road! There were some smooth road, which the US Survivor Series financed. They were there taping. Yes, unluckily, they were there. It restricted us from going to every island. They were either setting up or shooting on some of the islands nearby and they did not allow tourists to enter! I was a stranger to  my home set of islands!! Sila nang nakikigamit sila pa nagdadamot? Yan talaga sinabi ko sa sarili ko. Though part of me understood why they need to do that. But, still!

Good thing we already contacted a boat owner before we traveled to Caramoan. We were spared the time to look and haggle for one. (I can give you his contact no. if you'd wish to). Mang Ramil, together with his other boatmen, are super nice and accommodating. And his rates are all reasonable! Plus they won't take you to those islands with a crowd. Instead, they will take you to islands that you can call it yours, private, at least for the time being that you are there.

This was at Paniman Beach, where island hopping took off. Bottom right photo shows approaching the very first island. :) Lovely, ain't it?

Our first stop was an anonymous island. It doesn't have a name!! Actually, I don't remember. Lol. I just realized later that I should have recalled the island names for telling and blogging purposes. Next time na lang. Hihi. It was just the first island but I don't wanna leave that island! That moment when we were there, I feel like we're at the most peaceful, serene, tranquil, place on earth! What I only hear are the sounds of the sea, the leaves of the trees that are being cradled by the friendly wind, the tweeting of the birds, and our voices. Hindi ako OA. Ganun talaga kapeaceful! Plus, we were the only ones in that island. We owned it! Thank the Lord for underwater cameras! Picture taking galore! So let the photojourn begin.

Disclaimer: Limited photos. Mostly of me, of nature, of scenery and of me with the boyfriend. Wag na umangal. Blog ko to. Ako ang bida, sabit na ang boyfriend ko. Lol.

The first stop: an island I don't remember the name. Fail. But the sand was really fine and compact! And stone formations was wow-ing. Everything was actually wow-ing since it's the first island we saw. But I fell in love immediately. I must admit that this is my favorite island among all. It's just so peaceful.  Such an epic fail to have forgotten the name.

Swimming on the first island! So paradise!
Second stop: Matukad Island

Upon doing an internet search of what islands to visit, Matukad Island is the most common I have encountered in search engines. And I won't agree that this has got to be the best island I have been to among all the islands. However, indeed it has a powdery white sand, finest sand among all the islands we've been to. Nonetheless, the island's still a beauty. Every island is. There was a lagoon that is part of this island. We were not prepared with any foot gear to climb the steep and sharp stones leading to the lagoon. Sayang nga e. But a couple showed us the photos they took of the lagoon and the loner Bangus that is swimming in it. I wish I will still have the chance to see the lagoon. It is also in this island that we ate our very first meal in Caramoan. It was such a refreshing feeling to eat with the friendly nature surrounding you.

Third stop: Cadong Island

I'm really not so sure of the name. Harhar. But hope it is! 

See those rock formations? Wouldn't you praise our Creator for its loveliness? And wouldn't I praise Him the more for a wonderful boyfriend beside me? Pumipick-up!

I played with the waves. Spell F-U-N! It's that moment when all you can think of is 'come waves, hit me!' Just those thoughts. No work. No problems. No issues. Just you and the waves.

Fourth stop: Kagbanilad Island (or is it Cagbalinad??)

This is another favorite island. We stayed a good hour here. The island is a good mix of rock, sand, mini cave, trees and the sea.

We all fell in love with the fire-y coloured tree. It stood out in the island.

Fifth Stop: Another island.

Lol. iFail. Forgive me. It was a quick stay here as there was five boats ready to swarm the tranquility of the island. They were on a field trip. So our friendly kuya boatmen decided to go elsewhere.

Day 2

Sixth Stop: Cotivas Island

Another frequented island. We have to wake up early for this island. It's more advisable to go to this said island when it's high tide. Or else, boats will be stuck on low tide.

Seventh Stop: Manlawi Island

The favorite island for the day! Such a good stay on this island. It was a vast white sandbar! Sand everywhere! This is the same place where I got burnt. I am not complaining. The setting was superb I really enjoyed my stay in this island.

See that sandbar!

Eight stop: Minalahos Island

This island shouts gigantic coals! We had a theory that these rocks were thrown out of a tremendously huge volcano. We enjoyed taking pictures with the rock formation as our background.

Ninth Stop: Snorkeling

 See, we were supposed to go to some other islands but due to Survivor, we ended up just snorkeling. I'm guessing the seafloor is around 30 feet below. I felt scared for my life. O_O And then at one point, I was already stepping on the corals! Still, scared for my life. I will never be a brave seawoman.

We're professionals. :))

Lower left is supposed to show you a photo of a brain-shaped coral. And on the lower right is a heart-shaped coral reef.

Day 3

Our last half-day. What we mostly did is to shop for pasalubongs. And we visited one of the oldest churches in Philippines history.

Miniature of St. Michael's Church

Bye, Caramoan.

Spend time and money on experience. Just like what I did going to Caramoan. I seldom do travels. And I am utterly grateful for having this chance. It wasn't just travel. It was also realizations and discoveries all at the same time. 

Travel and see the beauty our country beholds. Well I can now proudly say, I've been to not less than ten islands by just visiting Caramoan. 

Discoveries, that there is so much more than just facing the computer be it at work or at home. This is life God has intended for us to experience. This is His creation He made for us to see. Discovery that there are still genuinely nice people in the world, let alone in the Philippines. I was deeply moved by how Mang Ramil and his friends and family  treated us. And the rest of the Caramoan people. It was so easy to give them a genuine smile. 

Realizations that I must make a step to experience more of life. That I am blessed enough to be on that place. To be in the position where I am now. To be surrounded by people who trust and believe in me. To be loved by people.

I don't know when's the next escapade, or the next backpacking adventure will be. But I can tell this early, that I am surely excited.


Maze Asis said...

wow, saya! I would love to do that someday..hahah,. <3

Michelle Sanchez said...

Caramoan is the best! one of the best island in the philippines!

Jewel Rose said...

Hi, I am a tour coordinator and a native of Caramoan. I arrange all kinds of tours and give you the rate from the most expensive to the most conservative. I also send guest to travel agencies and tour operators that you may want to work for your needed tour. If you are interested, you may contact me @ 09106534561. My husband who happened to be an american and traveled all over the world always wants the best tour and I’ll give it to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Can i get your boatman's name and number? Many thanks!

Rickey Ricardos said...

Hi! Can I also get your boatman's contact number? How much did you pay for the 2-day island hopping activity? Thanks.

Rickey Ricardos said...

Hi! Can I also get your boatman's contact number? how much did you pay for the 2-day island hopping activities? Thanks!

MERiE said...

Hi Rickey Ricardos,

Kuya Ramil's contact no. is 09074351962. :)

We spent only P3k for a two-day island hopping (first day is only half-day and second day is whole day). Not bad as we rented only a small boat. :)

MERiE said...

To Anonymous as well :)

Kuya Ramil's contact no. is 09074351962. :)

Hope it's not too late and he'll be really of great help!

Mickie Ann Perez said...

Hi! 3k inclusive of all expenses? Transpo - accomodation?

Merie Clarete said...


Nope, Php3000 was only for the boat rental for 1.5 days of island hopping :)

We spent about Php2200 for two nights accommodation for 2 pax but trust me there are a lot of cheaper ones, we tended to splurge on this.

Our transpo was PNR train to Naga but took a flight back to Manila. For transpo and transfer we spent about Php2500 per pax but because of the air fare that it's a tad costly. :)

Roughly Php6000 per pax but if you are a group of five or more, a Php3,500 budget per pax would already suffice! :)

Steph said...

Hi! Planning a trip for this April. Can you share your boatman's contact number? Thanks!

Merie Clarete said...

Kuya Ramil's contact no. is 09074351962. :)

Hopefully this still works. :)