Thu

10

Sep

2015

 Life Goals: Island-Hopping in Caramoan, Philippines

 

 

Caramoan - The Paradise That Just Might Have It All...

Caramoan is located in the province of Camarines Sur, in the Bicol region of the Philippines. It's one of those places I always had a good feeling about...I just knew I was going to love it.  Well, when the team at Naga Excursions sent me an invitation to explore it, I jumped at the chance!

 

Matukad Island - Caramoan, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

 

The Philippines is quite diverse...I love the beautiful beaches of Boracay, the rolling hillsides full of grazing cattle in Masbate, and the majestic limestone cliffs of El Nido. Somehow, Caramoan has all of that, but also the Bicolano food that I love so much! Spicy and coconut-infused...if you love the beaches and food in Thailand, you might want to check out uncrowded Caramoan instead.

Manlawi Island Sandbar

Manlawi Island Sandbar - Caramoan, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

 

Manlawi Island had the most beautiful sandbar I've seen anywhere in the Philippines! We arrived just before noon, and within 1 hour, our boat was already on dry land! We had no choice but to wait until the tide came back up. Not a bad place to be stranded, though:) It was also fun to explore the rolling hills, Mangrove trees, and floating cottages nearby.

(Click photos for more info)

 

 

Matukad Island Beach - Caramoan, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

1st Stop on the Island Hopping Tour - Matukad Island

Approaching Matukad Island - Caramoan, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis


What a beautiful beach! Here you can snorkel, swim, or climb up a natural rock wall that leads to a hidden lagoon...legend has it that there is a lone bangus (milkfish) that guards the lagoon.

"Survivor Caramoan"

Did you know that Caramoan is where the TV show "Survivor" is filmed? Unfortunately, it makes visiting certain islands impossible much of the time. Some locals aren't too happy about it, and I don't blame them.

 

 

Trekking Through the Manapot River to Umang Cave

After relaxing and rock climbing on Matukad Island, our guide led us into the cool waters of the Manapot River. Our destination? Umang Cave, but we had to wade through the river to get there. You can touch the ground almost the whole way (unless you're very short, I suppose). The cave is  pretty impressive, but just getting to it is half the fun!

(Click photos for more info)

The Breathtaking View and "Talking Rocks" of Pitogo Island

As the sun began it's journey toward the sea, we stopped at fascinating Pitogo Island. Here you can hike up a grassy hill to a breathtaking 360 degree view of the islands. What's truly fascinating about it are the "talking" rocks, though! The beach is made up of giant, smooth rocks (no sand), and as the waves crash onto the shore, it makes a loud sound unlike anything I've ever heard! Hopefully I'll post a video sometime soon.

 

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Sunset at Lahos Island

We stopped at this idyllic little island just in time for mother nature to put on a magical show for us. Yes, indeed there is something enchanting about a dramatic island-sunset in the Philippines - the perfect way to wrap up an island-hopping adventure in the sun.

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Tugawe Cove Resort

What a beautiful place to unwind after island hopping! This private cove is a great place to kayak, snorkel, or swim (in the pool or the sea!). Even just getting to the resort was a blast, because we took a speedboat from the mainland. I think that was the first time I've ever been on one, and it's a lot of fun!


Relaxing @ Tagawe Cove Resort - Caramoan, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

 

 

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View Deck Couch @ Tugawe Cove Resort - Caramoan, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

Inspired Design

 

The bungalows get more and more beautiful and quaint as you continue up the hill. I'm a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture, and some of these bungalows were reminiscent of "Falling Water".

 

The restaurant, game room, and pool are at the top of the hill, and as you can see, the views are spectacular! It is a fancy place, so I was actually surprised how reasonably priced the food and drinks were. Meals were quite good, and the staff was very attentive and friendly (I especially loved how they greeted us "marhay na hapon" - good afternoon in the Bicol dialect - when we arrived.

 

It's billed as a 5-star resort, and while I don't think it's quite a 5-star resort by international standards, it is unquestionably beautiful. Guests have free use of the kayaks and snorkeling gear, and I took full advantage of that fact! Check the photos from these adventures further down below...

 

Pool @ Tugawe Cove Resort - Caramoan, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

Incredible view from the pool, huh? If you ask the staff, they might let you see their resort mascot - a mischievous tropical bird called a hornbill. I think his name was Kevin, and I thought giving him such a human name was awesome.

(Click photos for more info)


Here you see what makes this resort so unique - it's a beautiful cove that also has its own lagoon. Out in the water you can see how much coral there is to explore as you snorkel. The best views are in deeper water, so bring a life jacket and swim carefully!

 

Tugawe Lagoon and Cove - Caramoan, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

Snorkeling in Tugawe Cove

Below are some photos I took while I snorkeled. As always, I used my Olympus TG-4 underwater camera. You can see quite a bit of fish if you are brave enough to venture out into deeper waters. The resort recommends that you stay within the cove, though. I agree....the waves and current quickly gets strong as you get further and further out.

 

(Click photos for more info)

Hotels in Caramoan (Tour Packages Often Included)


Tugawe Cove Resort - You can explore your options and book your unforgettable stay HERE

Casita Mia Bed and Breakfast - Excellent food and service. Not quite as fancy as Tugawe Cove, but a very good value. Explore options or book your stay HERE

 

Breeze and Waves Cottages - This is an excellent and affordable option. It's also perfect for those who want to get further out and experience a bit of local life in Caramoan. You can explore and book a room HERE

 

More options HERE

 

Getting To Caramoan / Contact Info

If you want to visit Caramoan, contact Naga Excursions or Kaddlagan Tours. They took good care of me, but more importantly, they are committed to protecting and preserving these beautiful places for future generations.

 

Naga City can be reached by 1 hour flight from Manila, or overnight bus ride. From there you can now take a van or bus directly to the town of Caramoan. Please check the links above for more info.

 

Thanks so much to Alec and Naga Excursions, but also to team FlipTrip and fellow bloggers Traveling Light, The Lonely Travelogue, and The Pinay Solo Backpacker! We had a lot of fun together, and I can't wait to return to Caramoan again someday!

 

- Nathan Allen



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Most recent blog: Z Hostel, and the Suprising Tech-Driven Side of the Philippines

 

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Nathan Allen has spent 6 years taking photos and documenting life in Asia.  A long-term traveler, he lives by the motto "spend less, see more".  Follow him HERE.

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