Jean, my fellow wanderlust-wanna-be, and I first heard about Caramoan last August. Described in glowing terms as an "untouched paradise" by someone who had never seen it himself, the hype whetted our curiosity - and we've been planning to take a trip there ever since. After discovering beauty of Bicolandia during our weather-cursed trip last February, we've been even more eager to realize its promise.
With a resident's schedule, easier said than done. (This is no longer really my problem, but with my travel buddies all tied to the hospital, I don't have much of a choice.) But sure enough when there's a will there's a way, and last weekend we finally managed to get away.
The Caramoan Peninsula is found in the Bicol province of Camarines Sur. It is three and a half hours away from Naga City - itself already an eight to ten hour drive from Manila. Caramoan town proper is an hour and a half by land to Sabang Port then two hours by boat to Guijalo Port. That's a total of twelve hours travel for people who can barely get a weekend away.
We got started on our journey to Caramoan on Friday night, leaving Manila at around 8pm. We drove to Naga City straight through the night, sleeping fitfully in turns to make sure someone was awake to keep the driver up. We had contracted the services of a guide to coordinate our trip so that we could make the most of the day we were spending at there, and we were set to meet her with the transport our group would take to Sabang.
We arrived at Naga City at 4:30 AM of Saturday morning, about half an hour earlier than scheduled. Our FX to Sabang picked us at our meeting point up along the highway. It was long drive and a tight fit, so it was too difficult to fall asleep on the way... but it was worth it because I got to see dawn break over majestic Mount Isarog and the bucolic agricultural landscape en route to Sabang Port.
Boats leave from Sabang Port to Caramoan town at 7AM, 9AM, and 11AM. We were early for the first trip out and were first to board the boat, which can carry around 30 people plus baggage. While we waited for the boat to fill, I had my first glimpse of how far removed Caramoan is from the bustle and noise of the city. From across the port, we were treated to other side of Mount Isarog, dressed in lush green forest garb.
After a half hour wait, we were finally off on the two hour boat ride. The sea was moderately choppy but the sun was out, and the stunning beauty of the Caramoan Peninsula and the vivid colors of sea and sky more than made up for the butt-numbing trip. We docked at Guijalo Port after a two-hour boat ride. From there, our guide arranged for a jeepney to take us to the town center - another 15 minute rough road ride.
Unfortunately, there was no rest for the wicked! Because of our tight schedule, our guide was knocking on our doors after only thirty minutes - just enough time for us to change into our swim wear and slop on lots of sunblock. Then we were piled back into our jeepney for another bumpy ride to Bikal port from where our island hopping adventure would commence.
Word of warning: the experience is as back to nature as it can get because there is no toilet or running water here - and no other inhabitants. But the unspoiled beauty of the beach makes it worth the trip. Frankly, I could have spent the whole day - and night - here, being a bonafide beach bum, but I was outvoted by my more adventurous travel buddies. Such a shame - the stargazing would have been wonderful here.
(Note: All pictures were taken by Sony Cybershot point-and-shoot cameras. No special effects! Amazing, huh? :))