Of Limestones, Sandbars, and Pristine Waters – Caramoan Island-Hopping

Caramoan has seen different versions of the famous reality TV series “Survivor” – US, Sweden, Israel, Bulgaria, Serbia and India. I was hesitant to go to Caramoan because when I went to Palaui in Cagayan, most of the tourist spots were blocked from visitors because they were filming (even if they were not filming in the spots I wanted to go to). But unlike my sad experience in Palaui, I had the chance to go to some of the islands in Caramoan that were not used for filming. For the Caramoan itinerary and budget, please click here.

We started before 7 am since the islands are far from each other, a little bit different if you’ve been to Coron in Palawan where the “islets” are practically a stone’s throw away from each other.

Caramoan Island Hopping - Was that Matukad Island? There was no filming there but that we could be seen from the adjacent island where they were filming

Caramoan Island Hopping – Limestones and clear waters

Caramoan tidbit: Caramoan got its moniker when the Spaniards set foot in the virgin forests and found a lot of sea turtles, which is “carahan” in Spanish, thus the name, which has been used since the 17th century.

Back to the island hopping activity: I brought my own snorkel sets so I don’t have to rent and use used snorkels. You might want to bring yours too.

The boat I rented didn’t have the usual ladder used for island hopping so it was kind of challenging to go.

Caramoan Island Hopping - Scared to jumo off (using a GoPro Hero 3)

Caramoan Island Hopping – My own snorkel set (using a GoPro Hero 3)

In the entirety of the island hopping trip, I didn’t have to pay anything for environmental fees. Unless I docked at Gota Village and really went there. Gota Village is a private resort owned by some politician (ain’t dropping names here), that would have caused me PhP 300 entrance fee.

Caramoan Island Hopping - Under the Sea (GoPro Hero3)

Caramoan Island Hopping – Under the Sea (GoPro Hero3 unedited)

Our first stop is a small island where I took pictures but didn’t swim. This is where I struck the deal with the boatman to go to the farther islands (like Matukad).

Then we went to Lahuy Island, and to Manlawi Sandbar and enjoyed the unexploited sea with floating cottages to boot.

Caramoan Island Hopping - Floating Cottage

Caramoan Island Hopping – Floating Cottage

Island Hopping Caramoan - Floating cottages

Island Hopping Caramoan – Floating cottages

My favorite island is Cotivas. It’s where we stayed for lunch, dipped for a swim and took some pictures 🙂

I bought the crabs from the boatman before we started the trip, and he (and his wife) prepared it. That’s extra cost though, but not as expensive when you buy it cooked at a restaurant somewhere.

Caramoan Island Hopping - Lunch is ready!

Caramoan Island Hopping – Lunch is ready!

Caramoan Island Hopping - The beautiful Cotivas Island

Caramoan Island Hopping – The beautiful Cotivas Island (iPhone 5s, unedited)

Caramoan Island Hopping - a good place to stay at

Caramoan Island Hopping – Sabitang Laya island, instagram.com/footloosetomcat

We then went to Mt. Caglao so we can climb the famous steps leading to the church on top of the hill – overlooking the seas. Another newer church was being built in Tagbon too.

Island Hopping Caramoan - Mt. Caglao's overlooking view

Island Hopping Caramoan – Mt. Caglao’s overlooking view

According to Ellie, the kind lady we took a ride with, there was a forest fire some years back that started from the bottom part of the hill and crawled its way up to where the chapel is. There was an on-going mass then and there was no way the people could go down the hill without suffocating or burning themselves. But before the fire could reach the gates of the chapel, the fire extinguished on its own.

Caramoan Island Hopping - Towering over me is the statue located on top of the hill that also serves as a lighthouse to local fishermen

Caramoan Island Hopping – Towering over me is the statue located on top of the hill that also serves as a lighthouse to local fishermen

Here are the photos I captured that day:

Caramoan Island Hopping - Another, newer church down the hill

Caramoan Island Hopping – Another, newer church down the hill – The Parish of St. Dominic of Guzman

Caramoan Island Hopping - what lies beyond...

Caramoan Island Hopping – what lies beyond…

Caramoan Island Hopping - Cotivas Island

Caramoan Island Hopping

Island Hopping Caramoan - Mt. Caglao Grotto

Island Hopping Caramoan – Mt. Caglao Grotto

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