Surviving Caramoan – An Unplanned Getaway (Itinerary, Budget, Avoiding Rip-Offs)

The trips that I make take about at least 2 weeks of planning. From the itinerary, budget, booking and ehem, shopping.

Destination: Caramoan, Camarines Sur. The travel time is longer, the place is unfamiliar, but has a reputation for very nice beaches. So off we went booking our “Lazy Boy” bus seats care off Isarog (PhP 1,100 per pax).

One has to personally pay for the tickets at their EDSA-Farmers station (southbound). BDO Debit cards are accepted (although they say credit cards are, their terminals are always off-line). They leave at 9pm and because of some re-blocking along national highways, the trip took us around 10 hours.

The bus is very comfortable, it provides leg room and only accommodates 21 passengers (with a toilet inside). However, if you ask which bus is the best for long trips, I’d still say nothing beats Genesis’ Joybus going to Baler and Baguio. They have blankets, snacks, a stewardess, the usual reclinable seats and leg room.

Anyway, once the bus arrived at the Naga terminal, I went to the Robredo Coliseum (just across the terminal) to board the van that would take me to Sabang Port. The ride takes about 2 hours and the fare is PhP per pax. Luckily, I got to sit beside a very kind and hospitable lady named Ellie, who said she is related to the owner of the inn I booked at – Villa Juliana. She told me to ride with her during the Sabang-Guijalo boat trip so I could also take the tricycle with her and not get overpriced.

Over at the Sabang port, while waiting for the improvised planks to be set up (porters used to carry passengers on their shoulders when these planks were not available yet), I snuck into the only eatery in the port. For 2 sets of meals, I only paid less than a hundred pesos. Way to go!

Sabang Port - Camarines Sur (Looking from the eatery)

Sabang Port – Camarines Sur (Looking from the eatery)

The boat ride from Sabang to Guijalo (main port of Caramoan Island) took us around a couple of hours again, fare at PhP 120 per pax. From there, a tricycle was already waiting for Ellie, and we took a ride with her and dropped her off at her place. I only paid PhP 50 for the driver to take mr to Villa Juliana, which is usually PhP 150 when coming off from the Guijalo port. Nice 🙂

When I got to Villa Juliana, the owner, Roger, came down after about 10 minutes of us knocking at the gate (it was open) but no one received us at the “lobby”. Well, I thought to myself, “what do you expect for a room that only costs PhP 750 a night, right?”

Villa Juliana, Caramoan, Camarines Sur (if you're ever going to check in here, ask for Room 8)

Villa Juliana, Caramoan, Camarines Sur (if you’re ever going to check in here, ask for Room 8)

When I got showed my room, I was surprised to see 3 beds. I was of course only expecting one. I thought that it was nice to have a lot of beds. But when I used the shower room, which was filthy, the faucet broke down and I couldn’t turn it off.

That was a happy accident because then I got transferred to a better-looking room. But the bad thing is, which I learned after I got from the island hopping activity the next day, is that there’s no water supply. I had to fetch water from the poso and flex some muscles. Again, like I said, what else do you expect from an inn that charges 750 a night.

What made it worse is the inn’s owner and the boatman who took me for the island hopping ripped me off with the charges. The owner charged me PhP2000 for an unlimited island hopping, but when I already got there, the boatman charged me additional 800 to go the farther islands. Come on, I am not a “tourist”, I work my ass off, to enjoy these places. Not to get ripped off.

Anyway, I kind of wished everyone there was like Ellie.

The best place I went to, including the islands, is the Chapel located on top of Mt. Caglao (the highest point in Caramoan). It was breath-taking, both literally and figuratively. There were around 700 steps to reach the statue of the Virgin Mary, overlooking the Caramoan Bay.

Please watch out for the Island Hopping part of this Caramoan Series.

Around Caramoan - St. Michael the Archangel

Around Caramoan – St. Michael the Archangel

Here’s my itinerary, in case you also want to do a quick Caramoan get-away.

9pm Saturday: Left Isarog Terminal at EDSA-Farmers

7am Sunday: Arrived at Naga Terminal

720am Sunday: Left Naga Terminal (Robredo Coliseum) via Van

920am Sunday : Arrived at the Sabang Port

940am Sunday: Left Sabang Port via 50-person capacity boat

1140am Sunday: Arrived at Guijalo Port

12nn Sunday: Arrived at accommodation, shower, lunch, visit the church, buy pasalubong, pictures! 7pm Sunday: dinner, shower, bed time

5am Monday: breakfast, buy food for the island hopping

7am-6pm Monday: Island hopping

7pm Monday: was supposed to visit the cool cave pool but because of the rip off, got turned off and just went back home.

5am Tuesday: wake up call

6am Tuesday: leave for Guijalo (the first trip leaves at 7am)

1pm Tuesday: leave for Manila via Isarog Lazy Boy “extreme” bus

11pm Tuesday: Arrived at EDSA-Farmers

Expenses (in pesos):

2,200 for bus fare, round trip

200 for van (naga to sabang), round trip

240 for boat (sabang to guijalo), round trip

3,200 for the island hopping including meals

500 meals

150 fare around centro

1500 for the accommodation, 2 nights

120 tip for the guide who took me to the chapel

1000 for pasalubong and other incidentals

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