how to travel to caramoan island philippines

What is it Like to Travel to Islands so Remote, They are Not on Google Maps?

Harboring fantasies of an island-hopping adventure? Consider a trip to Caramoan Islands in the Philippines.

The Philippines is composed of 7,107 pieces of paradise, and some of those are scattered just off the coast of the Caramoan Peninsula. Some are uninhabited, and some are too small for Google Maps to bother with. Some islands are not as remote as I thought but still, there are no luxury hotels, no fast-food chains. There’s a cell phone signal but you have to be patient if you’re going to post on Instagram. Electricity is also limited due to a previous storm that destroyed the local power plant. Only generators run during the day but proper supply is back at night. But the majority of the islands or islets do not have electricity at all or even a toilet.

how to travel to caramoan island philippines

It is the perfect place to disconnect from the stress, hustle, and pollution of the city. You won’t see anything else but the wild composed of beautiful limestone, white sand, and blue-green sea. It’s no wonder worldwide hit reality TV show Survivor finds it the perfect venue for their show. They rented some of the islands for seven years, but now it’s over, and the tourists can now enjoy them.

You can arrive on Caramoan Island by airplane or bus directly from Metro Manila, or, for even more of an adventure, you can ride a boat on Sabang Port. A three-day trip, stopping over in some of the gorgeous remote islands in the Philippines for approximately $100 or Php4700? YES, PLEASE!

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How to travel to Caramoan Island?

There are tons of travel companies that organize this trip, but one stands out above the rest: a local-owned called Caramoan Tours (you can also visit their Facebook page here). Besides accommodation and land transfers, the tour package also promises two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners, on a 3-day/2-nights island-hopping adventure with a side trip to Naga City. So for an annual get-together with my high school friends, we decided on a trip to Caramoan. We book our reservations, paid the deposit, and hold our breaths.

Unfortunately, it was August, the start of the wet season in the Philippines. A typhoon landfall in the country on the day we were scheduled to leave. All sea and air travel in Southern Luzon were canceled. Fortunately, cancellations due to natural occurrences are allowed by the travel company to be rescheduled with no extra fees. So we rescheduled it for mid-September, but it was canceled AGAIN. This time there was an Earthquake in Chile. The epicenter was from the Pacific Ocean and coincidentally the Caramoan Peninsula is facing the Pacific. So obviously, a tsunami alert was raised. Once again, all sea activities were canceled, and our trip was canceled.

We were planning to reschedule it for October or November but due to another series of unfortunate natural events, it seems like faith –or rather nature is stopping us from going, we decided to reschedule the trip for the following year. LESSON LEARNED: The best months to travel in the Philippines are from January to July, with no typhoons yet. Please, take note of that.

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Well, they say the third time’s a charm, and indeed it is! On a cold Thursday night of January 28, 2016, our much-awaited trip FINALLY happened. We traveled to Turbina Bus Terminal in Calamba City where the shuttle service picked us up around 8 PM. Traveling from Turbina to Sabang Port is approximately a nine-hour LONG drive. And I must say, I think I know what Matt Damon felt when he was stuck on Mars with only 70’s disco-pop music. That “interesting” era of music was on-loop on our van’s radio! It was torture to my ears, but my fellow passengers don’t seem to mind since most of them came straight from work so they were dead tired. I’ve never been so much thankful for my Spotify Premium subscription. It helped me survive a long road trip and a ’70s disco medley.

By 5 AM –cold and sleepy with stiff necks– we finally arrived at Sabang Port which kinda looks. From there we rode a boat for Php120 or approximately $3 per person. Prior to our trip to Caramoan, I’d never ridden a huge wooden boat before. They look like yachts, but aesthetically it’s far from the yachts I often see in Pinterest travel. But the rustic charms of those boats just add excitement for an adventure ahead. And I’ll assure you that they are safe and have enough life vests for a two-hour journey.

Around 7 AM we arrive at Guijalo Port in Caramoan Peninsula, but the travel doesn’t end there yet. Another shuttle was waiting for our tour group to take us to Victoriapress Guesthouse, a beachfront inn where we stayed. It was only a half-hour or less travel from the port. But we’re too excited, we couldn’t even stop ourselves to ask the universally annoying question “Are we there yet?” But when our tour guide said “We’re here” all exhaustion from the long journey vanished in a second especially when we saw the beach and the islands beyond the horizon that we were going to explore for the next two days.

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**This post was originally posted on my now-defunct travel blog