When we talk about island hopping in the Philippines, Caramoan is one of the most popular. This rugged and remote paradise in Bicol Region has a lot of things that would make an island hopping trip unforgettable. From gigantic limestones and expansive sandbars to idyllic beaches with fine white sands and hidden lagoon. It is totally packed with remarkable things that you don’t get to see everyday.

Island hopping in Caramoan is generally divided into two: the Short Trip and Long Trip. The Short Trip covers nearby islands while the Long Trip includes islands farther offshore. You can do separate tours or combined tours depending on your preference. As for us, we opted to do both the Short and Long trips on separate days.

In this post, I’m going to share our Long Trip Caramoan island hopping experience. The places covered are Manlawi Sandbar, Cotivas Island, Guinahoan Lighthouse, and Sabitang Laya.

 

Caramoan Island Hopping – Long Trip

Our day started really early. We watched the sun arising beautifully by the beach while waiting for our tour guides.

 

Sunrise at Bikal Port

 

On the way to our destination, we bought freshly caught seafood right in the middle of the ocean! We got them at super cheap price without having to haggle. Probably one of the most memorable for me, buying fish not from the market but in the middle of the sea!

 

Diane and Jec, looking happy for our lunch later

 

The sea travel was indeed long, but we absolutely enjoyed sightseeing! The sea wasn’t that rough even though we’re in the open sea. This time, the weather’s really pleasant, unlike the day before when we had the Short Trip island hopping. Nice weather plus uncrowded destinations β€” my all time favorite setting!

Note: We went here Feb 2018, so kindly check the updated local restrictions in Camarines Sur.
Update as of 9/18/2021: Caramoan is now open for tourists from outside Bicol.
Requirements: Negative RT-PCR results taken within 3 days prior to travel; Booking confirmation from DOT-accredited accommodation; Government-issued valid ID.

 

Manlawi Sandbar

Our first stop is Manlawi Sandbar. It is part of Lahuy Island which is the largest among the group of islands in Caramoan peninsula. It’s one of the most unmissable so make sure to include this in your itinerary if you plan to do a combination tour.

It was high tide so only a small part of the sandbar was exposed and the rest was submerged in knee-deep water. It’s such a bliss wading in the crystalline water while appreciating the view of surrounding mountains!

 

Me, literally testing the waters if my body can cope with temperature because it was early in the morning and I was kinda half awake!
Diane feeling victorious at the exposed part of the sandbar
Mountains, sea, and an inhinyerang lakwatsera
That rare cheesy photo of ours

 

While we’re enjoying the moment, our guides are busy grilling our fish for our lunch later. How convenient it was to have them as our guide, boat captain, and cook all at the same time!

The smell of grilled food and sea breeze combined β€” heavenly!

There were a few bamboo cottages available that are designed to float when the tide gets high. It’s perfect if you wish to have breakfast or lunch in the area.

 

Manlawi is beautiful either high or low tide
Jec, watching over her li’l sister
Serenity

 

If only we knew that we could have breakfast here, we did not have to push ourselves for a super early breakfast before the tour. Even so, it’s still nice to be spontaneous every once in a while. As I’ve mentioned before, touring was not our main agenda for this trip so there was a little to no research done about the island hopping destinations.

So here’s my tip: if having breakfast in this paradise is your thing, make sure to bring your food!

 

Cotivas Island

Next stop was Cotivas Island which is situated in between Lahuy and Basot Island. If you will look at the map, Cotivas Island looks like a connection between the two islands, just partially submerged in the water.

The island looked like off-limits as it was literally empty of vacationers. You know, it’s nice to feel like a VIP in a private island sometimes!

 

At the boat docking area of Cotivas Island
On the other side of the island
Cotivas Island’s sandbar

 

There’s also a sandbar at the eastern tip of Cotivas Island. Our timing was great as we’re able to witness the shifting tide! As you can see from the photo above, the water was coming from both sides of the sandbar. It’s just a matter of minutes before it becomes completely submerged!

Cotivas Island has a twin beach, which means there’s no need to pick a beachfront cottage because all of them are beachfront. Both beaches are great for swimming and shares the same quality of sand β€” white and powdery.

 

Open cottages in between two beaches
Diane taking seascape photos
Can I just swim?
Boat docking area

 

Lunch time: We opted to have our lunch on our boat instead of renting a cottage. We were already short in budget as it was already our last day in Caramoan, and the cottages are too big for us. But if you have enough cash please consider renting a cottage as your own little way of helping the locals, especially if you’re in a big group.

We had the freshly caught fish that our guides grilled a while ago for our sumptuous lunch. We were already docked at Basot Island, just few minutes from Cotivas Island. After the satisfying seafood feast, off we went hiking to Guinahoan Lighthouse!

 

Guinahoan Lighthouse

It was a short and easy trek to the lighthouse. Interestingly, we saw a lot of mushrooms on top of carabao manures along the way. I don’t know the science behind it but they looked cute despite the fact that they flourished on top of something not so desirable!

 

One of the many mushrooms on a dried up carabao manure

 

As we reached the top, we literally got speechless not only because of the beauty surrounding us, but also of the fact that there were no trees or shelter where we can hide from the scorching sun! It was midday and the sun was doing it’s business to burn our skin. Still, nothing can stop us from savoring this view!

 

The view from the lighthouse
The lighthouse. It was scorching hot already so I wore my rash guard.

 

Jec tried to climb up the lighthouse but there was no stairs. Funnily, the kids assigned to assist us can actually climb to the top even without stairs, as if they were just playing! Then they volunteered to take our photos from the top of the lighthouse.

This is certainly one of my most favorite overlooking views so far, alongside Sambawan Island in Biliran and Mararison Island in Antique. Simply breathtaking!

 

Shot from the top of the lighthouse
How pristine?

 

Such a great spot overlooking Liwan Beach. Diane finally found a place that she could use for her thesis which is an ecotourism development plan.

We almost wanted to access the beach as it really looked surreal. However, there was still no paved path going to the beach, which means it’s literally untouched!

There’s also another great view on the other side of the island. It looked like a great spot for cliff jumping if you’re that brave.

 

View on the other side of the island
Mandatory group photo. Avoid sun burn at all cost because it’s so painful!

 

Since there’s no shaded area at the top, it’s hard to stay as much as it’s hard to leave the place. πŸ’”

 

Sabitang Laya

Our last stop for this tour is the quiet beach of Sabitang Laya of Bagieng Island. The beach had nothing but chill vibes, untainted beauty, and calm setting. It has golden soft sands and clear blue water. And as expected, the beach was all ours!

Bagieng Island, where Sabitang Laya is located, is mostly covered with dense forest. It is blessed with two long stretch of beaches and one of those is Sabitang Laya. The island is also specked beautifully with limestone rocks at the eastern tip.

 

Touch down Sabitang Laya
Sun, sea, the sand, and me
At the rocky side of the island
Peace and calm

Mandatory groufie while resting on the sand

 

Aside from its captivating beauty, Sabitang Laya in Bagieng Island is also one of the nearest that’s why this has become the favorite filming spot for the Survivor reality show.

Last day in Caramoan: It might be hard to leave the place, but it gave us joyful memories to take home.

 

 

Travel Guide

 

How to get to Caramoan

By Land:

  1. From Manila, ride a bus going to Sabang Port. Raymond, Penafrancia, and Isarog are some that have direct trips to Sabang.
  2. From Sabang Port, ride a passenger boat to Guijalo Port of Caramoan.
  3. From Guijalo Port, take a tricycle to Caramoan Town where hotels and homestays are located.
  4. You can charter a tricycle to Bikal Port where boats for island-hopping are available.

By Air:

  1. Fly to Naga Airport
  2. From Naga, ride a bus or van going to Sabang Port.
  3. From Sabang Port, ride a boat to Guijalo Port of Caramoan.
  4. From Guijalo Port, take a tricycle to Caramoan Town where hotels and homestays are located.
  5. You can charter a tricycle to Bikal Port where boats for island-hopping are available

 

*Update as of 9/18/2021: Caramoan is now open for tourists from outside Bicol.

Caramoan Travel Requirements 2021:

Negative RT-PCR results taken within 3 days prior to travel
Booking confirmation from DOT-accredited accommodation
Government-issued valid ID

 

Caramoan Island Hopping Rates

Short Trip: β‚±1,500/boat good for 6pax

Long Trip: β‚±2,500/boat good for 6pax

Combined Tour: β‚±4,000/boat for 6pax

 

Where to stay in Caramoan

If you’re looking for a nice place to stay in Caramoan, here are a few suggestions:

 

Tugawe Cove Resort – Caramoan

 

Magindara Guesthouse – Caramoan

 

The Central Discovery Hotel – Caramoan

 

CMC Villa Caramoan

 



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Dea Mariano

About Author

Hi, I’m Dea! A traveler who loves good food and an electronics engineer based in the Philippines. I’m a huge lover of beaches and pink sunsets, and a worshiper of Godβ€”the source of my everything. I once wandered aimlessly in life, until Jesus found me! Now, I just wander around wonderful places while admiring His marvelous workmanship 😍

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