From North to South
Caramoan was not our planned Holy Week break destination. My friend, Irene, and I were supposed to go to Calayan Island (part of Babuyan Islands) but it was cancelled on Sunday, April 2, 2023 due to high waves at sea and it was forecasted to be that high on April 5, the day that we were scheduled to go. I’m just glad that the tour organizer considered the safety of the tourists and cancelled all bookings ahead of time so that tourists like us can still book their vacation somewhere else.
This led me to book our Caramoan and Albay trip.
I searched for a tour that offers Caramaon trip in Facebook since I have not been to Camarines Sur and was lucky to secure two slots for me and Irene.
Holy Week is one of the peak seasons
I was already expecting that taking a vacation during the Holy Week break would be challenging. Heavy traffic was a given as many people were taking vacation as well. Securing a van and boat for transportation as well as accommodations should have been the basic things that the organizers should do if they were offering a tour for a hassle-free vacation.
Our road trip to Caramoan was long! It took us almost 18 hours to reach our accommodation in Caramoan. We experienced heavy traffic in South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Quezon province due to the narrow and ongoing road constructions. Thanks to Vince, our kind and skilled driver. He was very familiar with the direction and the road conditions going to Caramoan that’s why he managed to somehow reduce the travel time.
St. Michael The Archangel Church
Before going to our accommodation, we went to St. Michael The Archangel Church, the church that built in 1619 by Franciscan missionaries.
The church has its own charm maybe because it was made of red bricks. I felt like I was transported back to the Spanish era. The church could be old too but you will notice that it is well preserved and maintained.
CMC Caramoan Resort Inc.
We stayed in CMC Caramoan Resort Inc. which was owned by the former mayor of Caramoan.
The rooms were quite decent for a short-stay vacation. I really didn’t expect a hotel-type of rooms and service but CMC was good. The room and toilet were clean, beds were relaxing and the crew were friendly and very welcoming. For bookings and reservations, you may contact them through their CMC Caramoan Resort Facebook page.
The adventure begins
After check in and quick lunch break, we prepared for our first island hopping adventure. Since the boat ride was in the afternoon, we made sure that we were ready to beat the heat. We applied sun block lotion and wore our beach outfit.
The first island we visited was Lahus Island. The water is sooo clear and the sand is pristine in its gold-like color.
Since it was peak season, the island was crowded but I managed to fly my drone to get an aerial shot of the beautiful island.
The waves were strong in Lahus Island that was why we were not able to swim in the beach. The only thing we did was to take more photos and appreciate the beauty of the island.
Matukad Island, The Enchanted Lagoon
The next island we visited was Matukad Island. It was a 30-minute ride from Lahus Island.
I wasn’t able to fly my drone this time because it was too crowded and at the same time, the wind was quite strong. I just settled in getting photos using my mobile phone.
There was a small store in the island too that sells soda, fresh coconut and “halo-halo”.
The sun was starting to set and so we decided to leave the island at 5:30 PM to go back to the main island of Caramoan.
Our group immediately prepared for dinner and socials after our first island hopping. I was lucky to meet new friends. During our land travel to Caramoan, the group was very quiet because we were basically strangers and managed only to break the ice during our socials night.
We had a chance to have a chat with the former mayor when he visited our table when we were drinking. It was really good to hear good stories especially from the former mayor himself. He told us the story about how the Survivor Caramoan started and filmed in their beautiful town.
He was really nice to talk to. I told myself that I will visit Caramoan again and stay in his resort.
The not so good day 2
We woke up very early for the 6:30 AM breakfast and start the island hopping at 7:30 AM.
We were at the port at 7:30 AM expecting that the boats were ready because the other group in van 2 would also go for island hopping.
We waited for 2 hours for our boats. The boat that we used in day 1 was supposed to be the same boat that we would be using for day 2 but it was used by another group! In the end, we were not able to visit some of the islands.
I kept on thinking that there is always a way to enjoy the trip. I shouldn’t let this kind of hassle ruin my vacation.
Manlawi Sand Bar and floating cottage
Since it was almost lunch time, we started the island hopping at Manlawi Island.
We were supposed to have a boodle fight-type of lunch but all floating cottages were not available at that time so we settled for a buffet-type of lunch underneath the small tree.
Off to the last island, Cotivas Island
Cotivas Island would be the best alternative for lunch because they have tables and shades. It may not be as beautiful as the sand bar of Manlawi but Cotivas Island was a good place to have a quick lunch rather than forcing to have it in Manlawi Island.
In Manlawi Island, if floating cottages are not available, you need to walk for 10-12 minutes to reach the nearest tree in the beach.
Before going back to the main island of Caramoan, we went for a short swim and snorkel.
It was fun because I was able to use my snorkel and mask. I bought 2 snorkels and masks because I was expecting that Irene will swim too but she was tired and scared, I guess. Hahaha!
The view under the water was not that fantastic but it was good to see some fishes because it meant there was proof of life in that area.
The end of our Caramoan trip
After a half day of island hopping, we went to a souvenir shop in Caramoan and took a photo at the marker. My personal collections are T-shirts of the provinces as souvenir. I rarely buy “pasalubong” because I am “kuripot”. Hahaha!
The Caramoan marker
After so many unfortunate events, from late pick up time, traffic in SLEX and Quezon province, confusion in room assignments, unavailability of boat in day 2, missed items in the itinerary like other islands to visit and ATV ride, our group joked around that the highlight of the trip was the photo op at the Caramoan marker.
We were still smiling after so many unfortunate events.
Early check-out and off to Albay and Naga City
We checked out at 12:30 AM which gave us a very short rest from our day 2 activities. This was to ensure that we arrive in Albay early to witness the majestic Mayon Volcano and to secure booking an ATV slot in Cagsawa.
We witnessed the sunrise with the Mayon Volcano in the backdrop and had breakfast in one of the eatery by the road however, we were not able to secure an ATV slot despite reaching Cagsawa by 7:00 AM.
We tried reserving a slot for our group however due to the long queue, we decided to forego our slot and left Cagsawa at 11:00 AM.
Our group didn’t want to ride the ATV in the afternoon plus we want to reach home early. This was why we decided that if we would not get one at 11:00 AM, we would leave the place.
The only consolation probably in our Albay trip was that we to got some photos with Mayon and Cagsawa ruins.
Mayon Volcano and Cagsawa Ruins in Albay
Star, the traveling dog
Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City
Other side trips
Somewhere in Quezon
The experience and realization
The experience was not good because of the many hassle in the tour but I still liked it.
I was able to visit the beautiful province of Caramoan in Camarines Sur, met new friends and heard interesting stories. It might not be a perfect vacation but I still enjoyed it.
I realized that if I will go on vacation again, I will choose a not so crowded and not so famous place to visit during the Holy Week break.
That is why I will still aim for Calayan Island for Holy Week break.
Calayan Island, wait for me next year and Thank you Caramoan!