We've been planning a trip to Caramoan Peninsula for ages. The plan wouldn't always push through because of conflicting schedule and limited airline promo fares so we would end up scratching our plan and going to different destinations instead. Finally, we were able to make our four-day Caramoan trip this year a reality.
August is perhaps not a good time to visit Bicol region because it's a typhoon season. Our desire, however, to explore this hidden gem in Camarines Sur was unstoppable. In order to stick with our plan, we decided to travel to Bicol by land. Flying to Naga is the fastest way to get to Bicol but the chance of getting a flight cancelled frightened us. We could not afford to move our trip (again) so we thought traveling by bus would be a far better option in case the weather turns harsh.
The most popular way to get to Caramoan by land is to take a bus from Manila to Naga City then another bus from Naga City to Sabang Port, the jump-off point to Caramoan Island. However, I learned that Peñafrancia Tours has a daily trip plying directly to Sabang Port. We took the latter option. I think they're the only bus line that offers such trip so we called them one week in advance to make a reservation. Fare is P765 per person for one way.
We arrived at Araneta Bus Terminal in Cubao 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure time. However, the bus left one hour behind its original 8:30 PM schedule. The whole trip from Manila to Sabang Port took 10 grueling hours - my longest bus ride ever. There were 3 bus stops for restroom break and light snacks.
Before reaching the Sabang port, the driver of the bus recognized that we're going to Caramoan being the last passengers left on the bus. He told us that we should have taken the 7:30 PM trip the other night which goes directly to Caramoan town via the Nato port. I later found out that Nato port offers RORO service to and from Caramoan Island. It could have been more convenient than riding a boat from Sabang port. Anyway, we responded that we didn't know about this option. I think the new port just opened last May so not many tourists are aware of this route.
It was already 7:30 AM when we arrived in Sabang Port. We had to walk down to the port for about 10 minutes from where the bus dropped us off. We arrived just in time for the next trip to Guijalo Port, the entry point to Caramoan town, at 8:00 AM.
We actually anticipated for boats docked near the beach where passengers are to be carried atop the shoulder of the porter. The scene was different, probably because it's high tide that boats can dock and take passengers in the main port itself which is on the other side and opposite of the beach.
We felt hungry at that time. There are numerous eateries around the port but we didn't have enough time to take our breakfast since the boat is leaving in 10 minutes. Instead, we bought some food to munch in the boat en route to Caramoan Island. Fare for the boat ride is P120 per head for one way.
The town center or "Centro" of Caramoan is 20 minutes from Guijalo Port. You can rent a habal-habal, tricycle or multicab depending on the number of persons in your group. In our case, Kuya Ramil has already arranged a tricycle under Rex Tourist Inn where we were staying.
Rex Tourist Inn is one of the popular budget inns in Caramoan. It is located in Centro where simple restaurants, internet shop and other commercial establishments are accessible by walking. Standard aircon room for two costs P600.
We checked in as soon as we arrived at Rex. We were disappointed to learn that there's no electricity at that time. We're disappointed not because we paid for the room including electricity, but it's because the battery of our DSLR camera was needed to be recharged! Our first island hopping tour was scheduled later that day so I couldn't imagine running out of battery in the middle of the island hopping.
The time was already 10:30 AM. We decided to take our brunch at the famous Lutong Bahay before heading to the island hopping adventure. The carinderia is located about five minutes walk from Rex Tourist Inn. Their foods are cheap no wonder it's a favorite choice of budget travelers. At 11:30 AM, we left Centro and went to Paniman Beach, one of the jump-off points for island hopping in Caramoan.
Read more about my Caramoan series:
- Part 1 - The Journey to Caramoan Island
- Part 2 - Caramoan Island Hopping: The Short Trip
- Part 3 - Caramoan Island Hopping: The Long Trip
- Part 4 - St. Michael Archangel Church of Caramoan
- Part 5 - Quick Side Trip to Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC)