Caramoan Island Hopping: The Short Trip

Little is known about Caramoan Peninsula until the international show Survivor picked some of its islands as the location for different Survivor series. It has gained media attention and eventually more local and international tourists are drawn to this hidden paradise in Camarines Sur.

Caramoan Peninsula is composed of several islands and islets that are accessible by boat from Caramoan Island. There are two jump-off points, Paniman Beach and Bikal Port, where you can rent a motorized boat to take you to some of these islands. After our arrival and a quick lunch at the Caramoan town, we immediately headed to Paniman Beach for our island hopping adventure.

From Centro, it takes about 40 minutes to get to Paniman Beach. Kuya Ramil arranged a tricycle to take us to the site. There's no route transportation going there so you will need to rent a tricycle or habal-habal depending on the number of persons in your group. We paid PhP300 for a round trip fare.

Rough road to Paniman Beach

The first few minutes was a smooth ride, after which the road became bumpy and rough as we got closer to Paniman Beach. Kuya Ramil said Survivor does not want to get the road paved for the show. They want the viewers to believe that Caramoan is located in isolation, without a touch of modernization. We also learned that Survivor rented the island for 25 years since 2008. So if you're planning to visit Caramoan, make sure that there's no filming on your chosen dates. You may be prohibited from visiting some of the islands that are being used by Survivor.

As soon as we arrived on the beach, Kuya Ramil and his godson immediately prepared the boat. They will accompany us for the island hopping tour. We learned that Kuya Ramil lives in Brgy. Paniman and he has several boats to be rented out for island hopping. He also has a house available for those interested with cheap homestay accommodation.

The locals of Paniman live by fishing and offering island hopping tours to tourists

Paniman Beach does not have white sand but its sand is very fine nonetheless

Some of the main reasons that attract visitors to Caramoan are its white sandy beaches, secluded islands and beautiful landscape. As beach lovers, we were excited to the see these beautiful beaches of Camarines Sur. I fell in love with the islands of El Nido when we went to Palawan just a month prior to this trip so I couldn't help but compare if Caramoan Peninsula deserves the same admiration.

There are two types of island hopping in Caramoan Peninsula: the short trip and the long trip. Short trip involves visiting the islands (normally five islands) in the southern part which are closer from Paniman Beach. We only have a half day left so the short trip just fit to our schedule. We reserved the long trip for the next day since we have the whole day to spend it.

The municipality of Caramoan has set a standard rate for island hopping: PhP1,500 for the short trip and PhP2,500 for the long trip. However, prior to coming to Caramoan, I was able to make a good deal with Kuya Ramil. He offered PhP3,000 for both tours. It was off season so it was not hard to negotiate, and there was only two of us. The boat can actually accommodate up to 8 persons. Well, one of the downsides of visiting in lean season is the limited number of tourists that you can invite for some activities to share expenses with.

1. Lahos Island

Lahos Island was our first stop. The crystal clear, turquoise-green water was very inviting and the beach was breathtaking because of its fine white sand. The island has two shores in between two limestone rocks. The name of the island was derived from the word “Lahos” or “Laho” which means “vanish” in English because the beach usually disappears during high tide. View my separate blog entry of Lahos Island here.

Crystal clear water of Lahos Island

The main side where boats normally dock has a longer stretch of fine sand

The other side of the beach is shorter but the sand is more compact

2. Cagbalinad Island

Cagbalinad is an islet with small white sand beach. There's nothing much to see here except for the limestone cliff that makes a scenic backdrop. The best thing about the island is it actually offers a magnificent view of the opposite island - the Gota Island which has lush green hills and limestone cliffs.

If there are no other visitors, you can enjoy the privacy and tranquility of the beach. You can also take a swim in its calm and clear water. View more photos of Cagbalinad Island here.

The lush green mountain of Gota Island reminds me of some of the islands in El Nido, Palawan

Karst limestone rock formation of Cagbalinad Island

Part of Cagbalinad Island (left rock) and Gota Island

3. Minalahos Island

We moved on to our next destination which was just adjacent to Cagbalinad Island. Minalahos Island has a small white sand beach just like Cagbalinad. There's nothing so much to see and do in the island. It's not a good snorkeling spot either but its water is good for swimming. The water is shallow and refreshing but the abundance of seaweeds and sea grasses was quite annoying.

Nevertheless, the island boasts rugged natural beauty with its impressive limestone rock formation that is good for climbing.

Small white sand beach of Minalahos Island surrounded by limestone rock formations

Hunongan Cove is located visibly across from Minalahos Island

4. Hunongan Cove

The famous Gota Beach is adjacent to Hunongan Cove where a private, upscale resort is located. The island is usually closed to public when the crew of Survivor occupy the whole place. It was open at that time but we did not set foot in the island because we thought the PhP300 entrance fee was not worth it. If you decide to go there, you can tour the area and get to see some structures used by Survivor.
Lush green forest of Gota Island where Hunongan Cove is located

Private, luxurious resort at Hunongan Cove

5. Matukad Island

From Minalahos Island, we passed by Hunongan Cove and proceeded to our next destination which was Matukad Island. This was one of the islands I wanted to visit because of the Secret Lagoon and the breathtaking view of Matukad Island from the top of the cliff. Unfortunately, after taking a few shots of the beach, the battery of our camera went dead. :-(

After spending a few minutes at the beach, we decided to hike up the limestone cliff to see the lagoon. We saw the huge milk fish living in the Secret Lagoon. As the story goes, there were originally two milk fishes, one of which was captured by a fisherman who took it home for dinner. The fisherman and his whole family died the day after eating the fish. Nobody dared to capture the other one after that incident. The locals believe that the remaining milk fish serves as the mysterious guardian of the island.

They said that the milk fish doesn't want to get its picture taken or only a few people can take a photo of it. It's quite true because even before we climbed the cliff, the battery of our camera got drained. We have no pictures of the fish. :(

The great white-sand beach of Matukad Island is perfect for a relaxing day in the sun

Some visitors camp in Matukad Island because of its fine sand and coconut trees dotting the shore

Matukad Island is also a good spot for swimming

I do not own the pictures below but they're the reasons why I was excited to see Matukad Island. It was frustrating not to be able to get some shots of these wonderful views because our camera ran out of battery. :-(

The view of Matukad Island from the top of the cliff

The Secret Lagoon found on top of the limestone cliff in Matukad Island

Matukad Island was supposed to be our last destination for the day but since we did not visit Hunongan Cove, Kuya Ramil took us for a snorkeling treat just off the coast of Lahos Island. OMG. We were very lucky to witness a school of fish in a certain spot. We found ourselves swimming with literally thousands of fishes - the kind of scene you see in Discovery Channel where a diver swims with thousand of fishes swimming in sync. It was an exhilarating experience.

We finished the island hopping and returned to Paniman Beach at around 4:30 PM. Kuya Ramil suggested that we can do snorkeling near the Paniman Beach where there's an amazing view of the underwater. We decided to return to the hotel, we felt we've had enough of snorkeling at Lahos Island.

We arrived at Rex Tourist Inn with a good news that the power has been restored. Finally, we can recharge the battery of our camera for the next day's island hopping adventure.

Read more about my Caramoan series:

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Lakwatsera de Primera said...

Wow Php 3000 for both trips, good deal indeed!

Pinoy Travel Freak said...

It's easy to negotiate when it's off season..and there were only two of us. :)

chyng said...

gorgeous photos! sana may larger version =)

what i cant forget about caramoan is the boat ride - yung iniisip mo palang pano ka sasakay sa bangka ay meron ng tao na papasanin ka. hahah

Robx Bautista said...

Ang dami niyong napuntahan! And you really maximized your year with all these trips ha. Nice! The photos look amazing, esp the limestone rocks. :D

And selfish ng Survivor ha. Pag-aari nila ang Caramoan??

Pinoy Travel Freak said...

Actually I was expecting na ganun din gagawin namin. When we arrived there yung mga bangka nasa pier mismo, hindi sa beach kung saan papasanin ka. :-)

Meron na din kasi ngayong bus na derecho sa town mismo sasakay sa RORO so pwedeng hindi ka na sumakay ng boat.

Pinoy Travel Freak said...

Haha, thanks! :-)

Yun nga eh. And the sad truth is naka-kontrata na ang Caramoan sa kanila for 25 years. Geez, paano na lang yung mga local tourist.

Byron said...

Ang ganda dito :(

Byron said...

Robbie, punta tayo dito sa summer huhuhu

maricar villanueva said...

Sobrang ganda talaga ng mga kuha mo gabz. Amazing! Kala ko El nido mo pa rin e. hehe! Medyo may mga hawig dahil sa lime stones. Ang ganda pala talaga sa Caramoan. Parusa lang ang biyahe sa layo. Tagal na ko niyayaya ng friends ko bat ba ko nakatanggi tanggi.

Pinoy Travel Freak said...

Thanks! ;-) Oo nga malayo sya, first time ko nga mag-travel by bus nang ganun katagal. Pwede ka naman mag-plane papauntang Naga para onting byahe na lang. :-) Anyway, sobrang sulit naman ang byahe pagdating mo doon. Hehe.

Thepinaysolobackpacker said...

nice. my bus na pala (read your comment below). parang gusto ko balikan ang Caramoan. dameng mung nice photos, d ko pa ata narating yung ibang islands that time kase my filming ang survivor

Pinoy Travel Freak said...

Thanks Gael! Meron ng bus from Cubao deretso sa Caramoan town (and vice versa) via NATO Port so medyo convenient na. You have to reserve in advance lang kasi by schedule sya.

chinchan said...

wala ako masabi, ang ganda ng caramoan. yun na

Pinoy Travel Freak said...

Agreed! ;)

ian bryce poral said...

I think its a good deal as well since the 4 islands are good enough to explore Caramoan islands.

ian_goingplaces said...

pa publish naman ng no. kuya ramil, ok na ok ang affordable rates for island hopping kala ko sobrang mahal din dito sa Caramoan. The best island among the 4 is Matukad and Lahos islands. Nice shots as well... I'm also intrigued by the magical milkfish, is it really true?

Pinoy Travel Freak said...

Yes, Ian. The milk fish is true. There's a lone one swimming around the lagoon. Yun nga lang wala kaming nakuhang picture. :(

Here's the contact number of Kuya Ramil: 09074351962
I also created an FB page for him:

Will be making a separate post about him and his house for rent.

byaheng barok said...

that's basically a cheap island hopping tour. we were just here in caramoan a few weeks back and since we had senior citizens with us, we opted for the packaged tour that our resort was offering. ok rin naman :)

ian | going places said...

Liked the page already... his rates seems to fit any budget travelers esp. for big groups. 'Hope we can exchange travel blog links. Your blog is full of wonderful travel photography... and story as well!

Pinoy Travel Freak said...

Oo nga, mahirap na may matanda kayo kasama. ;)

Pinoy Travel Freak said...

Thanks! Sure, will add you on my blogroll. ;)

ian | going places said...

Salamat... added you already in my link! Have a nice day!

stray pusiket said...

ang ganda pala ng view ng Matukad from the cliff. we were too scared kasi to climb kaya di na namin tinry. Hehe! nice pics btw.

Jayshelle said...

ive been to caramoan noong di pa ito kilala ito as a tourist spot...the easiest way to get there is to fly to Virac, Catanduanes...go to Codon...banca ride from Codon to Caramoan...we hired the banca 2004 rate at 800pesos/roundtrip...Codon to Caramoan by boat is around 45 minutes to one hour...marami pong banca sa Codon

dasler said...

this is also a good option but if you are not used to rough sea travel, this route could be very scary. unlike the sabang to guijalo route where u will be traveling closer to the shore, in this route, u will be in the middle of the sea all the time.

dasler said...

as far as i know, they still allow access to the islands if there is no shooting. since they don't publish their shooting sked, access to the island is a matter of luck at this time. anyway, if the popular islands are not accessible, u can always visit other islands.

Maegan Sarto said...

i really like the way you describe your tour .. i would love to go and do the same as yours .. but i have no idea how much is your budget and how much did you spend?

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