Our second day in Caramoan was intended for another island hopping adventure to more distant islands, which is why it is called the long trip. If you read what happened on our first day, we did the short trip which took us only a half day to explore the islands closer from Paniman. The experience that we had on our first day was more than enough to say that the 12-hour road and boat trips to Caramoan were all worth it. Caramoan Peninsula is, indeed, paradise.
We started our second day by having a breakfast at Lutong Bahay which is a 5-minute walk from Rex Tourist Inn. Our island hopping tour will take the whole day so we made sure to bring our food for lunch. And since we didn't avail of any tour package, we had to secure our own food. We requested from Lutong Bahay to prepare our packed lunch. We had fried chicken, sunny-side up egg and rice for P75 for lunch.
We rented the same tricycle that we used on the first day to take us to Paniman Beach and left Centro at around 7:30AM. On the way to Paniman, we couldn't help but noticed how peaceful and clean Caramoan is. We passed by the road that offers scenic countryside views -- coconut trees, farm animals, rice fields and lush green mountains -- showing Caramoan's natural beauty and simple living.
Halfway through the trip, our driver stopped by at one of the newest branches of Rex Tourist Inn. By the way, the tricycle that we rented was under Rex Tourist Inn. He wanted to show us their newly built resort located in Brgy. Tawog, Caramoan. This new extension, specifically called as Caramoan Garden, is completely different as opposed to their main accommodation at Centro in terms of location, ambiance and facilities.
It is a gated property and basically has more amenities. We noticed a few of their exterior designs and decorations was inspired from Survivor. The restaurant is located beside the river and they have a floating restaurant on the river as well. This place is definitely more relaxing and offers "close to nature" experience with all the green scenery, beautiful garden and lots of birds.
We didn't actually know that Rex Tourist Inn has five branches in Caramoan. The aircon room for two in Caramoan Garden branch costs P1,500 per night which is more expensive than their nightly rate (P600) at Centro. If you don't have any budget constraints, however, I highly recommend that you stay here.
After a short visit at the resort, we proceeded to Paniman Beach where Kuya Ramil, our tour guide, was waiting for us. Take note that travel time from Centro to Paniman is about 30-40 minutes. If you plan to visit 9-10 islands in a day (by combining the short and long trips), make sure to leave from Centro very early.
At this point, we were more excited than the previous day! The weather was beautiful and perfect for today's island hopping adventure. Also, we were lucky that no filming of Survivor was taking place so we're free to visit most of the islands.
1. Umang Cave
Just like on our first day, we had no idea what particular islands to visit, except that we will be visiting five islands. As soon as we got on the boat and left Paniman, Kuya Ramil informed us of our first destination, Umang Cave.
According to him, Umang Cave is not part of the standard itinerary for island hopping. Since we're carrying a DSLR camera, he thought we're that kind of "photographers" who might be interested to see the cave. The cave was actually used as the location for Survivor tribal council. Umang Cave is located in a secluded part and can be accessed by passing through a river. One would still need to trek and climb the wooden stairs that lead to the mouth of the cave.
2. Sabitang Laya
Our second destination was Sabitang Laya. It is one of the popular islands in Caramoan Peninsula that got rave reviews due to its long stretch of powdery white-sand beach.
One of the best features of the island are its interesting limestone rock formations. Also, I later learned that Sabitang Laya has twin beaches. The whole island is shaped like a triangle - one side is occupied by Sabitang Laya beach and the other side is called Bag-ing beach (which was our fifth destination). We spent most of the time swimming on the other beach after getting warned about the presence of stinging jelly fish on Sabitang Laya side. Nevertheless the beach is truly superb and the island is a great spot for camping if you're planning for an overnight adventure.
3. Cotivas Island
Our third stop, Cotivas Island, was about 30 minutes away from Sabitang Laya. It is situated between Guinahuan Island and Lahuy Island, the biggest of the Caramoan Group of Islands.
There is a small, unmaintained hut where you can take your lunch or chill out. Cotivas Island is somehow elongated in shape and has two beaches occupying each side. The end where boats usually dock and where the two beaches meet has a good sandbar. On the other hand, the opposite tip of the island got some rocky terrain. Cotivas is a charming island with very clear water and fine sand that is perfect for beach bumming and a leisurely swim.
4. Manlawi Sandbar
Manlawi sandbar, our fourth destination, was probably the biggest sandbar I've ever seen. This is one of my favorite spots because of the powdery white sand where you can frolic under the sun all day long. The sandbar is only visible at certain time of the day, that is, during low tide.
From the moment we arrived, we waited for almost an hour before the sand surfaced. While waiting for low tide, we took our lunch. There are cottages in the middle of the sandbar that you can rent for P200. Kuya Ramil told us to haggle it for P100 but eventually we have decided to just take our lunch on the boat.
5. Bag-ing Beach
Our fifth and final stop for the day was my most favorite. Crystal clear water and unspoiled beach with sugar-like powdery sand greeted us at Bag-ing beach. Even though there was a group of tourist on the beach before we arrived, it felt like we owned the island. Upon seeing Bag-ing beach, I immediately visualized Boracay without the resorts and rowdy tourists. It's probably one of the best beaches I've ever been!
It was only when I got home that I found out that Bag-ing is the beach opposite of Sabitang Laya in the same island that we visited earlier. It's just that we docked at the other end of Bag-ing beach. :-)
Our second day of island hopping ended with pure joy and amazement. We never thought we would visit Caramoan soon right after our El Nido trip and be amazed by this hidden paradise in Camarines Sur. The combination of its charm, pristine beauty and seclusion is unmatched in its own way. No wonder Survivor keeps coming back to this piece of paradise in Bicol.
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)