Travel Guide: Caramoan

Caramoan is a rugged getaway in the Philippines best known for being the filming location of several seasons of the hit reality show Survivor. The TV show often chooses exotic locales with stunning scenery. With its clusters of islands lined with white sand beaches, limestone cliffs, coral reefs, diverse marine life, serene lagoons, subterranean river and caves, it’s easy to see why the production crew chose to film here.

caramoan mountain sea grasslands summit travelup

WHERE EXACTLY IS CARAMOAN:

Caramoan Peninsula is located in the lower eastern part of the province of Camarines Sur in the Bicol Region of the Philippines. It is surrounded by the waters of the Maqueda Channel on the north and east and Lagonoy Gulf on the south. Though it’s part of Camarines Sur, geographically, the town proper and islands are closer by sea travel from the island province of Catanduanes

For the longest time, Caramoan was previously only accessible by sea travel because of rough roads. Those traveling with cars and  motorcycles will be happy to know that  the mainland town of Caramoan is now accessible by land from Naga City. It’s roughly 3-4 hours away through the newly constructed Fuentabella Highway. The province of Camarines Sur itself is an 8-12 hour drive from Manila through the provinces of Rizal, Quezon and Camarines Norte.

motorcycle manila to naga welcome arch bicolandia camarines norte

HOW TO GET THERE:

Land Travel: Bus from Manila-Naga + Bus from Naga-Caramoan

  • Ride a bus from Araneta-Cubao Bus Terminal or Pasay Bus Terminal to Naga City (Bus fare ranges from P650-1,000 depending on the bus company and class). Travel time is 8-10 hours. Buses depart every night at around 8:30 – 9:00 pm and arrive in the Bicol Central Station/Naga City Central Bus Terminal between 4:00 am to 6:00 am.
  • From Bicol Central Station/Naga City Central Bus Terminal, take a Florencia, MRR or Raymond Bus to Caramoan. Buses depart at 6:30 am. Travel time is 4 hours. Estimated tiem of arrival in Caramoan is 10:30 am.

caramoan island hut

Land and Sea: Bus from Manila + Van from Naga-Sabang Port+ Boat from Sabang to Caramoan

  • Ride a bus to Naga (same instructions as above)
  •  Go to the East Bound Terminal or Van Terminal located near St. Joseph School at the back of SM City Naga. Take an aircon van or Filcab to Sabang Port (Aircon Van fare is P150). Travel time is 1.5 – 2 hours. Vans depart at 6:00 am and estimated time of arrival in Sabang Port is 7:30-8:00 am.
  • From Sabang Port, take the boat that goes to Caramoan Guijalo Port. Boat fare is P120. Travel time is roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes. The last trip of the ferry boat going inside and outside Caramoan is 11:00 am. It’s best to leave Naga City before 9:00 am to catch the boat.
  • Special trips or chartered boat rides cost P2,500 to P3,000

By air:

  • Fly from Manila to Naga City. From the Naga City airport, take a taxi or van to the van terminal beside SM City Naga and follow instructions above for van and sea travel.

Coming from Catanduanes:

  • You can also fly from Manila to Virac, Catanduanes. From the Virac airport, ride a tricycle to Codon port or van going to Pandan and get off at the Codon Port in San Andres. Travel time is about 1 hour.
  • At the Codon port, ride a boat going to Caramoan. Travel time is 30 to 45 minutes depending on sea conditions.
  • You can also rent boats for island-hopping tours to Caramoan directly from Codon Port. Boat rental ranges from P2,500 to P3,000 per day.

GETTING AROUND:

Within the town proper, tricycles are the main mode of transportation. Fares cost P10.00 to nearby destinations. From the town proper of Caramoan, you will need to charter a boat from the Bikal Port at Brgy. Paniman to get around. Island-hopping trips cost P1,500 to P4,000 (good for 6 pax) per day depending on the number and distance of the islands you plan to visit. If you’re staying in Tugawe Cove Resort, they have hassle-free island-hopping packages and boats you can rent from there as well.

caramoan group family photo boat

SUGGESTED ITINERARIES (From Tugawe Cove Resort):

HALF-DAY: Visit Katanhawan Island, Pitogo Bay, Tinago Cove and Tayak Lake (10:00 am to 2:00 pm)

WHOLE DAY: Visit Katanhawan Island, Pitogo Bay, Tinago Cove, Tayak Lake, Matukad Island and Lahos Island that have been used by Survivors (8:00 am to 3:00 pm)

LONG TRIP: Visit the islands of Sabitang Laya, Cotivas and Manlawi Sandbar (8:00 am to 3:00 pm)

caramoan islands

WHERE TO GO IN CARAMOAN:

The best thing to do in Caramoan is to go island-hopping and visit all the beaches scattered on the coast. Below are some of the places that I’ve been able to visit on two separate trips (2012 and 2016). Take note that some destinations remain closed because of Survivor filming, while other islands can not be visited due to varying weather conditions, tide levels and distance. Choose which islands you want to visit to maximize your time.

Matukad Island: A small island with fine white sand and prominent limestone cliffs. The area has three beaches and a lagoon. Because of its proximity to Paniman, this is one of the more popular islands in Caramoan.

caramoan tourists

Lahos Island: A stretch of fine white sand shore facing opposite sides sandwiched between two identical rock formations. During high-tide, the beach disappears and it can only be seen again during low tide. This is where the island gets its name, as “Lahos” means to vanish.

caramoan island 01

caramoan islands travelupBig Catanaguan/Katanawhan Island: A beautiful isolated island that doesn’t get a lot of tourists compared to the others. There’s a very wide beach with grayish brown sand. On one side of the island is a little sandbar connecting to a rocky hill where the waves meet in the middle.

caramoan island hopping catanaguan island waves crashingcaramoan island hopping catanaguan island rocky coastcaramoan catanaguan island rocksLittle Catanaguan/Katanawhan Island: A short boat ride from the bigger island, the smaller Catanaguan Island has beautiful limestone rock formations and a white sand beach reminiscent of El Nido. The rocks provide a secluded and shaded swimming area with little cave-like entrances near the shore.

caramoan island hopping catanaguan island limestone 1

caramoan island hopping catanaguan island limestone 2caramoan island hopping catanaguan island rocks white sandcaramoan island hopping catanaguan island santos tribe survivorMakeshift Survivor flag made from Sea2Summit towel. The tribe has spoken!

Pitogo Island: Pitogo Island has an approximately 6-7 hectares of total land area. One side of the island is hidden in a serene almost enclosed cove where the water is so still. The water is shallow, which makes this a great spot for kids. Really beautiful and peaceful spot.

caramoan island hopping lantangan beach boat
caramoan island hopping pitogo island beach water caramoan island hopping pitogo island serene beachLantangan Beach: The other side of the island known as Lantangan Beach or Pitogo Rock Beach is characterized by a unique smooth-edged shoreline lined with white pebbled stones rather than white sand. From here, you can climb to the top of the summit of a grassy hill to get a breathtaking view of Pitogo Bay.

caramoan lantangan beach rocks

caramoan pitogo island summit

caramoan island hopping pitogo beach summitOther islands & notable spots:

  • Tinago Island and Cove
  • Sabitang Laya
  • Tayak Lake
  • Manlawi Sandbar
  • Cotivas Island
  • Bugtong Beach
  • Guinahoan Island
  • Hunongan Cove
  • Kagbalinad Island

ACTIVITIES / WHAT TO DO IN CARAMOAN:

  • Island-hopping
  • Swimming/snorkeling
  • Stand-Up Paddleboard
  • Camping (bring your own tent and equipment)
  • Caving/Spelunking at nearby caves
  • Kayaking
  • Cliff-jumping
  • Trekking/Hiking
  • Climb 500 steps in Caglago Mountain up to a gigantic statue of Our Lady of Holy Rosary Mother of Peace
  • Visit the St. Michael the Archangel Parish, a brick church established by Franciscan missionaries in 1619 located in the town center of Caramoan

WHERE TO STAY IN CARAMOAN:

Tugawe Cove Resort is a beautiful luxury resort hidden in a cove in Caramoan. With its family-friendly facilities, hotel amenities and well-appointed villas, this is a good choice for families, honeymooners, balikbayans and expats who don’t mind spending a little bit more for comforts. Website: www.tugawecoveresort.com

tugawe cove resort caramoan pool dining area

Gota Village Beach Resort is an exclusive beachfront resort where most of the Survivor crew stayed while filming the reality show. This resort is located 30 minutes away by boat from Guijalo port.

caramoan islands gota village

For backpackers and those on a budget, the best option is to stay near the town center. There are lots of budget-friendly inns and other accommodations in the town proper of Caramoan including Sights & Sand Tourist Inn.

caramoan sights & sand inn

TRAVEL TIPS & USEFUL INFO:

  • According to locals, the Survivor franchise has rented some of the islands for 25 years, starting 2008. If filming is ongoing, some islands will be inaccessible up to 2033.
  • Some spots can only be visited during the proper weather conditions and tide level.
  • The best time to go to Caramoan is during the dry season (December to May).
  • Expect rough waves and sudden rainshowers when traveling during the months of Habagat (September, October November).
  • Check the weather forecast before you plan your trip, as island-hopping trips can be cancelled because of bad weather. The wind and waters can get pretty rough. Do not travel here if there’s a typhoon coming.
  • Be prepared to get wet on the boat getting to and from Caramoan and during island-hopping. Waterproof all your belongings. Be sure to bring a dry bag for gadgets.

caramoan island hopping pitogo rocks hull & stern

TOUR OPERATORS:

  • For unique and hassle-free guided excursions to Caramoan and other areas of the Bicol Region, contact Kaddlaggan Outdoor Adventure. Contact: Kaddlagan or Villareal Jojo – Tour Adventure Coordinator at 09198006299 or email at kadlagan@yahoo.com. Their tour package includes island-hopping to 13 islands, caving, hiking, camping, etc.
  • Naga Excursions also offers a 3-day Caramoan tour package. For inquiries, call (054) 4734432 (landline, call charges apply) or email: info@nagax.com. Website: www.nagax.com

26 thoughts on “Travel Guide: Caramoan

      • Hi ! Would you know if the road from Caramoan town proper to Paniman ( jump off to nearby beaches ) are fully paved? The resort I want to stay is over there ( Island View Resort). And I plan to use a street motorcycle to go there.

        • Hi Christian, sorry for the late reply. I asked around with some contacts based in Naga and was told that as of June 2017, the road to Paniman in Caramoan town proper is now fully paved. So you should be able to get there with a street motorcycle 🙂 Enjoy your trip!

  1. Hindi ba scary ang roads? I mean like zigzag tapos bangin na yung kababagsakan?
    But i think meron talaga noh since mga mountains talaga dadaanan. Pls share the road condition from manila going there. 🙂
    Salamat in advance.

  2. Hi! We’re planning to visit there on Friday. A friend of mine who has been there a couple of years back said there’s no snorkeling gear available for rent in Caramoan. Is this true? Would you recommend us bringing snorkeling gear? Thanks much!

    • Hi Jay, sorry for the late reply. Better to bring your own snorkeling gear, because while some shops rent them out, most were broken when we visited. Also, please note that some islands in Caramoan may be closed on certain days because Survivor is filming there again until June.

  3. Hi there po,

    Caramoan is really a very nice island,, been there last year pero nag stay lng kmi s accommodations s budget friendly one, “Residecia de slavation” (if i remember it correctly haha). Pero this time po we are planning to go back. Ask ko lng po, If you were to choose from Gota Village na beach area which is –Hunungan Cove or the Tugawe Resort. Alin po the best and the one you will choose without worrying about the cost. Alin po kaya s dalawa ung mag eenjoy ka ng bongga heheh ..Thanks po .. hope for your kind insight.

    Cheers

    RC

    • Hi RC, I didn’t get to stay in Gota Village. Just saw it from the boat. We stayed in Tugawe Cove Resort, which I found very nice. You can read my full review here with more photos & details on amenities.

    • Hi, How’s Residencia de salvation? we are planning to stay there on jan 30 up to feb . as gota village is not available due to ty
      thank you

  4. hi, we are planning to go tomorrow in tugawe by land to guijalo port. is the road safe? since its raining for the past days, how’s the condition? are there landslides? is the road, rough?

    • Hello Jean. Not sure what the road conditions are like now since we went there last December via boat directly from Sabang port. Buses regularly travel the route now, and I heard it’s more accessible, though I believe there are still patches of rough road.

  5. Hi po pwde po ba mag tent lang sa island kong d afford ang mag hotel and it is possible po ba na mag stay one of the island and pasundo n lang sa boatmen

    • Hi J.D., during the time of our visit in December 2015, island-hopping trips rates were P3,500 (half-day) P5,000 (whole day) and P7,000 (long trip). Maximum of 8-10 persons per boat.

  6. Hi. Ask lang san pede mg stay near guinahoan island? Since yung mga ksama nmen ay don mg stay but we opted na bumukod dahil walang supply ng kuryente don during day time.. Thanks..😊

  7. Pingback: 5 of the Most Stunning Shingle Beaches around the Philippines

    • Hi Camilla, glad you found my post useful. Looks like you guys had a great time island-hopping. Will refer to your blogpost next time someone asks for hotel recommendations on the mainland. 🙂

    • Hi Claire, I can’t find any information on public boats from Caramoan to Codon Port and vice versa. I think most people really just charter a special trip, which costs around P2,000 or up depending on the size of boat and the headcount of participants.

  8. Magkano po bayad sa boat pag pupunta kaming ibang isla? Sa mismong caramoan bounderies lang po ba pwedeng mag stay or may mga isla ring pwedeng mag stay ng overnight. Thaanks!

    • Hi Ericson, please check out this guide for more options where to stay. The boats usually cost P1,500-P2,500 good for 6-10 pax. It really depends on the size of the boat and yung islands na pupuntahan ninyo. Malayo kasi yung iba.

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