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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
Big 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.
Little 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.
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.
Lantangan 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.
- 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:
- Stand-Up Paddleboard
- Camping (bring your own tent and equipment)
- Caving/Spelunking at nearby caves
- 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
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.
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.
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.
- 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 email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.nagax.com