There and back again: Serene Camotes

This is not the first time that I went to this island. I went here for a 3D2N stay last year, roamed around the entire island on a motorcycle, and had the chance to witness the Soli soli festival. Since then I have fallen in love with the island’s beaches and humble vibes.  I have been to some islands here in Cebu but Camotes’ serenity and laid back ambiance are maybe the reasons why this is my fave so far among all the places I went.

Before I start with my travel guide, let’s first have a quick overview of the island.

Camotes Islands is a group of islands in the Camotes Sea, Philippines. The island group is located east of Cebu Island, southwest of Leyte Island, and north of Bohol Island.

Sometimes known as the “Lost Horizon of the south”, within recent years Camotes has seen increased visitors and tourism and a growing expatriate community. Apart from natural attractions on land, there is also a score of dive sites around the islands.

Camotes Islands comprises three major islands and one minor islet, divided between four municipalities. On Poro Island are the municipalities of Poro and Tudela. Pacijan Island’s sole municipality is San Francisco. Ponson Island’s sole municipality is Pilar. Tulang Island is an islet and part of San Francisco.

Source: Wikipedia

HOW TO GET THERE

Via Danao Port

The most common way to get to Camotes is via Danao Port. If you are from Cebu City, you can ride a jeepney or bus (from North Bus Terminal) going to Danao. Travel time from Cebu to Danao is approximately one and a half hour to two hours depending on the traffic. Of course, you can get there faster if you use a private car. If you are going to take your car on the ferry, you have to pay P1,200.00 (one way). But for those who are on a budget, public transportation is always the best option.

There is now a Jollibee branch beside the port which was not there last year.

Below is the trip schedule for Jomalia Shipping and the rates.

Trip schedule

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You can buy your tickets going to Consuelo ahead of time at their Mandaue office, but you can’t buy tickets for Consuelo to Cebu trip in advance. Tickets for Consuelo to Cebu trip can only be bought on the day of your trip and at Consuelo port only.

Since we wanted to arrive at the island early morning , we took the first trip and bought our tickets days before to avoid the long line at the port’s ticket outlet.

What made us so disappointed with Jomalia’s service was they still kept on accepting passengers even if there are no more available seats in the boat. We ended up sitting on the floor and the boat did not depart at 5:30AM but departed past 6:00AM already.

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Travel time is approximately 2 hours and we arrived at the island around 8:00AM in the morning.

ACCOMMODATION

There are a lot of lodging houses and resorts that you can choose from when you are planning to go to Camotes. If you are going there at peak season, just make sure to book your rooms ahead because most resorts are fully booked at that time. If you are on a tight budget and #cowboylife is not an issue for you, you can camp at the Santiago White Beach.

In our case, we rented two bungalows (wooden bungalow: two bedrooms, one cr; concrete bungalow: one bedroom, mini kitchen, cr, and a sala) in Union, San Francisco. The owner of the place is our utility worker’s relative so it was not hard for us to have a reservation.We rented the place for an overnight stay at P3,000.00 (P1,500.00 each house).

You can also make use of their dirty kitchen.

The front yard is also wide enough so you can pitch your tents or park your cars there.

The caretakers were so hospitable and kind that they even offered to cook our food and offered that we can use their plates and utensils. We just instructed them on what to do with the food that we bought at San Francisco market and they took care of everything.

The place is far from Santiago White Beach though so if you want to stay at the beach at night, it’s better if you bring your own ride or have someone pick you up at the beach.

For reservation and inquiries, you can contact this number 09309491378.

PACKAGE TOUR

There are a lot of  drivers that will offer package tours at Consuelo port or you can rent motorcycles for P400.00 – P500.00 pesos per day.

Kuya Niño’s (our office’s utility worker) father offers a package tour for P7,500.00 so we opted to take that package.

The package includes pick up from Cebu City, drop off in Cebu City, tour of Camotes’ tourist spots, driver fee and the multicab’s boat fare.

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The passenger type multicab’s capacity is up to 16 persons but we managed to squeeze 22 people in. We literally looked like squeezed sardines inside so I won’t suggest you follow what we did.

For reservation and inquiries, you can contact Kuya Niño through this number 09330103953.

TOURIST SPOTS

San Francisco Baywalk 

Baywalk is near the public market, plaza, and you can find a number of food stalls here

There is really nothing much to do here, just a typical baywalk. 

San Francisco Public Market

There are two public markets in Camotes; the one in Poro, and this one. In my opinion, San Francisco market is bigger and there are more choices here compared to Poro market. This is also more accessible so if you are planning to do some pamalengke, I recommend this place.

The prices of the goods are a bit higher though compared to the prices of the goods in Cebu City. We did a little haggling on some goods we bought so we won’t go beyond our food budget. I highly suggest you buy food and drinks in Cebu City or Danao City.

Santiago White Beach

Probably the most popular beach here in Camotes because of its white sand.

The beach has no entrance fee because it is a public beach.

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Food stalls are also present and bands play reggae music at night.

Go here during high tide because the beach is just so flat that you have to walk meters from the shore to get to the deeper part of the beach.

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Washing and shower areas are available, just ask the locals or go to the tourist assistance desk for directions.

Paraiso Cave

Unlike Timubo cave, this cave has a lot of air and has a smaller pool inside.

The water is not as cold as the water in Timubo and the pool was too crowded because there was a number of people swimming but still it’s okay.

  Lake Danao

Probably the most insta-worthy place of the island. If you are an instagram addict, don’t miss this place.

There is an entrance fee of P25.00 and food stalls are also available in the area.

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There are actually a couple of activities you can do inside Lake Danao like horseback riding, paddle boat, water balloon, water bicycle, etc., but I was not able to ask for the rates because I was so busy taking pictures. LOL.

Tulang Diot Island

What more can I say but AMAZING! I don’t need to describe the islet that much, the pictures below say it all.

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This is just 10 minute bangka ride from Tulang Dako. Fare is P20.00 per head and an additional P20.00 pesos if you want to take a tour around the islet.

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It has the same vibe with Canigao island in Leyte and also practices CLAYGO

The beach is not safe in my opinion because there is an underwater cliff meters away from the shore. If you are with kids or don’t know how to swim, stay near the shore.

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I did not see any carenderias or food stores so it would be better to bring your own food.

Cottages are available for rent at P600.00 or you can pitch a tent there.

OTHER FEES

  • Danao terminal fee – P5.00
  • Consuelo Terminal Fee – P5.00

TIPS

  • If you are travelling in a small group, I think renting a motorcycle is better than renting a multicab/van because you have the freedom to explore the island. Don’t worry about getting lost, you can ask the locals for directions. The island is not that big so you can find your way through the island.
  • Buy your tickets ahead so you won’t waste your time waiting for your turn in the long line at the ticket outlet.
  • No signal for Sun and Smart. Keep a Globe SIM handy in case you want to contact someone. There are also places in the island where there is no signal at all.
  • Start your tour early so you can visit most of Comotes’ tourist attractions.
  • Be sure to bring enough or extra cash. There is one DBP ATM machine located at Poro, you would not want to travel that far just to get cash.

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ITINERARY

03/06/2017
Time Description
3:00 AM Meet up place: Ayala Terminal, across Quest Hotel
3:30 AM Ayala Terminal to Danao Port
5:00 AM ETA: Danao
5:30 AM ETD: Danao to Camotes Island
8:00 AM ETA: Camotes Island
8:00AM – 12:00NOON Breakfast, Change outfit, arrange things, chill, etc.
12:00NOON – 1:00PM LUNCH
1:00 PM TOUR
Lake Danao
Paraiso Cave
Santiago White Beach
6:30 PM ETA: House
6:30PM onwards Chill, Dinner, etc
04/06/2017
Time Description
Early Morning Tulang Diot Island
10:AM onwards Pack-up, Lunch
12:30 PM Pick up from house to Camotes Port
2:00 PM ETD: Camotes to Danao
3:30 PM ETA: Drop off at Mango Square Cebu

There are still a lot attractions in Camotes that you can visit. I just did not include it in this entry because I am not too sure if they still have the same rates when i went there a year ago.

Camotes has always been my happy place and I have beautiful memories of this island. If you want to escape from the busy city life and experience a real island life, then is the place for you.

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