Monday, March 26, 2012

Discovering the Island of Camotes

Little have I known of the islands of Camotes not until I have read it being featured in one of Cebu Pacific's in-flight magazine, Smile.
It is a group of islands (part of Cebu province) located east of Cebu Island, southwest of Leyte Island, and north of Bohol Island. So me together with two friends (Vinz from Cebu and Efren from The Land Down Under, who had his vacation in Bacolod) set March 17 and 18 for our trip to Camotes. It was only an overnight stay but we made the most out of it. Me and Efren left Bacolod via plane to Cebu City 8:40AM and arrived approximately 30 minutes after in Cebu, where we met Vinz in SM City. We rode a V-hire (fare 50Php) to Danao City, approximately an hour and a half. We almost didn't make it to our boat to Camotes which leaves at 12nn since we arrive 15 minutes before departure time. Good thing Vinz was there to negotiate. We had a two hour RoRo boat ride to Camotes thereafter. The fare is Php180. We arrive past 2 in the afternoon and went straight to our reserve place to stay for the night.

Our place to stay for the night

The Santiago Bay overlooking our room in the resort


The place was awesome, for our room's exterior provides a scenic view of the ocean. We also have easy access with the pool, but decided to do night swimming instead since we decided to go to the town of San Francisco. We also met three backpackers (Rein, Marx and Layla from Manila) who joined us in our tour, thus cutting our budget to half :) After a sumptuous lunch/dinner (we ate around 5pm), we decided to rent a jeep going to the town of San Francisco.

Santiago White Beach from left: Vinz, Rein, Efren, me, Marx

San Francisco Baywalk


It took us abou
t 45 mins to arrive in the town proper. We visited the municipal hall, then San Francisco Baywalk and their plaza. We actually arrived just in time for their Soli Soli Festival, the town fiesta in honor of St. Joseph, their patron saint (Soli Soli is a local term for weaving). After we return to our resort, we decided to have a night swim and had one bottle of beer each. We planned for the next days activity which will be an island tour.

The next day started with a br
eakfast at Santiago Resort's bar overlooking the magnificent Santiago Bay. Manang Merlyn, our tour guide, fetched us from the resort at around 7AM for us to start our travel. We checked out of the resort and carried our things since we decided to go straight to the port and return to Cebu City on the afternoon. Our first stop was Mangodlong Rock Resort.


The very first resort we went to is the one closes to where we stayed in for the night. It is one of the most famous resorts in the island as what Manang Merlyn said. And it indeed the place is beautiful. They have cottages on top of rocks. We went to inside the resorts building and found a scribble wall. I'm not exactly sure of the term but this is a wall where you sign and leave comments. After a short picture taking session, we proceeded to the port to reserve our tickets for the 2PM Roro ride back to Danao City. We passed by the town of San Francisco and continued our travel to the island of Poro, to visit another resort and a cave (the one featured in Smile Magazine).


A garden resort found on top of a rock formation, this is the place for daredevils especially on cliff jumping and diving. I never ceased the moment and had my share of jumps (thrice) from one of the cliffs around 15-20 ft high. The sea was very calm so I was not afraid to try jumping off the cliff. There was also a cliff jump of around 30ft but I decide not to jump from there. It was too high for me. There was also a water slide to the sea but unfortunately it was not available at that moment. There is also a staircase going down at sea level where you can wade on the sea waters and walk your way into a mini cave formation under the cliff.

The 15 (or 20 ft) jump off the cliff in Buho Rock Resort

Bukilat Cave used to be the shelter for the people living in the island from the Japanese invaders during World War II


This is the cave that I am pertaining to, the one I saw in an in-flight magazine. As expected, the cave has a magnificent view. The cave, although it has a man made stairway going to the spring, preserves its natural beauty, with chalk-white stalactites and stalagmites. The water is cool and very clean. Manang Merlyn told us it was low tide by the time we arrived so that's the reason why we are not able to bath on the shallow spring waters. We stayed there for about 20 minutes and decided to leave for our next destination. The entrance was 20Php only.

Enjoying the clear and cold spring water inside the cave


We had a small argument while on our way to Lake Danao if we are going to visit this cave since we might not make it for our afternoon boat back to Danao City. But Manang Merlyn encouraged us that this is a place which we should not get rid of our list, and assured us we still have ample time before we go back to the port before our boat leaves. And she was right. We could have regretted not going there. By the exterior look, the cave looks simple, with a small entrance underground (where you need to duck in order to enter), but what's beneath it is a magnificent spring. The water is very clean, clear and cool. There were lots of tourists swimming (especially Koreans, we thought we are in Korea hahaha) but that did not stop us to have a plunge in the clear waters. If time would permit we could have stayed there longer but eventually went out of the cave and decided to go to Lake Danao.

Lake Danao of Pacijan Island is considered the largest lake of Visayas


The serene lake was our last stop before going to the port. The water was so calm, and the place was so peaceful. We opt not to ride the boat to tour the lake since it was high noon and it was hot so we only had a few picture-taking sessions and decided to go back to the port for our trip back to Danao. The whole island tour costs us Php2000 (divided by 6, you do the math.. hehe) which I believe is a reasonable price. Manang Merlyn even showed us much hospitality by giving us food (suman!) to eat on our trip back to mainland Cebu.

Although the beaches are awesome as well as the peaceful ambiance of the island, one thing bothers me the most. The limited access to telecommunication signals especially in remote areas is one issue. Since we are in a remote resort, we cannot call, text or even connect to 3G to update our Facebook and Twitter status. Nonetheless, these are things we can live without (just in a day!) I definitely would like to go back to the place. The island is so laid back that I want to stay there for some more quality time. There are still two places we haven't went to (Tulang Diot Island and Kalbaryo). Although we only had an overnight stay in Camotes, we made the most out of it. It's definitely one place I wanna go back someday, in the near future.

Soli-soli kid dancers had a pose with us during their practice at the plaza

Efren, me and Vinz decided to get a the same design for our henna tattoo

Manang Merlyn (our tour guide) and Vinz, on our way to Bukilat Cave
A bottle of beer to end the night from left: Marx, Leyla, Rein, Me, Efren, and Vinz


  1. I would love to go back there! Meeting you guys was actually the highlight of the trip on my end! And also, the cliff jumping in Poro Island ***priceless! -Rein

  2. the overnight was "bitin"... let's plan for another trip soon hahaha

  3. Wow!!! I love the write up...every single detail...and places to visit....i do agree the overnight is bitin...nakakapagod dahil for the whole duration that we are eats most of our time. Happy to meet you guys! Hope we can join together again for another trip!

  4. GUSTO KO ITO! hmmm, puntahan ko rin yan!

    1. try niyo dito kahit two days lang.. kulang kasi para samin ang overnight.. you will really enjoy the place.. except remote resorts does not have phone signals haha