October 27 – October 30, 2010

Courting the Camotes Islands
“Lost Horizon of the South”
“Island of Imagination”


Day 1: October 27, 2010 Wednesday

One night, Jake & I realized we were getting suffocated by city life… again. We passed a verdict that we must run away to an island paradise the dawn after!

Like all destinations, there will always be more than one way to get there. {CLICK HERE TO VIEW CAMOTES ISLAND: GETTING THERE!!!} Unfortunately, boat schedules are bound to keep changing as trips are very few. It is best to check prior to leaving.

Packing real light & off by 3:45AM, we opted for the last option. We took a cab to the terminal out in the Mandaue Highway & A.S. Fortuna crossing to look for a jeepney bound for Danao City.

Dodging sleep completely by deciding to go in the wee hours of the morning turned out to be a brilliant idea.

It was a cramped 1Hr drive all the way to Danao Wharf instead of one that would take almost 2Hrs on normal days. Don’t worry about morning exercise… the extremely heavy bass system on that thing practically melts away your love handles.

When we arrived at the port, we immediately purchased tickets for the Super Shuttle Ferry RORO at P180/each which was scheduled to leave an hour & 30mins later then percolated at the nearby eatery.

Traveler’s Tip #1: Bring food. The canteen is a preemptive idea of how pricey your trip is going to be. Beware… the locals charge you for about everything… from hot water down to sawsawan (condiment dip).

The Camotes group of islands is about 30 miles off the coast of northeastern Cebu & 15 miles west of Ormoc, Leyte with a population of roughly 40,000. It is composed of 3 low-lying islands with 4 municipalities namely,

  • Pacijan – San Francisco Town
    Poro – Poro & Tudela Towns
    Ponson – Pilar Town (Ponson)
    Tulang Diyot– Island Barangay of Esperanza, San Francisco

For this particular trip, we were bound for the port of Consuelo out in Pacijan as the best beaches are in barangays Santiago, Himensulan & Esperanza from what we’ve heard.

The early morning sun is your friend. Jake busted out Von D & played around with the most interesting silhouette shots despite my lack of modeling skills.

At about 8:30AM, we finally stepped foot on some dry land in the form of rugged, underdeveloped, unadulterated Camotes!

It’s so rugged, its port is still under construction.

After bracing ourselves from the barrage of porters & drivers who always attempt to drown you in their unruly demanding mob, we took a multicab from the port of Consuelo to Santiago which was approximately 30-45mins for a pricey P50/person. Come on. Where’s the mercy? These “businessmen” squeeze every last bit of money out of you knowing full well you’ll need them sooner or later because of how scarce the options were out there. Jake tried haggling one more time but to no avail.

Another way to get around is on a motorbike called a habal-habal (with the three of you: your driver, your Jake, & yourself squeezed in buttcheek-to-ehem-frontcheek together with a pile of stuff… & if you’re lucky maybe someone else would join in on the ride too. The more the manier… for P25/each.)

I don’t know what Jake saw on that drive, but I took in the humble gentleness of the place with its corn rows & coconut trees lining what seemed like miles of earth… the sunlight streaming in through the foliage shading the dirt road which was lovingly called “the main highway”. Most of the houses there were small & far apart, people lazed around in small groups brewing in pleasurable lethargy, & well— you get the provincial picture. WE ADORED IT.

Barangay Santiago in San Francisco Town shelters one of the most enchanting wide stretch of beaches we’ve ever visited.

We immediately combed the shoreline in search of the best accommodations while taking some things into consideration. {CLICK HERE TO VIEW CAMOTES ISLAND: CHOOSING THE PERFECT SPOT!!!}

We were able to check out a couple of resorts while on our early morning hike.

It’s not too hard to find one as the Santiago beach area offers a number of options. {CLICK HERE TO VIEW CAMOTES ISLAND: ACCOMMODATIONS!!!} They aren’t a lot though so it’s understandable why prices amongst these establishments aren’t competitive at all.

After an hour, our choices boiled down to Payag Beach House & Resort or Santiago Bay Garden & Resort. Guess what, we picked the latter. Why? Because it’s value for money won out.

Exhausted & finally having a place to rest, we stole a nap before doing anything else. The sky was somewhat overcast bringing in a bit of drizzle when we awoke at 2PM so we quickly grabbed our gear & pursued a whole afternoon of bumming by the beach.

What you read & hear about the island is an underestimation of how beautiful it truly is.

To be able to see it with your own eyes, feel the creamy white powdery sand against your fingertips, smell the crisp air infused with the saltiness of the sea, & sense tiny fishes darting in between your feet… now that’s magic.

And it’s 100% fact that Camotes has one of the widest shorelines amongst the beaches in the Philippines. The tide was low that time & we had to go on a lengthy walk of about 20 meters just to get to some water good enough to swim in.

The seafloor was so bare that it took a long time for some seaweed to actually start appearing.

Traveler’s Tip #2: Bringing a skimboard is a must! They’ve got some for rent there too… P100 for 3hrs.

For a sport somewhat tricky for beginners to catch on, I took a crack at it. Jake was on top of his game… gliding around, busting some moves, & being a smooth operator while I on the other hand spent a whole bunch of time falling on my bum & twisting around like a pretzel.

Belle: @#$&*%! SAND BALL FIGHT!

Well, that raged on for a while before we ran out into the waves. We watched curtains of rain falling from a distance & in no time, the rumble of thunder emanated from the sky overhead signaling an oncoming thunderstorm. True enough, we were caught shivering in the middle of the wide open sea as a fat-ass rain cloud (pardon my French) positioned itself right above us & exploded. We don’t know what prompted other people to follow suit but all of a sudden they started getting into the water too. Who wants to be struck by lightning? Me! Freak waves? Who cares!

That was not the first time Jake & I fell into a manhole of a situation. One particular instance was when we were out playing in a storm on Bantayan Island. We stood dazed on an empty sandbar after we saw a lightning bolt stop short just a few feet away from our faces. LOL.

 

Jake: Freezing my eyeballs off!

Belle: Keep your body underwater! It’s still pretty warm & it’s not pee.

Jake: Now what… we’re stuck out here. I don’t think I can get up & walk back to shore. I might turn into a snowman.

Belle: Start CRAWLING!

We did just that. Braving the icy cold downpour, we managed to take cover inside a cave entrance which led back to the resort. Before we could even reach our rooms, we had to take a detour & jumped into the pool to fight off the cold crawling under our skin.

 

Belle: At least the view’s great up here. *incoherent mumbling from all the shivering*

Jake: I need my blanky.

 

Traveler’s Tip #3: Unless you have the thickest skin known to man & are totally bionic, please don’t do the same thing we did. That was sort of, kind of… definitely crazy.

After the rain finally stopped, we managed to shudder all the way back & dry up before going for an early dinner at the Santiago Bay Restaurant. What’s the golden rule again? Get a good first meal!

While we waited, we wanted to find out if there was any network signal for our mobile phones anywhere on the island. Apparently, that place was a dead zone for our service provider. The only way to call home was to use the resort’s landline… which is charged P10/min. *faints* Mental note: Bring a carrier pigeon next time.

As soon as our food arrived, it didn’t take very long before we morphed into a couple of hobos who haven’t eaten for a whole decade. Sisig, sinigang, a platter of rice all in huge servings & a bottle of pop… goodluck.

We don’t have anything else to add, except dreamland was puhr-etty fine after that!

To be continued…

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Comments
  1. rosa says:

    thanks for this post :) and the other camotes-related posts as well. i was soooo ready to give up on camotes cause i couldn’t find any decent information online on how to get to the island. but your post is a lifesaver so my friends and i are most definitely going to be able to go to camotes. thanks!!!

    • wheretheblog says:

      Hello, Rosa! First of all, it was a treat hearing from you! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and reading the blog. We hope you and your friends are well on your way to a great vacation in Camotes! :D

  2. julie says:

    hi, i was teary eyed after reading this.. really…. i was actually looking for sites where i could find a driver in camotes advertising his multicab (good thing you have one here).. and everytime i come across links in your entry (usually, i read those), i wanted to just keep on reading.. we’ll be going there on may 3 and stay there for 3 days.. thank goodness i chose this place to be my baby’s first beach experience… thanks to you too.. im beginning to admire and love the place already…

    • wheretheblog says:

      Hi there, Julie!
      Jake and I had a great time reading your comment! We wish you well on your trip there very soon (May 3, is it?). Your baby will have a grand time frolicking in the sun, sand and sea! We hope you could share your experience with us too! We miss Camotes. There were so much golden memories there. We hope the same for you! Keep on loving life, Julie! ;)

  3. Lanie says:

    I’ve gone to Camotes Island last March 23-24 and it was indeed a very nice place. I will surely go back there.

  4. Lanie says:

    I’ve been to Camotes Island too, last March 23-24. Santiago Bay Garden & Resort is indeed a nice place to stay in Camotes.

    • wheretheblog says:

      Hi, Lanie! Thank you so much for dropping by and taking time out to read our entry! Yeah, Santiago Bay is a huge thumbs up… accessibility, location, affordability, service and amenities. Highly recommended. ;) We might head out to Camotes again— maybe we’ll see you there!

  5. ALFRED says:

    hi im ALFRED. im a driver here in camotes island. for your transportation you can contact me with this number 0905-155-0325. i have motorbike and multicab. thank you very much…

  6. michael says:

    when in camotes try to find sunset bay esperanza san francisco you will find white sand and a working village,

  7. ayin says:

    nice..and informative

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