Caramoan Adventure

Credits: Quickpage by Sarah H from JS bloghop 2010.

An adventure it was indeed.  Not in a thrilling kind of way but more precarious I’m afraid.

St. Michael the Archangel Parish

It started as a simple exploration of the town and while there, we were met with rains so we waited it out at River Inn,

the nearest hiding place when it poured.  We watched the river swell as the downpour continued and seemingly refusing to let up.

We decided to make a go for lunch the moment it waned.  Needless to say, we arrived Sea Porch soaking wet.

The food was good at least so there were some delightful moments that transpired during the day.  After lunch, we decided that it was best to go back when the rain started to pelt down once again.

We hired a tricycle but halfway through, we saw the resort’s van stranded with newly arrived guests.  The river overflowed (which is a common thing, they say).

Children without a care in the world.  So used to it, they saw it as their playground.

It was deep and the current was strong, we couldn’t go further… at least not the tric, so we paid our driver and let him go.  At this point, we were so wet and weary that the idea of a dry, cozy cabin seemed so inviting.  We were told that it would take a while for the flood to subside, my heart sank.   I thought it funny that the resort sent a kayak to get us to the other side.  What?!? The current was strong; I was iffy.  If the kayak topples (which was very likely), my thought balloon goes, “there goes my camera”.  Desperate for a hot shower, I decided to bid my “rebel” goodbye and went for it.  All the worry was unnecessary – as I said, this happens often and they have used the kayak to get them across countless times.  They expertly maneuvered the kayak without us having to paddle a single stroke.  Our only task was to sit upright and not move.  It worked.

I remind myself often to throw caution to the wind and not to underestimate the deftness of Filipinos (or anyone for that matter) especially when caught in a situation.

In no time, we were curled up in our cozy little cabin — dry, warm and clean.  The rain eventually stopped, the water calm once more and the sun dared to peek out at one point as we traveled back to Naga the following day without incident.

A Preview of the Caramoan Islands

December and a typhoon looming at that is definitely the wrong time to explore the islands of Caramoan.  This however did not stop us…  “no guarantees”, we were told.  Do you believe in the power of prayer?  The weather held up for the most part.  We were limited though to 3 nearby islands, the waves were strong thus preventing us from exploring more islands much less snorkel.  But for bad weather, this was answered prayer.  Presenting the three:

Matukad Island

Beautiful stretch of powdery white sand beach walled with limestone cliffs.

At one end of the beach is a cliff that many climb to view the lagoon hidden behind.

Thought it would be wise of me not to climb that cliff due to a back injury I was nursing at that time but it did not stop me from being envious of friend S who got to see the lagoon.  Perhaps to make me feel better, she said I’ve seen better…    🙂

Hunongan Cove

This private cove beside Gota Village was developed to house the booted-out contestants of the Survivor series – what a nice reward, me think.

They have 14 pretty cabana that were not operational at the time of our visit – repairs were being made perhaps also in preparation for the next “Survivor” ocular.  Lunch was served there hence the visit.

Like Matukad, it has a stretch of powdery white sand and it being a cove is blessed with a much tamer shore.

Also like Matukad, it is walled with limestone cliffs but unlike Matukad, this does not have a lagoon anywhere.

Philippine Eagle

It has a regular visitor though whom they feed when around.

The caretakers opened a cabana, which I assume would be typical, for us to take a look.

This will cost P6,000+ a night if they were operational.  No thanks!  Our charming cabin at Gota Village albeit more basic was P3,500 a night only.

Minalahos Island

We were supposed to head back already but were curious with this one particular island with beautiful jagged edge formations so we stopped to take a look.  Glad we did.

The cliff was easy enough to climb and we were rewarded by a stunning view of the other side.  The boatman said that during calm days, it’s a good snorkel and kayaking area.

With the little that we saw, I can deduce that Caramoan is indeed a remarkable paradise that reminds of Palawan and even to a certain extent, Halong Bay minus the junks.  No wonder it has become the choice of many Survivor franchise.  The place is quite enchanting.

The Upside of Being Wimpy!

Credits:  Papers and elements by LivE Designs’ You are Awesome kit — AwwwSome Blue, Color Me Happy and Floral clusters; Frame by Moninda Fall Meditation Frame 4 with shadow.

To finally be on our way to Caramoan was like a project coming to fruition.  This trip was supposed to have happened a decade ago, prevented however by various reasons – the remoteness and the logistic nightmares being some of the major ones.  There were so many other trips so I placed Caramoan in the back burner until Gota Village Resort came about.  Yeah, sometimes I can be a wimp!!  An attempt last summer still didn’t fall through because they were closed for a Survivor shoot.  “Ok, maybe Caramoan really isn’t for us”, I thought.  But late last year, without a plan yet for the Christmas break, I attempted to inquire for rooms and lo and behold, I got an affirmative – but not without a side trip, as you probably know by now.

From CWC, we hired a van and headed to Sabang Port.  At the port, we took this boat so cramped with passengers to Guijalo Port.  2-3 hours later we got into a van provided by the resort and another 30-45 minutes, we finally reached our destination.  Not exactly a breeze but imagine if you took public transport all the way… which would be the case if we had gone a decade ago.  And that, my friends, was the reason this trip only happened now.

Also known as the Caramoan Peninsula, it is a group of islands isolated from the rest of Camarines Sur and like many remote islands, these included, they remain unspoiled by regular tourists.

December however is not exactly the right season to be exploring the islands, the waves prevented us to explore even the island across the resort.

I have to say, this resort is charming!  No beach in sight but as you enter, the wooden cabins and the mountains in the background is an obvious prelude to the charm.

The deck at the reception area allows a peek of the ocean on one side

The cabins from the deck at night.

and the other a bird’s eye view of the cabins.

The dining hall from the beach.

Walk further to the dining hall and you will see the ocean emerge inch by inch and before you know it, right in front of you is a breathtaking view of the ocean and its nearby islands.

It’s like being in the mountains with the beach just around the corner.

As with CWC, the Provincial government of Camarines Sur operates Gota Village Resort, which makes transfers from CWC much easier than doing your own logistics.  In fact, for large groups, one can organize for a fast craft to shuttle you directly to the resort.  It will only take an hour.

It is also said that the resort earned for the Philippines the title of “Ecotourism Destination of the Year” in the 2009 edition of Nature – one of France’s biggest travel fairs.  It was also with France that Caramoan first got its big break.  The French franchise of the reality show “Survivor” chose to shoot one season here.  Many more franchises of the “Survivor” shows followed after that… Sweden, Israel, Bulgaria and Serbia.  And while we were there, they said that they would close again soon to make repairs in preparation for the next ”Survivor” ocular.

The different bridges connecting one tribal council to another.

It is on the adjacent beach called “Gota 2” that they built the different “tribal council” sets.  Not exactly my cup of tea ( I don’t follow this show) but the reality is that they pride themselves of being the favorite of the “Survivor” series… and why not?  Sadly though, they rave more about this when there is so much more to rave about — like their beautiful islands and breathtaking cliffs, perhaps?

Given the rainy season, the crowning point of this trip for me was spending most afternoons enjoying the mountain setting with some wine and cheese (that we brought with us) on our cozy little porch chatting away till dinner called.  Precious.

Useful Info:

Gota Village Resort
Address:  2F Bldg. 11 La Fuerza Plaza Compound,
2241 Don Chino Roces Ave., Makati City
Tel. No.:  +632 817-0831 or +632 710-9086
Mobile:  +63 928-308-3969
Email:  gotavillage@gmail.com or infocamsur@gmail.com