360 view of Caramoan on top of Mt. Caglago
This will be the first in the series about Caramoan. Since there are some people asking how to get there, this would serve as a simple guide.
Dutch travelers in the 1600s call this island as Guta de Leche, a name that used t describe the milk-drop stalagmites found at the Gota Beach port. Later, the Spaniards arrived and called the place Carahan, due to the nuerous sea turtles found at the beach at that time. It was later renamed to what is called today as Caramoan in 1687 by Spanish friar Francisco De la Cruz Y Oropesa.
To get to Caramoan which is around 501km from Manila, you have to get to Naga first. Cubao has buses going to Naga even straight to Sabang port. If you decide to stop first in Naga, you have to ride a Van to Sabang which is around 2 hours. Then from Sabang port, you’ll be riding a boat to Caramoan port, Guihilao which is about 2 hours. From Guihilao you’ll have to ride a jeep to the Centro which is about 30 minutes more. From there you can ask for lodgings available at the area. The Centro will be your Hub while at the area.
First interesting stop would be climbing Mt. Caglago in Barangay Tabgon. It is one of the tallest mountains in Caramoan and one of the easiest to climb as well. They said it has about 527 steps, which I didn’t manage to count, but once you get on top, the large statue of Our Lady of Peace will greet you. It has an amazing 360 degrees view of the whole Caramoan and it will serve as a preview of the islands you’ll be visiting. Oh yeah, going up you have to bring one sack which contains very few rocks (about ¼ filled) when going up the steps. It’s a tradition.
Matukad Island’s fine white sand beach
If you want to do some island hopping, you must first get to Gota beach where you’ll be able to hire boats to take you to different islands. This will test your haggling skills.
The nearest island in Gota Beach is Matukad Island which I was able to preview earlier. It is one of the most scenic and I think has the best white san in Caramoan. It’s a small island but in seclusion it would be you private hideaway.
Matukad Island’s hidden lagoon
Speaking of hideaway, Matukad Island has a hidden lagoon. If you climb the limestone formations at the end of the island, you’ll be able to see the lagoon at the center. Do be careful though as the rocks are a bit sharp and you’ll do a lot of wall climbing in the process. But the view above is very rewarding as you’ll get to see the whole stretch of Matukad Island’s beach.
Tayak Island shores and limestones
If you long to see more lagoons, a visit to Tayak Island would be worth while. It is an island 30 minutes away by boat from Matukad Island. It doesn’t have sands as fine as Matukad’s, but there are impressive huge limestones by the beach.
Tayak’s large lagoon with our guide sitting by the tree branch.
Just a short trek from the beach you’ll be able to view a large lagoon. At that time, it would have been great to swim but the locals have this superstition or belief during the holy week’s Good Friday. They believe that a man-eating monster, which we soon named “Big Fish”, lurks on its waters. Our guide strongly believe this since they, threw a dog there and they saw how it was eaten. It was a really interesting story, enough for us not to try to lurk in its deeper water.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.