Not to be mistaken by the similarly sounding Caramoan in Camarines Sur, Caramoran is a municipality, northwest of Catanduanes. The name admittedly came from the former when people would point to the former which is just on the opposite side of the strait separating the provinces. Not to be left off as a shade of its homonymic neighbor, Caramoran, one of the largest municipality in Catanduanes, boast the idyllic isles of Palumbanes Islands and languid Hitoma Lake on land. This is the second part of my return visit to the Happy Island of Catanduanes in conjunction with the 2018 Abaca Festival.
I’ve always been curious what the other side of Catanduanes has. A decade ago, Catanduanes is popularly known for surfing and abaca (manila hemp) which are mostly found on the east and southeast areas of the island. I’m glad this time, we’re heading northwest. About an hour and a half from Virac, approximately 50km, we entered Caramoran through the riverside town of Hitoma.
The agriculturally rich town has a peaceful setting in Lake Hitoma. A tranquil lake with bamboo cottages and rafts. We enjoyed a brief stop here halfway our journey north to partake of the local meals provided by the community.
Caramoran is huge and we had to take another half an hour ride to reach Toytoy Beach. A long stretch of white sand beach which is also the jump-off point for the Palumbanes Islands already seen from the shore. The beach itself looks inviting with clear waters and I heard the corals and marine life here is still in good condition. A group of divers were conducting open water dives in the area and are carefully planning possible dive sites in the area.
Coinciding with the provincial festival, each mounicipality have pocket events of their own. We saw the creative youths of Caramoran assemble and hand-paint miniature paraws (sailboat). At Toytoy Beach, a line of paraws were on display showcase use of scrap-fabric for their sails. The used up umbrella fabrics was genius.
Everyone was excited for Palumbanes islands teasing just off shore. We took a 45 minute ride toward the three sets of islands. The cerulean waters looks so surreal in stillness and transparency as we approach the islands. We passed by Calabagio Island first which is a rocky and hilly island with no beach.
Our first stop was Tignob Island, a bone-shaped islet with beautiful stretch of beaches on its sides. It’s bare with no infrastructure whatsoever with only a few huts at the center of the island. I did notice some of the corals were damaged. I was told because of the typhoons. Beach was nice and grainy and waters clear.
We hopped on the nearby island Palumbanes Island. Also called the Parompong Island, it is the largest of the three and has a small community on the island. The beach here is a wonderful sloping white sand and sharing the clear waters of Tignob Island. A lighthouse is situated atop a hill overlooking the three islands. We weren’t able to climb up the island but enjoyed a sumptuous boodle fight and took time enjoying the beach.
Sleepy Town and Windswept Isles
The Palumbanes Islands in the northwest of Catanduanes proves there’s a lot more to see on this provincial island. The sleepy municipality of Caramoran is perfect for offbeat travelers veering away from touristy locals. Of finding windswept isles often enjoyed by the locales.
How to get to Palumbanes Islands
The fastest way to Catanduanes is a direct flight to Virac from Manila or Clark. Both Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines flies have flights to Virac.
From Virac Town Center, ride a van or bus heading to Caramoran. First trip starts at 5:30AM last trip at 4PM. Fare is P150. Travel time is around two hours. Leaves when full.
Get off at Barangay Baybay, Caramoran. At the port fisherman who can take you to Palumbanes Island. Usual rates are P1000-1500 for a small boat and P3000 for a big boat.
If you opt to stay in Caramoran, Coco Beach Resort is the lone resort in the area. Contact Letty at 0928.620.4592 or 0926.057.1940. Rate starts at P300
For a hassle free travel, why not avail of a travel agency service to help out. DOT-accredited Island Escape Travel & Tours is a Virac-based travel agency that can organize tours around Catanduanes. Contact them at:
Facebook: Island Escape Travel & Tours
Email: [email protected]
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.