Rugged, wild and untouched are just some of the words used to describe Caramoan Island. It is located in the lower eastern part of Camarines Sur in the Bicol region of the Philippine archipelago.
Survivors in Caramoan
Caramoan has been off the grid to majority of tourist in the Philippines until it became the site for several editions of the competitive reality television show Survivor.
Somehow, going to this place is like becoming a contestant in Survivor series though. (Lol)
Island Hopping Adventure
Some of the popular beaches in the islands and islets were unfortunately off limits because of the Survivor series. But then, this beautiful peninsula has more to offer and for us with only a day to spare, decided to explore and feel the beaches less visited by tourists.
1. Catanauan Island
Our first stop Catanauan Island, which was called home by the Tandang and Gota tribes in Survivor. A little known treasure, this less popular Catanauan island makes for the perfect day time retreat with its long stretch of sugary fine off-white sand and crystal clear waters. Catanauan is the perfect place to enjoy some isolated peace and quiet while surrounded by a tropical paradise.
2. Small Catanauan Island
After we enjoyed our 7AM dip at Catanauan Beach, we headed to a small version of the Catanauan island.
3. Matukad Island
Undeniably, this is one of the most visited islands in Caramoan. Matukad is actually a Bicol word which means to climb or to hike has one of the best beaches in Caramoan. It is where you will be able to find the Enchanted or Matukad Lagoon too. You need to climb though but once you reach the top, the view is definitely worth climbing.
As curious as we were, we climbed up to see the famous Enchanted Lagoon, a small lagoon surrounded by an intriguing mythical tale. There’s a “giant milkfish” swimming around the water, and it is said to have just appeared magically in the lagoon. According to locals there were two of them here, but a family caught one for dinner. The entire family died because of it. No one touched the fish since then. Tourists can see the lagoon and the fish (if you’re lucky) by climbing the sharp cliffs. Oh well, Filipinos have always been fond of the unknown and the supernatural, hence why we have so many urban legends pervading the country.
After basking in the sun and getting serenaded by the breeze rustling through the palm trees, head to either right or left side of the shore, where you can sip a fresh coconut juice for a very cheap price.
4. Tinago Island
Tinago is a bicol word which means hidden. Literally, this island is a hidden gem. You will not be able to see it if you are already close to the area and if you are not aware of its existence. The gateway to Tinago is the narrow gap between two limestone mountains. Mostly, boatmen who also frequently act as tour guides will not take you to this place because they find it difficult to maneuver the outrigger boat due to strong current. This cove is deserted, no hut and fresh water but the place retains a relaxed, beachy sense perfect for a quiet getaway.
This is one of the islands where Survivor series has been filmed. The water is cool and calm. Truly an exquisite paradise! The panoramic view of silky, powder-gold sand slopes gently into a shallow emerald lagoon, and is backed by a thick curtain of trees and tropical foliage.
5. Malarad Island
This is where you will find a coral pebbled beach called Tayak Beach. The island is accessible only during high tide since the broad coral formation prevents any boat from entering during low tides.
6. Tayak Lake
This was my favourite part in our island hopping. If you love thrill and adventure, here is a challenge for you. To see the lake, you have to climb up and down slippery trail and sharp cliffs behind Tayak Beach. And a calm body of emerald water barely separated from the sea will indeed struck you. Encircling the tranquil lake are towering rocks hosting greeneries hanging on the cliff sides; a perfect place to meditate and feel nature’s healing vibe.
7. Lahos Island
The bicol word “lahus” means you can pass through and through. This is exactly the description of the island because it consists of white beaches which is easy to pass from one side of the island to the other side.
Fronting Matukad, Lahos Island is famous for its two-sided beach, which divides the sea into halves, each side providing a breathtaking view of the surrounding islands. Recently, the local government declared Lahos island a protected area and part of the Caramoan National Park ~ to preserve the natural structure of rock formation of the island. They say during the Japanese era, mining was prevalent on the island. Natural minerals such as iron and manganese were abundant on the island.
8. Cagbalinad Island
This island is famous for Skull-like rock formation apart from the fine white sand and emerald water. Travel time from Lahos to Cagbalinad took about 10 minutes. Cagbalinad is actually an islet with small beach that is swallowed by water during high tide and known to be the snorkeling area for tourists.
9. Pitogo Island
Our last stop! One of the islands closest to Catanduanes, Pitogo, is off the usual island-hopping route. However, including it in your itinerary won’t be a bad decision because the island offers some of the most spectacular views in the whole of Caramoan.
Pitogo Island comprises about six to seven hectares of the total land area. It has a unique smooth-edge stone shoreline known as Lantangan Beach.
10. Lantangan Beach
On the other hand, Lantangan Beach, situated on Pitogo Bay, will change your idea of the usual beach. It has unique white-pebbled shores which feature smooth-edged stones rather than white sand.
It’s my first time to see this kind of beach as if landscaped by an unseen hand on purpose.
This adventure made us realize that it pays to venture off the beaten path and discover the lesser known places the country has to offer. I hope these pictures have convinced you to explore these magnificent islands. Truly, the Philippines does have the most beautiful beaches and islands in the universe!