Not too many people have heard of the Caramoan Islands. Some know it as the remote paradise where seasons 25 and 26 of Survivor USA were filmed, but aside from that, zilch. Our beautiful country is comprised of 7,107 islands—there’s got to be more to the Philippines than commercialized Boracay (while still a blast) or ubiquitous Palawan (while still breathtaking), right? That’s where exploring unprecedented islands becomes more fun, proving that the Philippines never falls short on pleasant surprises.
I jumped at the opportunity to take a trip with some girlfriends to explore Caramoan, a place I was extremely unfamiliar with. Adventure was out there and I could smell it. We hopped on a sleeper bus and took a nine-hour road trip down to Naga (you can take a plane too, don’t worry), a one-hour van ride to the port, and enjoyed a gorgeous view of Mount Mayon on our two-hour bangka ride to the island. Getting to Caramoan was an adventure in itself! The exhaustion melted away completely, and the long hours of traveling were worth it once we started soaking in the most breathtaking view of Gota Beach. ??Filled with lush coastal mountains, fine white sand perfect for sinking your toes in, and surrounded by sparkling turquoise water, Caramoan is located in the lower eastern part of Camarines Sur, in Bicol. We stayed at Gota Beach, the same quaint cabins where Survivor housed their film crew. The cozy island vibe set the mood for the weekend, and despite the lack of sleep, we were thrilled to be breathing the deliciously salty ocean air.
When staying at Gota Beach, be ready for adventure and activity. While relaxing is always a must on anyone’s beach vacation agenda, it’s essential to make the most of the trip and explore, too. Gota provides fun-filled activities to fill your days, all inclusive of your accommodation package.
Start off your adventure-filled weekend with a mountain trek that ends with a stunning view of the blue ocean and its infinite rock formations. Turn the other way, and you’ll be hit with an incredible aerial view of Gota Beach’s quaint cottages and mountainous terrain. The trek itself isn’t too challenging—but prepare to feel like you’re about to do some slight rock climbing! You’ll end the trek dripping in sweat, but plunging into the ocean as soon as the trek is over will feel absolutely amazing.
If mountain trekking isn’t enough to satisfy the adventure junkie in you, go spelunking! Caramoan has several caves (including bat caves!) visitors are free to explore, bringing out one’s inner adventure junkie extraordinaire. Spelunking is an awesome adrenaline pumping activity in itself. Trying to find your footing amidst the different sized rocks, and trying not to slip on bat poop is surprisingly thrilling. Who knew?
Not to be outdone by land activities, there are lots of exciting water activities, too. Island hopping is a must, of course. Explore pristine, untouched islands like Tayak, Tinago, Honungan, Matukad, Minalahos, and Busdak island. Hop on a little bangka, pack some lunch and lots of drinking water, and visit each island for as long as you want. Bask in the scorching sun, revel in absolute silence, and truly make the most of the isolation. It really is good for the soul. Besides island hopping, go kayaking through Caramoan’s mangroves; take in nature’s raw beauty while gliding through the water. If island hopping, kayaking, and swimming in the ocean aren’t enough, get even more daring and go cliff diving of Caramoan’s limestone cliffs.
Adventure is out there, and Caramoan has so much to offer in just a few short days. If you’re craving for something new, an experience that will open your mind even more, take a trip to the Caramoan Islands. I promise, you won’t regret it.