For many months now, I’ve been wanting to visit the Caramoan Islands – popular for being a film location for reality TV show Survivor. Several seasons of the show from different countries have been shot there. Because of them, I saw picturesque captures of the islands and it made me really excited to go see it myself. The Philippines has plenty of good beaches and I wanted to explore more.
I made some research reading blogs, tourism sites, and even asked local Bicolano friends how to get to Caramoan from Cebu via Legazpi. The trip was very simple to comprehend. They just told us to expect the trip to be long and loooooooooong — about 3 hours by bus to Naga and another 4 hours from Naga to Caramoan. I thought, well, I’ve been riding buses my whole life growing up in this country so I know I can handle long bus rides. Plus, you get a break in Naga City.
What they don’t tell you
No one warned me how bad the road would be going there. It was a nightmare. The roads after San Sebastian (close to Sabang Port) are as windy as you couldn’t have imagined. The ride was so bad I almost cried. I wanted it to end. It was such a torturous ride.
In reality, it took us 4 hours to get to Naga from Legazpi and 5.5 hours to get to Caramoan from Naga, even with the really fast driving. I don’t know if I’d rather take a long ride but not too bumpy and windy versus a shorter let’s-get-it-over-with kind of trip but possibly puke along the way. I heard a few people puke and I was worried I’d start smelling it and puke myself. What’s funny (but not really) is that they even provide plastic bags hung by the windows in case you needed them. Photo for proof unavailable due to severe distress. I couldn’t focus on anything but the pain. I guess when I saw those plastic bags as soon as I boarded should have been a sign that this trip won’t be pretty.
I guess I should have really zoomed in on the maps to see how bad it would get? But who does that? I’ll probably start doing that now. I use maps to get a general idea of the trip i.e. travel time and if there were coastal roads because I enjoy looking out while riding the bus.
What you can do
I found that there is a boat ride you can take from Sabang Port that takes you to Guijalo, a town 10 km away from Caramoan. I definitely zeroed in on this option for going back. I could never get on that bus ride again. The only catch is that the boat ride gets really rough when the waves are big. But if you really think about it, it’s probably a better option since:
1) there is ventilation
2) you can jump out to swim in any case of capsizing (buses driving by the cliffs always scare me since there’s no way to jump out and save myself)
3) you can actually enjoy the view.
The trip is about 2 hours on a good day. From Sabang Port, the last trip is at 1 pm. From Guijalo, there’s a trip at 7 am and maybe 11 am when there are enough passengers. Morning trips are better anyway, with better chances of a smooth ride.
I thoroughly enjoyed the sights since we were traveling close to land. You can observe the little towns every few kilometers. Once we were nearing Sabang Port, I witnessed oddly calm waters. It looked so silky smooth. It was grey, quiet, and eerie but beautiful. If you’re lucky enough to take that boat ride under the same conditions I did, you’ll see what I mean.
Was the trip worth it?
Yes and no. Read about it here.