Caramoan Peninsula, the Hidden Jewel of Bicol

Because of its geographic isolation, Caramoan Peninsula has only recently gained world attention as tourist destination. Soon after local television stations ran extensive features of Caramoan’s natural beauty, local and foreign travelers started to trickle in and explore the virgin beaches and inland wonders of the peninsula. Caramoan has been declared as one of the National Parks of the Philippines. Suddenly it has become favorite item for online searches among travelers. Even with poor transport infrastructure to the place, tourists from all over the world are coming in droves, raising fears that the peninsula may soon become the next environmentalist’s nightmare after Boracay. This year, the whole Caramoan peninsula is the shooting location of the popular Survivor TV series.

The photo above shows Lahuy beach, located in the 10-kilometer long Lahuy island. This picture, I tell you, is a poor copy of the real breath-taking scenery of Lahuy island. Those who have been there know that not all can be captured in a picture.

As we go through this photo presentation of the Caramoan Peninsula, you will see that Caramoan is not only a hidden jewel of Bicol it is a world’s treasure as well. The peninsula was long isolated from the rest of the Bicol region. Not so many Bicolanos have reached the place. For years it could be reached only by hours of boat travel on dangerous seas, beyond the breakwaters, from the nearest town of San Jose, Camarines Sur where the roads end. Just recently, the road network, although not of the very best, has finally reached the town center and the now world-famous Gota beach. Much of Caramoan’s wonders, however, are hidden and reachable only by boat travel along the shores. Being a native of Caramoan had been synonymous with lack of sophistication and being poor. These tags have recently changed. The people of Caramoan now own the few remaining natural riches of humanity, and they know these wealth must be protected from rash of commercialism.

It is not only beaches that you will find in Caramoan. Thee other must-see attractions : caves, water falls, lagoons, exotic rock formations, and natural getaways whose full beauties cannot be adequately captured by the most sophisticated camera lenses.

The following photos will give you a glimpse of Caramoan.

Big Gota is the most popular beach because it is nearest the town center.

There is also seaside wonder called Little Gota, found in one of the islets, with white fine corral sands comparable to that of Boracay. Overlooking it are steep limestone and marble mountains with caves on their slopes, enticing the very daring to climb and explore.

It is best to travel the place with a local since the best beaches and sights are far from the town center. Activities may include diving, swimming, snorkeling and spelunking by day; and stargazing in the evening. Electricity and cellular phone services have been established in Caramoan.

The Bichara/Lahos beach is found in Lahos island. It is also a scuba-diving site.

The Cotivas beach is in Barangay Daraga.

Other beaches that are harder to reach are:

Tayak Beach

Bag-ing Beach

Tinago Beach

Ginahoan Beach

Honongan Beach

Hurandayan Beach

Kalagikhik Beach

Lipata Beach

Lantangan Beach is different from other beaches in Caramoan. Instead of white powdery corral sands found elsewhere, you see here piles of smooth pebbles.

Puting Baybay is the Bicol word for white sand. Puting Baybay beach is a post-card perfect backdrop for intimate trysts. Puting Baybay is a partially enclosed natural compartment with white powdery corral sand surrounded by towering rocks and thick vegetation. Just ask the locals and they will bring you to other places like this around the Caramoan peninsula.

Those are beaches too many. But inland natural wonders abound as well.

Natural lagoons complement the beaches.

Tayak Lagoon

A limestone mountain overlooks the Tayak lagoon.

Talib Lagoon

You can go boating inland through the Manapot River.

The Umang Caves are must-visit. They still have remaining stalactites and stalagmites within their inner recesses.

To get to Caramoan from Manila, one may either take a 9-hour bus ride or a 1-hour plane ride to Naga City (377 km South of Manila). From Naga City Central Terminal, one may take a van to Sabang port. Travel usually takes 1 hour. From Sabang port, small commercial boats ferry passengers to the Caramoan Port. Schedule of hourly boat departure starts at 5 AM. Boat ride usually lasts for 2-hrs and cost Php120. One may take a jeepney or a tricycle to go to the Centro or the Gota Beach.

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