Thousands of idyllic tropical islands make up the Philippines. However, the most famous (Boracay, Cebu, and Palawan) are now overrun with tourists. Off the beaten track, unspoilt, and above all, the Philippines’ last frontier, the Caramoan Islands are a secluded and largely unexplored area in the region of Bicol. If you’re looking for pristine beaches, powdery-white sands, marine life and stunning rock formations, then this far flung jewel on the edge of the Camarines Sur is your ideal tropical destination.
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Where is Caramoan Island in the Philippines
The Caramoan Islands are located on the North-Eastern portion of Camarines Sur in the Bicol region of the Philippines.
Whilst the journey doesn’t look far on a map, it took us half a day to get to the Caramoan Islands from Manila, and the journey included multiple modes of transport.
How to get to Caramoan Islands Philippines
Our day began at 2.30am, we headed to the airport and boarded an hour long flight to Legazpi at 5am, then drove three hours to Sabang Port before riding the waves on a speedboat for another two hours.
We finally arrived and were welcomed by a spectacular view of Tugawe cove and a traditional Bicolano lunch.
Not for the faint hearted, the journey to the Caramoan Islands certainly is laborious compared to travel around the rest of the Philippines.
However the inaccessibility ensures the islands sandy beaches and turquoise waters remain unknown to most.
For instance, during the two nights we spent in the Caramoan, we didn’t come across any other foreign tourists.
For this reason coupled with the journey length, I suggest spending at least three nights in this unspoilt region, to really get the chance to explore the Caramoan Philippines and all its secret beaches.
There are several ways to go to Caramoan from Manila:
Travel by land to the Caramoan Islands from Manila
Caramoan Island can be reached by bus or car from Manila. The journey will from Manila will take between 8-12 hours to reach Naga City.
Then another 1.5 hour drive to Sabang Port followed by a 1.5-2 hour speedboat ride to Caramoan Bicol. Total journey between 11-15.5 hours
Travel by plane to the Caramoan Islands from Manila
There are three different ways to get to Caramoan Island from Manila. Below details the journey times and details of the Caramoan location.
- QUICKEST: Fly 1 hour to Virac, then drive 1 hour to Codon Port followed by a 30 minute speedboat ride. Total journey time around 2.5 hours but with only only four flights a week, you need to be flexible.
- Fly 1 hour to Legazpi, then drive 3 hours to Sabang Port followed by a 1.5-2 hour speedboat ride. Total journey between 5.5 – 6 hours
- Fly 1 hour to Naga, then drive 1.5 – 2 hours to Sabang Port followed by a 1.5-2 hour speedboat ride. Total journey between 4 – 5 hours
Where to Stay in the Caramoan Island Philippines
We spent two nights at the beautiful Tugawe Cove Resort. Located at the tip of Camarines Sur peninsula.
The resort has a private beach, infinity swimming pool with sea views, rooms with WIFI, flat screen TVs and DVD players, and a lake which runs through the property.
Moreover, water sport equipment such as paddle boards, kayaks and snorkelling gear are included for free for guests, and there is a private beach in front of the resort.
In addition if you want to relax then there is a very reasonably priced spa on the property, I had a 60 minute full body massage for only £6.
Importantly, there are only 23 cabanas in all, located beside the lake, on the hillside, and on the hilltop.
As a result, the resort feels even more private as the guests are spread out over the property.
To facilitate transport around Tugawe, there are golf buggies available to take you around the resort if you don’t fancy walking up the steep hills.
Top Things to do in the Caramoan Islands Philippines
1. Island Hopping Around the Caramoan Islands
The Caramoan Islands are a secret Filipino paradise, little visited by backpackers and tourists.
With impossibly white beaches and clear waters, there are incredible opportunities for Caramoan Island hopping tours.
Spending the day moving from one serene spot to the next, you’ll be blown away by the beauty. Not to mention the fact that apart from a few local fishing families, the islands are deserted.
It’s certainly no wonder Caramoan’s remoteness attracted the makers of the popular reality TV show Survivor, and why the producers keep coming back to film further series on the Caramoan beach.
Our island hopping boat trip lasted the whole day and we were provided with a picnic, snorkelling equipment and towels.
In one day we could only visit a handful of the Caramoan Islands, however if we had the opportunity to stay longer, we would have visited Matukad Island, Cagbalinad Island, Hunongan Cove, and Sabitang Laya, as they are some of the best Caramoan beaches.
2. Experience Sunset at Tugawe Cove’s Lighthouse
A mere 10 minutes from the reception of Tugawe Cove (5 minutes on a golf buggy followed by a 5 minute uphill walk) transports you to the unused lighthouse on the island.
There lies an enchanting spot overlooking the surrounding islands and villages. The perfect place for a picnic and panoramic view from this secluded hilltop area and certainly a gem of the Caramoan Islands.
3. Sundowners by Tugawe Cove’s Infinity Pool
For those of you who are like me and prefer a pool to the beach, the view from the resort’s infinity pool was pretty hard to beat.
There’s nothing quite like peering out over the tropical waves, counting how many deserted islands you can see in the distance.
On the one hand, any time of day is great for a swim.
However, this Caramoan sunset spot was particularly beautiful especially with a tropical cocktail or fresh coconut in hand. Bliss!
4. Put on your Water Shoes and explore the islands in Caramoan Philippines
The turquoise waters surrounding the Caramoan Islands are incredible.
As a result, I’d definitely recommend taking full advantage of the location and hiring a kayak, stand up paddle board, or snorkelling equipment.
To get a real Caramoan experience, make sure you explore the hidden coves, as it’s unlikely you’ll come across anyone else on your expedition!
Also note that if you stay at Tugawe Cove resort, watersport equipment is included for free!
Where to Visit After the Islands in Caramoan Philippines
Caramoan is located in the Camarines Sur region of Bicol in the Philippines.
The capital of Bicol is Legazpi City, and is another great tourist destination to visit in Albay and the journey from Legazpi to Caramoan takes only three hours.
Legazpi City is famed for being home to Mount Mayon, the Philippines most active volcano.
Legazpi City is therefore the adventure capital of the Philippines, and includes zip lining and quad biking amongst the adrenaline fuelled activities it offers.
Have you heard of the hidden gem of Caramoan in the Philippines? Would you brave the long journey to get there? Let me know in the comments below!
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Disclaimer: I visited the islands of Caramoan courtesy of The Philippines Tourism board, but as always opinions are my own.