Demi Went Solo in Coron, Palawan

I’ve gone ahead despite the pounding in my heart that says:

turn back!

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And just like that, I survived four days in Coron, Palawan alone. What a great way to welcome my 26th year of existence!

And all because of the furnishing support of the people around me, who believed that I could make it on my own, who pushed me to step out of my comfort zone.

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Day 0

The night before my trip, I was very reluctant to pursue it. My clothes were lying on the floor, all scattered around. My bag was empty, and I didn’t know what to put first. I was a mess. Only then I realized how reliant I am towards Ace that even packing my things became a challenge. I had to admit that I tend to overpack, that is why he does all the packing whenever we travel. Nonetheless, I tried my best to pack the lightest as I could, but I still failed.

Ace accompanied me to the airport for my 5 am flight. His uneasiness was very contagious as he kept asking if I had everything I needed. Well, I couldn’t blame him for feeling that way. After five years of being together, it was the first time I’d be away for days. I expected he’d be worried.

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Day 1

I arrived at Busuanga at 7:30 am. A weird feeling crept inside me as I stepped out of the plane. “This is it! There’s no turning back! I can do this!” I whispered to myself. I walked to the exit and saw tour guides holding placards with guest names on it. I stopped and looked for my name, but I didn’t find it. I thought I was doomed.

“What hotel po ma’am?”, a man approached me. He pointed the van that would take me to my hostel.

From Busuanga Airport, the town of Coron is a forty-five-minute drive. The view along the way was spectacular. We passed by a vast grassy field that I later learned was a private ranch. The lush greens along the way reminded me of the Subic Forest in Subic Bay National Park. The positive energy from that ride was enough to put my heart at ease.

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The driver dropped me along with a Chinese girl named Ling in front of our hostel.  The staffs immediately accommodated us and took us to our quarter. I stayed at Happy Camper’s Hostel because of the good reviews I’ve read online. I also have friends who had checked in there before. Our room is a shared one. I chose a bed next to Lings.

After lunch, we agreed to explore the town together. We visited Maquinit Hot Spring, the Cashew Factory, and we also hiked Mt Tapyas.

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Exhausted after a day of strolling the town, we decided to hit the hay right after dinner. Not bad for my first day after all.

Day 2

I was already up at 7 am the next day. I had a cup of coffee and then prepared my things. I booked an island hopping tour package for two days with JY Travel and Tours. Ling happened to book with them, too. Unfortunately, my scheduled tour for the day was different from hers. So, we had no choice but to part ways at the port.

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Since I was a solo guest, the tour operator put me along with another group. At first, it felt really awkward to be alone and not know anyone. I also had a problem with conversing in Filipino, which made it harder for me to fit. I was silent the whole time until we reached our first stop.

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Kayangan View deck

Our first destination was the infamous Kayangan Lake. It is the most visited spot on the island. They said you haven’t been to Coron if you haven’t visited Kayangan. Dubbed as the cleanest lake in the country, I already expected people to flock the area. As I climbed the steep staircase to the view deck, I came to a queue of people waiting for their turn to take a photo. But the beautiful view you see from there was not the lake yet but the azure waters of Coron Bay. To get to the lake, you still had to descend through steep, slippery stairs.

Though because of the swarm of people, the lake wasn’t as magnificent as I thought it would be, it was fairly clean. The water was clear, and you can still see the rock formations underneath. But I didn’t stay there for long because I felt so lonely looking at the people having fun swimming in groups. I went back ahead to our boat.

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We had a reef-hopping spree all throughout the day. We were able to visit Las Islas de Coral, Green Lagoon, Quin Reef, and CYC Beach. Our tour guide also prepared a sumptuous lunch for us. Additionally, I started to be comfortable with the group, which made me feel really better.

My day ended great! Our tour finished at around 5 pm. Ling was already at the hostel when I arrived, also done with her tour. We rested for a few hours and headed out for dinner. Since it was rainy that night, we decided to just go back to the hostel right after eating. Probably tired after a long day of an island tour, she fell asleep early. It didn’t take me a while to do the same.

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Day 3

The next morning, I woke up to a heavy feeling. I still had a hangover from the other days’ activity. My alarm kept ringing. Afraid to wake up other guests, I dragged myself out of bed. I forced myself to prepare for another set of frolic island hopping.

While brushing my teeth, I looked at the mirror and smiled. I suddenly thought of Ace. This was a usual situation every time we travel. He always had to drag my butt out of bed to get ready. Oh, I missed him! But this time, I had to do it myself.

I came back to my senses when I heard a knock on the door. I hurried up and prepared my things. At 8:30, I was already at the port waiting for my new group. Gladly, most of them were from Cebu, specifically Liloan which is very near my hometown. They were accommodating when they learned I was traveling alone. I didn’t feel out of place, at least.

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Our first stop was Luluyuan Lake, also known as the Barracuda Lake. They said there are barracudas sightings in the deeper area of the lake, hence the name. However, only professional divers are allowed to go to that area.

The lake lies behind the limestone cliffs facing the Coron Bay. To get to it, we had to climb the stairs, but unlike Kayangan Lake, there were fewer steps.

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Twin Lagoon

We also visited the Twin Lagoon on that same day. It was probably my favorite stop during my entire stay in Coron. The lagoons are separated by a thin rock wall. The first one serves as the docking area, while the other one can only be accessed through a small hollow on low tides. It was quite a challenge getting through it because we had to lie on our backs so we could watch our head and avoid hitting the sharp cave ceiling.

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Twin Lagoon

We had more stops on that day which were fairly stunning. But the Twin Lagoon paradise made a mark in my memory.

At 4pm, I was already at our hostel. I took a shower and decided to have dinner early. It was my last night in Coron, and I wanted to stroll the town at night. However, Ling already checked out so no one could come with me. The thought of walking on the streets at night alone scared me and made me cancel my plan. So, I decided to just go back to the hostel to pack my things for my flight back to Cebu the next morning.

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I survived Coron alone!

THOUGHT about Coron: 

Coron is a beautiful utopia that didn’t disappoint me. The people are accommodating and friendly. I also have to highlight how safe the place is for solo travelers. In the future, I would love to go back to this astounding paradise with Ace.

THOUGHT about traveling solo: 

I was scared but I did it! I am very proud of myself for going out of my comfort zone. I discovered a lot about myself. Going to Coron alone reminded me how strong and brave I am. It reminded me that I am capable of doing things on my own, managing my time, my money, my things, and even myself. It also made me trust my own judgment and instinct. It made me free.

But I had to admit, I missed my husband’s company the entire time. I wished I did all the island hopping spree with him, I wished he was there to speak Tagalog for me. I just wished to experience Coron with him.

I guess, solo travelling really won’t work for me. But would I want to travel solo again? Definitely! But for now, let me make up to Ace.

Over to you, what are your thoughts about solo traveling? Let me hear your thoughts.

 

’til our next story!

Love, Demi

 

Rediscovering Sipaway Island and Its Thriving Paradise

It was a fine Saturday with Elliot and me trying to wake up Ace on his deep slumber. Elliot snuggled Ace’s body until he got up with an annoyed look. He was angry, but no, he couldn’t stand Elliot’s puppy eyes begging him to play. So he obliged to give in, took that bone and played fetch inside our tiny abode. Then, there’s screeching and barking all over the house.

This has been our typical weekend since Ace started working on a night shift. We couldn’t spend days outside because the weather is too hot for our little boy (Elliot).

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Paraiso de Antonio

But last Saturday was different. After lunch, Ace was on the phone with his mom. She invited us to go to Sipaway Island with her. Ace had been itching to go to Sipaway since last week, but his schedule didn’t permit. Upon hearing his mom’s invitation, he impulsively said yes. I, on the other hand, couldn’t say no to this island. You’ve read my post about how laidback life in Sipaway is, you know I’m in love with the place. You bet I was going!

Unfortunately, we couldn’t bring Elliot because we didn’t get him a travel permit. As much as Ace’s relatives wanted to see him, we had to leave him in my dad’s care.

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Gabriel in Paraiso de Antonio.

As early as 5:00 am on Sunday, we were already on a van bound for Toledo to catch the 7:00 am ferry trip to San Carlos City. After securing our ticket, we immediately boarded the ferry. I was very sleepy that I instantly fell asleep long before the ship departed. I woke up to passengers getting ready to disembark, and before I knew it, we were already in San Carlos City port.

Before transferring to an outrigger boat to the island, my mother-in-law and I dropped by a pastry shop to buy a cake. I learned that it was Ace’s uncle’s birthday. After 30 minutes, we arrived at the small port of Dapdap. From there, we hailed a motorcycle to Barangay Ermita. The familiar country road once again reminded me how much I love this island. Aside from some road repairs, nothing much has changed after two years. It has the same laidback vibes. The good news is, the island has now a regular supply of water and electricity.

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Whispering Palms Island Resort in 2017.

Two years ago, we had the chance to visit Whispering Palms Resort, which was the sole resort in Sipaway at that time. I found out that now, there are new thriving resorts on the island. Parana Beach, Kiwi Beach Resort, Paraiso de Antonio, are just some of them. Ace and I wanted to at least check out one or two of these developing spots during our stay.

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Kiwi Beach Resort’s large saltwater pool.

We celebrated Ace’s uncle’s birthday at Kiwi Beach Resort. The resort highlights a water curtain that plunges into the two large saltwater pool. Yep! It’s a saltwater pool. However, the 4 feet depth is not ideal for kids. I suggest bringing floaters for your little ones. I tried using one but ended in a somersault.

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Summertime is swimming time.

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Channeling the inner kid in me.

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Old but gold!!!

The resort has bamboo cottages and picnic tables available for rent. They have dedicated space for grilling, too. It’s okay to bring your own food (and beer). We did bring a lot!

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Isda you? (Waley!)

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On the other side of the resort is a viewing deck overlooking the narrow beach. From afar, you can see the long stretch of the mainland San Carlos City. A pathway on the side brings you to the shore. However, it’s not fit for swimming nor beach-bumming because it’s basically a mangrove area.

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Ace and I decided to visit Paraiso De Antonio, too. Together with his sister and nephew, we excused ourselves from the party. From Kiwi resort, Paraiso de Antonio is not more than 5 minutes drive. It was late afternoon when we went there, so guests were already on their way out. How did we get so lucky?

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The gate to paradise.

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This spacious palm tree paradise is perfect for camping and team-building activities. There’s really nothing much to see, but the place is serene. It grants you that island vibes. I could imagine myself pitching my camping tent here, with a bonfire and reggae music playing.

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Disconnect to reconnect.

It is a place where you could sit down and reconnect with yourself.

It is truly a paradise!

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Ace thinking how could he be so handsome!

After 30 minutes, we decided to go back to Kiwi Resort. I wish we could have stayed longer in Paraiso de Antonio. But it was starting to get dark.

The next day, Ace and I took the 8 am boat trip back to the mainland and caught the 9 am ferry trip to Toledo. It was a literally short stay in Sipaway, but it was all worth our time.

Sipaway once again enchanted us with its island charm. Every farewell to this island is actually an invitation to come again. We are yet to explore the nooks of this humble island, but thinking about it, makes our feet itch. We can’t wait to rediscover this beautiful utopia for the third time.

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Ace and Demi in Paraiso de Antonio

Over to you, have you been to Sipaway? Let us hear from you in the comment section below.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook! See you!

’til the next paradise! 

Love, Ace and Demi

 

First Kick Of Summer in Carnaza Island

And just like that, summer is here again!

Technically, there is really no summer season in the Philippines. As a tropical country, we only have wet and dry seasons. Some foreigners think it’s summer all year-round here. For us Filipinos, we consider the months of March, April, and May as the summer periods being the hottest months.

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Too cheesy for summer, yeah?

Although we could enjoy the beach at any time of the year, we feel a different kind of excitement when March comes. Perhaps, it’s the thought that summer is about to kick off.

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Beachy days!

But for busy bees like us, it’s hard to get time off from work to enjoy the season. So we make sure to seize every chance to travel and make our own summer story. Apropos, my good friend Niña and I had a holiday that fell on Friday last week. It was kind of a long weekend for us and luckily, Ace was also able to join.

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Wave and sand are happiness on your feet!

Niña and I had been lusting for Carnaza Island in Daanbantayan, Cebu. After our Bantayan Island escapade last year, we were supposed to visit Carnaza before summer 2018 ended, but we never got the chance.

Finally, comes summer 2019! We’ll never let Carnaza get away from us.

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Chillin’ like the boat is mine!

So the plan was to go to the North Bus Terminal as early as 1:30am on Friday to catch the first trip to Daanbantayan. However, the handsome husband turned off his alarm (again), and as expected, we overslept. I was awakened around 4 in the morning and realized we’re late. I quickly jumped out of the bed to check my phone. I received a few messages from Niña, I knew she’d been waiting. I called her, and thankfully she was still awake. We wasted no time and headed to the bus terminal.

While we were on the bus, I was a bit worried about not catching the local passenger boat to the island. Based on the information we’ve read online, Carnaza has only one local boat trip per day that leaves Tapilon Port at 7:30 am. If we’re unable to catch it, we have to hire a private boat to take us to the island which would cost us a fortune since we’re not a big group.

Great fervor made us carry on our trip despite the time. We might just stay in the mainland for the night and catch the first trip the next day. Or, whatever! Hahaha!

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Isn’t she beautiful?

It was past 9 o’clock when we reached Tapilon Port. As soon as we got off the bus, motorcycle drivers already knew we’re heading to Carnaza. They told us there was no boat bound to the island in Tapilon on that day because of the big waves. They suggested we go to the town’s port instead. We somewhat already expected it because we’re freakin’ late.

We decided to have our breakfast first in the nearby eatery before going to town. After eating, we took a tricycle to the other port. Heaven was so kind to us. A passenger boat from the island had just ported when we arrived. They said it would leave the mainland at 1 pm which meant we had to wait for three hours. So while waiting for the time, we took a nap in the boat.

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Ace and Demi in Carnaza Eco Park.

The boat departed as soon as the clock struck one. We noticed the passengers crowded at the center wearing their jackets. We were still a few meters away from the port when big waves started hitting our boat. It was a rough ride all throughout. Scary thoughts came crashing in as our boat maneuvered its way through the harsh waves.

Then I heard one woman said, “Aw, gagmay ra man diayng balud ron.” (Oh, the waves are relatively small today.) I exclaimed, “What? Are these still small, nay?

Normal ra man ni nga balud day,” she replied. (These waves are normal.)

I didn’t know if I should feel at ease or be more worried. Nonetheless, we arrived on the island safe and sound. Then, we rode a motorcycle to Carnaza Eco Park.

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The woodsheds in Carnaza Eco Park.

The Eco Park is the sole resort on the island. The most captivating attraction in the place is the beautifully aligned triangular rooms facing the coast. They call it the woodsheds, which could accommodate 2 persons for only 200 pesos. When we arrived at the resort, there were no other visitors, so we had the place all for ourselves. Oh, good heavens!

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Sunkissed Demi.

Since it was already 3 in the afternoon when we arrived, we agreed to stay in the resort and have the island tour the next day.  We also requested the resort’s cooking service for our meals throughout our stay. After choosing our preferred woodsheds, Niña and I roamed around. Later when we got tired, we vegged out in the sand and talked about how we got lucky. We were very amused by the things that happened that day.

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Starry night in Carnaza Island.

After dinner, we stayed outside just shooting the breeze while listening to the sound of the waves. Stars blanketed the sky as salty wind touched our faces. Everything could never be more perfect!

The next morning, we took an early stroll on the beach to enjoy the morning air. We were very tempted to swim, but the water was too cold. So we just resolved with the waves hitting our feet. Later, we went to the dining hall for breakfast. After breakfast, we prepared for the island tour.

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Postcard worthy scene.

There are motorcycles in the resort that will take guests for an island tour. It cost 150 pesos per person for two hours.

Our first destination was the Twin Beach.  Locals fondly call it Liog-liog Cove. We had to climb the big rock to get a better view of the twin beach. On the right side, was the rugged coastline that reminds us of Jeju Island we see in K-dramas. (Don’t believe me, I haven’t been to Jeju.)

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Not your kind of mermaids.

Our next stop was the Skull Cove. There’s a cavern with skulls inside by the seaside, hence the name. It wasn’t creepy, though. On the side, there’s a narrow pathway that leads to a helipad.

Our last stop was Kailina’s Cove. It has a long stretch of white sand similar to that of Paradise Beach in Bantayan Island. The place is also famous for sunset viewing.

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Paddle boarding in Carnaza Island.

Since we only have two hours for the tour, we went back to the resort in time for lunch. Guests were starting to arrive, too. Some of them pitched their tents in front of the row woodsheds. We took a quick shower, then we had our lunch in the dining area.

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The lagoon.

We agreed to go back to Kailina’s Cove to watch the sunset later that day. So while waiting, we tried paddle boarding in the ecopark’s lagoon. It was my first time to try paddle boarding, imagine my annoying screams. I didn’t know it was painfully straining. In fact, we woke up to sore muscles the next day.

At 4 pm, we went back to Kalina’s to catch the sunset. Thick clouds began to form in the sky. We just crossed our fingers and believed the clouds might disappear. When we arrived at the place, there were already a few people who were waiting for the sun to set. We patiently waited for an hour or so. The sun’s rays slowly beamed through the clouds giving us a positive sign. It painted the sky with an orange hue. Eventually, the sun came out, showing us its full glory. Awe, beautiful! What a perfect view in ending the day!

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Sunset at Kailina’s Cove.

Tired after a day of cove hopping spree, we wanted to hit the lay right after dinner. Since there were other guests, the night wasn’t as tranquil as the other night. Some inconsiderate guests were playing loud music on their speakers. They could have lowered it down because not all people liked it. Personally, I would prefer listening to the sound of the ocean’s persistent kiss to the shore than that head-banging music. I don’t care if they changed it into Juan Karlos’ infamous ‘Buwan’ hit song, because the cloud was too thick and there wasn’t a moon on the first place.

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‘Coz it’s summer, baby!

Nevertheless, we had a sound sleep that night. We woke up early the next day to catch the 8 am boat trip back to the mainland.

A piece of me broke when our boat departed the island.

Our two nights on the island wasn’t enough that my heart wanted to stay. When we reached the mainland, I felt floating. I didn’t want to check my phone, in fact, I didn’t turn off the airplane mode until we reached Bogo Bus Terminal. I had no choice but to go back to reality. It was definitely a bittersweet goodbye.

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Carnaza, what kind of sorcery is this? 

But, ’til we meet again, Carnaza!

 

Over to you, how do you kick off your summer this year? Let us hear from you in the comment section below!

 

’til our next summer destination!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

 

 

 

Summer — The Virgin Island Way | Bantayan Part 2

Our second day in Bantayan Island started before daybreak. A noise coming from the kitchen awakened me. Ace was preparing our breakfast as well as our food for later’s island hopping. I got up to help him, but I accidentally cut my finger while cutting the onions. That left him to do the most of the cooking.

By 6am, breakfast was served in a military style which we Filipinos call “boodle fight”. Our friends, especially Niña finally got to taste Ace’s bean soup (monggos) and sweet and sour dried fish. We also had hotdogs, scrambled eggs and tocino for the kids. Our host gave us steamed scallops which by the way, abundant in the area.

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Boodle-fight breakfast.
After the sumptuous breakfast, everyone readied for the day’s activity. In few minutes, we were already in a small boat heading to our first destination – the Virgin Island.

Ace and I hadn’t been there. The name seemed to promise a stunning, untouched place. Pictures of fine sand, turquoise water, and beautiful beach played in my mind while our boat fought the intimidating waves. A big splash interrupted me from my reverie. I put my eyes forward and saw a long stretch of white sand gleaming against the summer sun from afar. Contrary to the peaceful and untouched place I had imagined earlier, there were many small boats like ours beached in the area.

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By the looks of it, Virgin Island is seemingly frequented by visitors. Although there are neighboring islands such as Malapascua and Guintarcan, boats to Virgin Island are relatively cheaper.

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The lifeguard is on duty. (Ace)
Whilst I was wrong about the serenity of the place, I exclaimed a big wow the moment my feet touched the sand as I got off the boat. Why not? The place was wonderful. Although it has lost its vestal state because of its popularity among tourists, it’s still fairly worth its name.

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The island, by the way, is privately owned. An entrance fee of Php 500 for the first two persons and Php 100 for every additional head. It has a resort and is already developed. Their staffs are available everywhere should you have questions. We suggest you buy your provisions in the mainland if you’re on a tight budget because the goods here are a bit pricey. There are cottages which you can rent or you can opt to lay your beach mat to save money.

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Truth be told, there is nothing much to do on the island but snorkeling, fish feeding, and of course swimming. There is a marine sanctuary but it doesn’t have that colorful marine biodiversity you expect to see.

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Our brief stay on the island was mostly spent eating our food and exploring the area. Well, swimming, too but not that long. Ace and I are not really beach-people so we easily get enough of it.

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A rational thought about Virgin Island:

Virgin Island had denied us the tranquility we sought for, but we had a great time though. We must admit that we came at the wrong time. It was the peak of the summer season in the Philippines. We were wrong to expect peace and quiet in a beautiful place like this. We shouldn’t have expected anything in the first place. Our expectation was such a selfish thought. 

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Demi’s personal thought about Bantayan Island:

I know some of you will react to this, but I’m saying this anyway.

I don’t concord to that conventional impression about the place. I’ve been to some islands in the Philippines and honestly, Bantayan Island is not one you’ll fall in love on your first step. (There I said it. Don’t bash me, please!) 

No, I didn’t feel the love at first sight like I did with Sipaway Island. Perhaps two days was not enough to know her and it was too early to judge. Perhaps I had huge expectations. Perhaps I was busy comparing her to other islands and missed to see the real her beauty.

One thing is sure though. Bantayan Island gave me that curiosity and desire to know her more. Bantayan sent me home thinking about when to go back. Taking into consideration the stories about how beautiful the island is, I was more perplexed on how I didn’t see it. The more reason why I have to come back.

 

So, we shall see you soon again, Bantayan! Thank you for the summer!

 

Love, Ace and Demi

 

Our Summer Story in Bantayan Island | Part 1

If the southern part of Cebu features the most explored mountain ranges, waterfalls, and also known to be home of the extreme adventure – canyoneering, the northern Cebu prides its stunning white sand beaches, paradise-like islets, healthy marine life and beautiful diving spots.

An impulsive trip brought us to one of the paradise in the northern part of the province — Bantayan Island.

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Get to know Bantayan Island:

Tucked in the west part of the northern Cebu, Bantayan Island is an island group that consists of small islets mostly uninhabited.  Bantayan is the largest island of the group. The towns of Sta. Fe, Madridejos and Bantayan lie here, too.
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Welcome to paradise!

 How to get there:

  • From Cebu, you can take a bus or a van bound for Hagnaya Port from the North Bus Terminal. Depending on what bus you’re riding, the fare is around Php160-180.
  • Secure a ferry ticket from Hagnaya Port (Php180) and pay the terminal fee (Php10). NOTE: If you are bringing your pets with you, don’t forget to get a local transport permit for them. No permit, no transport.)
  • Once you arrive in the port of Sta Fe, you can ride a tricycle to your preferred hostel. Some hostels arrange transport and tour, you may inquire from your host.
  • You can rent a bicycle or a motorcycle to tour the island. There are also motorcycles that offer land tours.

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Our summer story in Bantayan Island:

Our trip to Bantayan Island was unplanned. One day before our departure, Bantayan island never crossed our minds. Ace and I, in fact, were thinking of spending the weekend doing the laundry. It was around 8 pm on Friday when Niña and I talked about going there together. Without any second thought, I agreed. My class finished at 10:30 pm. Niña said we were departing at 3 am which was only a few hours away. Since it was an unexpected outing, we didn’t have Elliot’s transport permit. We had no choice but to leave him in my sister’s care.

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We arrived at Hagnaya Port and had our breakfast while waiting for Niña’s sister who lives in San Remigio. They arrived a little late, it was already 9:30 when we took a ferry to the island. Upon arrival, we wasted no time and immediately took a tricycle to Sta Fe Guest House which was our home for 2 days. Our friendly host greeted us at the gate. I like how our hostel is located just a few minutes away from the marketplace and few steps away from the beach.

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Lunch at Big Jel’s Restomeat.
The same tricycle picked us up at 1 pm for a land tour. Our first stop was Big Jel’s Restomeat for lunch. Ace and I personally suggest you try eating here because aside from the big serving, their food is delicious and affordable.

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After filling up our tummies, we headed to Oboob Mangrove Garden, also known as the OMAGIECA (Obo-ob Mangrove Garden Integrated Ecotourism and Conservation Association)It aims to raise awareness about the importance of mangroves and the role it plays in the ecosystem. The mangroves serve as the home of different underwater species.

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Ace and Demi at Oboob Mangrove Garden.

This mangrove garden has an entrance fee of Php50 for adults and Php20 for kids. They also have this big sign showing where the entrance fee go. Now, that’s what you call transparency.

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When the tide is high, you can tour the area by kayaking. We, on the other hand, chose to walk into the bamboo boardwalk.

Few meters from the entrance, there is a restaurant that serves fresh seafood and refreshments.

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Ace and Demi in Oboob Mangrove Garden.
The kids bought some fish food in a small store along the way. We rested in the bamboo hut while watching them feeding the fish.

We also climbed the makeshift bamboo tower to see the entire mangrove garden from above. Only 3 people are allowed to climb at once for safety purposes. Because many visitors lined up to climb the tower, you can’t stay there for more than 5 minutes.

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Ace and Demi
Soon after we explored the place, we headed to our next stop — the Paradise Beach. It was supposed a secluded beach area but due to the influx of tourist, the place became crowded.

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Niña is enjoying the sun, the sand and the waves. 
 

 

But that didn’t make the place less of a paradise. The long strip of powdery white sand was worth its name. The beach has the finest sand we have seen.

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Ace at the diving cliff. 
Our next stop was the Diving Cliff near a building ruin. Niña and I were eager to jump in the cliff. Yet, our spirits hid somewhere upon seeing how deep and high it was.

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The Ruin is completely ruined. 
We were supposed to drop by Ogtong Cave in Sta Fe Beach Club, but we agreed to skip it and went to the market to buy some provisions for dinner.

Everybody was tired, especially Ace, Niña and I because we didn’t have enough sleep. (It’s right to say, we didn’t have sleep at all.) We scheduled an island hopping the next day, so we decided to call it a day.

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Stay tuned for the story of our Virgin Island adventure!

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi.

 

 

 

 

Island Living | The Sipaway Island Way.

“Your life is an island separated from all other islands and continents. Regardless of how many boats you send to other shores or how many ships arrive your shores, you yourself are an island separated by its own pains, secluded in its happiness.” ~ Kahlil Gibram

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When people hear the word island, the image of a wide stretched beach, the turquoise water, and the fine white sand surely comes to our mind first. We forget that this is not what an island is all about.

The island is the people, their way of living and their laid-back life.

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A photo of a father and son from taking a dip in the beach.

Today, let us take you to Sipaway Island — a small island in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. This is also geographically known as Refugio Island.

Sipaway can be reached by a bangka (an outriggered boat) from San Carlos City for about 10 minutes. The bangka will dock in any of the five ports in the island depending on the majority of the passengers’ destination. (Yes, you’ve read it right. The island has five ports in different area but the most used are the Dap-dap and Ermita ports.)

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Bangkas ready for a fluvial parade docked in Ermita Port.

Since the hubby’s relatives who are living in Negros wanted to meet me, we decided to pay them a short visit. When his family learned that we will be coming, they thought of having a mini-reunion in Sipaway.

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Sipaway Island

Hubby toured me around the place on our second day.

Sipaway Island has a land area that only stretches 7 kilometers in length and 1.5 kilometers wide. It only consists of two barangays (district), San Juan and Ermita. These two barangays are connected with well-paved concrete roads.

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A well-paved road connecting the two districts.

The mode of transportation in the area are tricycles and motorcycles. But there are private resorts in the area that offer bicycles for rent. Hubby and I rented a motorbike to tour the whole place because our body were not in good condition to cycle. I personally thought it was a good choice knowing that it was a Sunday and we will be going back to Cebu in the afternoon because we have to work on the next day. It really saved us time and energy. 😀

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Ace and Demi in Sipaway Island 2017

Our first stop was the oldest Balete Tree in the island. The last time Ace visited Sipaway was 10 years ago, so he was also surprised that the tree is now fenced inside San Juan Elementary School. The school was closed so we were not able to get inside.

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A 200-century old Balete Tree in Barangay San Juan.

As we continued our tour to the tip of the island, I chanced upon this couple who came from fishing something for lunch. How sweet is that?

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A husband and wife coming from a day of fishing.

Sipaway island has a population of about 4000 people. The primary source of living is fishing and extracting oil from coconut’s dried meat (locally called copra).

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Lush coconut vegetation in the area.

Recently, the place already have a 24-hour supply of electricity. They also have a supply of clean drinking water from the mainland San Carlos City, although not all households have their own faucets yet. So some have to wait in line to fetch water from a public faucet in designated areas. At least, now they don’t have to go to the mainland to fetch for water.

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Tatay waiting for his turn to fetch water from a public faucet.

We also learned that there is a resort in the island which is frequented by visitors. It is the Whispering Palms Island Resort. We dropped by here to supposedly just eat our lunch but we had to pay an entrance fee apart from our food. We were not going stay in the resort for long due to time constraints so we aborted our plan to have lunch inside.

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Whispering Palms Island Resort.

As we continued our tour, I saw the idyllic life of Sipawaynons. Actually, there was this part of me which envied their simple living. In every eyes of the people there, I saw contentment, I saw happiness.

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Priceless laughter from an old woman skinning firewoods to sell. Photo from Sipaway Divers.

I witnessed how peaceful this little community is. I saw how they do things that I’m pretty sure they’d been doing everyday but I did not see boredom.

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A little girl swimming with her pet. 

They don’t have the luxury to buy expensive things but they have time, precious time. Everybody knows almost everyone in this 7-kilometer community. I love that! I love how they know the people in the other side of the island contrary to not knowing your ‘roommate’ in city.

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That afternoon talk in the neighborhood. 

They have narrow streets but there is no traffic. The kids have no expensive gadgets but they’re happily playing hide and seek and other traditional games.

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Kids riding a pedal cab with their pet. 

Basically, the people in this island don’t have the modernities that we people in the big cities have. But, look how they are happy and contented with their laid back life.

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A traditional hut in the island.

Look how rich the kids with childhood fun, look how rich the people with peace and tranquility, look how rich they are with love and smiles.

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Tricycle — primary mode of transport. 

Our short sojourn in the island taught us to appreciate the life we have. It taught us contentment. It taught us to value our work, the people around us, the precious time we have for each other. 

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Treat yourself with the traditional coconut red wine locally called tuba

We may be a small island, but we are not a small people. ~Edward Heath

 

We hope you enjoyed our Sipaway Island venture.

‘Til next time.

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi.

Cycling Around Olango Island | The 200-peso Story

Everybody is hyped up for summer. Got your weekends’ schedule full, yah? Most of us are planning for beach get-aways, some prefer the cold springs to beat the heat of this season. Us…we’re cycling, still.

Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits, instead! 

Inspired by a famous ice cream commercial, you should be familiar of the line, “Saan aabot ang 20 pesos mo?” (Where does your 20 pesos lead you?) Remember the product? Now grab it and continue reading. 😀

Few weeks ago, I decided to challenge myself to try biking around Olango Island with just 200 pesos on hand. So, where did my 200-peso lead me? Did I survive?

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Demi in Olango Island

Let’s take a quick trivia of this island: 

Olango is part of Olango Group of Islands with its six satelite islets — Sulpa, Gilutongan (also spelled Hilutungan), Nalusuan, Caohagan, Pangan-an, and Camungi.  The islands are low-lying with elevation reaching no more than 10 metres (33 ft) above sea level.

Perfect for my activity, yah? Thanks Mr Wiki.

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Demi in Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary 

The hubby wasn’t available because he went cycling with the Cebu Friendly Bikers Club in the highlands of Cebu City. So, I hesitated to pursue my plan because I’d never been to Olango island since. And the fact that I don’t know anyone who lives there was giving me more doubt. Because of my three awesome friends who gladly accompanied me on this venture, this 200-peso experiment was realized.

My friends and I met up at JCenter mall at 7am and hailed a jeepney bound for Punta Engano. (By the way, these jeepneys pass by Andy Hotel, Parkmall, Chong-Hua Mandaue…just in case you don’t know.) We asked the driver to drop us off at Movenpick Hotel where the port to Olango was located.

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Bird watching in Olango Island 

It was a 10-15 minute relatively smooth boat ride to the island. I forgot to tell you that we did not have an itinerary for this escape. We just knew we’re to explore the island with a bike. There are bicycles for rent in the area for as low as Php10 per hour. It was a quarter to ten o’clock when we arrived in Sta. Rosa Port. We immediately rode a tricycle to take us to Barangay Candagsao where we can rent a bike.

After five minutes, we were greeted by the smiles of friendly locals who were kind to tell us where Kuya Erwin’s bike rental place. After choosing our preferred bicycles, we signed an agreement paper and off we go.

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Bicycling around Olango island. 

Our first stop was the Tungasan Boardwalk. Unfortunately, the paseo was closed for renovation. The locals said, the storm had devasted the boarwalk very much that it was now unsafe to step on the walkway. We had no choice but to settle with the view.

After a few minutes, we proceeded to San Vicente Marine Sanctuary to eat our lunch. We were thinking of seafoods but to our disappointment, the staffs were not very friendly to us. We even felt discriminated because they prioritized their foreign guests. Our tummies were already growling but they just told us they don’t have rice even though we saw the rice on the table. Huhuh. 😥

We couldn’t stay there and drool, we headed to Olango Wildlife Sanctuary to experience the bird-watching. Contrary to what happened in the Marine Sanctuary, the staffs in the Wildlife Sanctuary were very friendly and accommodating. They even lent us a binoculars to use in the bird-watching area. Sadly, they don’t have food but chips and snacks. Huhuh…more growling of our tummies.

After repleting our eyes with the migratory birds, we went back our way and dropped by Sagastrand Restaurant to eat our lunch. Finally!!

I’m proud to say that I SURVIVED and my experiment was a SUCCESS. Information about my expenses after this. 🙂

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Ace and Demi cycling in Olango Island. 

I didn’t have enough of my biking tour in the island and the following weekend, I brought my younger brother and the hubby with me. Coincidently, the CFB team were also going. Yahoo!

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Brother and Me cycling around Olango island.

My brother and I rented our bikes in the same rental place. He chose the mountain bike but I chose the folding bike because I don’t know how to use the big bike. As a result, I caused delays of the team’s ride. (Sorry.) Gladly, they live by their name “friendly bikers” and understood my shortcoming.

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Ace cycling around Olango Island.

This time, we had our sumptuous lunch in Barangay Talima. Our good host prepared saang and grilled fish for us. We devoured the feast in just few minutes because we were all hungry.

Once again, for the second time I have proven my 200-peso experiment in Olango. 🙂 

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When in doubt, PEDAL it out. 

Here’s a breakdown of my expenses: (Day-tour in Olango Island)

  • Php30 — (back and forth) jeepney fare to and from Mandaue City (Php15)
  • Php30 — (back and forth) boat fare
  • Php6 — terminal fee (Php5 and Php1)
  • Php40 — (back and forth) tricycle fare to and from bike rental (Php20)
  • Php30 — three-hour bike rental (Php10/hour)
  • Php30 — lunch
  • Php30 — entrance fee to Bird Watching

Do the Math and that’s all my expenses.

Hence, I conclude that your 200-peso will let you survive in Olango Island. 

Just a few reminder:  **You’ll probably love to stay in the island for a long time but if you are in a day-trip make sure to be at the port before 4pm because it is the boats’ last trip to the mainland. **You can buy seafoods at a very cheap price like saang, talaba and etc., in Barangay Talima. ** Rent a bike at Kuya Erwin’s bike rental in Barangay Candagsao.

’til our next adventure.

Keep safe.
Love, Ace and Demi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sumilon Island Sandbar | South Cebu Tour 2016

Let the waves hit your feet and the sand be your seat.

Want a quick breathe from the hustle and bustle of the city? We suggest you consider visiting Sumilon Island. Not only it’s a four-hour ride from the metropolis, it does not require you a full wallet, too.

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Ace and Demi in Sumilon Island.

This beautiful secluded island is privately owned by Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort. They generously opened their sandbar to public for a very affordable fee.

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When in Sumilon island. 

Visiting Sumilon Island Sandbar was included in our itinerary during our South Cebu Tour. We headed to this place right after our whale shark encounter.

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The Sumilon island sandbar. 

Almost half of the sandbar portion was already submerged in water when we arrived but because the water was crystal clear, it was still visible.

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The Sumilon island sandbar. 

There were not too many visitors during that time. We had a great time snorkling and enjoying the waves. After few minutes of basking in the sandbar, our tour guide offered us to tour the other part of the island. We climbed the giddy precipice which we thought is not for acrophobic individuals.

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When in Sumilon island. 

But if you resolved to conquer that fear, this spot shows a panoramic view of the mainland and a wonderful view of the ocean. So, drop that fear, honey!!! You cannot miss this!

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Ace and Demi in Sumilon Island. 

What do you say? Are you ready to visit the island?

We hope you enjoyed our travel diary of Sumilon Island. Have you been here? Tell us about it. 🙂 

 

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe.

Love, Ace and Demi 

P.S You might want to hear about the rest of our South Cebu Tour. Know about our Historical Visit in Oslob, our quick visit to Sanayon Site in Santander and stay updated for the rest of the places we visited by subscribing and following our site. Blessings! 

 

What To Do In Camotes Island – Travel Guide (Updated 2019)

Island days, island ways, caves, sand, and sunny rays! 

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The sea, sand, sun and me.

Who does not love an island getaway to escape the hustle and bustle of the city? I don’t think there’s any of us here. Have you heard about Camotes island? I suggest you include it on your list.

CAMOTES ISLAND – “The Lost Horizon of the South”

“Camotes” means sweet potatoes in the Filipino language. The island was named after that because that was the main crop that farmers grow there. This is just one of the 7,107 islands the Philippines has, and one of the most beautiful. It is also called “the lost horizon of the South”. As to why I don’t know. 🙂

Camotes Islands comprises three major islands. They are Poro, Pacijan, and Ponlon. The main islands of Pacijan and Poro are connected by a 1.5-kilometer-long causeway.

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How to get there?

Camotes is located in the eastern coast of the mainland Cebu. It is two hours away by boat from Danao Port.

From Cebu North Bus terminal, ride a bus going to Carmen or you can catch a multicab or a jeepney with Danao route. It is easy to find them, Danao cabs are numbered 27 on their body. The fare is 35 pesos. If you prefer airconditioned transportation, you can catch a V-hire from the SM terminal. The fare is 50 pesos. Tell the driver to drop you off at Danao Port.

When you reach Danao Port, you can buy a ticket for 220 pesos and 5 pesos for the terminal fee. Be there an hour before your desired boarding time if you don’t have a ticket yet because the line could be very long especially during peak season (March-May and November-January). The ride is approximately two hours, and you will arrive at Consuelo Port. Upon arrival, there are motorcycles and jeepneys for hire that offers hotel transfer for 50 pesos each. You can also rent a motorcycle for 500 pesos for a half day tour. You can choose to either drive it yourself or let the driver be your tour guide. (Some hotels offer motorbike for rent, too. Some also offer tour packages.)

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Where to stay:

There are plenty of hotels around and some locals also open their houses for backpackers. If you prefer, you can bring your own tent. Bear in mind that these hotels are no 5 stars.

Here are some of the famous places to stay on the island:

  • Santiago Bay Garden Resort
  • Mangodlong Rock Resort
  • Mangodlong Paradise Beach Resort
  • Keshe Beach Resort
  • Sunset Vista Resort
  • Bellavista Mare Resort 
  • Flying Fish Resort 
  • Swiss Lagoon Restaurant and Hotel 

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What to do on the island?

We personally suggest touring the island with a motorcycle. The famous spots are accessible and easy to find. Don’t hesitate to ask the locals if you think you’re lost. 🙂

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Here are some of the places you should visit on the island:

1.Baywalk Plaza

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It is just a few meters away from Consuelo Port and is situated in San Fransisco town. It’s a small plaza or park, perfect for a picnic or you could just take a leisure walk around. The market is also near.

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2. Buho Rock Resort

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Don’t miss cliff jumping in Buho Rock. I attest you’ll regret not jumping. 😀

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3. Timubo Cave

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Next stop, is the famous Timubo Cave. You can opt to take a dip in the cold water inside the cave which is believed to heal illness.

4. Chasing the Sunset at Mangodlong Rock Resort

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The island has a nice view of the sunset if you knew the right place to witness it. For us, Mangodlong Rock Resort was that perfect spot.

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5. Lake Danao – Water Activities

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If you’re into water activities, you should not miss Lake Danao Park. Try their kayaking, water balloon, and etc. They also have horseback riding.

6. Kanlingiw Garden and Pool

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Have your snack at Kanlingiw Garden just beside Lake Danao Park. They have this mini-zoo, too.

7. Paraiso Cave

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Another cave, you want? Drop by Paraiso Cave, too.

8. Santiago Bay

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Feel the fine, white sand on your feet and the salt on the air at the beach. Santiago Bay is a public beach which means it’s for everyone.

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Look at this wide beach.

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Perfect for people who are afraid of the deep water. And just want to get tanned.

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There are several restaurants on the beach, too. Just in case you get hungry after a long day. They serve Filipino dishes and kinds of seafood.

There are still a lot of places we need to discover on the island. And hopefully, in our next visit, we’ll get to explore them. 🙂 

(Update: May 2019) 

Here are new points of interest in the island this year. 

  • Amazing Cave

  •  Tulang Diot Island

  •  Busay Falls

  •  Bukilat Cave

 

Here’s the list of our expenses (Ace and I shared budget but I’m writing individual expenses for you) :

Day 1

  • Fare (Mandaue-Danao Port) – Php 30
  • Boat ticket (Danao-Camotes) – Php 180
  • Terminal fee – Php 5
  • Motorcycle fee (Php 600/2) – Php 300
  • Buho Rock Resort Entrance Fee – Php 20
  • Timubo Cave Entrance Fee – Php 25
  • Lake Danao – Php 15
  • Kayaking Fee – Php 50
  • Paraiso Cave – Php 35
  • Mangudlong Rock Resort – Php 20

Day 2

  • Boat Ticket (Camotes-Danao) – Php 180  (economy)
  • Terminal fee – Php 5
  • Pedicab to Danao Terminal – Php 15
  • Jeepney Fare (Danao to Mandaue) – Php 30

Other expenses:

  • Tent Rental – Php 350* (Our friends slept here.)
  • Aircon Room at Bella Vista Mare Resort – Php 1450*

* This is where we slept.

** Food expenses are not included here because we have different preferences. Rest assured, food in Camotes Island is of reasonable prices.

 

Updated Fare as of May 2019

  • Regular Fare (Php 220 – ec) / (Php 250 – ac)
  • Student (Php 176 – ec) / Php 200 – ac) 
  • Senior, PWD (Php 157 – ec) / (Php 179 – ac)
  • Minor (Php 110 -ec) / (Php 125 – ac)

 

We hope you find this travel guide useful. 🙂

 

‘Til our next wander!

Xoxo, Ace and Demi