Caramoan, Camarines Sur
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Disclaimer - Late Review
Side Story. Upon setting foot at this lovely laid-back island called Caramoan, first thing that we did was to grab some grub. We are starving. The two hour roller coaster boat ride (not a figure of speech, it is similar to a roller coaster ride with life threatening waves). Quickie stopover at a local carinderia for some home cooked Camarines Sur delicacies. Restaurant quality laing at an affordable price, a cup of white rice and some soda. I coughed php 50 for a satisfying meal.
When in Caramoan, wanderlusters should not miss visiting Matukad Island. Considered as one of the popular tourist attractions in Camarines Sur. As per Wiki, the island has a circumference of 1616 meters, it comprises of three beaches stretched on 125 meters of picturesque, white powdery sand.
While aboard the boat, I got a quick glimpse of the island. From afar it looks like a friggin postcard. The kind that i used to buy at Goodwill Bookstore when i was in gradeshool. For someone who likes words, i can only come up with "Picturesque" in my head.
The water is crystal clear, like blue topaz. I spent a couple of minutes ogling at the coral reefs aboard ze boat. Marine diversity at its finest.
I was the first one to get off the boat. White powdery sand! I remembered El Nido all of a sudden. I am sure fellow wanderlusters would agree that everything else is second rate once you have visited El Nido. This is not the case, i am not making a comparsion - Matukad holds its own, charming in its own way, incomparable.
Matukad also has various rock formations that surround the island, visitors can vrave the sharp edges to see the lagoon tucked on the other side. Locals say that the lagoon is home to ze mystical fish. Folklore dictates that the said fish is a water naiad or something. Yes, i got to see ze naiad in her fish appearance.
We spent a couple of hours frolicking around the island. My friends took a lot of photos, some even channeled their inner SI self. I on the hand worked on my tan. I was submerged in water half the time. Best to visit the island early in the morning for a more intimate experience.
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Matukad has white fine sand, bedecked by lush greenery and jagged rock formations. Out of the three islands we’d been to that day, Matukad is most memorable simply because that’s where I had my first ever rock climbing experience.
Now I’ve always wanted to try the sport, but I never imagined myself doing it on shorts, flip flops, and bathing suit. We had no gloves, no daisy chain, no helmet, no shoes, and no ropes. It was a climb-at-your-own-risk thing, no medical personnel to assist you should you have the misfortune to slip and fall.
In our group, only four of us decided to make the climb. The climb may be dangerous, but there were many tourists who actually took the challenge. Our tour guide said that the climb would allow you to discover the Hidden Lagoon. I wasn’t so sure if the view was worth the risk, but I have always been a “try-for-the-sake-of-trying” gal, so I went along.
I’m not going to lie, the climb was far from easy. The rocks were sharp, irregular, and rough. I had a hard time grasping the ridge of rocks and since I do not possess a pair of strong arms, propelling myself upward proved to be a difficult task. I got through the activity by relying on the strength of my legs, gingerly stepping on protruding rocks, testing if it would take my weight, then pushed myself upward. Whenever I lost my bearing, my companions pulled me back on track and guided me. Also, I had to keep reminding myself that death by falling off the cliff is not my idea of meeting my maker.
After like a gazillion years, sweaty armpits, few bruises, and scratches, we finally reached the top and discovered the beauty hiding beyond those rocks, the Hidden Lagoon.
I thought that was just it, you sweat, you strain your arms and legs, you risk your life, just to see a lagoon. What I didn’t know is that the lagoon has a single resident, and it’s actually the reason why tourists make the perilous climb. They call it the “mystical bangus,” a fish, which according to the locals used to have a companion until one fisherman caught it and fed it to his family. Unfortunately, the whole family died after eating the fish. For this reason, nobody dared to seize the other fish. The story of the mystical bangus didn’t reach my knowledge until we were back in Manila. Had I known I would have gone all the way down to see the fish. Geez!
Going up was hard, but I found the descend much more difficult and scary. There’s the fear that the rocks wouldn’t hold my weight or I’d slip and if that happens, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t leave the place in one piece. It was a fun experience though and quite memorable.
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We initially planned to visit Calaguas but when we got to Paracale, we were told by the Coast Guard that they will not allow any boats to set sail because of the heavy rain and strong winds. We can't do anything about it so we decided to just go to Caramoan whie we had our fingers crossed as we make our way to Sabang Port because of the weather.
The Coast Guard at Sabang Port only allowed large outrigger boats (60 passengers - capacity) to set sail. We were also informed that our 2-hour boat ride will be a bit spine-chilling but it wasn't just a bit, some were actually shouting. Because of the unfavorable weather, the 2-hour boat ride almost took 3 hours.
Although there were a few who tossed some cookies out, we reached the port of Guijalo in Caramoan. We took a 30 minute ride from the port to Barangay Paniman, the jump off point to Caramoan Islands. As we got there, we hired a boatman to bring us to different islands. There are two types of trips:
•Short Trip - PHP1500 (5 islands)
•Long Trip - PHP3000 (10 islands)
*If you're staying overnight in an island, an additional PHP500 will be charged.
We wanted to take the short trip but we arrived there at 4PM. We needed our tents set so we requested to have us taken directly to the best island.
Matukad Island is definitely the first suggestion from any local in Barangay Paniman. It is also the setting for Survivor. It will only take 15 minutes to the island on a small outrigger boat.
Matukad Island reminded me of Malcapuya's powdery sands. Our boatman would even compare it to "Polvoron". Even with the opposed weather, the water was clear and vibrant blue. The island also has beautiful limestone rock formations filled with trees. It is the best place to set up as well because it's the safest island according to manong boatman.
The island is also home to a secret lagoon. According to locals, the lagoon is enchanted and is home to one giant Bangus. There used to be two but a fisherman took one home and he died. We wanted to see the telltale and we climbed the limestone rocks to get to the secret lagoon. We saw one huge bangus! Well it's not really gigantic but it's definitely a lot bigger than the usual bangus that we see in the market. It's probably 2-3 feet long and it's remarkable to see how it survived. They say it's the island guardian so no one should touch it and it's a privilege to see it. Astig!
If you like camping out, Matukad is one island to visit. Getting isolated for a night on an island is one of the best experiences. Shut off like a survivor (except I have my sleeping bags and speakers haha), this island does not have restrooms and you if you want to go number 2, you can definitely use your childhood skills in TAGUAN. More than the beauty of the island and the beach, it's the quietude that made the experience not to be forgotten - having the island for yourself, sleeping with the sound of the waves splashing as it hits the shore, seeing different birds visiting your camp to ask for food, bonfires and witnessing the sunrise - Matukad Island is definitely an island to visit and experience.
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Island hopping in caramoan!
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