First Camotes Island Travel
I’ve been to some islands when I was little with my dad, grandpa, cousins and other enthusiasts to fish using his own small fishing boat and net (I reckoned it was his hobby and to pass time when he gets bored in his farm :). However, the experience I will describe in this log would specifically relate to my adult experience on an island which I consciously and intentionally would want to visit. I’m not used to writing a diary, so would you please bear with me, if not, then you may skip this page and proceed to Cebu’s resorts pages among others when you find this not helpful. ^^
So here’s my original log for this experience…
My first Camotes Island travel is a product of great stories I heard and read about this group of islands called “Camotes Islands”. It is located on the northeastern side of Cebu Province, the Philippines. I am not really certain of the island’s original name. However, it seems that it came from and can be related to the local tropical root crop commonly called ‘kamote’ that abounds in the area. In English language, it can be literally translated to mean ‘sweet potato’. Kamote is a common and staple food on the island and in fact, all over the country, but maybe secondary only to corn and rice.
Camotes Island Travel Begins
We, I mean my sister and my brother-in-law, left Lapu Lapu City in the afternoon for Danao City where we can get a boat that would ferry us to Camotes Islands. It took us over two hours to reach the Port of Danao via an open window (ordinary non-aircon) bus, where we could catch our ride in that late afternoon. We arrived a bit tired due to the heavy traffic congestion and hot weather condition. However, our excitement kept us determined and so bought our boat tickets for Camotes Islands.
On the boat, we got our sits is a one whole space facing a wide TV screen through which we can watch movies to keep us distracted from tracking time and getting bored. (I was not really following the action movie and found myself watching the sea, surrounding islands and somehow expecting something interesting that would happen above the deep blue sea water – probably a dolphin, whaleshark or any other sea creature). Actually later on, I realized that they only keep showing one film and did not finish it the second time around since we already reached our destination – that’s after two hours or so.
The ride was already the beginning of our exploration on the island. Since we didn’t know where to go and where to find our accommodation for the night, we were inquiring from the other passengers whom we were expecting to be locals and some others who maybe frequent visitors or are familiar of Camotes Islands. We thought most of them are islanders, but ironically, we found out that the one person we were talking to is not from there. She was not a total stranger of the island that’s because she has close relatives living there. In fact, she came to visit them and attend a funeral service. Yes, she told us some names of the places where we could stay, surprisingly and luckily, she was doing business with travelers. She used to be a travel guide provider to tourists of the island. That’s not the only surprise about this woman – she was also our distant relative – we both claimed it and seems it’s a common agreement! We were sure about it because we have similar family name and our ancestors originally came from Cebu Province. Sometimes (I think based on my experiences) knowing a relative could be a great help especially when you are in need – although it’s not always the case, you know what I’m saying!
She didn’t only brief us about the island but also gave us a ride to our prospective accommodation for the night. She didn’t come alone to the island but her family was also with her and so we had to introduce ourselves and acted so politely and gratefully for their generosity. We were glad but at the same time sorry that they had to intentionally bring us all the way to two places in that loaded van and braving on some rough roads (a bit). The first beach resort we tried was already full. I could hear the exciting merry-making and delightful sound of the resort’s guests. We can see people playing in the swimming pool inside and already feeling expectant of our own resort – very soon! Our unexpected relative was talking to the person in charge of the Front Desk of Mangodlong Paradise Beach Resort telling our predicament and for being desperate to find a place for the night. We overheard her saying that there’s no available room for us left and so we had to find another resort nearby. Our guide then told us the situation and that we can be possibly accommodated by the sister resort – Santiago Bay Garden Resort – which is located somewhere nearby.
Here We Are!
She was right and we were lucky to get one room or else we had to find another place or any place at all where we can sleep for the night on this secluded island. Anyway, I thought adventure was the reason I was there, however, I was feeling silly at the same time that I wasn’t very prepared yet to embark into the unknown. So, I rented one room with double beds which also allows to take an extra guest for a budget extra charge. The staff were very friendly and generous to us late-comers and silly strangers who visit an island without advance booking arrangements. Although tired of the day’s travel I can only remember that excitement filled the air knowing that I already set my feet on this popular resort. So, we went and met by the hotel officer who then guided us throughout the booking process and to our room. Since not many rooms were available, we decided to rent a room that can accommodate the three of us and for a fair deal. The room was facing right into the bay with the expansive blue waters of the Camotes Sea and I could hear the sea waves calling us already.
In that evening, we were wondering if we could still get something to fill our empty stomachs. And lo, the staff at the restaurant generously offered that she’ll keep the chef cook a little longer to prepare our late dinner. In thought it was a very considerate gesture and a real hospitality to visitors like us.
And there we go, we ordered something from the menu, of course limited now at this late hour. We had our fill with traditional special Filipino fish soup recipe (Tinulang Tangigue) as the main dish, which actually made us perfectly happy. We were the last guests who are still eating dinner like hungry wolves while other guests are already enjoying their evening glasses of margarita or bottles of San Miguel. Of course, we were enjoying our meal and with much excitement and anticipation for the first light of the next day. Right after we were led to our room and had our luggage dumped into the corners of the room we rushed outside to see some of the resort’s facilities and beach area - like little children ready to play in the moonless night except for the dim lighted pathways leading to our rooms and every corners of Santiago Bay Garden Resort.
New light of day
Getting up early in the morning, I rushed to the beach, without even combing my hair or washing my face, to see how the whole place really looked like. Although it was low tide, I saw with awe the wide sea and the whole tranquil environment and started feeling so serene and relaxed. After enjoying the whole atmosphere and the beach environment, we went out looking for a restaurant or café that can serve us a nice and warm breakfast. We picked a place that is right on the sandy part of the beach and under the shade of coconut palms. It was quite and breezy but I didn’t mind my longganisa (local sausage) and friend egg with rice getting cold and so I relished them with nice scenery of Santiago Bay’s spectacular view of the sea and the horizon.
After we were filled in with that Filipino breakfast, we were getting ready for the whole day’s activity – or adventure. Our only master plan for Camotes Island travel, which was basically mine but with some democratic suggestions from my sister and brother-in-law, is to visit the great and popular sites of Camotes Islands. I thought that visiting particular attractions on the island would be enough for our short visit – such as the Danao Lake, Timubo Cave, Buho Rock, Camotes Bay Walk area and other popular beach resorts. To fulfill that master plan, we were thinking of renting a motorbike, at first. But realizing that three people riding a single motorbike could be very challenging, we decided to hire a tricycle – a motorbike with a sidecar version. Of course, negotiations take time but both parties finally agreed on a price for the day’s Camotes Island travel and adventure making us and the driver happy.
It was really regrettable that we had only a day to explore and experience that beautiful island. After having completed our mission, basically, we headed back to the port for the mainland – Cebu City. Of course, it's not the end of the world, I will be coming back to explore widely to learn more about the island and enjoy its beauty and resources in my next Camotes Island travel!
Thanks for reading if you reached this far!