We were about to leave Philippines when we we've decided to do one last trip, our chosen destination, the Bicol region. Originally, we wanted to go to Calaguas but at the last minute decided to join a Caramoan trip arranged by Mr. Goldwin instead. We paid P3700 each for a 3 days 2 nights all in tour.
To clarify, all in includes the following:
1. Van ride from Manila to Caramoan then back to Manila
2. Boat rides or island hoppings
3. 2 nights of accommodations
4. 3 breakfast meals, 2 lunch meals, 2 dinner meals. (With free refills of water)
5. Free use of balsa (floating cottage raft)
The meeting area was at McDonald's Buendia near the Jac Liner bus call time was 6pm but the estimated time of departure is 8pm. We arrived before 6 but decided to eat first at the restaurant across the street from McDonald's. After our early dinner, we went to Mcdonalds and messaged Mr. Goldwin that we are at the meeting area. He met with us and informed us that were still waiting for the vans and a couple more people, the total number of guest for this trip was 29. After a few hours of waiting, we were then informed that the vans were ready and about to leave. There had been a bit of confusion at the beginning of the trip because we could not seem to fit inside the vans. After juggling around our bags and a little bit of squeezing around, we set off. We admit, it was not a comfortable ride. 16 hours of being squeezed in is exhausting. It was only supposed to be a 12 hour ride but we got stuck in traffic and our van ran out of gas. After a long and bumpy 16 hours van ride, we arrived at Travelers Camp at lunch.
An exhausting van ride had left us hungry and tired. A bed where I could lay down and stretch my legs was the first thing on my mind but one of the catches with joining a tour group is that you must adhere to the schedule. Food was ready for us at our accommodation Traveler's Camp. They quickly separated the group into respective rooms with consideration of whether you're traveling solo or with others. My wife and I were fortunate enough to get a room just for two, other packs of two stayed in 4 person room.
Finishing our lunch they asked us to get ready so we could make up for lost time and get straight to island hopping though I wanted to rest up a bit I also wanted to go island hopping. I quickly agreed as I was dying to plunged into the water after such a long van ride. Our lodging was in the town proper which meant you had to take a 10 minute drive to get to the port where the boats were at. A few minutes later we find ourselves on a boat headed for our island hoping destinations. The islands we visited were Matukad, Lahus, Cagbalinad and Bosdak. Luck just wasn't on our side the first half of the trip as our van took way longer the expected and rain had even started to pour as we rode our boat to the islands. The rain did pop out during our stay on the last island and we were able to enjoy the beach with an amazing view of rock formations shifting shadows from the sunset while we enjoyed a bottle of alcohol with the whole group. A trip back to our guesthouse lead to dinner and finally some sleep which I was deprived of.
The group was informed during dinner the night before to be ready early morning at about 6:30am. Our first boat ride was going to be long and an early start would help us enjoy our time longer on the islands. After about an hour on our small boat we arrived at our first island. Ginahuan island holds a small lighthouse that has an amazing 360 view of the Caramoan islands. After about 30 minutes of taking pictures on the island we take off for the second destination of the trip. Manlaue sandbar was where we were off too but unfortunately we got there too late and the sand bar ended being a shallow patch of water but all wasn't lost we made the most of it and played around in the beautiful clear water. The next part of the tour was lunch on Cotivas Sabitang laya Island. Our tour coordinator had fixed our packed lunches early morning but a small store is also located on the island where you can buy food, drinks, ice etc. After lunch we were brought to another sandbar that we were too late for again. This time the water was about chest deep and there wasn't much to do still we had fun just being in such clean water. The sandbar part 3 yet again no sand bar but there were floating cottages (balsa) one was rented out for the group and we indulged in a little drinking session while floating around. The water was still shallow enough to frolic around which others did while taking epic pictorials. Our last stop was an area surrounded with colorful corals and intriguing sea creatures we stayed there for as long we could before the sunset since that was going to be the last destination for the day. Back to the port then lodging then sleep.
The last day was the day we would leave Caramoan. Before leaving we visited Caramoan's century old roman catholic church and went souvenir shopping all about a five minute walk away from our lodge. Ready to go we all hopped back into our vans and braced ourselves for the rocky ride back to the highway. After achieving the act of not throwing up during the zigzag ride out of Caramoan we stopped for lunch at a local Big's Diner. Big's Diner is the most famous fast food chain in Bicol. Satisfied with lunch we head for the last part of our itinerary the deer farm. The deer farm was a nice way to get up close and personal with deer they are literally an arms reach right next to you. Being the last destination everyone was tired and eager to start heading home. Since we were still planning to go to Lagazpi and visit Mayon Volcano we asked to get dropped off at Naga terminal.
We will definitely join another trip from DIY Travel Philippines.
-After reading through many informative blogs of people who have already graced these beautiful beaches we compute our budget and figured what we're working with. After doing this we felt a bit surprised that the prices were a bit high compared to the DIY Travel Philippines offer. The prices are reasonable sometimes even lower.
-The group is made up of other travelers who share our common wanderlust. Yes, we all have our own friends who we like to travel with but sometimes both your schedules might not work or something comes up and your left with nothing to do on a weekend. Good thing you have group you can join even at the last minute, or now you know who to call because they are always on the go like you, with a backpack ready for the weekend trip.
-We had never joined a trip with people we knew nothing about before but I guess that's what travel does to you experience new things. We gained new friends that are just as crazy and passionate about traveling like us.