First Timer in Camotes

20170426_170522Photo taken in the road to Poblacion, San Franciso

I had a team building workshop at CTU – Danao and received certificate of participation. Before the workshop, I already told myself that I had to take some time off away from my busy schedule in school even just for a short while. I know a place near Danao that I’ve been telling my friends to go but the place would just not come out in mind as we think of places to visit. I already pre-planned to go to Camotes and luckily there are participants from Camotes in the workshop that I asked info of.

Wednesday came and I packed my bag together with the infos I collected. I directly rode a tricycle to Danao Port and rode a ferry to Consuelo, a brgy. in San Francisco, Camotes. That’s how I got to the beautiful island of Camotes – the place of no return. Legend has it that when you get to Camotes, you can no longer leave the place because there you will get stuck with a man or woman and get married. Well, I got out of Camotes free from any bond so it’s probably just a legend. Joking.

20170427_065320Photo taken in San Franciso, going to Poro, next municipality.

Transportation

Camotes is mostly cheap to visit with the exception of transportation. One thing you need to consider is the remoteness of different modes of transportation. Since there’s only bike (habal-habal) to take you to places, they’ll charge tourists a bit higher especially if you plan on changing from one bike in going to places. For sure, you’ll end up paying a thousand more. For locals, the minimum fee is at 10 pesos which is still a big amount if you ask me. There’s even a signage there in the street “Save Money. Get a Bike.”  That’s the reason I rented a bike for the whole day.

You can rent a bike alone or bike with a driver/tour guide at 500 pesos from morning at 7 am to 5 PM. That’s how it works in Camotes. Pretty upsetting actually but if you know how to talk it out, then you can experience more of it. Like me, I got the bike at 6PM until 6 PM the following day.

If you don’t like to take the hassle to find a bike and you want to save money, you can bring your own bike or vehicle by bringing them in the ferry with extra payment. Gas stations are well located in the whole island, so it’s not gonna be a problem finding one and plus the presence of small business gas in softdrink bottles are countless in the major roads. Hope that inspires you.

One thing that vehicle owners think twice in bringing their vehicle is the parking fee. Normally, you pay for every hour for a high cost in other parts of Cebu or the Philippines. In Camotes, it’s only 5 pesos for motorcycles and 10 pesos for four wheels the whole day. Isn’t that so cheap?

Accommodation

I was lucky to have known locals in Camotes, so I got free accommodation though it was not part of my plan at first.

Inquiries of inns and lodges (per person):

300 php                               room with fan

500 – 600 php                    room with AC

I heard from a local friend, there’s a 200-peso room also.

I wouldn’t have had free accommodation if it weren’t for my talking. When I got to Poblacion, San Francisco, I searched for cheap price rooms to stay until my tummy said I had to eat so I ran to the nearest restaurant. I inquired the waitress where to stay and the conversation had gotten longer until I talked about where I work and where I’m from. The odds were in my favour since her husband and someone I know are close friends and her husband annually visits my place, Moalboal. The waitress went to her husband and that was the start of my free accommodation.

When I was in the ferry, the sun was directly shedding its ray on my seat, so I decided to transfer to another spot. Normally, the easiest way for me to know a place is to talk and ask a lot of questions from locals. So, I stroke up a conversation with two ladies, trying to gather more details about the place. They both work at the Provincial Capitol as agriculturists. One of their assignments is in Tudela, another town in the Camotes Island. To cut the story short, the older lady offered me a place to stay if I would not find one. She actually has a house in San Francisco. So, on my second day, I stayed in her house together with the younger lady she was with and another lady whom Maam Mayette calls them adopted in San Francisco. That goes with me now.

It does pay to talk at a foreign soil. That’s how I got my accommodations.

GOPR1575.JPG            Talkative and active siblings I got a chance to talk to

People

What I love about the locals in Camotes is their knowledge about their place. Ask anyone (not the kids of course) and surely they’ll be able to respond with promptness and precision. I get the feeling of being welcome by being given correct responses from the locals showing their hospitality. One time, I entered Tudela Church and beside it were workers constructing a school building. I asked one about Bukilat Cave and said my thank-you after the conversation.  His response was a surprise “Ayo-ayo dong sa paglaag sa among lugar.” You will rarely get to hear this in travelling.

Really, asking information there is easy. It was just my first time to get there, but finding Camotes tourist spots was not hard at all and that’s thanks to the locals.

Places to Visit

You have a wide array of choices in the places you can visit. From caves to beaches to falls to lake, take your pick, they got it all laid down for you. The best thing is places in Camotes have relatively cheaper entrance fees than other places in the Philippines.  Entrance fees generally ranges from 10-20 pesos for adults and 5-10 pesos for kids. Can you imagine that? Here are some of the famous places to visit in Camotes.

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Buho Rock Resort & Garden

This resort made its way to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by no less than Kathniel because of its view of the sea and cliff jumping. The sea view is without a doubt captivating and cliff jumping exhilarating however it upset me seeing the place being poorly managed as there are signs of broken materials, falling debris from old waste materials, and garbage in the vicinity itself. Filipinos love to go to places but don’t know how to care them.

20170427_084741

Caves   

Don’t expect the caves to be as grand as the Palawan cave. Bukilat cave is only a short walk from the entrance and is well-lighted in the inside you can see rock formations and stalagmites and stalactites. There are also sunrays brought about by the natural holes above the cave which brings you the feeling like a true 2nd world war military man as the cave used to be a hideout among folk locals in Camotes against the Japanese troops. You can swim in the cave at around 10 AM where the water gets higher.

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On the other hand, Timubu cave takes a bit longer walk and is dark in the entrance to the middle. For whatever is the reason, I have missed to ask that. But when you get to the area where there is water at 5 ft., the place becomes dimly visible because of the lights present. The swimming area is just enough where you can dip and paddle your feet a bit. Just be careful with the sharp rocks on your footsteps and knees though as I got my knee bumped on the hard rock.

20170427_101243

Busay Fall           

Busay fall is relatively small and has got a bearable coldness which does not surprise your skin when your body gets dipped in it. It’s safer compared to other falls because its floor is completely cemented and its highest water level is just a bit over 5 ft. Like many other falls, trees and plants surround Busay fall protected from the rays of the sun.

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Lake Danao Park             

I must say it is a highlight among tourist spots. The lake is wide with dark bluish water complementing the sky above. A tourist area spot is never complete without activities. Water activities such as kayaking, sea cycling, boat ride and etc are also found in the park. Another attraction is horseback riding. After having fun with activities, you can just sip a banana shake and have halo-halo in restaurants and food stalls of various food assortments you can choose from. A plus factor of this place is the presence of customer service person ready to answer queries about the whole island of Camotes.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1541.
DCIM100GOPROGOPR1541.

Santiago White Beach   

I wish I had more time to stay at Santiago white beach. The beach is beautiful with white sand which is far stretched to the sea. Also, the water level is quite shallow which is safe to kids and non-swimmers to go for a dip. The cottages are located far enough from the sea that somehow gives the sea protection from unwanted human waste. Their designs are also made in congruent to each other creating the mind an idea of a well-planned place.  You can say that policies in the place are well-implemented as the beach has minimal garbage.

Baywalk

The baywalk is place where your friends and family can get together. Food stalls are present in the area showing the tastebuds of San Fracisco locals and its nightlife. You can also catch the clear sky above you, a rare activity which you can experience in the place and just enjoy as the night slowly envelopes the sky.

3-Day Itinerary

1st Day

2:30 – 4:30 PM at Danao Port to Consuelo Port, San Francisco, 180 php Jomalia shipping fee Economy

5:00 PM at Consuelo Port, ride the white bus (only bus taking you to Poblacion, San Francisco)

5:30 PM                              Dinner

6:00 PM                              Sleep

2nd Day

6:30 AM                              breakfast at the town

7:00 AM                              Buho Rock Resort & Garden, Poro, Camotes, 20 php entrance fee

8:00 AM                              Tudela Church

8:30 – 9:00 AM                  Bukilat Cave, Tudela, 10 php entrance fee

9:30 – 10:30 AM               Busay Falls, Tudela, 15 php entrance fee, cottage 150-200 php

11:00 AM                            Lunch at Poro Public Market

12:00 PM                            motor travel from Poro to Timubo Cave

12:30 – 1:30 PM                Timubu Cave

1:30 – 2:00 PM                  Motor travel to Lake Danao Park

2:00 – 3:30 PM                  Lake Danao Park, 15 php entrance fee

3:30 – 4:00 PM                  motor travel to Santiago White Beach

4:00 – 4:40 PM                  Swimming in Santiago White Beach

4:40 – 5:10 PM                  motor travel to Poblacion, San Francisco

5:10 – 6:00 PM                  Baywalk, Poblacion

6:00 – 7:00 PM                  Dinner

7:00 – 8:00 PM                  Baywalk, Poblacion

8:00 PM                              Room

3rd Day:

6:30 AM – 7:00 AM          Poro Port

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM   Oceanjet travel from Poro to Pier 1 Cebu City, 380 php tourist student fare

Lesson from the Trip

Be street-smart in travelling especially when you’re alone. I got free accommodations twice and I extended the normal usage time of my rented motorcycle because of it. Knowing what to talk and how to talk is street-smart.

Don’t let apprehensions lower your confidence down in going to new places. Apprehensions like getting lost can deter your chances of having a well-spent vacation. And if you’re lost, ask the locals, you would realize how they could be of great help in travelling. The moment you’re confused with directions, asking someone directly eases the apprehension.

Photos from the Trip

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