Where to go next summer? Here are 12 island gems in Caramoan for your next island hopping!

I’ve been to Caramoan many times already (mainly because I’m from Bicol and one of my uncles live there) and I’ve witnessed the beauty of the islands there more than once and I know I’d love to visit them again and again. What makes Caramoan one of my best-loved Philippine provinces is that it never ceases to amaze me. The rare find of super virgin islands is what makes me fall even more in love with nature, and I’m sure you will, too.

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ABOUT CARAMOAN
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Caramoan Island is located in the lower eastern part of Camarines Sur in Bicol region in the Philippines. Lying separately from the mainlands of Camarines Sur, Caramoan boasts having perfect white and fine sand beaches, clear blue-green waters, rich marine life, enchanting lakes, and deep caves offering great and unique experiences for swimmers, divers, hikers, rock climbers, cave explorers, and island hopping enthusiasts.

Speaking of island hopping, let me share my favorite island hopping spots around Caramoan – some are already well-known and some are yet to be explored by many. These majestic islands sure provide not only candies for your eyes, but endless adventures for your wanderlust.

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PRE-TRAVEL GUIDE
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When is the best time to visit Caramoan?
February to June (some say January would be nice, but as of 2019, guys, January as observed is getting wetter and wetter, if you get what I mean). To be honest, Caramoan is a very tropical place despite the frequency of typhoon visits. Most of the year, Caramoan feels like summer, and if you are off those places with farm, trees, and abundant plants, it is honestly super hot. But you have to be mindful of the waves on the parts of the open seas, as they could grow bigger and stronger when it rains.
How to get to Caramoan?
Getting to Caramoan seems easy, but you really have to be careful on choosing among your transportation options. But yes, there are options:
+ via air travel Only Cebu Pacific offers direct flights to Naga from Manila as of date.
From Naga, you can hail a tricycle to bring you to a van (UV Express) terminal bound to Sabang. Two hours from the terminal is the Sabang Port in the town of San Jose, Camarines Sur which is the most common jump-off point to Guijalo Port, Caramoan.
+ via land and sea travel (via Naga) If you’re commuting, I recommend RSL bus or <a href=” Philtranco bus as they are my most-used line even from before. Other bus lines offer trips from Manila, Pasay, or Cubao to Naga as well.
From Naga, you can hail a tricycle to bring you to a van (UV Express) terminal bound to Sabang. Two hours from the terminal is the Sabang Port in the town of San Jose, Camarines Sur which is the most common jump-off point to Guijalo Port, Caramoan.
+ via air / land and sea travel (via Catanduanes) Only Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific offer a direct flights to Catanduanes from Clark and Manila respectively as of date. If you’re commuting, I recommend RSL bus as such have trips direct to Virac. Other bus lines offer trips from Manila, Pasay, or Cubao to Tabaco Port. From Tabaco, take the ferry to Virac. Total travel hours make take up to 14 to 16 hours. Yep! That’s more than half a day, so think twice – are you willing to give up the money or the time?
Landing in Virac airport, the capital town of Catanduanes, you may hire a tricycle ride to Virac port or San Andres port, where you can join a two-hour boat ride going to Caramoan.

How to get around Caramoan?
Getting around Caramoan is easy either by bus, tricycle or hired van. The challenge is that you will -almost always- will wait for more than 20 minutes for a public transpo to pass through. Best if you already have a contacted service provider, or share a private ride among your fellow travelers.

Related post: Pros and cons of being a travel and tours joiner + tips and reminders for a happy trip

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10 ISLANDS TO HOP IN CARAMOAN
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1. Guinahoan Island

Guinahoan Island, Caramoan | themhayonnaise
Shot with Xiaomi Yi 1. Processed with VSCO with c1 preset. | © The Mhayonnaise

As the farthest island from the port, Guinahoan Island is most often the first destination in Caramoan island hopping tours. They call it one of the twins of Batanes’ rolling hills in Bicol which features the most obvious and closest resemblance. It is an easy 10-15 minute trek to the top where a modern lighthouse stands. Up there, Guinahoan offers a picturesque view of a beach, part of the Pacific Ocean. This side of the island has big waves, hence tourist boats cannot dock. My tiny guide mentioned it was home to sea tortoises before, but they were transferred to a sanctuary somewhere on another island to taken care of better.

2. Cotivas Island

Like many islands in Caramoan, Cotivas Island is uninhabited, which gives you a big chance to enjoy the beach all by your selves. This island is one of the popular stops for lunch or afternoon snacks and sunbathing. Locals say there where small huts that were put there for tourists’ convenience, but it was later destroyed bu typhoon.

3. Malawi Beach (Manlawi Sandbar and floating cottages)

Manlawi floating cottage | themhayonnaise

This stretch of the white, fine sandbar is actually part of Lahuy Island, a bigger island at the left of Cotivas. However, it sinks during the high tide, so it’s best to go there early or ask your guide when is the best time to go there. The beach, though, is still great (and even one of the bests) site for taking photos, strolling, sunbathing or just lie back there and relax.

4. Sabitang Laya Island

Sabitang Laya (or Bagieng Island in Google Maps) is one of my personal favorites among all the islands in Caramoan. Getting there is always fun, as it is usually visited during the afternoon when big waves are challenging your tough boat. These kinds of thrills make me appreciate the destination even more, plus who wouldn’t want a beautiful scene of rock formations and crystal-clear waters?

5. Matukad Island

matukad island | themhayonnaise

Matukad in Bicol literally means “ma-akyat” or “climb up”. Makes sense, as there is this big rock formation on the island which you would need to climb to reach a peak where you can see, in a perfect angle, the magical lagoon holding a mythical tale. Curious? Well, that’s for another post. Hehe.

6. Lahos Island

Another fave! The main beach, Lahus (or Lahos) beach reaches both the eastern and western sides, sandwiched by huge rock formations. “Lahos”, coming from the word “laho” or “vanish”, perfectly describes this incredible, one-of-a-kind beach, as it also sinks when the waters are high!

7. Kagbalinad Island (snorkeling spot)

kagbalinad island | themhayonnaise

Kagbalinad is surprisingly the most un-“Googled” island among our list, maybe because they always hear that it’s just a typical, small island. And since it’s not usually part of itineraries, the best chance to catch the island by yourself is like 85%! Yes, it is small, but it doesn’t get too busy like the other wider beaches. Similar to most of the islands in Caramoan, Kagbalinad also houses amazing limestone formations perfect for your photo-gaming and if you’re a fan of snorkeling activities? This is the best spot!

8. Minalahos Island

minalahos | themhayonnaise
Look at fine sand!

Like Kagbalinad, Minalahos Island also has a small beach. However, there lie giant karsts which make it more enchanting. Best for some time for rest, MInalahos island is such a beauty. My favorite part of the beach is its fine white sand that makes me want to just lie there!

9. Katanhawan Island

If you’re looking for more reasons to love Caramoan, you definitely should visit Katanhawan Island (also spelled as “Catanaguan”). The sand is not that white but is super fine. One of the islands with perfect connection to network signal! Okay, chance for you to post those interesting stories on IG. Tag us maybe?

10. Hitugo Island

I love Hitugo Island. On one side you could enjoy the fine, white sand, and on the other you can see perfect piles of sea shore rocks. Another reason why I love the island was that there is another hill you can trek. For about 10-15 minutes, be sure to witness the best views of the Pacific and small islands from afar, and the beautiful blue sky up above. Just be careful and mind all tips and tricks for trekking!

11. Malarad Island (Tayak Lagoon)

The Tayak Lagoon is a hidden lagoon in the middle of Malarad Island. It’s not usually part of the common island-hopping itinerary, which why it gives a more serene feeling. The trail is kind of narrow, so be more careful and watch your steps. A five to the minute walk from the shore will bring you to this mystical lagoon great for swimming.

12. Tinago Island

And last but definitely not the list, Tinago Island. I’m not really sure if this is a usual part of the tour, but you can ask your boatman anytime, right? Tinago Island is my top favorite island among all the stops for the hopping. Aside from it disconnects you from both online and offline (because “Tinago” means “hidden” and the beach is literally hidden by big rocks), the scenic view once you get to settle there is more than amazing. We had our lunch there one time, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to the outside world. If not because of those little sand insects, I’d stay there longer. Haha kidding!

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WRAPPING IT ALL UP
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Caramoan is a well-known destination for beach lovers. It’s just that some people are too scared with complicated itineraries and unsure travel schedules. Caramoan may seem like it’s too far or not that easy to reach, but if there’s a will, there’s always a way. What I can guarantee is all the money and the effort will be worth it (and even more!) when you’re already there, enjoying life.

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