Best time to go
Caramoan Islands is part of the Bicol Region which is a pathway of storms. Since Caramoan islands is more on adventure island hopping, the best time to come here is during the dry season (February-May) making it safer and more enjoyable to cherish the wonders of nature.
Check weather conditions first before taking the trip.
- National/State Park
- Sailing and Boating
Caramoan People Help Without Expecting Repayment
Mr. Neheil "Calet" Plopinio is the first Caramoan local we met. Our first meeting was accidental. Hubby and I were at Plaza Rizal in Naga City when it started to shower. We couldn't take pictures so we decided to have lunch. I approached a man walking through the Plaza and asked for directions on how to go to a restaurant that we've read about in our research. He gave directions, but perhaps sensing that I didn't understand, he offered to accompany us to the street. We thanked him profusely. I asked if he was from Naga, and was pleasantly surprised to hear he was from Caramoan, but was in Naga to attend to some things. We invited him for lunch, but he cordially refused. We insisted that he join us even for some cold drink and snack. He was too polite, still refusing the lunch offer, but said he was willing to join us in the restaurant in case we had some questions on Caramoan. After asking some basic questions re: transportation, restaurants and some places, we exchanged cellphone numbers. He said I could call or text if we needed some help. He also gave the name and contact details of his colleague (who owns a restaurant and place for tourists) whom he had earlier texted to help us in case we would need help. Hubby ordered take out food for him which he again refused to accept, but we insisted telling him we would get offended if he didn't accept our gesture of thanks. When we got back to our hotel, we were surprised to receive text messages from him wishing us a good voyage to Caramoan. And when we finally got to Caramoan, he often texted to ask how were we doing so far, if we have gone to places, if we were okay, etc. He reminded us that he has already told his colleague to take care of us while in Caramoan. He even offered his own house for us to stay if we return to Caramoan with our family. Of course, we didn't abuse his hospitality, but the reason why I am sharing this experience is to bring up the point that Caramoan people are gracious and willing to help strangers who come to visit their place, without expecting any monetary or material reward.
Another example is Rene Fernandez, a local tour guide who also operates a "habal-habal". Although we told him we would prefer to ride the tricycle instead of the "habal-habal" going to Paniman, he arranged a tricyle ride for us. And when we went to Paniman, he was there to greet us. He didn't join us in the island hopping, but he gave us some free info on the islands. He even had a drawing of the map of the islands on his palm to give us an idea of the location of the islands. He also helped me remember the names of the islands.
There are other stories of kindness: of Mardy, our boatman-guide who removed his hat, folded it and put it on top of the sharp edges of the limestone ledge so hubby could kneel on it without getting hurt; of the hospitable village folks who gave us fresh "buko" (young coconut) juice; of the boat owner's wife who let me use their house comfort room; of the restaurant cook who prepared our packed meals early in the morning; of Alan Lejarde, owner of Caramoan Bed & Dine who lent me his book on Enchanting Caramoan and remained nice to us even if we didn't check in at his place; of Mr. Rex of Rex Tourist Inn sending his boy to the tricycle terminal when he saw that hubby & I have been standing too long to wait for a ride...I could go on and on. We were sure lucky to have encountered such wonderful Caramoan people!
- Family Travel
I met an old man in Kabutonan Island busy making a 'banka". He is known to be much sought by those who like "bankas" made the traditional (handcrafted) way. I didn't dare go near him as I noticed he was so focused on his work, even working past lunch time. When I saw he had stopped working, I attempted to interview him and asked permission to have his picture taken, but we didn't understand each other (he spoke in their dialect). Anyway, sensing that he didn't want an interview or photo taken, I just smiled and motioned if I could take a shot of his boat. Luckily, he nodded and pointed to the "banka".
Later, I was told by our boatman that instead of a shot (photo) of him, the "banka" craftsman probably would have appreciated more a shot of gin:)
Tree of Life
The coconut tree is called the "tree of life" because all of the parts of the tree are functional. There are many coconut trees in Caramoan, and locals love to cook dishes with coconut cream; they also often drink coconut juice and eat the fresh meat of young coconut ("buko"). Coconut husk is used in many ways: for cleaning, for coir mattress, for gardening, etc. Dried stalks of flowers are used for decor-making; stalks of leaves are used as "walis ting-ting" (traditional yard/street broom)...the list can go on and on.
One particular practice that I witnessed in one of the islands is coconut shell charcoal making. The coconut shells are not discarded. They are gathered, dried, then made into charcoal the traditional way.
Spring of Life
Don't fuss if you see islanders take drinking water from a bamboo pole serving as water pipe from a natural spring from upland. Some islanders depend on natural spring water for their daily use: for drinking, bathing, cooking, cleaning, etc. I learned that even contractors of resorts being built on some islands ask water from the locals for drinking supply as well as construction needs.
- Sailing and Boating
Ration From Pedicab Meat Vendor
While we were waiting for our tricycle (to bring us to Paniman) early morning, I noticed a pedicab meat vendor stopping from one house to another. Discreetly, I approached the scene to observe what was going on. It turned out the pedicab meat vendor was bringing the residents' ration of fresh meat. It was a convenient way for locals to get fresh meat without going to the wet market.
Creative Children's Games
It's a relief to see children still able to enjoy games without the addictive computer. Some children joyfully playing on the sidewalk and street attracted my attention. Perhaps influenced by the mother of the girl who owned a store nearby, they had a "play store". I admired how creative they were in "merchandising". Have a close look at their picture and see what I mean.
- Family Travel
Caramoan is perhaps the quietest town I've been to...at least at Centro, the stores are closed between 5-6pm, and the restaurants are closed by 8pm at the latest. We were accomodated at the restaurant of Caramoan Bed & Dine for late dinner only because we made prior arrangement. We placed orders for food after our late lunch and explained we would have late dinner since we would still be full by 6pm.
We were really surprised to see that there were no more tricycles and "padyak" on the street by 5:30pm. At the middle of the street, locals (students, teachers, government employees, among others) were walking their way home.
I asked a storeowner for an explanation. She said most locals have their own motorcycles, so tricycles and "padyaks" don't ply the street anymore. Establishments like stores and restaurants close early because most of their employees come from other towns so they have to catch the last ride home. Only stores with owners who are willing to be left to attend to buyers stay open until about 6:30pm.
- Family Travel
San Mig Lite Ala Caramoan
Hubby wanted cold San Mig Lite after dinner, so he went over the menu to check if the restaurant had beer. It was listed in the menu with the notation: "Maximum 3 bottles per customer". Hubby wanted only 2 bottles so he ordered, but unfortunately, the restaurant ran out of stock. He was advised to buy from the store.
When we went to the store, he was asked by the girl if he wanted the beer to be put in a plastic bag. He said yes (and thought, of course, would he hold on to 2 bottles with his 2 hands?) Before he knew it, the girl already poured the contents of a bottle into a plastic bag, put a straw and told hubby to hold it. Shocked, he immediately told the girl not to pour the other bottle into a plastic bag, and that he would just pay for a deposit on the bottle. We just looked at each other, trying hard not to laugh at the situation.
When we left the store, we couldn't help but laugh. Obviously, there was miscommunication. Hubby thought the girll was asking if he wanted the 2 bottles put in a grocery bag; the girl thought he understood it to mean she would pour the contents into a plastic bag, similar to how they do it with softdrinks.
Drinking cold beer from a beer mug or straight from the bottle can be gratifying, but sipping beer with a straw was difficult and...funny ^_^
- Family Travel
Proud & Religious
Caramoanons are very proud and god-fearing people. PLEASE RESPECT THE LOCALS AND THEIR ENVIRONMENT because they're the ones who will live there for more decades to come and the ones who will be suffering from the aftermath of the trash you leave behind. Though Caramoanons have seen tourist and western films capturing the lives and behaviors of other peoples, Caramoanons are not accustomed to certain behavior like public kissing of couples, parading around town in their bathing suits, etc and especially rude behaviors and attitudes of tourists! And please do not raise your voice at them. It’s not that they don’t understand English…they can’t understand your accents. So don’t get mad at them! Of course this is pretty much universal. But PLEASE have the courtesy to behave properly! Remember, when you’re here, YOU ARE NOT A TOURIST. YOU ARE A VISITOR…a visitor visiting THEIR HOMETOWN. Your not in your own country or home, therefore you can't get anything you want or do whatever you want or act however the hell you'd like! Act properly and accordingly.
Keep Caramoan Clean
Caramoan is a very clean province, please make sure to keep it that way put all your trash to their proper places dont just litter anywhere. Same with thei islands if you have bought in packed snacks please dont litter in the islands. Have them brought back in the mainland and dispose of properly. Locals or Bicolanos are kind and hospitable specially when they see tourist on their province.
- Budget Travel