Caramoan Islands (Camarines Sur) Philippines – The Next El Nido!

Caramoan Philippines  

Updated July 21st, 2018.

The remote islands of Caramoan, located on the southeastern tip of the main island of Luzon, are a secret Filipino paradise little visited by backpackers and tourists. With impossibly white beaches and clear waters, there are incredible opportunities for island hopping, kayaking, snorkelling, diving, rock climbing and exploring lagoons and caves…

Another deserted beach in Caramoan.
Another deserted beach in Caramoan.

So why is nobody here yet? We have no idea! 

If you’re looking for the next El Nido – Caramoan is it!

The remoteness of Caramoan and the distinct castaway island feel is perhaps why the makers of the popular reality TV show and most of its foreign franchises repeatedly choose Caramoan as their chosen destination to shoot the TV show Survivor. You just can’t get a more stereotypical depiction of paradise than this!

Backpackers won’t be able to help themselves from kissing every grain of sand that surrounds this group of islands in the province of Camarines Sur. Even we had to restrain ourselves from filtering seawater and killing wild pigs because of the almost-real feeling of being marooned in the virgin unknown!

Where to stay in Caramoan?

Well, you haven’t got much choice. There are only four places to stay in Caramoan and they’re a lot more expensive than you’d think, considering how basic they are:

Magindara Guesthouse – The cheapest huts you can find in Caramoan. This property is located one minute from the beach. Basic wooden huts with a small balcony with hammock and mosquito net over the bed. Prices start at 1000 PHP for a room that sleeps two.

Explorers’ Headquarters Inn – Another very basic digs with private rooms that sleep two, three and four people (1,750 PHO). So it’s decent value for money if you’re sharing with a few mates.

OUR PICK! Island View Paniman Bay Lodge – Probably the liveliest place and best value for money accommodation in Caramoan. Travellers comment on the friendly atmosphere, welcoming staff, 24-hour help desk and delicious homemade food! Basic but clean rooms starting at 1300 PHP.

RMTM’s Front Beach Resort – Basic, clean rooms with a free Asian breakfast included every morning. Start at 1300 PHP. Rooms with sea view available.

Just outside of Caramoan you’ll find…

Tugawe Cove Resort – By far the most luxurious (and expensive) resort in the area is this place actually located in Colongcocon, the very tip of the peninsula. If you’re staying here you can also fly to Virac Airport in the neighbouring province of Catanduanes. The resort has a private beach, infinity swimming pool with a sea view, rooms with WIFI, flatscreen TVs and DVD players and a lake which runs through the property. A standard room here will set you back over 7,000 PHP though!

Attractions of Caramoan

Island Hopping and snorkelling:

Caramoan is made up of 10 main islands: Bag-ing, Cagbanilad, Catanhawan, Cotivas, Lahus, Lahuy, Matukad, Minalahos, Pitogo, Sabitang-Laya. It’s a must to go island hopping between a few or all of these island gems if you can!

Minalahos Island, Caramoan, Philippines.
Minalahos Island, Caramoan, Philippines.

A full day of island hopping will cost you around $15-20 USD, which is similar to what you’d pay in Palawan. You will be blown away by the colour of the water and the fact that, apart from a few local fishing families, there is nobody there! Make sure you take a snorkel or check that your boatman has one as you’ll want to see the abundant treasures under the water too.

Hunongan Cove:

Whilst still part of the mainland, Hunongan Cove feels like a deserted paradise island surrounded by huge limestone cliffs reminiscent of El Nido. This is actually the location where the film crew stay when they are filming Survivor! When filming is taking place, the cove is off limits to tourists, but if you’re lucky, you’ll get this slice of heaven all to yourself!

Caramoan Philippines 2

Gota Beach:

If you’re a fan of the show Survivor you’ll want to visit the location where the team actually stay. There’s a resort here called Gota Village Beach where you can stay when they’re not filming The beach is nice, but not as stunning as other beaches in the area.

Getting to the Caramoan Islands:

By Land: A bus from Manila’s Cubao or Pasay Bus Terminal will take you 8-12 hours in total to reach Naga City. (Cost around 600-1000 PHP. From Naga City

Flight: Caramoan is only 45 minutes away from Manila by flight. The nearest airport to Caramoan is Naga Airport which is 70km away. (You can also fly to Virac Airport and take the ferry.) Check out Cebu Pacific Air and Zest Air for cheap flights, or compare all flights on Skyscanner which is what we always do.

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