Zentraveler visits the Camotes Islands in the Philippines!

Camote Islands

Camotes Islands, known as the “The Lost Horizon in the South” is located between Leyte and Cebu Provinces. Legend has it that centuries ago when the Spaniards first arrived, they encountered some native islanders farming whom they asked about the island’s name. The natives thought they were asking them what they were putting in their baskets. They replied, “Camote.” which means sweet potato… Thereafter the islands were called the “Camotes Islands.”

With its pure beauty, white sand beaches, many natural caves and large freshwater lake makes the Camotes a great tourist destination. If you wanted to experience an Island the way it was hundreds of years ago this is the time to visit the Camotes. There are several ways to reach the Camotes Islands from Cebu. You can take a ferry from Pier 2 approximately 4 hours or take a Fast Craft from Pier 2 and arrive approximately 2 hours later or you can bus to Danao approx one hour and take a ferry-boat or pump boat to either Poro or Consuelo of approx two and one half hours. It’s best to get an early start as sometimes the ferries fill up rather fast and you end up waiting for the next scheduled ferry. Once at the Port you can take a multi-cab or motorcycle to your resort.

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Super Shuttle Ferry

Camotes Island is situated in Central Visayas, in the Philippines. It is a part of the province of Cebu. Camotes Islands is located east of Cebu and west of Leyte. The Camote Islands are made up of three main sub-islands and divided into four municipalities. The main capital towns are Pilar, Poro, San Francisco and Tudela.

Anxious to see the Camotes we headed to Danao where we purchased tickets at the port and headed off to Poro which was the last scheduled ferry for the day. As luck would have it my travel companion Perla met someone who already had made arrangements for transportation pickup and we just tagged along at a huge discount for the hour trip to our hotel near the town of San Francisco. They dropped us at Santiago Bay Garden Resort! After settling into our hotel room we took a swim in their affinity pool overlooking the clear blue seas. After a refreshing shower we headed down the beach for a romantic candlelight dinner at one of the local restaurants located on scenic White Beach.

The restaurant owner told us they just got some fresh yellowfin tuna and if anyone liked sushi he would definitely recommend this as it just came off the boat. We ordered the fresh tuna sushi complete with wasabi..for 100 pesos. It just doesn’t get any better than this. There we were on another island experience when the owner said if you wait another one half hour you can watch my grandson do the fire-dance on the beach. Maybe that is why travel is so captivating… I think the unexpected that didn’t make it into every travel book is what makes travel so magical.

The following morning we hired a travel van which took us to Mangodlong Rock Resort ideally set against the sea and coral rocks. With it cottages facing the sea this looked like the perfect getaway to write that novel or just hang out amongst natures wonders. From there we headed to our first cave called Holy Cave which I elected not to go down because of the low ceilings. Perla raved about the cave and indicated it was recently discovered by a local native who now gives tours showing the many images of stalactites hanging from the ceiling and stalagmites limestone cones from the floor. There is no set fee and they are happy with a small donation.

From there we went to Lake Danao National Park which is a natural wonder in itself. For the adventurous, an 18 km. (11 mi.) eco-trail surrounds the entire perimeter of the lake, offering biking and hiking pathways. We started on the path only to learn we could rent kayaks to see the lakes natural wonders or rent their floating house boat which they pulled by rope out in the lake …creating a great opportunity to take photos and enjoy the cool breezes off the water. The trail goes all the way around the lake which would be a great walk and offers good photo, nature, and birding opportunities. The lake is home to many rare bird species including: The Purple Heron and the Philippine Wild Duck. At the entrance they are building a new reception area as they are gearing up for future tourism.

We proceeded to the next cave named Timubo Cave. We grabbed some quick local food and headed down a labyrinth of steps with amazing wall formulations. At the very bottom we swam in the cool clear waters and marveled at the natural stalactites in the forms of religious characters and different images.

We then headed toward the town of Poro where we had lunch at the new resort owned by an Australian and his Filipino wife called: The Flying Fish with its own marine sanctuary… ideal for snorkeling or diving or just swimming amongst the huge pods of fish that flash by from time to time. The lunch was delicious and this would be a great resort to bring the entire family for water sports, snorkeling and diving or just hanging out looking at the Bluewater sea.

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Flying Fish Resort

From there the driver headed up the hill for our last leg of our journey, where we checked into MY Little Hotel perched on top of the hill, with clean fresh air and an olympic size swimming pool where you can take dinner at night only hearing the sounds of crickets as we toast our drinks and enjoy the fresh catch of the day. The staff was friendly and professional and you were treated like a guest in a five-star hotel.

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My Little Hotel

So there you have it! If you want to find a place that is yet undiscovered, have almost no car traffic, experience
any of 10 island resorts and just relax without all of the razz ma tazz …why not book yourself into the Camotes before it turns into just another tourist trap. The island is a bit difficult to get around because of limited transportation facilities and doesn’t lend itself too well for backpacking since they don’t offer many budget accommodations, but you can probably rent a cheap room from a local, go tent camping on the beach, rent a motorcycle or a van and see much of what the island has to offer and experience for yourself the Camotes.

QUOTE: “A tourist is a fellow who drives thousands of miles so he can be photographed standing in front of his car.”
– Emile Ganest

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW:The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. It was the fashion in Renaissance Florence to shave them off!

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Your DNA…. could come in handy for future cloning!

ZENTRAVELER SAYS:Take thousands of digital photo images on your trip… then purchase some really good professional photo postcards at the airport or local gift shop on your way home.

From here to Infinity is a relatively short ride! The next leg takes eons and eons as you fly through the Barycentric Dynamical Time Zone! …and on and on and on.

Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free?


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Filed under adventure travel, Camotes Islands, Flying Fish Resort, Holy Cave, Lake Danao Park, Mangodlong Rock Resort, My Little Island Hotel, Poro, San Francisco, Santiago Bay Garden Resort, Timubo Cave, Uncategorized

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