Cebu Experience Visayas

Part 5: The Cebu Experience - Camotes Island

Wednesday, February 15, 2012Ryan Mach

Out of town getaways aren't complete without hitting the beach, at least for me. For some reason however, I was reluctant to join my travel mates go beach hopping in Camotes, a small island located North of Cebu. It took some cajoling before I finally gave in, though I wouldn't have minded staying inside the Sampaguita Suites and do my own round of exploration around the city. 

Commuting to the island was exciting mainly because none of us has been there before. We just relied on the instructions provided by the accidental tourist guide (the van owner/driver we met in the airport). At Danao Port, catch the ferryboat which departs for Camotes at 8am. 
Without having breakfast, we left the hotel at around 6:30 and took one of Cebu City's number-coded jeepneys going to SM. Once we reached SM, we hopped on another jeepney bound for Danao. The trip was uneventful except for the terrible sound system inside the vehicle. Travel time was around two hours, though it could not have taken us that much time if we chose a van. (The jeepney kept on picking up passengers along the road.)

Danao Port is located right beside the main road, so no need to ride a trike, which means no extra transpo fee. We saw an old church facing the sea and thought it would be a good idea to utter some prayers or give thanks, but someone suggested we do it when we arrive from Camotes. After buying our tickets, we grabbed something to eat at the neaby carinderia (rice and tinolang isda for me, coffee and pansit for my friends). We didn't have to hurry because we had ample minutes to spare.
The boat left at around 8:30am. It was a very smooth sail. There wasn't any rough wave and there wasn't much to do inside the ferry - so we slept,  watched a Jackie Chan film and just enjoyed the ride.
After an hour, we docked at the rugged coast line of Camotes. The first thing I looked for was the white beach. It was just a long stretch of rocky shore. But I knew there's a white beach somewhere. We just didn't know where it was. 

An eager group of habal-habal drivers was revving up their motorcycles, getting our attention by making offers. We were told that a multicab was going to take us to Mangodlong, free of charge courtesy of the boat we boarded. We bought some bread at the small store while waiting for the vehicle that didn't arrive. An alternative was quickly offered to us but we had to pay Php50 each for the round-trip. 
It's getting late and we had no other choice. We were hungry and we were itching to frolic in the water.
Camotes, according to local folklore, got its name from a local root crop called 'camote' (sweet potato). When the Spaniards asked about the name of the place, the locals told them 'Camote,' thinking they were asking about what they were harvesting. Camotes is composed of four small towns namely: Puro, Tudela, Pilar and San Francisco.
It's not yet as famous as Bantayan but with its appeal and beauty, it's bound to share the limelight soon. The fact that this island isn't a top tourist destination in Cebu was probably the reason Manong Van Driver considered Camotes to be a virgin island. Its beaches and resorts are not yet fully-developed. Mangodlong Beach Resort, for instance, has just started its operation some few months ago and the landscaping wasn’t yet complete. In a nearby table at the resort's restaurant, we glimpsed a group of businessmen and possibly investors probably talking about the future of the resort.
There wasn't many customers that day. Expect for a bunch of Korean yuppies, we seemed to be the only 'tourists' there. We surveyed the area, took pictures, exclaimed praises at the beautiful scenery - while waiting for our order, which took almost an hour. The food wasn't a disappointment and the service was stellar.
[Kinilaw, my favorite]

It didn't hurt either that the name of the manager who assisted us was Winner. Winner told us we could use the infinity pool as long as we wear proper swimming attire. Will shorts do? I asked, I didn't have trunks nor board shorts. For male, yes, but women have to wear two-piece. Kinda double standard but worked for me.
While the girls who refused to shed some skin went to the shore albeit grudgingly, we, the boys, jumped at the opportunity to own the pool among ourselves. We ordered a bottle of beer each, talked about our future plans non-too-seriously and made the girls jealous by splashing the water. The fun ended at 3pm. We needed to catch the ferry back to Danao at 4. So we took a shower, paid our bills and said goodbye to winner, who urged us to come back again.
We told him, we will. 

Getting There
Take your stop at Cebu City. From there, you can decide the mode of transport you’d prefer to take in going to the island. Three options: a fastcraft, a pumpboat or through a ferry boat.

Check out this link for more details:

Cebu Experience Series
Part 1 - A Scary Flight
Part 2 - The Accidental Tourist Guide
Part 3 - Good Service at Sampaguita Suites
Part 4 - Casa Verde

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