Hailed as the country’s  tourism Eden, Caramoan remains unknown to many as a tropical paradise that can rival Boracay and even Palawan.  A hidden gem at the heart of Bicol, Caramoan is a rugged peninsula located at the lower eastern part near Naga City.

Caramoan offers a quiet reprieve on some of its virgin shores amidst the lush greenery, powdery sands, limestone karsts, and diversified coral species. But traveling to Caramoan isn’t for the faint of heart: prepare for a 10-hour bus ride from Manila to Naga (or an hour by plane), a two-hour van or jeepney ride to Sabang Port, and another two-hour boat ride to Caramoan Guijalo Port.

However, most consider the laborious journey worth every step thanks to the sublime beauty of the island on the horizon.  Health Begins With Her gives you a peek into some of the enchanting places in Caramoan and how to spend your time in Bicol’s far-flung jewel.

RELATED: Beaches to Visit in Bicol Instead of Boracay This 2016

1.  Gota Village Resort

Aerial view of Gota Village Resort. Taken from Asiatravel.com

If you’re looking for a luxurious experience in Caramoan, then this is your go-to spot. It was also the choice of the producers of Survivor who filmed at this ethereal location and is probably the main attraction of Camaroan.

The resort is embraced by two coves with fine white sand and surrounded by limestones rich in vegetation. Gota Beach is the main project of the provincial government; as such, it has been given the citation as the best tourism destination in the world by international organizations.  The beach also serves as a jump-off point for an island-hop to Matukad, Lahos, etc.

Beside Gota Beach is a bigger cove called Gotang Malaki where you can admire a colony of flying seagulls in the mornings.

Cabanas at Gota Village Resort. Taken from Tripadvisor

2.  Matukad Island

An aerial view of Matukad Beach. Taken from Cupcake Fashionologie

Matukad Island, located at the south of Caramoan, is on the top of the list for island hoppers. Tread on the powdery white sand surrounded by limestone cliffs or daredevils can climb the limestone edge in order to view the small lagoon.

At the heart of the island is a tropical forest abundant with orchids, wild plants bearing exotic fruits, and bonsai-like trees. Visit the island early in the morning so that you can have it all to yourself for your photo ops and be greeted by the radiant sunrise across the horizon.

Matukad Island, Secret Lagoon View. Taken from Cupcake Fashionologie

3.  Lahos Island

Aerial View of Lahos Island. Taken from Tripadvisor

Lahos, in Bisaya, means “pass through.”  True to its moniker, one can easily go to one side of the island to the other by passing through two jagged limestone formations.  The challenges in the show, Survivor, were performed here.  Be wary of coral snakes which locals call as walo-walo because they are poisonous, but they usually keep their distance from people.  Better play safe though.  To preserve the euphemistic beauty of the island, the government declared it as a protected area and part of the Caramoan National Park.

Lahos Island. Taken from Trevally Travel and Tours

4.  Cagbalinad Island

Cagbalingad Island. Taken from ihavegypseasoul

Cagbalinad’s small shore is easily swallowed whenever it is high tide.  Nonetheless, the island offers a picturesque underwater landscape of corals.  Since the water level surrounding the island is shallow, non-swimmers can easily take a dip.

RELATED: Top Snorkeling Destinations in the Philippines

5.  Minalahos Island

Minalahos Island. Taken from Because Life is One Big Adventure: Caramoan Islands

The question-and-answer challenges of the show, Survivor, were done here.  Minalahos and Hunongan Cove, being neighbors, have powdery white sands.  The only difference is that the limestone karst formations here are humongous!  Still worth a visit and transit to Hunongan Cove.

Minalahos Island. Taken from The Outcast Journey

6.  Hunongan Cove

Hunongan Cove. Taken from Asiatravel.com

Craving privacy?  Then check-in at Hunongan Cove, one of the remote beaches developed by the government.  Its fine white sands are cradled by lush forested cliffs that stand overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  The sands are perfect for playing frisbee and camping.  However, be on the lookout for those schools of jellyfish in the water, or you might get stung.  Yikes!

7.  Tinago Island

Tinago Beach. Taken from VSCO

Many a novice boatman is oblivious of this island because it’s totally hidden from view as its name states.  The island is accessible from sea only through a narrow passageway found in the huge limestone karst lining the coastline.  Due to strong water current of the island, the boatmen find it difficult to maneuver their boats here. Bring your own hydration and shelter as there are no huts nor fresh water here.  Within this island is a lagoon and two small sandy beaches where you can have picnics, grill fish, eat under tree shades, and dock boats.

8.  Lahuy Island

Beachfront Lot of Lahuy Island. Taken from RE/MAXLYONS

Feel the slush of powdery sand and sparkling water on your feet as you explore the virgin island of Lahuy, the biggest of all the islands in Caramoan in a dog bone shape from the sky.  You’d be able to see groups of flying fish swimming and glistening under the sun.  It’s best to visit the island during high tide so that your boatman could paddle you there; otherwise, you’d have to walk your way in the water.  Anyway, it’s very shallow during low tide.  From here you may travel to the Manlawi Sandbar.

Beachfront of Lahuy Island. Taken from RE/MAXLYONS

9.  Manlawi Sandbar

Manlawi Sandbar. Taken from A Whole New World Travel Express

As your boat approaches the Manlawi Sandbar, you’d be able to see from afar makeshift nipa huts with people standing under those, kind of like what you’d see in a club.  Enjoy the infinite view of the sea and the crystal clear water lapping at your feet as you munch on your lunch while chatting with friends under the huts.  Then, head on to your next island destination — Guinahuan Island.

Another sandbar on the other side of the hill in Manlawi. Taken from The Joys of Journeying
Manlawi Sandbar at High Tide. Taken from Shoestring Travelers

10.  Guinahuan Island

Cattle at grazing field. Taken from Caramoan Camarines Sur: Rolling Landscape of Guinahuan

Guinahuan Island can be called as the Batanes of the east — one of the farthest islands off Caramoan peninsula.  Endless rolling hills and grazing fields littered with herds of cattle and carabao frolick the place with an overlooking lighthouse on one of the hills.  Be careful not to step on any of the surprises left by our four-legged friends!  The island is bordered by a shallow mangrove bay and the desolated Liwan beach in the east.  The locals there live a laid-back lifestyle with fishing and seaweed farming as livelihoods.  A rural kind of backdrop in contrast to the many islands of Caramoan.  From here, you can ask your boatman to paddle you next to Cotivas Island.

Lighthouse at Guinahuan Island. Taken from 10 Amazing Lighthouses in the Philippines

11.  Cotivas Island

Cotivas Island. Taken from Pilipinas Kong Mahal. Photo by Oliver Bautista of flickr.com.

If you want a silent respite completely detached from the noise of the world, then head on to Cotivas Island — the farthest and most desolated among all the islets in Caramoan.  The place is devoid of inhabitants and hotels, but the mountains there could almost kiss the skies.  The clear shallow waters are lined with a few palm trees that dot the fine sandbar.  From above, the island looks like a spear directed to Guinahuan Island.  The usual low tide water of the place makes it perfect for picking shells.

Cotivas Island. Taken from The Joys of Journeying

12.  Sabitang Laya

Sabitang Laya Island. Taken from Caramoan Islands Camarines Sur: Best Travel Tips

Imagine Boracay before it was devoured by commercialization — that is the peace that this island offers.  Be a queen in your own island kingdom because you can have the island all to yourself for camping and resting while waiting for high tide in order to take a swim.  The triangle-shaped beach is composed of twin beaches — Sabitang Laya and Bag-ing beach.

Sabitang Laya. Taken from The Joys of Journeying

13.  Pitogo Island

Pitogo Island. Taken from Where Are You Going?

Pitogo is dubbed as the “Jurassic Park” of Caramoan beause of its jagged and rugged rocks, but, amazingly, the water here is still.  Within this island is Lantangan beach with white-pebbled shores made of smooth-edged stones instead of the usual soft white sand.  You will hear the stones speak to you whenever the water would wash upon the shore.  Pitogo is a tropical haven that houses languid lagoons whose silence is sometimes pierced by swooshing bats.  If you don’t want to take a dip in the sea, then bathe under the waterfalls present in the island.

Pitogo Beach. Taken from Lonely Travelogue: The Song of Pitogo Island Caramoan
Pitogo Beach. Taken from Caramoan Islands Camarines Sur: Best Travel Tips

14.  Malarad Island

Malarad Island. Taken from Tourists Haven: Tayak Lagoon Caramoan

If you love snorkeling to see a myriad of corals, then this is the island for you.  Malarad Island can rival the coral gardens of Palawan with its extensive coral display underwater and its colar-pebbled beach, Tayak Beach.  The island holds in its innermost part the Tayak Lagoon, a hidden body of salt water, located at the center from Tayak Beach.

Tayak Lagoon. Taken from Tourists Haven: Tayak Lagoon Caramoan

15.  Manipis Cave, Umang Cave, and Tabgon Cave

Umang Cave. Taken from The Natural Wonders of Camarines Sur

These three caves are not to be missed in your Caramoan itinerary.  Treat your eyes to the interiors of the caves replete with natural rock formations like the stalactites.  You can even try your luck at finding the hidden treasure of Yamashita in Manipis Cave in Barangay Pandanan.  Umang Cave, with a shape akin to a damaged cathedral, is a declared national park of the island.  The real adventure to reach Umang Cave begins with a swim in the Manapot River.  Keep your mouth closed while marveling at the rock formations because guano, or bat poop, might fall into your mouth.  Near Umang Cave is the Sohotan River where one may do kayaking, paddle boarding, or river rafting.  Tagon Cave, on the other hand, has small passages that create the excitement of climbing the rocks.

16. Langkipaw Cliff and Caliog Cliff

Langkipaw Cliff. Taken from Pinterest

Feel the adrenaline rush of jumping 23 ft. high from the peak of Langkipaw Cliff in Ilawod, a short distance away from Gota, before heading on for the real thrill of the 50 ft. plunge into the water from the top of Caliog Cliff in Matukad Island.  A must-do thrill for those with audacious hearts!