Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kamana Sanctuary

It's been a minute since I've travel. My lil one has been growing up so fast & she has been keeping me busy. It's December here in the Philippines & typhoon season is coming to an end. So beach, sun & sand season is on the horizon. First on the list is Subic bay in Olongapo, Philippines. It's the old U.S. Navy base a lil over two hours drive north of Manila.
We decided to leave at 6 a.m. just right after she had her milk. She's still sleepy so the drive was quiet. My projected time arrival time was 8:30 a.m. with stops.

So by 9:00 a.m. you want to be sitting here.

& having liquid (Beer) breakfast by 9:01 a.m. That's very important to have a timeline.

My lil one is very chill. Her milk on the right...watermelon shake on the left. Check out below what's in front of her...

there are a few un-touch coves behind that mountain. 

My 9 foot sportbrella. Sets up in about 10 seconds.

She doesn't want to leave.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Malcapuya island, Coron

Malcapuya island is a little over an hour boat ride from Coron town. Coron is part of Palawan and it is about 45 minutes flight from the capital city of Manila. From the airport there are vans that will take you to Coron town or port for 120 pesos. It usually take around 30 minutes. From the port you will not have a problem finding your boatmen that are willing to take you to Malcapuya island. The standard rate is P3,000 or $69. If you traveled on a group then you can save more. The boat we got could easily accomodate 15 person. Some might think that is too heavy on the pocket which is true. But check out why I think it is worth every peso.

The boat ride to the island is very scenic. You will pass by a lot of isolated islands, beach and rock formations. I suggest an MP3 player because of the engine noise.

Our accomodation for the night. P500 per person (P200 for entrance and P300 for the use of the cottage) or $12 per person a night. It is a cottage and not a traditional hut. We wanted a traditonal tropical bahay kubo but we were happy with it. It is open, no window and no doors. No aircon, no tvs and just a fan. Which we didn't need at night because of the sea breeze which was freely coming in from the open structure. Full surround sound of the calming waves beats any sound system.

Directly what we are facing in front of our hut. You can snorkel just a few meters away. Water is aqua green and warm. Who needs a pool. When you got this.

Here's the proximity of our hut to the water. In between a powdery white sand. That's what you pay for the 4,500 pesos or $103 a night. The following nights should be less because you already got the boat. You just have to negotiate with your boatmen for the other nights you plan on staying. We paid ours 500 pesos or $12 to stay overnight. They cook and served us which is well worth it. Security is really not a big issue. I literally left my camera out and about. No one will steal it. Remember it is just your company, boatman and the island care taker. So it's a safe island.

Your own canoe if you wanna explore the islands nearby.

Perfect spot to chill and drink. Too bad the sunset on the other side. Nonetheless still a beautiful spot. Our have a fresh coconut for only 30 pesos or $.75

The sand is powder like and as you can see the wind blows it away easily.  If you been to Boracay, it is the same as the sand they got in station 2.

There's three beach in Malcapuya island. Two are nice with the same quality sand. The one on the back is where they use to dock the boats and the quality is not as good. This particular beach has a concrete for a bed rock. The island care taker told the story that back in the days they were able to find gold here. Legend has it that the Japanese had buried something in the beach. What it is, it's everybodys guess. The concrete though is not your typical concrete. Real solid and you can't use a jack hammer to crack it. As Buddy to show it to you when you guys decide to go here.

Main beach from the view deck.

A few islands are facing the island. Two seasons bought Malroroy island and the one of the far right is banana island. Two seasons is one of the best local beach resort in the Philippines. They have one in Boracay and they do it right.

You have the whole island for yourself or your group for 4,500 pesos or $103 or you can stay at Holiday Inn in the city for the same price. One of a kind experience for a price that won't break the bank.

Just a virgin island. Not even a foot print. The beach is long enough to have some private moment.

I wanted to capture a night shot of our hut.  When I came home to process and upload my pictures. I was surprise to capture an angel in our hut watching over me. You can clearly see the head, body, arms, legs and her beautiful wings. I say "her" because my daughter Madison passed away June 10, 2009. Her 2nd birtday was May 5, 2009. The photo was taken on May 7, 2011. Two days after her 2nd birthday.

The island caretaker "Buddy" they got monkeys, bayawak and crows. He claims he gives the best hilot massage anywhere.

Overall I'm more than satisfied with the island. I could stay here for a while and be really happy. I highly recommend this island for an overnight stay. The restroom are basic. No shower though. They do have grills for cooking. Just make sure you buy everything at the market or have your boatmen help you.
If you need a boatman. I highly recommend Kokoy and Raffy. I personally use them the first time I went to Coron and hired them again the second time I went with my wife and her girlfriends. They really know their way around Coron and suggested where to go and what not to do because they are about the same. Mention Edison recommended them. Here's their contact number 09486323344.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Unlocking Caramoan Peninsula

Caramoan peninsula is not for the weak hearted. One has to travel the distance to reach the destination. From the time we boarded the Isarog bus in Araneta, Cubao at 9 p.m. from the time we finally got to put our bags down at La Playa beach camp. It was 1 p.m. the following day. That's roughly 16 hours. You can cut down about 8 hours by flying to Naga.

Manila - Naga and Vice versa buses leaves about 9 p.m: 8 hours P800 - P1000
Naga - Sabang bus:  2 hours P58 (the bus doesn't take you all the way to Sabang port. We had to ride a trike for 8 km. P40/head or P20/head for the single)
Naga - Sabang van: 1 hour P100 (Still not sure where's the terminal)
Sabang port to Guijalo: 2 hours P120/head
Guijalo port to town: 20 minutes or so P100 for special trip

They use to carry each passenger on their shoulder to the boat. Now they use a make shift floating bridge. It costs 10 pesos each with a maximum of ten people at a time.

Here's Sabang Port. Can't get any basic than that. We didn't have to wait long. The boats schedules are hourly from 5:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. From Naga, you take another bus or jeep that takes another 2 hours. On our way back we took the van that only took a little less than hour. We didn't know you can ride a van or where it was at the bus terminal. I'm sure you can asked any of the more helpful people at the bus terminal to point you at the right direction.

By definition a Peninsula means a piece of land that projects into a body of water and is connected with the mainland by an isthmus. An isthmus means a narrow strip of land connecting two larger masses of land.

If you are lucky enough. You will ran into this pirate. Legend has it that he use to kick it with Jack Sparrow. Get it  "kick it"....Never mind.

You won't missed this church on the way to the town coming in from the port. It's a 300 years old church that was burnt down  by the Japanese & rebuilt. Our trike said the bell is the oldest in the Philippines.

Most famous eatery in town if not the only one. We were so hungry from the  travel. We needed to replenish.
 Here are some pictures of the roads to La Playa Beach Camp. 
Be ready for some rough ride. It was in the middle of summer and there are still  wet pot holes on their road.  

Some are pavements but 60% are not. 

The sights and air are very refreshing. Very simple life.

 Whats not to love here. So peaceful and quiet. 
Here's some pictures of La Playa Beach Camp huts/rooms...
If you're expecting LCD flat screen or king size bed. Then you planned the wrong trip my friend. You didn't really traveled all that way to watch TV or did you?

For 1K pesos or around $23 per night and a view like this. Forget bout it.

Another plus for La Playa is the proximity where you get on the boat. They have their boat just outside. That cuts down on your trike and boat ride.Thats around 30 minutes or so. It only took us 15 minutes for the closest islands. Standard rate for boat are P1500 and P2500 for the farthest islands.

There are only three beach front lodging in Caramoan for now. The best and most expensive is Gota Village. The other remaining beach front is on the same side of La Playa but on the other end right by the barrios. Where there's loud karaoke, chickens and among other things. 

Perfect spot to take a nap. Sea breeze, calming waves and fresh air.

Gate to the unknown. There were so many islands and beaches that needed to explore. 
Matukad island...

Our boatman says you can climb up and there's a mini lake where the water gets trap.

It's roughly 10-15 minutes away from our beach camp. The island is restricted because of survivor. Really nice powdery sand and aqua blue water.

 Lahus island...

From the aerial shot. Lahus island looks like a slipper. Two rocks are being joined by the sand.

Celebrated my brothers 43rd birthday here on Lahus island. Sands fine and powdery as well. It's roughly 5 minutes boat ride from Matukad island.

Survivor Norway's crew filming on Lahus island.
 Tinago lagoon...

One of the best lagoons I've been too. Our boatman Andy says that it is rare to get in the lagoon because of the rough seas. There is three beaches inside the lagoon where you can chill.

Found a new species on Tinago lagoon or Hidden lagoon. I call it the "Nut starfish"

The water is so shallow. You can literally walk to the other beach or that rock.

Click here to watch a short video of Tinaga Lagoon.
 Tagbalinag island...

On the right is Gota village. Tagbalinag island on the middle.

Jumping off a rock and Gota village right behind me.
Caramoans most luxurious beach resort.

Panoramic shot from Tagbalinag island facing Gota village.

 Mt. Carmel Caglago...
Click to enlarge. That's the problem with man. We think we are better than the Holiness and we try to outdo  him.

Here's the start of 523 steps.

I was nearly dying from the heat and the steps. My brother is more fit than any of us. 

Santuary of the Most Holy Rosary Mother of Peace.

Top of Mt. Carmel Caglago

Chapel of Ina is being built a few yards down from the Mother of Peace. One can't stop wondering how they bring up the materials. They get volunteers and pay them P10 each for a concrete. 

They need to put a zipline here.
 Manlawe sandbar... 
Glass like water

P200 to use their cottages

It's a bout an hour boat ride. I was the only customer they have. P20 for a fresh buko.

In tagalog "malawak" or in english "wide area"

We had these for dinner. Balat or sea cucumber
 Cotivas island...
Cotivas island is an hour away from La Playa Beach Camp. You can walk from Manlawe sand bar.

Next to Matukad island. Cotivas has one of the best sand. 

Cotivas island and the island right there connects when its low tide.

Shallow water so you can literally sand bar hopping

We had our lunch here at Cotivas. P50 for the cottage. Fresh air from Pacific ocean. 
 Sabitang laya island...

Sunset from the boat coming from Sabitang laya island

Final note: Caramoan will stay as is for a while unless they build an airport right on the Peninsula. Not a lot of people are willing to travel the distance. People want convenience, easy access and familiarity. I say that is A OK witth me. People tend to thrash, disturb the serenity of these beautiful places. Me for one will go this far if not farther to find that one great spot where a few number or people have seen.