Camotes Island, particularly Santiago Bay area happens to be our favorite go-to place when we want to move away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There is a wide range of activities that everyone can do – whether you are looking for some quiet time or some adrenaline adventures.
During weekend nights, a reggae band called High Tide plays right at the beach of Santiago Bay and guests from surrounding resorts come and dance the night away.
THINGS TO DO
1. Pig out at Pito’s Sutokil
Probably the most compelling reason why we kept coming back to this island, aside from the good vibe and friendly people, is the food. We love the food at Pito’s. They serve fresh seafood at a very reasonable price.
Usually, we order either kinilaw (raw fish cooked in vinegar), sinuglaw (kinilaw and grilled pork), grilled tuna or squid together with a large plate of rice because why not! lol I’m Asian and the Mister seemed to have been influenced by my love for rice in every meal 🙂 They also serve fresh fruit juices and shakes.
2. Go diving, snorkeling or island hopping
Camotes FUN Divers offers fun dives, intro dive, snorkeling tour, island hopping, equipment rentals and scuba courses. They have their own boat that takes you to diving spots and island hopping excursions. This is where I had my Discovery Scuba Diving which led me to taking my OpenWater Certification. I was under the supervision of Dive Master Nerjie, who also owns the dive center. He personally guided and assisted me during the course. Before we went for a dive, he taught me some basic concepts and scuba skills. He was vigilant and patient with me especially that this was my first time scuba diving. I had my fears but I felt safe and secured in his hands. Most importantly, I didn’t miss out to spot some awesome underwater friends. We had the dive along Santiago Bay which is just across the dive center and Nerjie is very familiar with the area like the back of his hand.
3. Tour around the island
Most of the accommodations in Santiago Bay can arrange a motorbike rental for you at 300 pesos a day which goes lower if you rent longer. Your accommodation should have a map for you to borrow. Keep in mind that this is Asia and some roads has ‘surprise’ holes which is the number one cause of motorbike accidents in the island.
If you are with a large group, it is best to go around via multicab for 1500 pesos a day. The driver will take to the tourist destinations in Camotes including Lake Danao Park, Buho Rock and many others.
4. Visit Lake Danao Park
To be honest, we didn’t really know what to expect when we decided to go to Lake Danao Park. A paved, lonely road will take you to the entrance of the park where a staff collects 10 pesos per person as admission. We strolled around area and saw some horses tucked away in the corner. A guy, whom I presumed works there ask if we wanted a ride but, it would be cruel to say yes. Those horses look weary and could really use some rest.
Anyway, I still think it was a nice, peaceful place to recharge after long hours of excursion. Perhaps, we would enjoy more if took one of their lake cruises but for 500 pesos for two, we passed. The boat was large enough for upto 15 people tho and maybe if there are other joiners, we would do it. Instead, we chose to relax at one of their huts and sipped fresh mango juice shake.
5. Cliff Jumping in Buho Rock
If you are an adrenaline junkie, jumping off Buho Rock is for you. There are 2 jumping points: 3 meters & 10 meters. I was really excited to get up to the 10-meter platform and jump but I hesitated for a few seconds after seeing how high it actually was from the jumping platform. The Mister had already jumped before me and has reassured that it’s perfectly fine to jump anytime. So, I gathered all my courage and went to do it anyway. Yey!
I suggest to try jumping the lower platform first before jumping at the higher one. Don’t be like me! lol
Take a van from (SM) Cebu City to (Gaisano) Danao City. First van is 6AM but usually departs around 7AM or as soon as the van is full. The driver or dispatcher collects 50 pesos as fare before departing. It takes approximately one hour to reach Danao City (if there are no hitches along the way, you will be on time to catch the 8:30AM ferry). Once you reach Gaisano Danao Terminal, walk towards the high way, past the Gaisano mall, church and park. Or, you can take a “traysikad” for 10 pesos if you have heavy luggages (or don’t feel like walking). Then, take a ferry going to Consuelo, Camotes which departs every 2 hours starting 5:30AM. Trip is approximately 2 hours.
Upon arrival, take a motorbike, tricycle or jeepney to go to your accommodation. There is a standard rate to every destination so, there won’t be any bargaining or rip-off. However, if you are just as wise as us, we walked just past the port gate (about 50 meters) and got 40% off the “standard rate”.
WHERE TO STAY
The Mister and I have stayed in Bellavistamare Beach Resort and Dread House.
Bellavistamare Beach Resort is a small resort with half a dozen rooms located on a hill overlooking Santiago Bay. The top level balcony or from the restaurant (open for breakfast only) will give you some fantastic view of the bay. During our stay, the Mister was able to score a discount for staying longer but the usual rate is 950 pesos as of June 2016. Their double rooms has a fan, soft mattress and ensuite shower room and toilet.
Dread House is a basic, spartan, no frills accommodation which really appeals to us since it is the most backpacker feel around the Santiago Bay stretch. They have double rooms for 600 pesos but very limited. In lieu, you can rent one of their tents for 300 pesos and sleep on the beach. Keep in mind that is originally a house that they re-purposed into a guesthouse so shower and toilet is shared among all guests and water supply is limited.