Off the beaten track: The charm of Camotes Island

Posted by watchmen
May 8, 2017
Posted in OPINION

By Gerlie M. Uy

Camotes Island has been on my travel list for a long time already.
But the travel advisories from different embassies directed to many tourist destinations in the Visayas immediately before our travel date scared me. Ultimately, however, my itchy feet prevailed.
Squeezed in after a work-related convention in Cebu, a two-day escapade was just perfect.
Why Camotes Island? Listen, the sound of its name alone evokes a laidback, rustic, white sandy beach scenario free from the intruding crowd. I am happy to feedback that the reality of Camotes was as genuinely exciting as the planning stage. We went running around in her white sand beaches, basked under the summer sun, and discovered her turquoise waters at the Santiago Bay, Bakhaw Beach and Tulang Diot Islet. In Santiago Bay, we just walked along her long shore lined with white sand as we were there on a sunset, and watched the sea urchins and sea cucumbers.
In Bakhaw, we soaked ourselves to our hearts’ content in her crystal clear salty waters and played volleyball using seaweeds. In Tulang Diot, we had the joyous beaching because the islet easily belonged to us and her waters embraced our bodies raring for clear blue salty waters for so long already.
Initially, the caves were not a come on because they evoke no romantic get-away idea. Caves are synonymous to horrifying dark abyss and stinky bats. But the reality of the visit turned our expectations around.
The caves of Paradise, Bukilat and Timubo are bathers-friendly, as they all enclose cool waters worth one’s time to dip into. Timubo cave was the first one we encountered and we had fun dipping in her waters and when we realized that going farther inside is manageable when some other tourists came in, we also went in. Timubo is pretty but we can’t get good photos because some lights are off.
The next cave was Paradise, our favorite because when we came in, there were only the three of us and the waters are cool and blue. We joked that if the man-made table and benches inside this cave is used as conference table for our pre-litigation cases, we are sure that we will have 100 percent success rate.
The popular Bukilat cave is a separate must-see. This high-ceilinged cave has openings that serve as sources of light. Going inside this cave is like entering an enchanted kingdom, as the cave is picturesque. Bukilat was recently one of the locations for the Kathniel starrer, Can’t Help Falling in Love.
I was with two friends whom I travelled alone with for the first time. Trailing the beaches and caves in Camotes is quite a challenge given the distances between the places and the mode of transportation for a small group which is either a tricycle or the habal-habal (motorcycle).
Our camaraderie was put to the test because the group had to maintain composure while travelling along long paths with a few signboards and lots of banana trees and horned white cows along the way. Well, I am happy to report that we all three passed the composure test and the camaraderie can surely go to many other places. With the two girls, Josephine and Helen Joyce, I seem to be travelling with a scriptwriter-director and an actress.
Oh, I have one thing I have to tell you. Travelling in Camotes is giving up one’s comfort food. There are no top-notch restos or eateries; we tried the bland Sutukil in Santiago and the red-colored barbecues in the Baywalk. The only consolation we had was that we were able to buy fresh fruits in the market stalls beside the Baywalk. But if you happen to pass by the Poro, the small eatery beside the Tourist Information is the only one that I can recommend for you to try.
Other points of interest are Mangodlong Beach, Lake Danao, Holy Crystal Cave, Busay Falls and Buho Rock.

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The author is a lawyer who loves her work in court. On the side, she loves to travel and write. For more of her travelogues, see her blog

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