When the wanderlust is strong, I am powerless to resist. And so I found myself one Friday night scrolling through Agoda’s pages, searching for cheap rooms on the islands near Cebu.
I did find a good choice, which I booked right away. It was a Deluxe room in Coco Grove Nature Resort and Spa located in Camotes (here’s my review of the place plus itinerary and budget breakdown). As a result, a spontaneous weekend trip manifested!
The room was good for 3 people. I was ready to go on my own but thought I’ll invite a close friend along and see from there. She readily agreed to accompany me despite the less than 24hrs notice. I just love adventuresome, ready for anything friends!
How to Get to Camotes
My friend, Kristal, and I met at McDo in Basak at 4AM so I can get an early breakfast. 30 minutes later, we were on a small jeep bound for Danao.
To get to Camotes, one must go to Danao port first, towards the north of Cebu. Jeepney fare from Basak was Php 40.00.
At around 5:30 AM we arrived at Danao port. I was not prepared for the crush of people already there. It was still dawn and the port was super busy!
The Torture at the Ticket Booth Line
For some reason, getting ferry tickets to Camotes is hell. The guard there was unhelpful and did not manage the line, or what resembles it. People were just gathering near the ticket booth looking confused, stressed or pissed.
We stayed in that line for 2 freaking hours. The situation was worsened by undisciplined people who arrived late and were supposed to stay at the end of the line, but paid fixers to cut in line and buy tickets for them. In the end, those people got on the 6AM and 8AM ferry ahead of us while we (the increasingly enraged but very upstanding citizens :p) were left to wait for the 9AM ferry. Whew!
Know that we had to endure all of that in a cramped and poorly ventilated place, with a lot of people raising their voices due to impatience or anger. It was quite a stressful situation, particularly because no one cared to announce what is going on nor stop the fixers.
Anyway, after around 4 hours there at the port, we finally left Cebu. We reached Camotes 2 hours later.
Arrival: A First Look at Camotes
Upon getting out of the Camotes port, we were greeted by a crush of motorcycle, tricycle and van drivers trying to get our business. It was chaotic but the drivers were holding signs for where they can take you. I approached a motorcycle driver holding a Mangodlong sign since that was where we were headed.
The fare to our resort was Php 100.00 for 2 passengers, the driver informed us. I knew the resort was just 10-15 minutes away and that price is exorbitant! If we were in Cebu, we would have paid just Php 20.00 for that distance and we’d get one motorcycle each too. But since we were stressed since Danao port, hungry and too tired to argue the price down, we just went ahead.
The road to Mangodlong was okay at first but when we made a turn towards our resort, the road became rough and narrow. Few minutes later, we checked into Coco Grove Resort.
Due to all the crazy stuff at Danao port that morning, my friend and I decided to see the nearby beach and then take a nap after. We planned to do some touring at 3pm.When I woke up though, my friend was still tired. She was not able to sleep well the previous day so I understood. Told her she should just rest up and I’m gonna go exploring alone.
I went out to the sari-sari store across our resort. A few hours before that, we bought water there. Saw a small sign on their store window advertising various places of interest. Apparently, they help travelers arrange transportation to the different attractions in Camotes.
Whole day tour costs Php 500 + cost of 2-4 liters of gasoline. Since the plan was to tour at 3pm and visit only a few places, the store lady agreed I will only pay half, which is Php 250 plus 2 liters of gasoline at Php 37/liter that time.
The driver was waiting for me, a young man by the name of Ervin. He can be reached at 0936-7918-906. Off we went exploring!
Short Spelunking at Timubo Cave
I was really interested to visit this famous attraction in Camotes. Go inside and down this cave and a refreshing pool of fresh water will be waiting for you.
The descent did not take that long. There were stairs also, so it was not difficult. Lighting was enough for you to see where you are going. The way down is moist or wet, however, so watch your step. Also, you might have to duck or squeeze through some tight places.
At the end of the path was the fresh water pool where a lot of visitors were already swimming. Yes, there was a crowd but not overwhelming. I still managed to find a quiet spot in between rocks where I just enjoyed soaking in the cold water. The rock formations inside the cave were also interesting. I didn’t feel scared because aside from the many people, the water was so clear. It was only chest-high too, so even a non-swimmer like me enjoyed the place.
The Camotes Baywalk
After an hour or so in Timubo Cave, I decided to get out and go to this next destination. It took around 30 minutes to get there via motorcycle. The road was also rough in many places. Upon arrival, the sun was starting to set.
The island’s baywalk isn’t that fancy. I think Dumaguete’s is more developed. Still, it was a relaxing place to be. There were many barbecue stands and one can eat their favorite charred pork, chicken or fish while admiring the calming view of the bay. Aside from that though, there is nothing much to do there.
Back to Coco Grove for the Night
As it was getting dark, I told my motorcycle driver that we should head back. I also made sure he drove slowly since the roads were rough. He thankfully heeded my request, yet it was still a bit scary since the roads suddenly break into rocky paths and street lights were limited.
As for the driver, I wasn’t really scared that he might do something bad to me, even if I was alone with him and had no idea how to get back. The young man seemed trustworthy enough for me that time. Besides, this is not my first time being alone with a motorcycle driver touring in the middle of nowhere.
It took more than 30 minutes to get back, and when I finally did, I wasn’t able to get inside our room right away. I kept knocking but my friend would not answer. I texted and called, still no answer. I sat outside our room for around 10 minutes waiting, but nothing was happening. I was locked out (I left the key in the room assuming my friend would open the door for me) and I was getting worried about my friend too.
Finally, I had to ask the reception lady to open our room with their duplicate key. She obliged and I realized my friend was still deep asleep. She might have been really tired since I was able to shower and unpack without her waking up. I even managed to go out and find dinner at Paradise Resort and she only stirred to life when I returned. I’m still grateful for her company though despite the short notice and her pulling an all-nighter just for the trip.
So that’s that. Overall, our first day in Camotes went well. If only the ferry system would improve! I’m not really demanding a huge improvement, but hopefully they can at least reach the efficiency level of Hagnaya Port (port to Bantayan Island).
For the second half of this adventure, read Camotes Day 02.