Sunday, April 12, 2009

Camotes Getaway - Day 1

The best plan is no plan at all and last holy week, we decided to go to Camotes without planning where to stay, where to go once there or what activities to do. We just stuffed the gears in the car and took a RORO ride to Camotes.

The trip lasted for three days and we took about 500 pictures along so I think it's best to divide this blog into THREE parts:
Day 1 - Finding our way to the island

Day 2 - The BEACH!

Day 3 - Side activities

The boat was scheduled to leave at 500 AM and as expected, we didn't wake up on time. It was a lucky break though because there is an "optional trip" at 11am and they gave it a go. Turned out there were only two vehicles aboard plus a few passengers. Had we made it at 500 AM, it could have been very crowded.

The cost of the passenger is Php 200 while the Car is 1,600 and SUV/Van is 2,500, both with the driver free of charge.
The boat trip is a long, boring three hours and as with any trip, the time to reach our destination seems endless. Well, what better time to repay our sleep debt. Kingking and Mizuki thought the same way.
We docked at Poro, Camotes which is still around an hour travel to Santiago Bay, one of the famous beaches of the island. Unfortunately, with the excitement just a while ago, we forgot to bring the map and so, we have to rely on our excellent sense of direction to find our way to Santiago Bay.
Camotes has two main islands and I remember that Santiago Bay is at the south-westernmost part while the Poro dock is at the southeern part located on the other island. We just drove westward. I was expecting to cross a bridge but it turned out that only a swamp connects the two islands. The swamp is filled with mangrove forest.

The west island is called San Francisco and you'll know why once you are there. The roads are excellent and planted with San Francisco along the way. I wonder who owns the name first.

Well, finding your way to the most part of San Francisco is a no brainer. I hate asking questions for directions. Real men don't ask questions. Kudos to the island for being very tourist friendly.

After an hour or so, we finally reached Santiago Bay. There are a couple of resorts in there with rooms and the cost ranges from Php 700 - Php 3,500 per 24-hour period. As expected, there are no vacancies so we have to proceed to the "public beach" which the locals called "barangay".

What we found out later is that the "barangay" portion of the beach is a MILLION times better than the resorts. In fact, it is the BEST PUBLIC BEACH I have been to. It featured the WIDE OPEN SPACE that we crave. The center portion of the beach encompassing more than half of the bay is actually owned and maintained by the barangay. It is extremely clean, has a grass park (read: rigging friendly for sails), kiosks, deck chairs, parking space near you, clean public comfort room, 24-hour gardener (who waters the plants even at midnight), 24-hour tanod police service, friendly staff who checks if you're okey regularly, friendly barangay officials, etc. I could go on listing the good things of that place all day! Santiago Bay is around 2km long, I guess. Cost to pitch a tent - Php 50, rent a kiosk - Php 200, Kingking said it was a very good deal.

Deck chairs are very well made. I might build one of these sometime.

The bad thing about the holy week is that the low tide is so low. The good news is that the beach becomes wider. It was dusk anyway and while it's windy, we decided not to rig up and just enjoyed the beach.

It was the first time that Mizuki gets to see and walk on a white sandy beach and she went wild and running and chasing creatures and children and digging holes finding crabs. Well, after the 5-hour travel, she must have been bored to death.

We just enjoyed the sunset after and rigged the tent. I can't wait to enjoy the water tomorrow.

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