Best things to do in Camotes Island and places to visit. We’ve been to this Island twice already, and wouldn’t mind another visit in the future, thanks to its incredible nature. If someone were to ask me where to go for a vacation to get the experience of living on a deserted island, and really disconnect from civilization for a change, my answer would be, hands down – the Camotes Islands in the Philippines.
Let’s be clear, this is not actually a deserted island – in fact, it’s just as populated as all the other islands in the country. And yet, it has a great many places where you can feel as if you have left civilization far behind, and really enjoy some breathtaking sights that you’ve probably only seen on postcards or in movies about deserted islands. So, let’s get down to the places not to miss on Camotes Island.
Camotes Island in the Philippines
Camotes Islands are located in the central Philippines (Cebu is to the northwest). The Philippines are known for tourist-beloved areas like Borocay and Palawan, which are usually brimming with travelers. If you want to catch your breath and rest a bit further from the crowd – visit Camotes Island. The terrible cellular and internet connection is yet another reason to set your work aside, get away from the rest of the world, and simply enjoy nature.
It should be noted that Camotes has been topping the lists of the cleanest islands in the Philippines for several years in a row now. The Island is almost completely free of trash, all thanks to the government decree whereby littering is penalized not only by imposing a fine but also by prohibiting the offender from obtaining the licences necessary to conduct various activities. Not surprisingly, people have been quite diligent about picking up after themselves ever since. Even we, Europeans, could probably learn something here.
Another thing of note is that Camotes is pronounced in a way that’s close to the Filipino word for sweet potato. We’ve no idea whether they actually grow sweet potatoes on the Island – we haven’t seen any fields – yet there’s plenty to do here, nonetheless. We recommend you dedicate 2-3 days of your trip exclusively to Camotes.
How to get to Camotes
If you try looking for information about how to get to Camotes on the internet, or simply ask the locals, you’ll likely be directed to a ferry which departs from the City of Danao located on the Cebu Island. There are also a number of ferries departing from the City of Cebu and Lapu Lapu. During both of our visits, we chose Danao, as that was the best option time-wise.
If you want to get on the ferry from Danao, you’ll first have to take either a public or private bus, the latter being the better option if you’re traveling in a large group. The trip from Cebu to Danao takes around two hours.
If your plan is to take the public bus, first go to the North Bus Terminal of Cebu City and find the buses which leave for Danao (or, to be more precise, the Danao Seaport). Tickets go for around 50 pesos (a bit under 1 euro). When we arrived to Danao City, it was already dark outside. Looking through the windows, we could see local Filipinos going about their daily lives, which, at times, made us feel as if traveling along rural roads in India.
In Danao, there’s a ferry that can take you to the Consuelo Port in the Camotes Island. Even though the distance isn’t great, the whole trip takes around two hours. Ferry tickets go for 250 pesos per person.
Once out of the ferry, you’ll be greeted by a crowd of locals offering ride services, which is a convenient option to continue your trip around Camotes. Just make sure to haggle! The only questions now are where to go and what to see. So, let’s see which places are worth your while?
Tulang Diot island
It’s a strip of white sand located near the island. Even though it’s the smallest of all the Camotes Islands, it’s also incredibly beautiful and clean, and the perfect spot for swimming in crystal-clear water.
We’ve only spent an hour here, as we’ve been in a hurry to visit some other locations on the island, but we recommend you stay here for a full day. You can easily walk accross the entire large, white sandy beach from one end to the other. You should also see some rocks on the right. Here you’ll also find a number of gazebos where you cozy up and have a nice picnic.
There’s no entrance fee, so all you have to do is pay a local boat owner a small commission to take you to the sand strip (island).
Buoho Rock is not just a pretty sight, but also an opportunity to bungee jump down 15 metres to the sea below. There’s a variety of spots here, some higher than others, so choose whichever you prefer.
A visit to Buoho Rock marked our six-year-old son Vakaris’s first-ever jump into the water from on high. The first five seconds of fear was immediately followed by heaps of joy and pride in the achievement. Our daughter Smiltė, on the other hand, had already been a fan of bungee jumping at that point, yet this was a challenge even for her. It took a bit of time to gather up the courage and leap off the rock, but, in the end, it was certainly worth it – the pleasure, experience gained, and resulting self-confidence is sure to stay with her for a long time to come.
This is also an excellent place to have a family picnic or to take some time for yourself and read a book, or simply enjoy the view. There’s certainly no shortage of suitable benches and gazebos! If that’s not enough, Buoho Rock is also known as a great spot for snorkeling.
This is one of the most popular beaches on Camotes Island. Santiago Bay is a large, white, sandy shore with some impressive, upright rocks to the right. There’s also a number of little hotels built on top of them, and even though I can’t speak from experience, the view must clearly be nothing short of stunning. During our visit, we didn’t look for accommodation here, as the prices are likely to be a good match for the view.
When the tide is low, you can navigate around the rocks without too much trouble and discover a spot marked by near-perfect tranquillity. With the noise of crowds far behind, the quiet is just uncanny! Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is also a spot where the locals have decided to build a cemetery. If you’re curious to see a genuine Filipino burial site – this is your chance. The place – located on the shores of a tiny bay, and surrounded by nature – is absolutely beautiful.
The cemetery doesn’t have any regular graves with crosses or tombstones on them, as people in the Philippines bury their dead in a type of cement box which stays in the ground for five years, or a bit longer if absolutely necessary. Afterwards, the bodies are exhumed to reclaim the bones, which are then re-buried elsewhere.
Getting back to Santiago Bay, people simply come here to rest and have a good time. You’ll also find lots of small cafés here, serving rather simple, yet tasty food, and as the day comes to a close, make sure to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
Lake Danao has an area of roughly 650 hectares and is the largest lake in the central part of the Philippines. We recommend you spend no less than half a day here – the overall landscape sure deserves at least that. You can also rent a canoe (prices are quite fair) and enjoy the amazing natural environments from up close. And if you have something to drink and snack on – why not have a great picnic to boot!
Timubo Cave is, without a doubt, a natural marvel you shouldn’t miss. Getting to the water, however, can be quite difficult thanks to the narrow paths and all the wading through the water you’ll have to do before reaching your destination. Many people have commented on how cold and refreshing the water is here, yet we didn’t find it to be either particularly cold or refreshing, so your mileage may vary. Bring 20 pesos to enter.
Holy Crystal Cave. No entrance fee, just a voluntary donation – the exact amount will depend on what you think it’s worth. This is a fairly common occurrence in the Philippines, by the way, and we’re quite fond of it. What’s interesting is that you often end up paying more in the form of donations, than you would if the amount was fixed.
Holy Crystal Cave has as many as eight levels, so we recommend you set aside a good 1.5-2 hours of time. A great place to visit if you’re interested in stalagmites.
Waterfalls of the Camotes Island
Even though we haven’t visited any of the waterfalls ourselves, there’s no reason why you should miss them too! There are the Busay Falls, which have three levels and a naturally formed pool, and the Panganuron Falls, if you’re still hungry for some more. The latter is located in the Poro Island which forms a part of the Camotes Islands. If you’re not sure where to find them, just ask the locals – they will not only tell you where to go but may even drive you there.
We have truly enjoyed our time in Camotes Island, so we hope you give it a visit as well and enjoy it just as much as we did. We tend to like places with few tourists and natural environments which have not yet been altered by humans. Here you can really take in the magnificent views so characteristic of the Philippines, feel at one with nature, and escape the civilized world – even if just for a little while. If that’s something you look for in your holiday destinations, you’re in luck! Trust us, you will be pleasantly surprised.
If you need a break from the fast-pace of modern life, why not take a longer vacation and come to Camotes Island! This place is also ideal for meditation and yoga retreats.
Best things to do in Camotes island #Philippines #camotesisland