Caramoan Islands vs El Nido — 5 reasons why the former wins
The Caramoan Islands are a group of islands located in Caminares Sur, a province in the Philippines.
You can find them in the lower eastern side of the province in the Bicol region of the country.
According to history, the name ‘Caramoan’ has been used since 1619 — the year it was named after a Spanish friar.
Long before the Spanish, Dutch traders christened the land, ‘Guta de Leche’ (Guta of Milk). It’s most likely the name came from the milkdrop stalagmites they found among the rocks at Guta Port.
With more travelers heading to El Nido in Palawan, I want to share why Caramoan Islands are just as noteworthy.
It’s a place where great ocean, and land, adventures await — and it’s far superior — in my opinion — than El Nido.
A solo house among the trees
How to reach the Caramoan Islands
Suffice it to say, the Caramoan Islands aren’t the easiest place to reach.
However, as they say, ‘good things don’t come easy’; a sentiment that makes perfect sense when you arrive. The journey time depends on where you start your destination.
Worth the journey — Caramoan Islands
We started our trip to the Caramoan Islands from Naga Domestic Airport, and it took approximately 5.5 hours.
Capturing the sunset at Tugawe Cove Resort — Caramoan Islands
5 reasons why the Caramoan Islands beats El Nido
1. Caramoan Islands landscape
One of the things I miss most living in a big city like London is the lack of interesting landscapes.
An impressive skyline with tall obstructing buildings just doesn’t compete when you’re surrounded by incredible natural beauty.
There are 10 principle Caramoan Islands along with smaller islets off the coast of the peninsula. The larger islands include Matukad, Katanhawan, Gota and Cotivas.
Love at first sight — Caramoan Islands
I challenge your jaw not to drop when you see the first signs of the rugged coastline from the speedboat. From above, the islands are like something straight out of a National Geographic dream.
Imagine a destination filled with white sandy beaches, blinding blue waters and a forest bursting with flora and fauna.
In and around the islands and islets are caves and coves waiting to be explored, and a rich marine life. When night time falls, wait for the stars to come out and illuminate the misty sky.
“From above, the islands are like something straight out of a National Geographic dream.”
2. Plenty to do in the Caramoan Islands
In an area as picturesque as the Caramoan Islands, you’ll have no issues finding things to do.
It’ll come as little surprise that the number 1 activity to do is island hopping.
It’s a no-brainer when you visit the Caramoan Islands, and I guarantee it’ll be one trip you’ll never forget.
Island hop your way around — Caramoan Islands
We ‘hopped’ to several islands in the area, including Pitogo and Catanhawan (Big Catahawan and Small Catahawan Island).
The bigger of the 2 is home to a self-sufficient community of 100 people; a community that are gracious and kind. Saying that, please do respect their home and surroundings if you plan to visit.
The local people are proud to preserve the beauty of their environment and you should too. Sustainable tourism is something widely encouraged here, and putting it into practice is easy.
Adventure travelers will have an adrenaline overload in the Caramoan Islands.
As well as trekking the challenging terrain, there’s also the chance to climb limestone cliffs. On Pitogo Island is an uphill trek bound to test your level of fitness.
Take it from me, wear suitable shoes and long pants to avoid sharp shears of grass.
Island hopping is the norm
Jump on board
3. Caramoan Islands are not overcrowded
If you prefer your beaches remote, and the water clean and translucent, the Caramoan Islands are for you.
While traveler hotspot El Nido in Palawan has the same offerings, the Caramoan Islands aren’t as commercial.
This means you can do all the activities you associate on a paradise island, and without anyone surrounding you.
It’s all yours — Caramoan Islands
Swim, snorkel or scuba dive, the choice is yours. On Small Catahawan Island, I enjoyed a stretch of beach to myself, before swimming in the translucent waters.
The Caramoan Islands are also less expensive than the resorts at El Nido, but the quality’s just as high.
It makes a big difference to your budget, plus you’ll enjoy it more just knowing you didn’t break the bank.
Enjoy this beach all to yourself
4. Caramoan Islands and Survivor
If you’ve never heard of Survivor, you’re in good company.
This reality TV show puts a group of contestants on a paradise island, and essentially, they need to survive.
They compete in challenges for rewards and to get immunity from elimination. Whoever’s the sole survivor by the end of the show wins the grand prize.
A dream location — Caramoan Islands
Explanation over, it’s time to explain the connection between Survivor and the Caramoan Islands.
The islands have hosted not 1, but 8 seasons of the show from different countries.
They include, the United States, France, Bulgaria and Sweden. Its wild and untamed landscape, and challenging conditions make it a firm favorite with TV producers.
That said, if you’re a fan of the show, follow in the footsteps of your favorite contestants and visit for yourself.
Rocky terrains and uphill hikes are ideal for Survivor
4. The all-in-1 holiday
Above all, the Caramoan Islands are an all-inclusive destination that suits all types of travelers.
It’s ideal for a romantic holiday with your other half, or a family vacation with the kids. For families with young children, the beaches are clean, safe, and with shallow water in case they want to bathe.
Where to stay — Caramoan Islands
For couples, I highly recommend booking a few nights at a Lakeside Cabana at Tugawe Cove Resort.
Along with waking up next to each other, you’ll also see the lake directly outside, and the nearby beach. At night time, candles light the way along the lake and the stairs.
If available, request to dine by moonlight, and sip on wine while listening to the gentle waves meet the shore.
If you’re traveling solo, I’d still urge you to visit the Caramoan Islands.
There’s plenty to keep you busy — if you choose — or you can relax at the resort, and enjoy a massage. After all, you can’t come all this way for nothing.
Caramoan Islands map
Pinpoint your Caramoan Islands adventures by clicking on the map and planning your itinerary.
What do you think of the Caramoan Islands? Have I persuaded you to add it to your Philippines travel itinerary? Let me know in the comments section below.
Till next time, happy boutique travels x
*Prices correct at time of publishing
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Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience, a demographic (late 20s onward) that enjoys glamping over camping and staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels. Flashpackers also like to indulge in the local food and wine, cultural activities, as well as a spot of wellness on their travels. Want to know more? Read on....