Before going to Caramoan, there are a few things that you need to know beforehand. Caramoan is a typical Philippine province - it has a nice little town and many barangays. It is mostly beaches, mountains, hills, and dirt roads. Although when we went there, there were already cemented roads, but they're not yet 100% constructed. So if you want to explore it, be ready as it will be a bumpy ride. There are only a few cars as the only way to reach Caramoan is by sea travel on either a small or big motorized banca (wooden outrigger boat).
There were only two of us, it's quite a disadvantage as most tour packages accepts at least 10 people for their cheapest price (around 4,500 per person). I inquired 2 other resorts - West Peninsula, CMC Villa, and they could only give me a rate of 5,500 per person if there were only two of us coming. The others were too expensive for a non-beach side resort (La Casa Roa at 4,200 per room for two nights, Rex Tourist Inn at 1,500 per room per night, Vista Del Mar at 1,200 per room per night). An air-conditioned room at Villa Juliana costs only 700 pesos per night.
I contacted the owner, Roger, and asked if they were also offering complete tour packages. Apparently they do, at 3000 per person, no matter how many you are in the group - even if there were only two of us. This package includes our accommodation for 3 days and 2 nights (with air-conditioning), island hopping (the common package, the near islands, which costs 1,500 if done separate from the tour), food for all those days and nights, and transportation.
The room, to my surprise, is actually pretty decent. I read other people's blogs and expected the rooms to be very uncomfortable - threadbare, hard pillows, no blankets, no towels, has cockroaches, etc. It was the opposite. The entire inn, painted previously in yellow, is now painted in a light shade of pink. I normally despise pink, but the color actually looks quite pretty and not tacky. All of their rooms have 2 beds, at least 1 queen size and 1 single bed, so even if there's just two of us, we had a room good enough for three people. The comfort room is quite small, but decent. It was very worth it for 700 pesos a night! The only thing I didn't like was that they didn't have a hot shower. I knew this beforehand, but then again, I was on a tight budget and wouldn't want to pay a thousand more just to have a hot shower. The pillows were soft, and the blankets and bed coverings were okay - not high-end, but comfortable enough to sleep in. The TV in our first room wasn't working, and it was okay with us, but the owner's wife asked us if it was working or not. I think they had it fixed earlier, but the technician wasn't able to fix the transmission properly, so not all TV's had good reception. She asked us if we wanted to transfer to a room that had good TV reception and we did - for free. Sometimes the rooms have blankets and towels already, but if they don't, you can always ask them for it. They're very friendly and hospitable. Their service is not top-notch like a hotel service wherein everything is ready for you, but they're very accommodating. It feels like you visited your friend's province and stayed in their house --not everything is ready, but your host will always be willing to serve you anything you need.
The food was cooked by Roger and served whenever we were ready. If you didn't say anything specific, they will be the ones who will think of what to serve you. If you are allergic to certain food though, be certain to tell them in advance so they can prepare. You can also tell them what food you wish to be cooked. It will be nice if you tell them hours in advance, but far greater if you tell them days before. Again, it's like staying at your friend's house in the province - you can ask for coffee/chocolate/merienda/fruits at any time of the day. Their servings are really big! We always had food good enough for four people - and there were only two of us! We were a bit embarrassed that we couldn't finish all the food (even if we wanted to, because it was good).
Our tricycle driver was kuya Mar (Marcelino San Pablo - 09185854864), who is a very friendly old man. He would tell us stories about himself, about the roads, the people, and the province of Caramoan. He drove us to the Grotto on our first day. We arrived at 1pm so we were tired and decided to skip the other parts of the tour (caves, island hopping half day).
On our second day, we had our island hopping at the nearer islands (1,500 if you pay separately for this). We spent the whole day bathing in the sun and enjoying the nice beach. The great thing about Caramoan's island beaches is that whenever some other group/boat comes along into "your" island while you're there, you can hop back on the boat and transfer to an island if you wish to be alone. We visited three islands - Matunkad, Lahus, and Hunongan. The best beach that we saw was Matunkad, where we stayed the longest. In this island, there is also a big mystical bangus (milkfish) to be found in a lagoon. To get there, you will have to free-climb the rocks (which are sharp and high). Be sure to wear slippers or shoes so your feet won't get hurt. You can't swim in the lagoon though, for it is actually quicksand. But the bangus holds a very interesting story (ask your guide).
To get to the farther islands, you need to pay more. One farther island (Sabitang Laya) cost us an extra 500 pesos from our pockets. It was a really beautiful island as well, with a wonderful view of the sea, and great rock formations.
We had breakfast on the third day and left early so we could still go wakeboarding for half a day at CWC. The tour is flexible, so you get to choose what you want to do.
- Also Known As:
- Villa Juliana Hotel Caramoan