The best travels are those that lead you to hidden places, not often featured in guide books or travel blogs. Read on below for nine insider #traveltips to keep in mind when visiting Camotes Islands, Philippines.
1. Know your port of entry
Visitors can travel from Cebu to Camotes via one of three ways: a) Danao Port, b) Mactan Wharf, or c) Cebu Port. Jomalia Shipping Lines travels from Danao Port and Mactan Wharf to Consuelo Port in Camotes while OceanJet travels from Cebu Port to Poro, Camotes–these are the only travelling vessels so passengers are strongly advised to purchase round trip tickets from their ticketing office ahead of time. Otherwise, you will be in for a very long wait at the pier.
Passengers will pay around PHP 250 to get from Danao Port to Camotes. However, ‘fixers’ are more prevalent here and will purchase a large number of tickets to be sold to passengers at a higher price. The vessel is often crammed with a mix of vehicles, people, and various cargo, so expect that you will be standing for the entire trip (unless you’re quick enough to snag a seat). Travel time is estimated to be around 2 hours. Take this option if you’re looking to save on transportation and you happen to live near Danao.
If you will opt to take the Jomalia fast craft from Macatan Wharf or the OceanJet from Pier 1 of Cebu Port, you will pay around PHP 500. Both are definitely the pricier options but the ride will undoubtedly be much faster (and more comfortable). If you live around Lapu-lapu, ride from Mactan Wharf, but for those who live around Cebu City, taking the boat from Cebu Port is the better option.
2. Check the season
Camotes’ beautiful beaches and stunning coastline is a siren’s call to tourists, who often flock to the island during the summer, weekends, or holidays. While it might be stifling to visit during the peak season, visitors are encouraged to visit Camotes from November to May, most particularly from March – May, in order to avoid the storms that frequent the area during the rainy season. After all, who would want the rain to dampen an afternoon tanning session?
3. Pack some food
Never forget to pack some light snacks wherever you are in the island. Camotes is still very much a rural area so don’t expect sari-sari stores (convenience stores) to be open 24/7. Pack a granola bar to munch on the beach or some biscuits for a light repast. It won’t be filling but it will get you through the day until you can find an open carenderia (canteen). If you’re feeling queasy on the boat, saltine crackers will do wonders to ease an upset stomach.
4. Bask in the sunrise
As you take in the majestic views of the island, try to get up at dawn and catch the sun rise over the horizon. When you take an early morning boat to Camotes, stay on the east side in order to catch a glimpse of the sunrise. You can also camp out on one of the island’s beaches and get up at dawn as you listen to the crashing waves. It is one of the best forms of stress relief out there.
5. Check your transportation
Camotes Island might appear small on a map but you can be assured of some travel time going to and from each destination. To visit each place, some passengers prefer to ferry their cars from the port of Danao. This could easily cost you more than P1300 (USD 25), not to mention the cost of gas—it is also important to note that gas stations are often located in far flung areas, so take this into consideration.
If the option above is too much hassle for you, don’t worry, there are a lot of transportation options available on the island. Motorcycles can be rented out for around P300 (USD 6) per day. You can also hire a car and driver to service you during your stay for around P2500 (USD 48) a day—we recommend recommend you use an open air vehicle, like the jeepney, to take in the fresh air and gorgeous scenery. Remember to always try to haggle for lower prices before agreeing to anything.
6. Loose change
The local laws implemented in Camotes Island is geared towards the protection of the environment. To do their part, many of the public places charge a small environmental fee, ranging from P5–10 (less than 1 USD) per person. Collectors are often placed in small outposts that receive small denominations so it’s best to bring loose change with you.
7. Pack the essentials
Just like any other beach trip, be sure to pack items that can help you withstand the heat, and occasional splash. For a fun-filled adventure, be sure to bring the following items:
- Dry bag
- Extra clothes
- Waterproof camera or waterproof case for your phone
- Tent or sleeping bag
8. Live like the locals
To truly experience life as a local, don’t be afraid to get involved in their daily activities. If you’ve never been camping, try setting up a tent on the beach of Tulang Diyot. If you want to try local produce, purchase food from the public markets and try eating it with your (clean) hands.
9. Be open to new experiences
For solo travellers, don’t worry about visiting the island since Camotes is home to many friendly locals. Try engaging some of them into a conversation while waiting for your boat or when you’re eating by the campfire—you’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn. If you’re travelling with a group, you can lessen the cost by splitting the bill with everyone.