It was such a calm fine day, that afternoon when we first took off to see the beaches that Caramoan has to offer…

Caramoan, Camarines Sur

I instantly felt at home in that boat, in the waters, in the calmness of the sea… It made me miss El Nido so much but at the same time, I was glad that I was back in my own province.

Caramoan, Camarines Sur

I had missed sitting on the bow of the boat like that… and I was so tempted to ask the boatman to trade places with me.

Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Angku in Coron, Palawan April 2008

From the little baranggay of Bikal, the boat first took us to a popular island…

MATUKAD ISLAND

Matukad Beach – Postcard perfect scenery, right in front of Gota Beach and can be reached by a motorboat in just 15 minutes. Be delighted with the white puka shells and corals with the unique powdery pink-sand abundant all over the island. – Lakbay Pilipinas

Matukad Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Matukad Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Matukad Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Matukad is one of the small islands in Caramoan. It is said to have a a circumference of 1,616 meters and 3 beaches stretched on 125 meters of pristine powdery white sand. Its shores are covered with fine white sand and walled with spectacular limestone cliffs. It has a lush tropical forest with wild plants bearing exotic fruits and orchids and it has a small hidden lake at its center. The bonsai-like trees and wild plants growing on the cracks of sharply eroded rock formations are also an interesting sight.

Matukad Island, aerial view

Back then, my daughter Trellia was only 10 months old and was only starting to walk.

Sharing a light moment together, Matukad Island, Caramoan

Sun and smiles at Matukad Island, Caramoan

The trip to Bicol was not her first as we had brought her home when she was about a month old and it was also not her first time to go island hopping or go to the beach as we had brought her along with us as well to Bohol when she was 8 months old – but this time was different, as she can now stand and go places by way of crawling and holding on to things. It was a fun time for her and I.

From Matukad Island, we hopped to nearby Lahos Island.

Lahos Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Lahos Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

LAHOS ISLAND

Lahos Island (or Lajos Island)has fine white sand shore like a thin sheet of paper in-between of two identical rocks. During high-tide, it eventually disappears and can only be seen again during low tides. This is where it gets its name, “Lahos” also means “Laho” which is “vanish” in English word. – E-Philippines

Lahos Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Lahos Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

We did not stay long in this island because when we got there, there was a totally naked Caucasian man and what we assumed was his wife and their little girl having the beach for themselves. We felt uneasy staying there, like we were intruding, and left in a hurry.

Lahos Island, aerial view

We’ve only arrived in Caramoan that morning and only had the afternoon for island hopping. The boatman and guide informed us that we will explore more the next day. To cap the day off, they brought us to this little pocket of beach in an island, the name of which I have forgotten, where my daughter and I spent a little time just bonding.

Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Mother and child in the island; Caramoan, Camarines Sur

As a last stop, since Gota Beach was off-limits, they brought us to this little pocket of beach that was right in front of Gota Beach. There were some resort guests kayaking and snorkeling right in front of us.

Gota Village, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Gota Village, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

The sun was setting and with that, we headed back to town.

We were off again early the next day and our first stop was the Manlawi sandbar.

MANLAWI SANDBAR

This is easily my favorite spot in all of Caramoan. It was just beauuuuutifuuuul…..!

Manlawi, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Manlawi, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Our timing was perfect.. the water was really low and getting lower every minute, until there was just a vast expanse of pure white sand stretching on and on…

Manlawi, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

I was asked if I wanted to have lunch there, in one of those three little huts…

Manlawi, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Manlawi, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

… but I took a look at my already-burned daughter, who was roaming the sandbar like a little lizard, without any swimwear on and butt naked…

Manlawi, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Manlawi, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

… I was sure she was having so much fun…

Mother and child playing in the sand; Manlawi, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Bright hot sun in Manlawi, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

… but I thought, it was best we moved on… to somewhere that had more shade, perhaps.

And we were brought here…

Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Where there was a shade, under a huge rock and nothing else. It was just a pocket beach in the middle of nowhere. Or at least it felt that way to me. Again, I have no idea which island we were in. It was a glorious place for swimming, wading in the water for my daughter, but the place had nothing else. So we moved on…

SABITANG-LAYA ISLAND

Sabitang Laya in Lucsuhin group of Island is a triangular island bounded by a long fine white shoreline. The long stretch of the beach can reach up to 2 kilometers if combined. Like the other island, it is ideal for swimmers, beach combers and snorkelers. It is also has tall and large cliffs perfect for rock climbing and repelling adventures.

It was claimed to be the “Survivors” favorite shooting location among the other islands of Caramoan. – E-Philippines

Sabitang-Laya, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

We stayed for hours on this long stretch of beach, waiting for the tide to come up – high enough for the boat to get to the port where we were headed next – the shrine of our lady of the most holy rosary.

Sabitang-Laya, Caramoan, Camarines Sur

While we were there, we watched as more boats came to the beach, loaded with other tourists, all waiting for the tide to come up so we can all go to the shrine. The entire time, we hung out with our guide, our boatman and other boatmen. At one point, our kind guide asked me if I wanted to snorkel and offered to look after my daughter while I did so. I was bored enough to say yes – and that is how I got to snorkel on this island. There was nothing much to see, except a lot of sea cucumbers, sea urchins, corals and some fish – but it was a worthy endeavor nevertheless.

Sabitang-Laya, aerial view

I remember how the boat ride from that island where we had lunch to this island was and it was kind of scary. I remember our boat maneuvering through waves nearly as big as our boat. I remember looking at my daughter, and then the life jackets on the floor of the boat, and my camera equipment and thinking of the what steps I will take if ever the boat, in a twist of bad luck, overturned. “Grab the life jacket first! Forget the camera!” I thought. I remember telling my father about the experience afterwards and him telling me, “Well, you are crazy in the first place to be bringing your infant in island hopping trips, at that age! And all by yourself!” I did tell him that when we were in Sabitang-Laya, I watched a boat unload a family and they had a screaming baby, in jumpers, socks and all that, along with them. From my estimate, that baby was about 4 months old. At least mine was 10 months and she was no screaming little one – she was actually having so much fun!

We were also lucky with our guide and boatman, as they have experience with guests toting little ones, and they told me how only a week before, they had guests who had an 8-month old baby who cried all the time. They were more than happy to look after mine, as she never cried and was always just happily tumbling and crawling along.

Soon enough, we were on our way to the shrine. And afterwards, on our way back to Bikal, just as the sun was setting behind the mountains.

Lia and Mama island hopping in Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Sunset in Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Click here to view the entire photo set on Flickr.

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