In the backyard of my mind, I kept the imagery and the serene desire of embracing the unspoiled and unpretentious innate beauty of an Island. This slowly grows and remain just a desire until I finally traipse my two little itchy feet on the Island that I have not expected to be equally astonishing as my serene desire have long been wanting to see and own.
Summer in the Philippines could be really hot and this is the season that most people would likely be really exciting about. It is when most sun soakers and beach hawkers really waited. Cebu has a lot of white powdery sand beaches along with its shoreline and some are actually making their name famously and could possibly be compared to the beautiful beaches in the world. But behind all the commercialized White sand Beach Resorts that you can find in Cebu, we are still so fortunate that there are still few precious gems that aren’t overrun by beach worshiper. One of these islands that owns very unspoiled white sand beaches and are not yet jaded by the presence of visitors is the Carnaza Island in Northernmost tip of Cebu, Philippines.
Carnaza Island is partially shrouded in low mountains, evergreen rainforest and a couple of jungle viewpoints that serve as excuses for short treks. This island also offers fine white sand beaches that right after a limestone formation is another white beach to discover and enjoy. The stunning views towards several limestone outcrops rising from the sea is like the spine of an ancient dragon that meets the sturdy waves and the surface of every limestone formation. The waters that surround the island is teal and full of life and a great playground for those that really love to plunge under the paradise of the ocean.
Believe me or not, but the exciting way to amble around the island is on foot and that’s really an amazing adventure that everyone should experience. Whatever you do on Carnaza Island, it is always done in surroundings that can only be truly described as paradise. It is still so unspoiled that you can’t find any Beach Resort on this Island, except for the private Resort owned by the Osmeña family. This Island is truly for the isolated feel for you get to just set up your tent and sleep under the captivating light of the stars at night time. But of everything that this Island has to offer, the very thing that you will really enjoy is the relaxation and eschewing of the tourist trail that leads to serenity and will bring you closer to an innate nature’s bounty.
We were on a pump boat floating on a peaceful ocean that appears like a silky water heading to Carnaza Island. I was sitting beside my backpack where I found an idea from Backpackhack.com of which backpack I brought with me during our trip to Carnaza Island. While we were almost reaching the Island, the pristine water that allowed our eyes to experience the paradise under the wide ocean really entice us to jump and swim.
It was already late 3PM in the afternoon when we arrived on Carnaza Island together with my travelers friend and some of them were also travel bloggers from Cebu. We were welcomed by a pristine water and a white sand beach with an amazement marking our face. The clinging heat of the sunlight was piercing our surface that we immediately get to find a shady part to lay down our things before exploring the island. Some of my friends took advantage of the sun and swim. I was then busy looking for the best angle to get a photo of the beach.
I was sitting on a white sand while watching my friends enjoying the turquoise water on the beach, then two of my friends invited me to find a good spot for a sunset viewing. At first, I was in doubt of going with them cause I felt like I needed to rest that time, but I was then reminded of my real purpose of visiting this island not to rest, but to explore its natural beauty. Hence, I end up going with them where I was so happy and thankful that I did.
So we set forth to explore the Island by foot until we slowly discovered all the hidden gems that Carnaza Island has to offer. We’ve seen some other white sand beach that still left in its natural state. It is hidden in two longitudinal cliffs on both sides and a bunch of colorful pump boats on its shoreline that the locals use for fishing. While waiting for the sunset, we started discovering the secret spot that really perfects for a photo shoot with a backdrop of pristine water and beautiful limestone cliffs.
At close to 5:30pm, the sun slowly saying goodbye to us and the sky started to transform into a colorful hue of lights that really made us speechless. It was truly perfect, I couldn’t find the right words to describe how beautiful it was that even photos could not render justice to the dramatic sky. We were begging and trying to stop the darkness to come and let the beautiful sky extend its time of divulging its beauty to us, but we possessed no power to do that.
So we ran to the other side of a limestone hill, hoping that there might be a good spot to view the sunset. Yes, we were able to see the stunning view of a limestone cliff and a tiny island that looks like an airplane that have just landed. Yes, it is exactly looks like an airplane landing on the ocean of Carnaza Island. It was just so cute that I can’t stop gazing at it. Seeing the calm water of the ocean from the limestone hill, I was mystified how the reflection of the dramatic sky has influenced the ocean. It was just so stunning that we never stop adoring Carnaza Island for it offers almost everything that every adventure seeker is looking for. Then darkness slowly filling the whole place and likewise a sign of going back to our camping site to prepare our dinner.
We were cooking our dinner in the middle of a dark camping site with only one headlight and our phone flashlights that serves as our light while preparing our dinner. Soon enough we had our late dinner around 8:30PM in the evening on a boodle fight set up. We gather around the banana leaves on the ground that has a full of luscious food with our bare hands while throwing funny jokes on each other. You can truly imagine how happy we were while having our dinner.
So the night is getting deep and as a usual camping set up, we also had our social. We gather around except for others who were already sleepy and need to rest for they were jaded. We had games, someone played guitar and we all sing in the middle of the night like we owned the Island that night. Some were actually still doing their thing, but right after our werewolf game I decided to sleep. I was lulled into a deep slumber while gazing at the beautiful stars above me and the comforting sound of waves kissing the coast.
Then the dawn arrives, I was woken up by an inviting call from James saying that I have to wake up cause we are going to look for a good spot to chase the sunrise. I instantly woke up and had myself ready. We were actually in hurry for we might not able to witness the sunrise. The sun is about to come out from where he was blotting out the whole night, but all of us were still struggling cause we haven’t found a good spot for the sunrise viewing. I can limpidly see the frustration of my travelers friend, but we’re still happy that even we didn’t have a perfect spot to see the sunrise, we were still able to see the king sun as he rises up.
After chasing the sunrise we went back to our camping site and prepare our breakfast before departing to another secluded island which is also part of Carnaza Island. We are just so fortunate that one of our friends knows someone who has a pump boat and can get us to Lamanok Island (The chicken-less Island) for a cheaper price. Thus, we again had our breakfast in a boodle fight set up before heading to our next Island destination. But before we left Carnaza Island, it is our obligation and responsibility to clean the camping site and bring our garbage to the mainland of Daanbantayan.
Heading to our next Island destination was truly fun and we get the opportunity of seeing some other part of Carnaza Island with beautiful and untouched white beaches and astonishing cliffs. Lamanok Island or locally spelled as the La Manok Island is a 2 small island joined by a sand bar that offers unique island vibes and you’ll get to experience the sturdy ocean current that flows between the islands where I struggle a lot the moment I swim. La Manok Island will be published next on my blog, so kindly wait for it.
Note: This is part of our 3 days and 2 night adventure on the 5 remote Islands in the northernmost part of Cebu, namely Guintarcan Island, Malapascua Island, Carnaza Island, La Manok Island and Gato Island together with other Cebu Travel Bloggers, Instagrammers and Travelers.
HOW TO GET TO CARNAZA ISLAND
There are daily flights to Cebu from Manila, Davao and other part of the Philippines with Major Airlines (Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia). From the Cebu Mactan Airport, ride a taxi going to Cebu North Bus Terminal and from there, take a bus bound to Maya-Kawit or Maya-Bagay and you should tell the driver or the Bus conductor to drop you off at the Tapilon port. The fare is around PHP 170 to PHP 190. As you reached the Tapilon Port, ask the locals in the area where is the port of Tapilon. From there, hop a boat that will take you to Carnaza Island. The fare is around Php100 per person for one way trip and the travel time is roughly 2 hours.
Since Carnaza Island doesn’t own a bunch of visitors in a day, the schedule of the boat rides that leaves Tapilon Port to Carnaza Island is sometimes not fix. But the boat mostly departs around 7 or 8am depending on the local passengers.
During our visit to Carnaza Island, we didn’t take a boat ride from Tapilon Port going to Carnaza Island. We rented a boat from Malapascua Island around PHP 3,000 for 10-15 passengers. I guess this is more convenient if you’re traveling with a group of friends. Since we only rented the boat for a one way trip to Carnaza Island because we stayed on the island for one night, we as well rented another boat on the following day that brought us to Lamanok Island, Galut Island and go back to Tapilon Port for only PHP 4,000 and good for 10-15 passengers.
- Bear in mind that there is only one trip from Carnaza Island going back to Tapilon Port and leaves around 7 or 8 AM. To avoid rushing in the morning and you want to explore the Lamanok Island and Gato Island, you better hire a Private boat. You can always ask the locals living on the Island. The price is quite expensive though around PHP 6,000, but you can always haggle. We were just so lucky during our visit, since one of our friends who have joined us, knows someone on the Island and he only charge PHP 4,000 for the entire boat trip from Carnaza Island to Lamanok Island, Gato Island and to Tapilon Port.
- Expect big waves when going to Carnaza Island always make sure to secure all your gadgets and put them in the dry bag. Again, we are lucky enough that during our trip to Carnaza the ocean has been just so calm.
- If you’re going to consider a local boat ride from Tapilon port, you are required to have your name registered at the Barangay Hall upon reaching Carnaza Island for the security and safety of visitors on the Island.
- Bring your own camping gear like your tent and all the necessary stuff that you’ll be needing during your stay on the Island. If ever you didn’t bring your tent, you can always ask the locals where to rent a tent for a night. Some locals on the island also offer bed spaces. I guess one of the Barangay Officials on the Island offers bed space and lodging as well, just go to their Barangay Hall.
- Bringing your cook set when you decide to stay overnight on this Island is very advisable. Also buy the necessary supplies from the Mainland of Daanbantayan. There are small stores on the Island, but that won’t guarantee that all the supplies that you’ll be needed will be available in their stores.
- Since Carnaza Island is a perfect place for those that loves to explore the paradise under the ocean. I advise you to bring your own swimming and snorkeling gear.
- During the morning, you’ll be finding out fresh seafood near the seashore where most locals live. You can always ask the locals and buy their fresh fish.
- I highly suggest that you have to bring your Powerbank and make sure that all your gadgets are fully charged before going on this Island, since their electricity on the island is not available 24 hours.
- Always remember that, It is your garbage your obligation. Never leave your garbages when visiting this Island, as you depart the island bring them with you and leave them on the mainland of Daanbantayan. Don’t forget to bring your food waste bag.
- Please remember to leave no trace behind. Take good care of our mother nature. Just enjoy and be responsible enough.
POSSIBLE TRAVEL EXPENSES TO PREPARE
Fare from Cebu-Daanbantayan (Regular Bus) – PHP 160
Breakfast – PHP 100
Fare Daanbantayan to Port going to Guintarcan Island – 10
Boat rental going to the Guintarcan Island (good for 10-15 passengers), including the food for 2 days Island adventure – PHP 500
Fare from Port – Daanbantayan proper – PHP 10
Fare Daanbantayan – Maya Port – PHP 10
Fare Maya Port – Malapascua – PHP 100
Additional charge for a mini boat transfer – PHP 40
Dinner at Ging-Ging’s Restaurant on Malapascua Island – PHP 115
Mr. Kwiiz Resort bed space (fan room) and good for 4 people – PHP 350
Lunch at Mr. Kwiiz Resort – PHP 155
Boat rental Malapascua to Carnaza Island PHP 3,000 divided to 10 people – PHP 300
Boat Rental from Carnaza, Lamanoc Island, Gato Island and going back to Tapilon Port PHP 4000 divided to 13 people – 310
Fare Tapilon to Cebu City – PHP 190
OVER ALL TOTAL for our 3 days and 2 night trip: PHP 2,350
Note: This is the good side when you travel with a group of friends, aside from you won’t be spending much, you will as well enjoy so much that you forget about your skin being sun burnt.
3 Days and 2 night Itinerary. Exploring five remote Islands at the Northernmost tip of Cebu. Guintarcan Island, Malapascua Island, Carnaza Island, Lamanok Island and Gato Island.
1:30 AM- Meet-up at the North Bus Terminal
02:00 AM- Depart from Cebu City
06:30 AM- ETA in Daanbantayan
07:00 AM- Breakfast
07:30 AM- Buying the necessary supplies needed in Guintarcan Island
9:30 AM – Depart for Guintarcan Island
10:40 AM- ETA Guintarcan Island
10:50 AM – Trek going to La-aw Lagoon
11:20 AM – ETA La-aw Lagoon
11:30 AM – Swimming in La-aw Lagoon
12:00 PM – Lunch
12:30 PM – Swimming continue
02:00 PM – Depart for Daanbantayan
03:15PM – ETA at Daanbantayan
03:30 PM – Depart for Maya Port
03:50 PM – ETA in Maya Part
04:00 PM- Buying all the necessary supplies for 2 days Island adventure. 05:00 PM – Depart for Malapascua Island
05:30 PM – ETA Malapascua Island
05:50 PM – Looking for a Hostel to stay in Malapascua for a night
09:00 PM – Dinner
10:00 PM – Social
11:30 PM – Rest time
07:00 AM – Prepare for breakfast
08:30 AM – Breakfast
09:30 AM – Exploring Malapascua Island
11:00 AM – Prepare for check out at Mr. Kwiiz Beach Resort
11:50 PM – Check out
12:00 PM – Lunch at Mr. Kwiiz Beach Resort
02:00 PM – Depart for Carnaza Island
03:30 PM – ETA Carnaza Island
04:00 PM – exploring the Island and chasing sunrise
06:30 PM – Prepare for Dinner
08:30 PM – Dinner
09:30 PM – Social
12:00 AM – Rest time
05:00 AM – Wake up and prepare for sunrise viewing
05:30 AM – Sunrise viewing
06:30 AM – Prepare for breakfast
08:30 AM – Cleaning the camping area
09:00 AM – Breakfast
09:00 AM – Prepare for Lamanok Island
10:00 AM – Depart for Lamanok
11:20 AM – ETA Lamanok Island
11:30 AM – Explore and enjoying Lamanok Island
12:30 PM – Lunch
01:00 PM – Depart for Gato Island
02:20 PM – side trip on Gato Island for a while
02:30 PM – Depart for Tapilon Port
04:00 PM – ETA Tapilon Port
04:10 PM – Quick wash up at the Karederia (food beanery).
05:00 PM – Depart for Cebu City
09:30 PM – ETA Cebu City
10:00 PM – Home sweet home.
I would like to thank Master Arnold of Wandering Soul Scamper for the invitation and for planning the whole trip. To John Jay of Wandering Feet PH, James of ASANASADSIJAMES, Gly of Chasing Potatoes, Mike Laagan of The Traveling Panda, Sean of His Hidden Letters, Dilon of Chasing Wonders, to Gelai of Wanderanghela for always making sure that we have luscious food to eat, to Angel, Kevin and Duke that I have just met, may I still see you on our next adventure and to Rome of Basta Bisaya and Totem of Totemgineer. Thank you so much guys for the fun filled adventure that I have experienced together with you all. See you all on our next adventure again!