Scene and Be Seen: Camotes, the Island Getaway

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Camotes Island, Cebu, a hidden paradise, a treasure trove of wonders. The eighth best island in the world is Cebu Island, according to Travel and Leisure (T+L) Magazine with their yearly showcase of the world’s best islands. T+L Magazine is an international magazine and last July 2018 they came out with a world ranking of the top best islands according to their beauty and attractions, tourist activities, overall appeal, value and of course, their beaches.
The ranking was based on actual feedback from tourists and travelers taking the magazine’s survey. We hope to make the list again this year. We made it because Cebu has various beaches scattered in all four directions, all of which contributed to Cebu’s ranking during last year’s survey.
In the north we have Bantayan Island and Malapascua, world class contenders that can match the beauty and wonder of the islands in Greece, Thailand and Indonesia. In the south we have Oslob,  Sumilon Island, and Moalboal all attracting tourists by the hundreds on a daily basis.
In the east we have a relatively new and upcoming tourist attraction in Camotes. Although Camotes has enjoyed its fair share of foreign and local visitors, compared to the other attractions Cebu has to offer, it is not so well known and not as popular. But this is what gives Camotes its allure.
Camotes is a small island group geopolitically part of the province of Cebu, although it is a bit close to Bohol and Leyte. This island group found within the Camotes Sea has three major islands, Pacijan Island, Poro Island and Ponson Island.
The perfect swimming spot in Santiago Bay

A very beautiful spot in Pacijan Island is Santiago Bay. It is indeed breathtaking, when you are there in the morning in one of the private resorts perched atop the cliff overlooking Santiago Bay, you will have a view most people would pay a fortune for.
When you go down the beach (there are no entrance fees by the way), your view is equally spectacular. The horizon stretches out over the clear blue waters and the skies goes on endlessly. Santiago bay during high tide is a vast picturesque, scenic pool. It is ideal for frolicking and swimming with family and friends because it is not too deep at all and its white sandy shore is perfect for picnics.
There are other activities that one can engage in aside from going to the beach. In the municipality of San Francisco as the area is commonly known. The municipality is actually home to one of the most charming, most romantic spots for couples and families, Lake Danao. And there are a number of caves that you can visit and experience spelunking and swimming in its underground pools.
Lake Danao’s serene and captivating scene
For Danao Lake, it is a very beautiful sight to behold and one can go boating or take a dip in its cool, fresh waters. The area around the lake indeed is nature at its best. The lush green trees lined through the shores and the banks of the lake, the sparkling water, the vibrant diverse biological eco system, the fishes and the birds make it a paradise one has to see.
In Poro, instead of white sandy beaches, one can enjoy the scenic rocky cliffs. The cliffs around the island make for an ideal diving board and the experience of jumping off into the sea makes you a child again relieving you from stress even if only temporary.
The third island in the group is Ponson with the sole municipality of Pilar. Pilar is the smallest of all the group but it can still awe with its white sandy beaches and its local inhabitants who are very hospitable. If you truly want to get away from it all, Pilar is your best bet.
The white sandy beach in Cawit, Pilar
It is quite far from mainland Cebu and to get there you need to ride at least one boat or ferry. There are nice beach fronts in Pilar and establishments that offer accommodation for a nice peaceful vacation. The one feature of Pilar is that it is far away enough from the metropolis but getting there can be, for some, a hassle.
If you prefer the popular, more accessible beaches in Mactan or Moalboal, be prepared to fight over swimming spaces and precious sun bathing real estate. However, this won’t be a problem in Pilar, and the room rates at average are only between PHP 750 to PHP 2,500. The rooms are affordable yet they are clean and comfortable with complete living amenities enough to make your vacation memorable.
A small patch of paradise in Barangay Moabog, Pilar
In Pilar, there are two barangays where the beaches and accommodation are beyond reasonable considering the value that you get. Barangay Cawit and Barangay Moabog boast of some resorts and accommodation establishments to choose from. You can’t go wrong, in Pilar, the beaches are powdery white, the water is crystal clear and the view of the surrounding islands from your vantage point is truly stunning.
If you do decide to go to Pilar for a getaway, the time you spend there will for sure give you that much needed rest. Even if you stay there for just two days, the scenery will induce relaxation and bring you back to life like a phone with a dead battery fully charged after two hours.
Getting to the Camotes group of islands is easy. The access points are in Barangay Consuelo in San Francisco, Pacijan Island and in Poro. There is a fast craft from Cebu City that takes about two hours to arrive in Poro. The trip to Consuelo is accessible from Danao City as well as a direct boat ride to Pilar.
A bangka that fits 8 passengers can take you from Poro to Pilar in about 20 minutes
Pilar can also be accessed by a barge that leaves at 5:00am early morning everyday if the currents allow. There is also a ferry that travels directly to Pilar from Danao City and vice versa. If you miss this barge going to Ponson island from Poro, there are small boats or Bangka that will ferry you to the island. The Bangka will be a lot smaller than the barge of course but if you are up for an adventure be prepared for a truly unforgettable experience.
If you weigh your choices and prefer to go to the more well-known beach destinations like Bantayan or Moalboal, the travel time will be longer compared if you go to Camotes. It is relatively near and less crowded, not as well developed infrastructure wise but this is part of its charm and grace. The breeze, the sea and the air, the people that you will meet and the experience will be unique.
Come summer time you will plan your summer getaway and should you decide to go to Camotes, I guarantee you, you will surely not regret it.

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