GPS waypoint:10°39'34.86"N 124°30'52.38"E Location: McArthur (barangay), Tudela (municipality), Camotes Islands, Cebu (province), Philippines Entrance: P10/adult, P5/kids Parking Fee: P10/car, P5/motorcycle Tip: do-it-yourself caving, no guide needed nor provided. Make sure you go there on a high tide
Road Ride After an 18km bicycle ride from San Francisco to McArthur in Tudela, passing through Poro and Tudela town proper along a mostly coastal route with the occasional hillclimbs, I finally reached Bukilat Cave after a leisurely 2 hours and 30 minutes on the saddle.
Cave History From the posted sign outside, Bukilat Cave was used by the town's people during the naval battle between the Japanese armada and the US navy between Camotes and the Gulf of Leyte. During the 70s, the parish priest had students clean up the cave regularly. Masses were also conducted there on some occasions.
Top Lighting What makes Bukilat Cave magnificent is the natural light coming from 7 openings on top. It gives off a beam of light on a cathedral-like expanse reminiscent of Bethlehem's nativity scene.
High Tide Swimming Like Tumibo Cave in San Francisco, you could swim inside the cave when the tide is high. Low tide means no water. Unfortunately, when I arrived at 9:30am, it was low tide, but by the time I left, there was about 2 inches of water already as the tide kept coming in. At its highest, the water level could be chest deep. The posting outside claims the water is brackish, but being entirely dependent of tidal swings, I can't see how there would be a component of fresh water there.
Tourist-Friendly Like Timubo Cave, Bukilat has been re-designed to make it more tourist-friendly. It's a groomed cave. Don't expect any Indiana Jones adventure here. Stairs with concrete steps were made, an elevated walking perimeter was likewise developed, similar to the edge of a swimming pool. Even the pool itself has been leveled with a flat bottom and a rim.
Cave Depth There is that one big area as big as a function hall, but I noticed other holes within the cave that could be explored further. I tried going a little into it and it looked promising. But without a guide, I had no idea just how far it went.
Ending Thoughts Again, I'm a little torn on having a manicured cave. On one hand, it makes the cave accessible to a broader audience. On the other hand, it dilutes the adventure sense of being inside a cave - you might as well be in a cave-themed park. What cannot be denied is the spectacular natural lighting of the cave together with its cathedral-like cavern. A must-visit when in Camotes Islands. One last thing - make sure you get there on a high tide!
Camotes Islands is a group of islands composed of 4 municipalities:
San Francisco - this is the biggest municipality covering the West major island. Its town center is the busiest with the market, eating places, live music and the Baywalk. The beach resort clusters, however, are concentrated in Santiago Bay, Mangodlong and Esperanza
Poro - Poro is on the other big island to the East. It has its own port and the town center is likewise busy
Pilar - this occupies the small north east island
the busy area where most of the social gatherings take place, eating places, is located at the Baywalk area of San Francisco, 30 mins by motorcycle from the Consuelo Port. Travellers usually stay in their resort outside the Baywalk
the resorts in Camotes Island are scattered around the island. There are none around the Baywalk area of San Francisco
perhaps the only downside to Camotes Island is the inescapable deafening sound of karaoke - it is played very loud and it's everywhere. In Baywalk, there are 3 karaoke bars beside each other going full blast all at the same time
Camotes Island Cost Index
(US$1 = Php 49.82 as of Jan 15, 2017)
PHP 100 habal-habal ride from Consuelo Port to San Francisco
PHP 55 Pale Pilsen beer
PHP 10/pax regular fare for habal-habal within San Francisco
PHP 500/tour habal-habal rate for island tour up to 2 pax
PHP 800/tour tricycle rate for island tour up to 4 pax
Cebu City to Camotes Island
via Poro - from Pier One in Cebu City, take the Ocean Jet for Poro, 2 hours, daily trip - 6am and 3pm (0936.823.8762 |0956.270.6610 | 0999.889.9999).
via Consuelo - from Cebu City, take the northbound bus passing through Danao and get off at the Danao Port. At the Port, take a Jomalia Shipping boat for Consuelo (San Francisco, Camotes), P220/pax, a/c, 2 hours, daily trip - 5:30am, 7:00am (special trip), 8:30am, 12:00 noon (express), 2:30pm, 5:30pm and 9:00pm (express, Fri/Sat/Sun only).
Camotes Islands to Cebu City
Poro - Cebu City (fastest and most direct) - go to Poro and take the 8am or 5pm Ocean Jet to Pier One in Cebu City, P380/pax/aircon, 2 hours
Consuelo - Danao - Cebu City - go to Consuelo (San Francisco) and take the Jomalia Shipping boat to Danao, P220/pax, a/c, 2 hours, daily trip - 5:30am, 7:00am (special trip), 8:30am, 12:00 noon (express), 2:30pm, 5:30pm and 9:00pm (express, Fri/Sat/Sun only). From Danao, take the Ceres Bus to Cebu City
Cebu City to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental by Boat
George and Peter Lines - Mon/Thur/Sat/Sun 10pm, (035)225.4337, 0922.557.1023
Oceanjet - via Tagbilaran, daily 6am, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0918.898.2188
Cokaliong - Mon/Tue/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat 7pm, Sun 12pm, 6 hours, (035)225.3599
Danao to Camotes Island
via Consuelo - at the Danao Port, take a Jomalia Shipping boat for Consuelo (San Francisco, Camotes), P220/pax, a/c, 2 hours, daily trip - 5:30am, 7:00am (special trip), 8:30am, 12:00 noon (express), 2:30pm, 5:30pm and 9:00pm (express, Fri/Sat/Sun only).
via Poro - at the Danao Port, take the Super Shuttle Ferry for Poro (Camotes), P?/pax, 3 hours, daily trip - 9:00am and 5:00pm (0936.823.8762 |0956.270.6610 | 0999.889.9999).
Camotes Island to Danao
via Consuelo - go to Consuelo (San Francisco) and take the Jomalia Shipping boat to Danao, P220/pax, a/c, 2 hours, daily trip - 5:30am, 7:00am (special trip), 8:30am, 12:00 noon (express), 2:30pm, 5:30pm and 9:00pm (express, Fri/Sat/Sun only).
via Poro - take the Super Shuttle Ferry in Poro (Camotes) for the Danao Port, P?/pax, 3 hours, daily trip - 5:00am and 1:00pm (0936.823.8762 |0956.270.6610 | 0999.889.9999).