Boat for Camotes Islands After Danao, my logical destination heading south was already Cebu City. But I didn't want to get to the big city before Sinulog. Fortunately, there was a regular boat leaving for Camotes Islands from the port. I haven't been there but somehow curious. Even though the rainy weather was not conducive to being on a beach, I decided to take my chance.
San Francisco The boat trip from Danao to Consuelo Port in Camotes Islands was painless (P220, aircon, 2 hours). I even met Carmel, a beautiful Cebuana whom I spent the entire trip talking to. Apparently, Consuelo is not the final destination yet. From there I had to take a habal-habal (single motorcycle, P100, 30 mins) to San Francisco where the main action happens. This is the town center where the market is, eating places, bars, live music and the Baywalk. Like Danao, I noticed that the town is clean...almost manicured, expansive with ample breathing space on everything. It's not densely populated so you feel your elbow room. People are warm, gentle and unhurried. Food is generally cheap. Already, I felt good about this place.
Seaside Guesthouse My immediate concern, as usual was lodging. This is a resort town and lodging prices are touristy. My habal-habal driver helped me out in sourcing a cheap place. Finally, we found one about half a kilometer from the main drag - Seaside Guesthouse at P200/night for a private spartan room (separate washroom). My window opened up to the sea from the 2nd level. No wifi, no food, but I couldn't complain. At this rate, I could stay longer without hemorrhaging cash.
Bicycle Instead of renting a bicycle, I negotiated to repair an old beat-up bike for my use. When I leave, I return the bike to the owner in full working order. This would assure me continued use of a bicycle to explore the island without having to pay more for habal-habal. But the bicycle turned out to be in dismal condition - it didn't make sense to put money in it.
Wifi This was my initial challenge. Normally, cafes and restos provide wifi. But there were no cafes and the resto came in the way of small unpretentious eating nooks - no wifi except for one bar with slow internet. People usually load-up on their pocket wifi for internet. The plush resorts would have it, but they're too spread out across the island and none within San Francisco. I had my pocket wifi finally loaded up, and after a few searches, I found a spot with signal. This really saved the day. Without wifi, my stay here would not be viable.
2 Expats I started hanging out at a small food kiosk near the Baywalk manned by 2 expats. One is a gifted musician and the other is gifted with analytical thinking...or so they say when they compliment each other. It's just nice to once again have conversation with people my age who have traveled extensively to share insights and ideas with. They also know the island quite well and point me out to its essentials.
One Month Stay After just one day, I knew I wanted to stay longer in Camotes Islands. Completely unexpected from a conversation, I found this room in a resort "under construction" and was given a special rate - P2500/month! Whoa! The room is new, tiled concrete, almost fronting the water, a south and west window and close to the washroom. Queen-size bed, electric fan but no wifi - at least, not yet. Is this for real? I grabbed it! This starts a new chapter.
The thought that I now have 30 days with no packing and unpacking, not being in transit to somewhere else, not waiting for buses or boats to leave the terminal, not worrying about a place to sleep....wow, that's a whole load off my shoulders. That's a huge sigh of relief! I'm glad I have this 30 golden days!
Ending Thoughts Lately, I had been contemplating on staying longer in one place - a nice place I could resonate with, without spending too much in rent. I had been traveling continuously for years and I needed a reprieve. Almost without missing a beat, my benevolent universe showered me with its blessing. It never fails. All I need to do is just desire something I need and voila, it's handed to me on a silver platter. I'm beyond amazed, and always...always grateful for the abundance.
Camotes Expat (Jan 16, 2017) I see you've already met Mitch and Grant, well I'm the other normal foreigner here! The rest are all a bit weird. When and if this rain stops, come out and visit us for lunch and a swim.
Camotes Islands, Cebu, Philippines
Lake Danao Park - inland twin lakes in San Francisco
Santiago Bay Beach - stretch of fine white sand with a cluster of beach resorts
Buho Rock - dive boards perched from a high rock outcropping, Poro
Tulang Diot - white sand beach on a tiny island just 10 minutes by boat from the main Camotes Island
Busay Falls - groomed plunge pool, dirt trail walk with 2 stream crossings, Tudela
Capasanan Spring - crystal clear open spring water source in San Jose, Poro. Free
Hagnaon Spring - clean drinking water coming out of the rocks, dipping pool you might share with carabaos in San Jose, Poro. Free
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).