The charm of Camotes Islands: The sea and the caves cement our camaraderie

By: Gerlie M. Uy

CAMOTES Island has been pinned in my travel list for a long time already.

The travel advisories from different embassies directed to many tourist destinations in Visayas immediately before our travel date scared me, but in the long run, my itchy feet prevailed. Squeezed after a work-related convention in Cebu, a two-day escapade was just a perfect fit.

Why Camotes Island? Listen, the sound of its name alone evokes a laidback rustic white sandy beach scenario free from intruding crowd. I am happy to feedback that the reality of Camotes was as genuinely exciting as the planning stage.

We went running around on her white sand beaches, basked under the summer sun, and discovered her torquise blue waters at the Santiago Bay, Bakhaw Beach and Tulang Diot Islet.

In Santiago bay, we just walked along her long shore lined with white sand as we were there on a sunset, and observed the sea urchins and sea cucmbers. In Bakhaw, we soaked ourselves in gusto to her crystal clear salty waters and played volleyball using the seaweeds.

In Tulang Diot, we had the joyous beaching because the islet easily belonged to us and her waters embraced our bodies raring for clear blue salty waters for so long already.

Initially, the caves were not a come on because they evoke no romantic get-away idea. Caves are synonymous to horrifying dark abyss and stinky bats. But the reality of the visit turned our expectations around.

The caves of Paradise, Bukilat and Timubo are bathers-friendly, as they all enclose cool waters worth one’s time to dip into. Timubo cave was the first one we encountered and we had fun dipping in her waters and when we realized that going farther inside is manageable when some other tourists came in, we also went in. Timubo is pretty but we can’t get good photos because some lights are off.

The next cave was Paradise, our favorite because when we came in, there were only three of us and the waters are cool and blue. We joked that if the man-made table and benches inside this cave is used as conference table for our pre-litigation cases and we are sure that we will have 100% success rate.

The popular Bukilat cave is a separate tour and a must-see. This high-ceilinged cave has openings that serve as source of light. Going inside this cave is like entering an enchanted kingdom, as the cave is picturesque. Bukilat was recently one of the locations for the movie of Kathniel, Can’t help falling in Love.

I was with two friends whom I travelled alone with for the first time. Trailing the beaches and caves in Camotes is quite a challenge given the distances between the places and the mode of transportation for a small group is either a tricycle or the habal-habal (motorcycle). Our camaraderie was put to test because the group has to maintain composure while travelling along long paths with a few signboards  and lots of banana trees and horned white cows along the way.

Well, I am happy to report that we all three passed the composure test and the camaraderie can surely go to many other places. With the two girls, Josephine and Helen Joyce, I seem to be travelling with a scriptwriter-director and an actress.

Oh, I have one thing I have to tell you. Travelling in Camotes is trading one’s comfort food. There are no top-notch restos or eateries; we tried the bland Sutukil in Santiago and the red-colored barbecues in the Baywalk.

The only consolation we had was that we were able to buy fruits in the market stalls beside the Baywalk. But if you happen to pass by the Poro, the small eatery beside the Tourist Information is the only that I can recommend for you to try.

Other points of interest: Mangodlong Beach, Lake Danao, Holy Crystal Cave, Busay Falls and Buho Rock

 

(The author is a lawyer who loves her work defending accused in court. On the side, she loves to travel and write, her blogs can be accessed through at www.footandfire.blogspot.com. Photo credits: www.cebucitytour.com, https://thelifeinapinkbackpack.files.wordpress.com, cebu-bluewaters.com, http://eyes4photos.com)

 

***

Smart and Cebu Pacific launch tourist SIM card

MOBILE services provider Smart Communications has teamed up with the Philippines’ leading carrier, Cebu Pacific Air (PSE: CEB) to welcome tourists with a special prepaid SIM card that caters to the need of foreign travelers to stay connected and share their travel experiences online.

Starting July 2017 until supplies last, foreign tourists flying to the Philippines via Cebu Pacific from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan will get a complimentary Cebu Pacific-Smart LTE Tourist SIM, which they can activate upon arrival in the country. The Cebu Pacific-Smart LTE Tourist SIM will also be made available through major travel fairs to be held in these destinations.

Tourists may enjoy up to 1GB of data with each Cebu Pacific-Smart LTE Tourist SIM, which comes with 300MB data valid for three days, plus 700MB data reward when they top up at least P30 within three days of activation.  With this SIM, tourists will get to have at their fingertips all the travel information and practical apps they need for a smooth getaway—they can confirm their flights and accommodations, book a ride with Uber, check the weather, stay updated with the local news, and search for helpful tips and recommended itineraries from fellow travelers – anytime and anywhere.

“The Cebu Pacific-Smart Tourist SIM is our way of thanking foreign tourists for flying with Cebu Pacific and exploring all that the Philippines has to offer. With this partnership, guests can experience seamless inter-island connectivity through our widest route network across 37 domestic destinations; and post about their travel experiences around the Philippines, real-time,” said Candice Iyog, Vice President for Marketing and Distribution of Cebu Pacific.

Tourists can also rely on Smart’s newest and fastest LTE network to instantly connect with their friends and loved ones to keep them updated on their whereabouts, and instantly share their memorable experiences through social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, among others.

“Reliable and fast mobile connectivity is essential for an enriching travel experience, and Smart’s special partnership with Cebu Pacific allows us to empower tourists with all the mobile services they need for a convenient, fun, and enjoyable stay in the Philippines,” said Eric R. Alberto, PLDT and Smart EVP and Chief Revenue Officer.

The Cebu Pacific-Smart LTE Tourist SIM also comes with a 30-day access to the iflix streaming site and app, where tourists can choose from a treasure trove of hit series and films across a wide range of genres. With iflix, tourists can easily stream during their free time, be it while waiting for their next adventure or while navigating to their next destination.

The SIM also comes with up to P100 discount from Uber, a ridesharing service that offers a safe and convenient commute for tourists wherever they may be headed.

“Smart and Cebu Pacific share the same vision of providing foreign tourists with memorable trips, and what better way to welcome them than with a complimentary Cebu Pacific –Smart LTE Tourist SIM that enables them to not only stay in touch with their loved ones, but also update their social media accounts, and access all the information they need to maximize their experience,” said Alex O. Caeg, SVP and Head of Smart Sales & Distribution.

In the first quarter of 2017, over 1.78 Million tourists visited the Philippines, with the bulk coming from South Korea, China and Japan.

Leave a Reply

*