Best things to do in Bicol and sightseeing in Bicol
Cagsawa Ruins - Bicol
Cagsawa Ruins today is reminiscent of a church that once gave refuge to people from the wrath of the Mayon Volcano. To date, only the church bell tower was left which now becomes a popular foreground in many Mayon pictures. Tourists now flock at the ruins to personally view the majestic Mayon and Cagsawa. Large rocks are also scattered at Cagsawa. They are evidence of the fury that Mayon once displayed. The National Museum there preserves the life of people before the Mayon eruption in the 19th century.
Albay - Bicol
Albay is not a usual tourist destination. Located at the Bicol peninsula, about 460 km or 287 miles south of capital Manila, there are so many things that remain undiscovered in Albay. Albay came from the word Albaybay which meant “by the bay”. The first thing people picture when in Albay is the cone-shaped Mayon volcano which remains to be a beauty whether it’s in its active or dormant mode.
Camarines Sur - Bicol
If you are the type who wants some time alone for yourself, you can take a long trip to Caramoan in Camarines Sur. Caramoan became famous when the French franchise of the Survivor TV series filmed one of its seasons here. Despite its shot to fame, life in this town is still laid-back and slow.
Gota Beach - Bicol
The Hunongan Cove is just located besides the famous Gota beach. This is run by the government of Camarines Sur and tourist who were not checking in in this resort is not allowed to step in. However, my tour guide Tope who happens to be a good friend of the manager already asked a permission to bring me to the island just for a while. So we landed on the island and surprisingly we were greeted by the security guard. Then after explaining, we were permitted to observe the place. I can tell that nobody was checking in at that time. Thedre were drie leaves scattered all over the place, but this added the natural beauty look of the island.
Lahos - Bicol
After the climbing the limestone and seeing the green lagoon in Matukad Island, we went to the next island - the Lahos Island. The island derived its name from a visayan word "Lahus" which means able to pass through-and-through. The short stretch of white sand is located between two huge limestone rocks so tourists can pass through either side of the island. There were a number of tourist in the island when I get there. I saw some props that were used by Survivor India in the island and some tourist were taking pictures to Indian cameraman. Unlike in Matukad Island, there are no trees can protect you from getting exposed to the sun but there is a portion in the island where there are small clusters of trees.
Manlawi Island - Bicol
Manlawi island in Caramoan is known for its vast white sandbar. However a huge portion of the sand is submerged during high tide. The water was still high when we docked in this island but even though its high tide I can see the wide sandbar which I can say the widest I have seen to date. The only shade that can protect you from the scorching heat of the sun are these two cottages which stands in the middle of the sandbar. However they collected a fee if you used the cottage. There were also two ladies bugging me to buy their shells as souvenir and coconut or buko juice (P20). The seascape in this island is really stunning. The mountains on the other side also looks very lovely and tried to joke my guide if he can accompany me climbing the mountain. He just laughed at me and said that it would be dangerous climbing the mountain. After lunch and strolling the vast white sandbar, its time to move on to the last and final island for the day - the Sabitang Laya.
Matukad - Bicol
Matukad Island is the first island that we visited. Its water and powdery white sand is really inviting but I was more interested in climbing towering limestone. My guide Tope did not inform that there is a hidden lagoon in this island but to be able to see the lagoon, one need to climb the sharp-edged limestones. This must be the reason why he did not inform me about this lagoon - scared that I might get hurt or worst fell off from the cliff. I learned about the lagoon after seeing some tourist coming down from the cliff. Then they told me about the lone milkfish living in the hidden lagoon. Because of curiosity, I climbed the rock and indeed there is a huge milkfish in the lagoon. A tourist told me about the legend of the 2 giant milkfish that used to live in the hidden lagoon. These fishes were considered sacred by the locals. Legend says that a fisherman caught one fish and bring it to his family. And then everyone who eats the fish died. Apart from seeing the milkfish in the lagoon, the panoramic view from the top of the lifestone is breath taking. The neighboring islets including Lahus island is visible from the top. I can say that this place a good site for camping. This island has the longest shore and there are plenty of trees that can provide tourists shade from heat of the sun and rain. I should have camp here if only I know that it is allowed.
Sabitang Laya - Bicol
After two days of non stop island hopping, i am now down to the last island in Caramoan - the Sabitang Laya. This island is easily identifiable because of its huge rock boulders. Amongst the Caramoan islands, the Sabitang Laya has the longest stretch of powdery sand extending up to 2 kilometers. There is a huge Balete tree in the island which is the best spot to relax while waiting for the high tide to come. This part in Sabitang-Laya is rocky compare to the other side. During low tides especially in the afternoon, the motorized boat could not sail because its propeller might hit the corals or seabed.
Cotivas Island - Bicol
Manlawi group (Cotivas, Manlawi and Sabitang-Laya) of islands is my destination on my second day in Caramoan. The jump off point for this Manlawi Group is in Bikal Port. Standard rate for boat is at 2000 to 3000 depending on the size of the boat and your haggling skill. These islands are also albeit far and would take about 45 minutes to an hour before you reach the first island. Also the waters here tend to get rowdy especially in the later afternoon because these islands were already facing the Pacific Ocean. There is nothing much to expect in this island except that it has a long strand of yellowish sand and a crystal clear water. I am not really sure if this is a good site for snorkeling because I have not seen any corals near the island. Although I was not able to enjoy the beach because it was high tide at that time, but the view is really beautiful, I am just naturally attracted to beaches with a mountain as a backdrop. My guide Tope said that a huge portion of the sandbar is submerged during high tide. Unfortunately, I can't wait for the water to get low to see the sandbar. So we move on to the next island "Manlawi" which is known for its vast sandbar.