Caramoan, Camarines Sur
|Region||Bicol Region (Region V)|
|Area|| 225.01 km²|
The name Caramoan has been officially adapted since 1619, the year it was founded by a zealous missionary, the venerable Spanish friar Francisco de la Cruz Y Oropesa. This 60-year old priest penetrated the thick virgin forest of the Caramoan Peninsula and found a small settlement in a place called Baluarte. Later on, this settlement was turned over to the administration of the Holy Bishopric in 1696.
The small town of Caramoan was then located at the tip of Caramoan Peninsula, a rugged place of land. It occupies the lower eastern portion of the Province of Camarines Sur. It is bounded on the north by the town of Garchitorena and the Pacific Ocean; on the northeast by the island province of Catanduanes; on the south by Lagonoy Gulf; on the east by the Maqueda Channel and on the west by the municipality of Presentacion.
It was determined that the first name given to this place was Guta de Leche by the Dutch traders who operated a gold mine in Lahuy Island and frequented the area to trade with the natives, prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. The name was perhaps derived from the milkdrop stalagmites found among the rocks of Guta Port. But upon the arrival of the Spaniards, the place came to be called "Carahan" for the sea turtle, which was at that time to be found in great number along the shores of the Peninsula.
The municipality is situated between east longitude 124o59" and 13o46" north latitude. It covers approximately 27,741 square kilometers with approximately 71 kilometers of irregular coastline surrounded by the vast ocean, bay, seas and swamps. It is approximately 501 kilometers away from Metro Manila; 95 kilometers from the municipality of Pili, where the seat of the provincial government and the Pili Domestic Airport are located; and 110 kilometers away from Naga City, the heart of Bicol.
Caramoan is a stretch of irregular, rugged coastline with clusters of islands. This peninsula amidst crystal clear water boasts of rocky terrain and white sand beaches. The Caramoan National Park (1983) offers breath taking limestone cliffs, untouched coral reefs with diverse marine lives, enigmatic lagoon, subterranean river and caves.
The climate of the Caramoan is tropical which is divided into wet and dry season. The climatic control over the two air stream systems produce the two distinctive variations in the climate, the monsoon and the Pacific trade winds. From October to January, the northeast monsoon prevails, while the north Pacific trade winds occur from February to September
The Caramoan Peninsula has gained tourism popularity in recent years. After the place has been featured in the news and local television programs, local and foreign travelers started to explore the virgin beaches of the peninsula.
Caramoan's unspoiled islands lures both foreign and local tourist and it was featured in several travel websites around the globe. Island hopping and snorkeling is the most favorite activities in the island and still open for campers. The islands includes: Lahuy, Matukad, Pitogo, Sabitang Laya, Minalahos, Lahos, Hunongan, Gota, Basud or Cotivas, Tinago and Aguirangan.
The Marian image of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Mother of Peace Grotto is another attraction to all tourist who visited Caramoan. It is 18-kilometer drive from the main poblacion (centro) or 30-minutes boat ride from Paniman beach.
To get to Caramoan from Manila, one may either take a 9-hour bus ride or a 1-hour plane ride to Naga City (377 km South of Manila). From Naga City Central Terminal, one may take a van to Sabang port. Travel usually last for 1 hour. From Sabang port, there are small commercial boats that ferry passengers to the Caramoan Port. Schedule of hourly boat departure starts at 5 AM. Boat ride usually lasts for 2-hrs and cost Php120. One may take a jeepney or a tricycle to go to the Centro or the Gota Beach.
It is best to travel the place with a local since the best beaches and sights are far from the Centro and Gota Beach. Activities may include diving, swimming, snorkeling and spelunking by day; and stargazing in the evening. There is no electricity or mobile phone signal on the island.
The 8th season of “Koh-Lanta” (French edition of reality show "Survivor,” was shot entirely in Caramoan. TV director Corinne Vaillant, stated that "the powdery sand, the coconuts on Gota beach and the neighboring islets are a 'dream' for the French people. We chose Caramoan because it’s really wild. It’s necessary that contestants don’t see anything other than nature for them to believe that they’re really lost in the wilds.”<ref>Inquirer.net, 4th-class town well on the way to celeb status</ref>