Camotes is not a single island (view in Google map) but rather a group made up of 3 islands: Pacijan, Poro, and Ponson. Pacijan and Poro are interconnected by a land bridge running through a thick mangrove forest, with Ponson separated from the two by a 30 minute boat ride (Ponson is in fact much closer to Leyte than it is to Cebu).
This group of islands is large underrated compared to its tourist destination neighbors. It probably is a blessing as Camotes is able to hold on to its rustic charm. Cebu is a popular tourist hub with lots of destinations around and near it, and most folks usually make a bee-line to Oslob (for the whale shark), or to the Bohol (one big efficient tourism machine!), or straight to Bantayan island and Malapascua (famous for thresher sharks) in the north.
Santiago White Beach
Its a public beach with almost 750 meters of fine white sand with a huge expanse of shallow area perfect for swimming. That's difficult to say no to.
While Santiago Beach has a prominent resort there (Santiago Bay Garden Resort), a small quaint place called the Dread House caught our eye.
We ended up renting two rooms there (fan room at Php 500.00 per night). Paul runs the place with his family and on some nights plays reggae music with a small band right on the beach. His brothers have restaurants beside his place, one of which is called Pito's Sutokil and is a favorite among both the locals and the visitors (Pito also have both aircon and fan rooms).
Sunrise in Santiago
Our stay coincided with lowtide every sunrise, and Santiago beach is the kind of place where you actually look forward to waking up early. The feel of the soft sand on bare feet was addicting that I actually spent more time running and savouring the cool breeze than taking pictures.
On one of the mornings we had a special visitor: an adult banded sea krait (locally called "walowalo") making its way back to the water. Poisonous (very!) as it is, the locals did not seem to mind. They said its not an unusual sight. "Respect nature, and it will respect you back", quipped Paul.
Float on a thin piece of wood
- Cebu City to Danao - Catch a bus heading north at Cebu City's North Bus terminal. Ask the bus conductor to drop you off at Danao port (which is just along the main highway). Distance is 30+km, travel time is about 1 hour, fare is Php 40.00
- Danao wharf to Consuelo Wharf - Jomalia Shipping has ferries running the route. Usual departure schedules are (note however that these may change). Terminal fee is Php 5.00 and ferry fare is Php 180.00.
- 5:30 AM
- 8:30 AM
- 12 Noon
- 5:30 PM
- Consuelo Wharf to Santiago Beach - you can hire a motorcycle or "multi-cab" outside the port. Fare is usually Php 50.00 per person