Santiago Beach, Camotes Island
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Just like many Cebuanos, visiting Camotes Island had been for me considering how close and easy it is to go there. One of the reasons why a lot of people love going there is because of its beautiful beaches and extremely cheap prices.
Yep. As cheapskates, we are always on the lookout for the cheapest and best way to experience things. And, when you have your trusty tent like we do, it should cost less than PHP1500 for two persons to camp there overnight.
After weeks of being threatened by heavy downpours, drizzles and even a storm last year, our little family of three finally headed out to Camotes.
Heading out to Camotes Island
According to the Internet, there are three ways to get to Camotes Island from Cebu:
- Via the Ouano Wharf (although I heard this is no longer available),
- Via the Cebu City Port, or
- Via the Danao City Port (the one we took and also the closest route)
Getting to Danao City from Cebu or Mandaue City is fairly easy. You can opt to ride a jeepney bound for Danao or you can take a bus headed north. We opted the latter and, from Mandaue City, it costed us only PHP40 per person on a non-air-conditioned bus.
The Danao City Wharf is located just along the highway so it is pretty easy to spot. Just make sure to stay alert once you have reached Mitsumi. Otherwise, tell the driver to have you dropped off at the port.
Passengers going to and from Consuelo in Camotes Island can take the ferry run by Jomalia Shipping.
From Danao City, you can take the ferry at 5:30am, 8:30am, 10:00am, 12:00pm and 5:30pm. They also have 9:30pm schedules during the weekend depending on the demand. From Consuelo, boat schedules are at 4:00am, 9:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm and 4:00pm. Fare is PHP180 one-way plus a PHP5 terminal fee.
A word of warning: You will be dealing with rough seas for two hours. Make sure that you have taken your meal (but not too full) and your anti-byahilo meds.
Finding transportation to get to Santiago Beach isn’t too difficult as there are a lot of motorcycles lined up right outside the port. We hired one for PHP50 each for a 20-minute ride but you also have to option to rent one for PHP500 a day.
Where to Stay in Santiago Beach
Santiago Beach is lined up with a lot of resorts for all budget levels.
Bella Vista Mare Resort offers fan rooms for as low as PHP850 per night or you could also opt for the popular Santiago Bay Garden and Resort for as long as PHP1000 for a standard room.
Other accommodations in the area include the Masamayor Beach Resort and Payag Beach Resort.
However, if you are a little more adventurous but low on budget, you can opt to set up camp right in front of the smaller stores and resorts by the beach.
From what I heard, it is possible to camp at the public portion of the beach for just PHP5 (unconfirmed though). But, because we wanted to have a little more security and a decent comfort room to use, we went for the first carenderia that we got into at Santiago Beach.
We paid PHP50 per head as a camping fee. If you do not have a tent, you can rent one for PHP450, good for 4 to 5 people.
As for the food, we spent around PHP150 each meal good for two and a half people.
What to Do in Santiago Beach
Obviously, the one thing you should never miss doing in Santiago Beach is swim! Unfortunately, it was low tide in the morning but it was just the perfect height for a toddler to enjoy.
Our daughter clearly enjoyed playing in the sand while the partner and I just lazed it out. It was a beautiful day.
There are also other things to do around Camotes (aside from beach bumming) if you have more time and budget on hand.
Diving and snorkeling is popular and tours are being organized by Ocean Deep Dive. An island tour is also highly recommended and would get you to places such as Lake Danao, Buho Rock, Bukilat Cave, Guadalupe Cave, Timabu Cave, Busay Waterfalls and more.
Getting Back to Cebu Mainland
Since it was the weekend, getting back to Cebu Island was jam-packed. If you have a schedule to catch up, make sure to go there earlier so you can get ahead in the waiting list.
Our quick overnight camping at Santiago Beach was a very memorable and spontaneous one — and also perfect for the weekend warrior. If you want to just get away from the stress of city life, head on out to Camotes Island and enjoy!