The Camotes Islands, although in the province of Cebu are actually closer to the island of Leyte in the Philipines.
The Camotes islands are located 3h by boat from Cebu City. Poro and Pacijan are the main islands and are connected by a bridge. Fishing, agriculture and tourism are the major livelihoods there. These are still quiet islands and a very worthwhile stop in the Visayas.
The usual way is to take a bus heading north of Cebu city from the north bus terminal to Danao. The bus will drop you in front of the pier for ₱30 after the 1-1h30 journey.
There, take a ferry to the Camotes Islands.
- Jomalia Shipping: Daily departures to Consuelo (Pacijan Island) at 05:30, 08:30, 11:00, 14:00, 17:30. A 21:00 ferry runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Fare from ₱180 for the 2h journey.
Jeepneys are waiting in the port when the ferry comes. At first they all say ₱300 but quickly offer ₱50/person from Consuelo port to Santiago bay.
- The reverse journey from Consuelo pier is daily at 05:30, 09:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00. An 04:00 ferry runs on Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings.
- Super Shuttle Ferry: Daily departures to Poro (Poro Island) at 05:00 and 13:00. Fare from ₱180 for the 3h journey.
- The reverse journey from from Poro pier is at 09:00am and 17:00
Then you can easily catch a bus heading to Cebu city from the highway in front of Danao pier. ₱30 for the 1h-1h30 journey depending on the bus company.
There are also plenty of buses going north, ending in Maya, the departure pier for Malapascua Island.
- Jeepneys: They are timed to meet the boats at the ports. So during daytime, you can catch them on the Consuelo-Santiago-San Francisco-Poro road.
- Hubel-hubel: They will come to you or ask around. Fare depends on the distance.
- Motorbike: This is the best way to travel around. You can rent it from resorts 350-500 or also just ask around and rent it from a private person, it is cheaper and you help a local. Expect ₱300-500/day depending on your bargaining skills.
- Altavista view point: (Poro Island) A 5km road in front of Poro pier heads to this lookout area. From there, gaze at beautiful views of Danao lake, Tulang Island and Leyte. Free.
- Bukilat cave: (Poro Island) About 6km from Tuleda, ask for the direction to locals.
It’s a pretty big cave with seawater pools inside where you can swim. Entrance fee is ₱20.
- Panganuron Falls: (Poro Island) Located near Tuleda, a trail leads you there. It is a nice waterfall with fresh water to swim in. Ask locals to show you the path. Entrance fee is 10P.
- Timubo cave: (Pacijan Island) Located about 3km from Esperanza village, in Calvario Park. Ask for the direction to locals. A beautiful cave with a turquoise stream that can reach 6 feet deep. Entrance fee is ₱25.
- Gaze at Danao lake: (Pacijan Island). Located behind the town of Union, you can find the “Carmen – Lake Danao Fishery Complex” where research on fish tilapia is carried out. You can have a swim in the lake and the views are nice.
- Danao lake: (Pacijan Island). You can take a ride around the lake and to the small island in the middle. Cost is ₱500 for 10 people. For ₱50 you can rent a kayak and go around the lake on your own. There is a restaurant at the lake. Entrance fee for the lake is ₱15.
- Traditional bamboo wall making: (Pacijan Island) You can see many open-air family "factories" along the road from San Francisco to Danao lake. Free.
- Boho rock resort: (Poro Island) It is a beautiful swimming spot, with diving platform and good snorkelling between the rocks. Entrance fee is ₱20.
- Soak up the sun: (Pacijan Island) The best beaches are in Santiago and Mangodlong. Free. Santiago beach is great for swimming during high tide but not during low tide as the (low tide) area is full of seaweed. Bring sunblock since the only you will find in town is in tiny packets and only sold in a few shops.
- Sail to Tulang Island: (Pacijan Island) From Tulang Baku beach, north of Esperanza, take a boat to this lovely small island. Swim in the turquoise water and have a look at the bamboo huts village. Boat is ₱5 one way.
There are plenty of beach restaurants on Santiago Beach from local to international dishes, snacks and fruit juices at affordable prices.
- Pito's Sutokil: Affordable restaurant on Santiago beach with local specialities (mostly ₱90) and buko (fresh coconut) for ₱30.
- Bano Backpackers Cafe: Between Consuelo and Santiago there is a sign for homemade bread and ham. The small restaurant is near a deserted beach and serves different kinds of bread (not sweet) and meat products. Sometimes even deserts like apple pie. Prices from ₱70-200.
Most of the places to stay are located on Pacijan Island, around Santiago, a pretty white sand beach.
- Budget: Ask around Dreadhouse, on Santiago beach. Some small family pensions rent basic fan rooms with shared shower. No fixed price so bargain... Feb 2015 best prices were 500-1100 for fan room
- Midrange to top end: You have plenty of hotels in Santiago. Hotels range from ₱850 for a fan double room, ₱1250 for a air-con double room. Free Wi-Fi is mostly included. Visit several places and make your choice.
- Swisslagoon, Santiago Beach, San Francisco, Camotes Cebu, ☎ 09266824975, . checkin: 1pm; checkout: 11am. Well maintained and clean en-suite rooms near the beach. Hot shower, AC, friendly owners and a restaurant (only open Friday and Saturday nights) is also located on the property. Breakfast included. ₱2,000. edit
- Masamayor's Beach House and Resort, Brgy Santiago, San Francisco, 6050 Cebu, Philippines, ☎ 63324146015, . checkout: 11am. Decent fan and AC rooms. Fan rooms have no hot water. Resto bar on the property makes a bit of noise at night so ask for a room away from it if you are a light sleeper. ₱1,200. edit
- Bella Vista Mare, Brgy Santiago, San Francisco, 6050 Cebu, Philippines, ☎ 09177925583, . Nice rooms with a view of the beach and stairs leading down to the beach. Restaurant on premises. Motorbikes available for rent cheaper than most places in Santiago Beach. ₱950-2200. edit
Tourism has been increasing significantly on the island recently. As a result don't count on arriving on a Friday or Saturday evening and finding an available room - at least in your price range. Book ahead or arrive during the week to ensure a smooth arrival.