Some weeks ago, I had the chance to travel to Carnaza Island, one of the 167 smaller islands in Cebu, that I have longed to visit. From the moment I hopped off the floating shuttle, I just knew, right then and there, that I was going to have the time of my life. Dubbed as the newest hidden gem in the Cebu archipelago, this turtle-shaped island boasts, not just of pristine waters, but also of diverse flora and fauna teeming with beauty and splendor.
Carnaza Island consists of 6 sitios, namely Carnaza, Daanbaryo, Linao, Liog-Liog, Candionesio, and Pantao. All of them possess their own distinct charm. The glaring waters of the northern and eastern parts of the island are ideal for underwater activities to get a glimpse of its breathtaking marine life, while that of the south and west have scenic beaches with powdery white sand that will probably give Boracay a run for its money.
And now, without further ado, please allow me to indulge you with the serene and idyllic topography of Carnaza Island:
Kallina Beach is a secluded beach just over the hill that you will find in Daanbaryo. Not too long ago, you were free to enter the premises with no cost. But because of irresponsible tourists’ atrocious behavior, the beach owner had to impose an entrance fee of P20, and P150 for overnight camping.
Daanbaryo is one of the busiest sitios where it is usually the drop-off point for most of the supplies needed in the island. And where there is people, there surely is videoke. If you’re up for a vocal showdown, or if you’re one who wouldn’t mind keeping up with the Carnazians’ daily life, then you may have found your niche. Daanbaryo Beach is as beautiful as its precedent that photography enthusiasts, like me, wouldn’t run out of subjects to capture. Here are a few:
Skull Cove lies in seclusion; an almost-private lagoon-like beach that can be found in the western part of the island. Locals started the namesake after two human skulls were found in the cave near the shoreline. This is also where the Osmeña Helipad is located.
Liog-Liog Cove (Twin Beach)
Liog-Liog Cove is commonly known as Twin Beach because of a sandbar that connects the island to a smaller islet. Experience a whole new lot because of this God-given feature that you don’t get to see everyday.
Carnaza Eco Park
Carnaza Eco Park is the only resort in the island and is owned by the Osmeñas. What I love most about this resort is the white-splashed wooden tents rightfully aligned along the forefront that sleekly marriages with nature like it was always meant to be there. Yes, glamping. That’s the word.
With the eco park’s picturesque landscape, my officemates had loads of fun strolling around while taking the much-needed groufies:
How to get there
From the North Bus Terminal, take a bus bound for Daanbantayan via Kawit-Maya. Travel time is about 3-4 hours. Ask the driver to drop you off at Tapilon Port. Don’t confuse it with the more popular Maya Port, though; boats headed to Carnaza Island are docked at Tapilon. Depending on weather conditions, it may take 2 hours, more or less, to get to the island. Total fare is estimated to be around P350/pax.
Boat transfers usually happen from 9AM to 4PM. If travelling with a group, you need not wait long for you can easily rent a boat for P3,500-P4,000 that is good for 20-25 pax. Smaller ones good for 10-15 heads are also available. Haggle like your life depends on it.
Where to stay
If you ask just anybody, they’d probably refer you to Carnaza Eco Park for a place to stay, where each tent that houses 2 people costs P200 per night. But if you ask me, Carnaza Island Psalms Restaurant and Rental Rooms would be a more suitable space, where you can comfortably rest after a long day of sight-seeing, and even cook your own meals! Not forgetting, of course, you can book your accommodations ahead of time through AirBNB. Easy peasy.
You will find three AirBNB listings, though, but I would personally vouch for the Psalms because:
- It is in Daanbaryo, where you will find a widespread of sari-sari stores that sell basic commodities.
- There is a deep-well within arm’s reach, where you can bathe in fresh water. Nothing beats that feeling.
- They have a restaurant that serves affordable, home-cooked meals.
- You can use their kitchen if you intend to cook your own.
- They are solar powered, so you can fully charge your gears and gadgets anytime.
- Lo and behold! They have Free WiFi. What more could you ask for?
- The place is beside a hill, where there is strong network signal to work with.
- They have their own boat that can cater to island hopping activities.
- They have contacts to habal-habals or motorcycles-for-hire to get you around the island.
- You will be welcomed by the most accommodating host in the planet. (Nope. This isn’t a paid post.)
- To maximize your stay, make sure to check the weather forecast. Unless rain isn’t an issue.
- If you plan to cook your own food, buy everything you need while in Daanbantayan. Resources may be available in the island, but better prepared than sorry.
- If you plan to camp out at night, secure your own tent.
- If you’d hate to get your skin burnt (like who doesn’t), sunblock is a must-have. Rash guards are a significant addition to your wardrobe, too.
- Last but not least, ensure to practice the “Leave-No-Trace” or “CLAYGO (Clean-As-You-Go)” Principle at all times. Please note that Carnaza Island (or any place for that matter) doesn’t need any of your bs.
It is undeniable that the Island of Carnaza prides itself on raw, impeccable aesthetics — something that will make you appreciate Cebu more. I just hope that we all be responsible travelers, so as to preserve the island’s exceptional charm.