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Sven

Sven's guide to Camotes 2015 - where to stay or eat - with pictures

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Sven

Now, let us leave the two main tourist areas behind (Mangodlong / Santiago), and look at what else can be found on these islands...

 

Driving North from Consuelo (and turning left in the middle of the island), we come to the Esperanza area. Here is a series of pleasant beaches.

 

Currently, there is rather little infrastructure for the discerning traveller. I was not able to find a single place to eat around here, beyond street food and carinderias, and there is hardly anywhere to stay.

 

However, this will change.

 

A large complex is being built in the centre of Esperanza. Builders were busy working when I passed, and it looks like they might be finished in a year or so.

 

According to the web site of White Beach Resort, there will be two restaurants, 10 shops, 15 or so apartments, and various smaller rooms.

You can buy 100 square meters here for around 10 million pesos. http://www.whitebeach-resort.com

 

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Sven

Currently, it looks like the only place to stay in Esperanza is a pleasant little property called JK Beach House.

 
This is being managed from the pharmacy-cum-carinderia in Esperanza. There is a poster advertising it which I spotted as I passed by (see picture).
 
The name is a bit misleading - JK Beach House is not actually on the beach. It is surrounded by houses, in the middle of Taliwangbas village on the outskirts of Esperanza.
 
It is, however, a charming place. I think there are 3 rooms. The biggest one has a separate kitchen and terrace - this is actually a whole house. Then there are 2 very small rooms, and a green lawn in-between.
 
Prices are p2500 for the house, or p1200 for the small rooms, all with air-con I think.
 
The owners will be happy to cook and bring some food here, if you know what you want - only Filipino dishes I guess. But my preference if I stay here, would be to rent the house with the kitchen and then buy and cook my own food.
 
I will not stay here personally, because of the location - as I said, it is in the middle of the village, which certainly also means, surrounded by roosters.
 
The beach is around 50 meters away, and stunning.
 
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Sven

Also near Esperanza is Keshe Beach Resort. It is signposted along the road from the centre of the island, out to Esperanza town. (We are still on Pacijan island, also known as San Francisco island.)

 

This place wins my prize for the craziest, most intensely pinoy, resort in Camotes.

 

I mean, there are some business opportunities you can reasonably combine with having a resort. I would think a dive shop would make sense, or offering some watersports... Maybe island hopping, or gosh, perhaps even a restaurant...!?

 

Keshe is, however, a beach resort combined with a rooster farm.

 

That is true... Between the buildings, there are roosters - lots of them. Roosters walking free, roosters tied to the trees, and even roosters in cages in what looks like it has been a bar once.

 

Hence I would never consider trying to get a night's sleep here. Furthermore, there is no pool, no restaurant, no reception... no nothing really... and the location is, well, remote.

 

The rooms are plain but big, with nice bathrooms.

 

I have forgotten if there was air-con, or what the price was ...I think p1500.

 

There is wifi, and a pretty beach. Food can be provided, apparently. I see from a review on Tripadvisor that the food is expensive and needs ordering 4 hours in advance.

 

I thought the place felt neglected - it seems the owners have given up on the resort idea, or at least care more about roosters than about potential guests.

 

Another issue is that the "resort" only has two rooms, except... one room is broken and "being repaired".

 

I suspect it means, it is broken and not being repaired.

 

So this is a 1-room resort. (And the room had not been cleaned when we came by - apparently it was not a good time.)

 

For a while I thought, this has to be the smallest "resort" in Camotes? Is is possible to find a smaller resort than 1 room?

 

Oh yes, it is.

 

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Sven

Apparently there is another resort on Bakhaw beach, near Keshe. I was told it is a more upmarket option, and that the price would be p2000 per night.

The name is Solomon Resort or something similar.

However, I did not see any signs to it. It would be good to know if others can say more about this.

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Sven

Introducing..... the zero-room resort!

 

Now we are on the island of Poro. Just along the road from San Francisco to Poro Port is a sign for Buho Rock Resort. So I decided to have a look.

 

It turns out this is not a place to stay, just a place to swim or have a picnic. I did not enter, but was explained there are some cliffs, bridges and huts - perhaps a nice place for a party or a day out.

 

That is, if you bring everything you need. Because there is no food available either.

 

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Sven

So we are now on the island of Poro, where the biggest town is also named Poro, or possibly Poro Port.

 

I was able to find three places to stay here: Big Z pension house, Seaview Pension House, and Heritage Inn.

 

Then there is a single restaurant: JP Bistro.

 

In my view, there is no reason anyone would wish to stay in Poro Town, unless they are meeting someone in particular. The town is nice enough, but there is nothing here... No beach, no entertainment, only one place to eat (which I didn't like too much)... It is also rather far from the pretty white beaches of Camotes, and I think the ferry between Poro and Cebu is not operational.

 

When I asked about ferry to Cebu, I was told to go to Consuelo. There is an old timetable painted at Poro Port, but no boat.

 

Rooms are cheap, though - much more reasonable than at the so-called resorts. Perhaps that is the attraction here.

 

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Enuff

great job.

 

typically we vacation at alona beach but camotes looks like a nice alternative

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Sven
So how about the restaurant in Poro Port - JP Bistro...?

The sign says "French American restaurant". They do have an impressive menu, with some international options.

 

There was only one problem when we visited - virtually nothing was available.

Only two main dishes were on offer, both pork. And they did not even have rice! 

My gf was not at all happy having to eat her pork with mashed potatoes.

She says, perhaps the problem was that we came very late. It was 7pm.

 

For our usual size of meal, we paid pP400, but it would have been p500 if they didn't forget a mango shake that we ordered.

 

I did not like the layout of this place - the restaurant opens directly onto the roundabout in the middle of town, where cars and motorcycles pass constantly. Hence you get a significant dose of noise and exhaust with your meal.

 

We thought the food quality was average, at best. What is worse, I got sick after eating here. My stomach was upset for about 24 hours, I felt like throwing up, and got almost no sleep that night.

Of course I cannot say for sure that my problem was due to the food... but I did not consume anything else that evening, except for 2 small San Mig Pilsen, which usually would not give me any problems (and I do take care to wipe bottle tops before drinking).

 

Maybe it was a case of bad luck on the day I visited... but I will not be eager to come back.

 

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Sven

Let's talk about accommodation in Poro Port...

 

As I said, it seems there are 3 options, and one of them has been mentioned several times on LinC: Big Z Pension House.

 

This is a shabby-looking house along the main road. I think it is a family house with just a few rooms available for rent. There is no proper entrance or reception, so a bit tricky to approach and enquire - we had to shout from the street to get their attention.

 

The rooms are at the far end, near the sea, and come at varied prices. I think there was a big air-con room available for p1500, but also more basic ones for much less.

 

I don't know if they offer any food, maybe if you ask..?

 

I think it is possible to swim here, but overall I did not particularly like the place.

 

For more information about Big Z, see earlier reviews by others who have stayed here.

 

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Sven

The next accommodation option in Poro Port would be Camotes Seaview Pension House.

 

This is along the main road again, just a short walk East from Big Z, and across the road from Heritage Inn (more about that below).

 

I thought Seaview Pension House felt one notch more professional than Big Z... as there is an entrance and a reception desk, a common room for guests, and even a price list on display. As you see in the picture, there are 5 rooms, and prices are a few hundred pesos.

 

Again there is a view of the sea, and access to the water, I guess. However, I thought the rooms were unpleasant and I would not like to stay here. I guess the word is "basic".

 

 

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easy44

Great write-up Sven.  Thanks!

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Sven

The contrast could hardly be starker, between the Heritage Inn and the other options in Poro. In my opinion, the two places mentioned above are really not nice at all, while the Heritage is just beautiful.

 

The building has a unique, classical facade which looks rather out of place here in Camotes. The rooms as well as the common areas are modern and pleasant, all done in a white and wood theme. Rooms are good size, and there is hot and cold shower, as well as wifi. This was the only wifi connection I found in Poro Port. This whole hotel would not be out of place somewhere in the good end of London.

 

So this was where we chose to stay in Poro. Some rooms are overlooking the road and the sea, but we chose one at the back, in order to sleep as well as possible.

 

The service was professional and we had a trouble-free stay. My only grievance would be that our room was a bit dusty. I guess this was a minor oversight, as the hotel seemed well kept overall. It could have been easily rectified with a broom or by changing rooms. But it was a bit late and I was too tired to complain.

 

The intriguing news is, this pure pleasure did not cost much either. Please see price list below - rooms are around p1000 to p1500, depending on size. I paid p1200.

 

Later I heard there is supposed to be a restobar on the top floor, but I did not notice it when I visited... so I don't know. Suggest you try and find out if you visit.

 

They are on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heritage-Inn-Poro/536275306413863

 
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Sven

I would suggest not to aim for Fer-An Beach Resort, if you are planning a Camotes trip.

This resort is closed, and I think I saw a for-sale sign. It is along the coastal road East of Poro Port.

I did not see any beaches around here either.

Maybe a project for an industrious soul with a barge-load of sand and lots of time to spare..?

 

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Sven

San Francisco is a pleasant little town - a bit more so than Poro, I thought.

 

It looks like there is only one good place to stay in San Francisco: Alyanarah Lodge. (Are there any others at all?)

 

I did not stay at Alyanarah, but had a look at various rooms, and I tried the wifi.

 

There are around a dozen rooms totally, ranging in price from p350 to p850, which must be good value. The place seems tidy and pleasant, although rooms are a bit dated. Some rooms have bathrooms, air-con and even refrigerators.

 

The wifi was very good. It works best near the road, and does not seem to reach all the rooms far back - but this will depend on the sensitivity of your equipment.

 

The area seems quiet enough for a good night's sleep. Alyanarah has a pleasant front garden, and across the road is a nice place to eat - see below.

 

Others on Linc have commented on this place, and seem satisfied with their stay.

 

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Hy H

 

 

Still at Mangodlong - the next level up is the Rock Resort. Here the entrance is not so unpretentious, and overall this is a fun and colorful place. There are some semi-artistic works, a tree house, various huts, pool for the kids, etc. Probably this location will satisfy any Filipino's need to take lots of pictures, and it is likely a great place for a party with a group. It is directly on the beach, and the whole area seems carefully maintained.  

 

How did you find the parking arrangements at Rock Resort?  We found out the area right next to the entrance does not belong to the resort, guys asking for parking fee there but if you park bit further back up the rd it is resort parking.

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Sven
There is one eating place I believe any foreigner should visit if going to San Francisco: Camotes Bar and Grill.

 

As others have mentioned, this is an American-owned restobar with international food.

 

The menu is extensive, the service is fine, and they also have good wifi.

 

We had a nice lunch here, and our usual combination meal (see post 2) came to around p500, which I thought was fine.

 

Camotes Bar and Grill is just across the road from Alyanarah Lodge (see above). To find both, start at the park in the centre of town, then travel one block straight South. Turn right, and there you are.

 

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Sven
 

How did you find the parking arrangements at Rock Resort?  We found out the area right next to the entrance does not belong to the resort, guys asking for parking fee there but if you park bit further back up the rd it is resort parking.

 

It was not a problem. I was told just to leave the car right outside the entrance. The guard also promised to keep an eye on it.

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Sven

Dear reader, all good things have an end, and this is all I have for now...!

 

I hope you have enjoyed this little virtual tour of Camotes.

I know there are a couple of things missing - specifically, the Flying Fish resort, and My Little Island Hotel... as I did not get to see those.

Also, I did not visit the caves, nor Lake Danao... and I am not into diving, so cannot comment on that.

Besides, there is the third island - Ponson, where I think maybe there is a resort or two.

 

I hope to make another trip later in the year and will then aim to add in the missing pieces.. if nobody else gets there first..!

 

There are more reviews and pictures on Tripadvisor for some of the places I have mentioned:

http://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/Tourism-g2019898-Camotes_Islands_Visayas-Vacations.html

 

Overall I thought Camotes was pleasant and relaxing, it has a lot of potential for development, and it feels very safe.

 

One final thought to round it all off:

If I were travelling to Camotes on a budget, my preference would be to bring a tent, and cooking gear. There are tons of places suitable for camping, and some people are already doing it. I think this would be much nicer than staying in the budget places.

 

All the best,

Sven

 

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JohnD

A very good report. The next time you go do check the northern part of Poro where the Flying Fish Resort, Little Island Hotel are and the Monte Cristo Resort is being built. 

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goldeagle

good comprehensive report, covered all the bases except the northwest section of Poro where Flying Fish and My Little Island are.

 

agree the Santiago restaurant is not bad although the menu has a very narrow range of dishes. They used to sell fan rooms here (and at Mangodlong also) but have now stopped that, Bella Vista, whose basic 850 fan rooms are a little pricey even considering the location right on top of the beach. Aircon is just not necessary, anywhere on the Camotes although as you say if you want a nice room then it will almost 100% certainly have aircon in it.

 

Bella Vista also hires motorbikes, which together with the concession opposite Mangodlong resort is the only place I know on the islands where you can do this. Their rate is 400 per day, Bella Vista does a room and bike type combo, my friend negotiated the 850 room plus motorbike for a few days for 1100.

 

vaguely bohemian Dreams House right on the beach itself as you noticed it is cheap and would be a fun place to stay as the area comes alive at night.

 

you are critical of the Bano Beach resort but it should not be considered in the same class as other places. The Kiwi guy, who I knew years ago when he was on Bantayan has only just taken it over, it is still in the early stages his idea is just to provide beach bum type backpacker accommodation, those rooms will be selling for 5-600 a night, also he has a bakery there and makes sausages and pies and pasties. It is just a very informal place.

 

Paradise is easily the best restaurant on the island, also you can swim here for no charge if you buy a meal, although sometimes they enforce this and sometimes they don't. A couple of times we have eaten at My Little Island, used the pool and not been charged for it. Then, another time, they decided to charge us to use the pool on top of the meal, so they are not consistent all the time.

 

in Esperanza that White Beach resort under construction has been a total disaster it looks like a total eyesore and has been in that kind of state for the past three years. I don't even think the Slovenian guy who bought the lot is even in the Philippines anymore. Nobody I know on the islands think that place will ever be completed.

 

you missed the Sunset Vista resort in Esperanza only five hundred meters down from the White Beach building site. this has nice aircon rooms for I think 1700 and small fan ones for 800. It is a proper resort with a modest but OK restaurant, no beach but there is steps down to the sea for swimming.

 

have fond memories of Keshe resort we stayed there for weeks back in 2008, at that time you could rent their rooms without aircon for 400 for food you could use their kitchen and also barbecue on the beach. Idyllic really.

 

JP Bistro in Poro town is a bit of a joke really. The food is OK I suppose but the portions are so small. Also one wonders why they are selling 330ml SM beers for 50 pesos even the foreigner bar Camotes Island Bar and Grill, which started out doing that, has stopped and now they are selling them for 30. But unlike before, people do now actually buy beers from their place!

 

Big Z pension, which you describe as a 'shabby-looking' house, is actually one of the very oldest buildings on the islands, with old-style Spanish wooden beams which you must have seen if you went inside. The large aircon ensuite family room is 1000, not 1700 and there is another aircon room downstairs. The fan rooms are 350, great price for when you can spend the evenings sitting out on the terrace with the sea view. And there is easy swimming in the sea at high tide, there is even a little sandy beach. Amusingly the locals think the place is haunted, and considered me brave to stay there. But then Filipinos think any old building that isn't a church, is haunted.

 

I agree the new Heritage is a not-bad hotel but the rooms seem a bit expensive in what is a very provincial town. They must also be annoyed that there is next to no passenger traffic at Poro port anymore a lot of the rooms sold on the Camotes are not for tourists at all but for Filipinos like travelling sales people. I have had several nights out with Cebu city Tanduay ice and similar promo girls who were on the islands to do some promo work and staying in pension houses like the Big Z and the Seaside in San Fran. Their employers would not cover the cost of a room in the Heritage and few tourists would actually want to stay in Poro although I consider it a charming town. Also at the weekends they have live music at the market which can draw quite a crowd and have a good atmostphere, better than anything in the bigger San Fran town really. This is a good place to go to get an idea of what Camotes people are like, together with attending the busy Sunday morning market in San Fran.

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Mr. Mike

Nice work Sven..thank you!

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cebulover2000

We just came back from Camotes and took your write-up as guide line. We brought our own car since it is cheap and roll on and off is very fast since it still is the province of Cebu (if you go to another province, let's say Bohol, it takes much longer and more paperwork to get your car on and off).

 

I heard habal habal and jeepneys are charging quite  abit of fare in Camotes, so we avoided this all together.

 

We drove around before booking a hotel and I have to say that places like Fly fishing resort is just too far away on a very bad road, so we didn't even go there.

 

We ended up at Santiago Bay Resort as most people since they have a fantastic infinity pool and full time life guard who also keeps the place clean. Their basic fan rooms are 1,000 pesos/night but weren't available on the first night, next up is the deluxe aircon room for 2,000 pesos with barely working TV and hot shower but the tank ran out the second day, so here goes the hot shower, otherwise nice rooms with beautiful ocean views. I heard the rooms are cheaper in June/July. Wifi was only working within 5 m of the far away reception.

 

We ate lunch the first day at the resort and paid 1,700 pesos for 7 adults and 2 children, then we had dinner at the beach (Pitos) and paid 1,000 pesos for much better food. Tip: If you only drink coffee in the morning, bring your own, hot water and cups are free at the hotel. Pitos prices are really low, like 30 pesos for a rice platter and the same price for a fresh mango juice, 90 pesos for excellent Squid, you can really eat there for under 200 pesos for 2 people. The menu is not very big and they don't have burgers but the quality, service, speed and taste is excellent. There are other eateries, we didn't try them, only the karaoke nearby.

 

There is a life band on weekends I was told, during the week they are asking for a 2,500 pesos donation.

 

Service at the Santiago Bay Resort is good, you can pay by credit card. Jet Ski is 1,000 pesos for 15 minutes.

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