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Sven

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

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mikewright

Thanks Sven, great info!

 

Have you found anything which would be classed as a "tourist attraction" in the Camotes? I've visited twice, but only to Ponson and Poro Islands, and the snorkeling was pretty ordinary. Some beautiful white sandy beaches, but really shallow with no corals or fish.

 

Highlight for me was the seafood. Staying on Ponson Island, where the fishing boats brought in their catch for sorting, before sending it on to the Ormoc. So much seafood variety for sale! And on Poro, vendors bringing round buckets of live seafood, which we could buy and cook at our resort.

 

Have always thought that if you had some good diving or snorkeling there, even an artificial reef, plus someone who knew how to cook seafood, you would end up with  very popular tourist destination.

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Sven

Another tourist area on Camotes is Mangodlong, not far from the Consuelo ferry port.

 

There are two beaches here, right next to each other, and they are nice but very small.
 
Each beach is controlled by a resort built around it (as I said, they are small!) - the Rock Resort and the Paradise resort, respectively.
 
Behind those, there are two more resorts - BBR and Coco Grove.
 
In-between there is a dive shop and a well-stocked sari-sari store.. And that's about all there is at Mangodlong. There is no village or local population here.
 
I don't know what is the exact arrangement for beach access from those two "behind" resorts, but I was able to walk freely between all the 4 venues with no questions asked... so I guess it's not an issue, not for a foreigner at least.
 
As part of Rock Resort there is the eponymous Rock - basically some huts built on a peninsula, a nice place for selfies or for a party.
 
Maybe this is a great place to dive? I guess there must be a reason why there are so many resorts in a spot which, as far as I can see, has precious little to offer overall. Nicer beaches can easily be found elsewhere.
 
But for the benefit of the reader, I will describe each of the 4 resorts anyway..! :-)
 
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Sven

Have you found anything which would be classed as a "tourist attraction" in the Camotes?

 

I did not seek out attractions as such on this trip... and I guess it depends what attracts you..! :-)

There are some caves one can visit, and the lake which apparently has many activities going on, like horse riding and lunch cruise, etc. I plan to find out on my next trip.

Apparently the "rock" above also counts as an attraction.

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Chas

Thanks for the report.  In March 2012 I stayed at the Santiago Bay Resort and was disappointed.  It was in a great situation, but most of the staff did not seem to care and at that time the food was indifferent.  A good manager would transform the place and I hope that has happened.

 

For example typical quality of furniture in the room:

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Sadly not untypical in showers in the Philippines - bare wires near the shower head

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I ate at Nenas as the food in the hotel was not so good.  Is Nenas still there?

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The view from Nenas, with a cold beer in my hand all was right with the world.

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I had made a note of the Bella Vista Mare and had decided to stay there when I go back.  Thanks for the update.

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Sven

For example typical quality of furniture in the room...

Sadly not untypical in showers in the Philippines - bare wires near the shower head...

I had made a note of the Bella Vista Mare and had decided to stay there when I go back.  Thanks for the update.

 

I don't think Bella Vista will have nicer rooms than the Garden Resort...

If you are looking for the best possible technical quality of the room, try Aizawa, or the Heritage Inn in Poro (which I will describe below).. or, if you can afford it, Paradise Beach resort in Mangodlong (also below).

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Sven

So, as I mentioned, there is no less than 4 resorts at Mangodlong. 

 

The least attractive of those, in my opinion, would be BBR - Bano Beach Resort.

 

Upon entering Bano Beach resort, I noticed there was nobody present. No staff, no guests, nothing. The place felt like a ghost venue, even at lunch time on a Sunday when there were plenty of people out and about nearby.
 
Eventually we were able to lure a staff member out from his hiding in a back room, and he showed us one of their rooms.
 
The price was p1700 for a standard air-con room which looked poorly maintained.
 
I noticed some broken fixtures in the room and didn't like the place overall. To me the whole place felt neglected and a bit weird. I could not see any food or drink available either. Not my idea of a nice stay, so we left quickly.
 
On a positive note, their pool looked fairly nice and clean.
 
Another day I noticed a sign at the entrance saying "Food 60 pesos" or something to that extent.
I did not feel like going back there to eat, especially not if their main selling point is the price.. but at least I guess it means they have some food at some times.
 
BBR is not directly on the beach, but it is overlooking the sea from above the Rock Resort, and there is a path down to the (small) beach at the Rock Resort.
 
Thinking back, I might just have been unlucky with the day I visited BBR, and I should not be too critical of a place without knowing it better.
 
Anyway those were my impressions - hopefully others can say more about this venue. 
 
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Sven
The next option at Mangodlong, and a slightly better one perhaps, would be Coco Grove. This seemed to be the only venue in the area with wifi, and they win the prize for the most unpretentious welcome sign..! (See picture below.)

 

This resort also looks a bit neglected, but not as neglected as BBR, and there is a proper reception with staff present.

 

Coco Grove is located behind Paradise Beach resort, and they don't have direct beach access but the beach is not far.

 

They only had fan rooms available when I visited, and the price for one would be p1500. These rooms looked fairly new and nice (see pictures below - it is the building with brown walls) ...but these rooms are located next to the bar/restaurant, so it might get a bit noisy perhaps.

 

Air-con rooms would be p2100, good for 3 persons. I did not get to look inside those (it is the red building in the pictures).

 

I noticed that the pool at Coco Grove was dirty, and the sun loungers and pool area was badly in need of some TLC.

 

The restaurant looked a bit messy at first glance (see picture). It seems they are slow to clean tables. I did come back another day with the intention to try their food, but then the restaurant was closed (despite it being lunch time, on a weekday).

 

Overall I guess Coco Grove is a bit of a wild card - it could be fairly good if you don't care about the pool perhaps... but I would not pay the prices they ask, everything considered.

 

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Sven
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.

 

This is where we actually stayed for a couple of nights. When we arrived on a Sunday, the place was somewhat overrun by Koreans and local day trippers, but they soon left.

 

The rooms here are p2200, which includes hot water. The rooms are a bit dated but big and comfortable overall. I noticed no noise from roosters etc. On weekdays, one can have a perfect night's sleep here, accompanied by nothing but the sound of waves pounding the sand.

 

I thought the restaurant was quite good. They were out of sea food most of the time, as well as fresh juice, but otherwise they offered a somewhat international menu. There are sandwiches, burgers, salad, and so on.

 

The service here felt better than average for the Philippines, and the food was acceptable, if not great. Food arrived consistently within 20 minutes and as I mentioned, the location is really nice, right at the beach.

 

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Jimone

   Good work.. Thanks for the effort.... 

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Sven
Finally, the high end option at Mangodlong, and probably the latest addition to the scene, is the Paradise Beach resort.

 

This looks like a modern and stylish hotel which would not be out of place somewhere in Scandinavia, for example. There are immaculately maintained lawns, a huge infinity pool, and a very pretty (if small) white beach.

 

The standard rooms cost p3000 a night, and look small but comfortable, with large glass doors and thick curtains. There are also more expensive options.

 

When I visited, there was however no wifi available. I was told this was due to some sort of antenna problem which would be "hopefully fixed next month".

 

I didn't stay here but ate twice in their restaurant. This may well be the best restaurant in Camotes! Clean and tidy, gorgeous views, attentive and proactive service, an extensive menu with dishes from all around the world, and almost everything in stock at all times. There are those hard-to-find items like salads, fresh juices, and even a wine list (around 700 pesos for a bottle).

 

The food arrived quickly (20 minutes) and we both thought the cooking was excellent on both occasions.

 

The bill for our usual dinner for two came to 600 pesos on one occasion, and 700 on another.

 

Considering the quality, I thought this was great value, and I will certainly return here.

 

The only problem was the lack of wifi, as mentioned, and on a windy day, the restaurant got a bit uncomfortable due to the exposed location overlooking the sea.

 

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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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