Despite problems with mobility (this darn place has no public mode of transportation to speak of – as in “nil”). You hire private vehicles for a steep price. I later found out that, once the hurdle with transportation is remedied, the island becomes a very promising tourism gem! The possibilities of this island is more promising than many other more popular tourist spots in the country like, say, Mindoro! This probably is the reason why Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia has embarked on a tourism project called “Suroy Suroy Sa Sugbo” (Travelling in Cebu) that’s slowly catching fire among well-heeled foreign tourists. To be honest about it, I admire this brilliant project – and the Camotes folk should sculpt the pretty governor a statue infront of each Camotes municipality for her devotion to promote Camotes. Here is the rub: their rates are rather exorbitant. In fact, if you are a local tourist, you might as well go your own way. Plan your self-styled Camotes visit, and you might save more than 50% than taking part in the good governor’s endeavor! (I shall mention some comparative rates later to make a more objective stance.)
We hired a multi-cab, with half a shade at the back. It fetched for PhP2,200 for a “tour” that will take us from 8AM to 6PM. From the barangay of Puertobello, we hopped and proceeded to My Little Island Resort (to book ahead for an onward itinerary) then went westward to San Francisco where 60% of the sites are located.
San Francisco, compared to Poro and Tudela, is a more progressive municipality. This is where a hospital is, as well as a port, schools, good cell reception and “proof of civilization”. We first went to Green Lake Resort, situated beside the bank of Lake Danao in the sleepy village of Union in San Francisco. Entrance fee of P15/adult and P10/child. It sits on a 1.5 hectare of ancient hardwood mangrove forest. There is really nothing to do here unless you want a meal in their restaurant. Those who love serenity will probably take to this place, watch a small pen of crocodiles in captivity, see the passing of some fishermen, etc. I opted to go to the next location, which is Lake Danao proper, some 15 minutes west. Lake Danao’s main viewing site has fishpens. Each pen inhabited by tilapias (tilapine cichlid) – and some aquarium fishes. Prior to arriving at the fishpens by the lakeside, visitors should pass by the Bureau of Fishery office, by the entrance, to log your names. No entrance fees.
From there, it was off to Mangodlong Rock Resort in the Heminsulan village of San Francisco. Locals speak about Mangodlong with wide-eyed awe and pride. This is their local Boracay, and to be fair, it deserves its reputation. They regard the establishment as a “rich-man’s paradise”. Not quite though. Upon reaching the resort, you will learn that an entrance admission is just P15. To avoid paying for a cottage (and since it was lunch time already), we decided to have lunch there, and took a “kubo” (hut) that stands on a concrete stilt, overlooking the beautiful beachside, the clear blue seas, and the Mangodlong Rock where another “kubo” stands. The resort is nestled on 2 hectares of coconut garden, with cottages for overnighters. Across the resort and separated by a blue sea is a coral islet with tropical huts spread out, connected by a sand bar from the beach. A first glance would always result with impressed awes of wonder. This is, simply put, a beautiful place. Beachfront rooms (with aircon and tv) will fetch P1,950 – good for 3 persons. Casitas (with aircon and tv) are priced at P1,850/ room – good for 3 persons. Coco Grove Rooms (also with aircon and TV – for 3 persons) are worth P1,700. None of these rooms are more expensive than our mid-range room at My Little Island Resort. This is to say that Mangodlong is NOT an expensive place to be. In fact, our lunch of 4 (plus, we invited the driver’s company of 6 – tag-along people, actually) was worth PhP950 only! No adjective is more appropriate than "cheap"!
New but small asphalt roads.
Lake Danao's crystal clear waters.
Tilapias of different sizes are grouped together (according to size). These tilapine cichlids grow in abundance in Lake Danao.
Amazingly, they also grow aquaria fishes this part of town.
Mangodlong Beach Resort, Heminsulan, San Francisco, Camotes Island, Cebu. The coral rock and its few cottages face the resort.
A stair submerged with ocean water! See how clear it is!
The vehicle we hired for the day - PhP2,200 ($50) for a whole-day self-styled excursion. Along the way, we passed by a tindahan (a make-shift store) to gas up - gasoline in coca cola bottles! In Siem Reap in Cambodia, you can hire aircon taxis to take you around the temples (a whole day affair) for almost half that amount! How much more if the one hiring are foreign tourists!!! Quite highway robbery, now that I think about it!
Check out our first post about Camotes here: http://eye-in-the-blue-sky.blogspot.com/2008/05/camotes-island-in-land-that-time-forgot.html