The Camotes Islands

About 30km northeast of Cebu City, the friendly, peaceful Camotes Islands, which once sheltered Magellan’s fleet, are gradually opening up to tourism, with fast boats from Cebu now bringing them within a couple of hours of the city.

The two principal islands, Poro and Pacijan, are linked by a causeway, which makes exploring by motorbike an appealing prospect.

The main town on Pacijan is San Francisco, but most of the resorts are on the beaches of the northwest and southwest coasts. In the north beyond Lake Danao, Tulang is a picturesque islet lapped by turquoise waters, which has good snorkelling and diving.

Over on Poro you can pay P10 to swim in a series of small underground caves in Bukilat, while easier swimming awaits at Busay Falls just a short walk from Tudela on the south coast. To get the lay of the land head up to Arquis Viewing Deck on Pacijan.

From here you can see Lake Danao, site of Greenlake Park where you can take sakanaw (local boats; P500 for a 10-person boat) trips out to the mangroves.

Arrival and information
The Oceanjet fast ferry departs for Poro daily from Cebu City Pier 1. There are also daily bangkas and Supershuttle Ferry (T0928/371-3113) services from Danao to Poro and Consueles on Pacijan. Poro is also linked by public bangkas from Mandaue. Hiring a motorbike (P500/day) is the easiest way to get around, while short trips on a habal-habal cost P50. The easternmost (and smallest) Camotes island, Ponson, can be reached by small bangka from Poro. There’s a tourist information desk and post office at the town hall in Poro, but there are no banking facilities anywhere in the Camotes, so bring enough cash to last.

Accommodation and eating
For food, the better restaurants are mostly in the resorts, but the Green Lake Restaurant on Lake Danao does delicious tilapia. Keshe Beach Resort In the northwest of Pacijan Island, next to Borromeo T0929/892-5792.

Situated on beautiful Bakhaw Beach, Keshe has
attractive simple nipa huts.

2 Mangodlong Rock Resort Heminsulan on Pacijan Island T032/345-8599, Sister resort to Santiago Bay, Mangodlong has rooms set in a coconut plantation overlooking the beach, plus a dive centre.

4 My Little Island Hotel In Esperanza on Poro Island T032/497-095 Wwww.mylittleislandhotel .com. The best rooms on Poro, and a pool (P75 for non-residents), but it’s not on the beach. 4

Santiago Bay Garden and Beach Resort In the southwest of Pacijan Island T032/345-8599 Great views and comfortable a/c rooms with cable TV. 3

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