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Travel Guide to Camarines Sur: Live the Island Life Survivor-Style Edit

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Michelle Tobias  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.

Cover photo by Monde Mendez. Graphics by Manel Solsoloy.

At a Glance

Camarines Sur is most raved for Caramoan Peninsula—its beautiful limestone formations, impeccable coves, and exquisite islands. It stunned people around the world when it aired in the TV series Survivor. Camarines Sur is also home to active volcanoes, hot springs and waterfalls, and the famous Peñafrancia Festival.

Overview

Camarines Sur is part of the most volcanic area in the Philippines, paving way to lush tropical landscapes facing the cobalt blue sea. Surrounded mostly by water, the province is most acclaimed for Caramoan Peninsula. This island-studded province has gorgeous beaches and islands similar to those found in El Nido, Coron, and Boracay. What makes Caramoan different, however, is its remoteness. It was the venue of the television series Survivor twice, once in 2008 and 2009. Since then, it has become well-known—and most loved—as the perfect spot for a memorable island adventure.


The province has two potentially active volcanoes great for hiking, Mt. Asog and Mt. Isarog. Both have rich biodiversity, beautiful views, and a large crater. More than a dozen rivers, waterfalls, and hot springs surround these areas. Some of the more popular tours here are canyoneering and rappelling in Nalalata Falls in Bula, Itbog Falls in Buhi, and Slide Waterfalls in Pili. One unique feature though is Lake Buhi, which was created from Mt. Isarog’s eruption back in the 17th century. In the lake you’ll find Sinarapan, known as the world’s smallest commercially harvested fish.


Beyond these outdoor activities, Camarines Sur is home to the Philippines’ largest watersports complex where you can do wakeboarding, waterskating, and waterskiing. Meanwhile, two cool adventure parks for the family are Haciendas de Naga Adventure Park and Panicuason Adventure Park, which offer thrilling activities such as biking on a zipline and hammock swing zipline. Every September, a momentous event to be a part of is the Peñafrancia Festival, one of the biggest river parades in the Philippines.

8 Unique Adventures to tick off in your Camarines Sur bucket list

Words by Colleen Cabili

Caramoan Peninsula

After being featured in the hit television series Survivor twice as the show’s venue, this piece of land jutting out into the multihued waters of Maqueda Channel and Lagonoy Gulf quickly became one of the country’s top summer destinations.

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Photo by Dan Moore.
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Photo from way.ph.

CamSur Watersports Complex

This watersports park in Pili has world-class amenities for extreme water sports like wakeboarding and waterskiing. It’s the perfect side trip for travelers seeking their fill of adrenaline.

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Photo from cwcwake.com.

Deer Farm

Ever wondered what Santa’s favorite mode of transportation looks like? Head over to this deer farm in Ocampo to find out! You can even get up close and personal with these gentle creatures. 

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Photo by Kim Fajardo.

Mt. Isarog National Park

At 1,966 meters above sea level, this stratovolcano offers a jaw-dropping view of Camarines Sur. Although the 8 to 10-hour hike might seem arduous to newbie hikers, the abundance of flora and fauna you’ll encounter along the way will make you forget about the time.

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Photo from choosephilippines.com.

Panicuason Hot Spring Resort and Nature Adventure Park

After hiking Mt. Isarog, head straight to this resort located in the vicinity of the mountain. It has several natural pools of varying temperatures—perfect for cooling down!

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Photo by Marion Bandin.

Canyoneering and Rappelling at Waterfalls

Apart from white sand beaches, the province is also endowed with an array of enchanting waterfalls! Swimming in the pools of these cascades is already a given, so why not try canyoneering and rappelling for a different kind of thrill?

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Photo from outoftownblog.com.

Umang Cave

Littered with limestone boulders and hills of guano, the immense cavern feels like a villain's lair, save for the faint streaks of sunlight that seep from the openings in the ceiling, which lends the whole chamber an enchanting appeal. 

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Photo by Riley Gutierrez.

Poro Island

This intimate rock island features a crop of white sand that appears during low tide. The rock island itself is a great spot to climb and have views of islands and islets!

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Photo by Jojo Villareal and Kaddlagan Outdoor Adventure.

Where is Camarines Sur

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Camarines Sur is part of the Bicol Region located in east central Philippines. Graphics by Manel Solsoloy.

How to get to Camarines Sur

From Manila or Cebu, the fastest way to get to CamSur is by plane. You can book a flight through Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, or Air Asia. The flight takes about 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can drive from Manila to CamSur via the Pan-Philippine Highway, which takes about 10 hours. You can also take a bus bound for Naga City. Such buses can be found in Cubao and along EDSA Pasay. Travel time is around 9 hours.


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