Four Reasons I Found Peace in the Islands of Caramoan

When you are 24, with a stable job just enough to finance you and your lifestyle, a long-term relationship that is steady and strong, and family and friends who always give their support, you think all is well. I mean, all should be okay, right?

But no. The feeling like some thing’s not right actually exists. Like its waiting, lurking in some dark corners ready to attack you whenever it wants, especially when you’re down and you feel like a loser or what.   

caramoan islands
Two nights by the sea

Sometimes even, you think something is bugging you, like you want to find it out but don’t know what it is, or what to do to address that pressing feeling.

And why am I saying this? Yep. I feel that way too.  My journalism professor told me that I am experiencing what might have a midlife crisis.

 You see, I am nearing the quarter life, and though I thought this won’t happen to me with all the energy, crazy ideas and willpower a 20-something can ever have—I found myself a little lost and uncertain.

My trip to the stunning Caramoan Islands brought back the enthusiasm in me. And I am glad I got to spend that trip with people who are not fond of getting all too clingy during outings (thumbs up for my travel buddy/boyfriend Ramir and his good friend/house mate Jonah), giving just the right travel pace.

I wrote these four reasons why we were travelling back to Naga after spending three days and two nights in the islands of Caramoan. These got me feeling renewed and inspired

The moonrise in Matukad Island

caramoan islands
Gazing at the starry sky in Matukad Island

Get this: We spend a night in this island closest to Caramoan mainland. Night one of our three-days, two-nights camping ala Survivor castaways. Our eyes are on the pork we’re cooking (supposedly a liempo) while enjoying a hearty conversation, when the stunning moonrise unexpectedly appeared. For several minutes, we stand there by the beach side, witnessing how it illuminates the dark sea, and lit up the starry sky. After eating, we dipped into the waters and frolic by the beach. Haha. The island is literally ours and what could be more fun than skinny-dipping and picture-taking? It was amazing and awesome alright.  My first night in the island also gave me the time to reflect. Imagine me lying in the sands, the night sky above, stars twinkling like little-glow-in-the-dark beads, and I was there whispering my prayers of thanks and praises.

Barefoot walking in Manlawi Sandbar

Caramoan Islands
caramoan islands

On our second day, we dropped by Lahuy Island, one of the biggest islands in Caramoan, which boasts of its long stretch of sandbar called Manlawi. Going there need to be after lunch, when the sea goes on a lowtide. I think its vast area wouldn’t look so crowded despite a number of groups killing time there. As Ramir went on his photo walk, Jonah on his own solitary mood, I spent an hour observing people around. I stayed for a couple of minutes in a floating nipa hut, while seeing observing people pose, take pictures, and just enjoy the stunning sight. Minutes after, I decided to take on my trusty iPhone and take pictures—of the green hills and the tiny waves that ripples through my toes—all while walking barefoot. I am certain that walking in solitude through the long and vast sandbar of Manlawi, while talking to God (literally out loud without the people hearing), planted peace on my core. It was that moment when I realized saying a prayer out loud can leave a nice feeling after. As if I was just talking to God right there. As if He’s beside me, walking with me, and listening intently to what I was saying.

Morning plunge in Sabitang Laya

Early morning dip at Sabitang Laya

I was never a morning person until I realized some great things happen just after the light covers the sky. It was raining hard and I am sure as hell I won’t get myself drenched with the cold rain on a stormy morning. Jonah went for jog along the kilometre long beach while Ramir dipped into the waters. I thanked him for bugging me out in my sleep and encouraged me to enjoy the moment. And so I changed my clothes, went out of the tent, and joined them into the waters. I never regretted that moment. The misty water, the foggy atmosphere, the cool breeze brought by the rain, the gentle waves that crashed through the beautiful rock stones—all these are simply breathtaking. And I think no words can ever describe them. What my eyes saw cannot be translated to precise adjectives but I guess one has to see it for himself and he will know.

Overcoming the waves and the rain

Our group rented out a small boat good for 3-5 people, including two boatmen. From Brgy. Paniman, which is the mainland port, we had to sail away through big waves just to get into Matukad Island. Splashes of waters engulfed the boat, and we were all wet upon reaching our first island. The width of the boat is only half a meter, and you can only imagine how I grip on its side while keeping an eye on our things. 

The next day, we had to cross over to the other side of Caramoan Island going to the farther islands like Cotivas, Lahuy, and Sabitang Laya. This time, bigger waves welcome us in that 45-minute boat ride. We had to cover our things with plastic while we were all basked into the scorching heat of the sun. There were also moments when our boat suddenly stops amidst the crazy, big waves. So big that I seldom look on our boatmen to see if things like this bothers him.

Fortunately, all I see was a calm face, even when we had to be stranded when the boat hits the seabed with rocks. Our boat actually stopped for more than three times and I was trying hard to keep my heart intact (hahaha).   When I see his face looking A-okay, like he can still sip a cup of coffee or read today’s news while on the engine, I know we still are.  Our boatman made me realized that things will be okay even when you’re on a rough road (or a stranded boat for that matter). Eventually. That once you pause and think what might be the problem, the solution will come you way when your mind is focused on what you wanted to achieve.

It was raining when we settled in Sabitang Laya for our last night of camping. The morning after also delivered rain but it was an experience of a lifetime. We were like, getting our things out of the tent and to the shaded rocky part of the island so they won’t get wet.

The Caramoan Islands is, for me, by far the most memorable island trip I’ve ever had. And I think you should get there too. It calmed me. It made me realize that happiness may be found in things around us. And when you enjoy and live by the moment you will get a sense of happiness. And this can arm you to be better in facing tomorrow once again.

I actually realized I have been okay all along. Maybe I lack a little faith. It can be that I don’t appreciate the things I have. Or maybe I just need some rest from the pressure of work. I am not certain, and I know it will take time to be so sure and settled on things, but I know I am getting there.

Note: I wrote an article for our three days and two night camping in the islands of Caramoan for Rappler. Check the article link here.

Gelyka Dumaraos

Gel is a writer and wanderer from the Philippines. She maintains this blog, Musings and Pathways, as a platform for her thoughts on love and life and stories of places and people she meets while on the road. Aside from writing and being a freelance media consultant, she is recently into baking and cooking. Gel lives with her fiance in a humble, work-in-progress abode in the beautiful province of Rizal. Email her at

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