Google Caramoan and you’re guaranteed to get at least a couple of Caramoan tour packages in the results. These are very tempting options to take. Most of these Caramoan tour packages include accommodations, island hopping, full board meals and even transfers to and from Sabang port and Guijalo port.
Most of the accommodations in these Caramoan tour packages are located near the centro (center of town). This is good if you really want to get a feel of the local vibe. There are some beach front accommodations, located in a small fishing village, for an additional fee of course.
Then again, with a little bit of research, you can always get more bang for your buck. With round about the same price as the Caramoan tour packages accommodations, you get nicer rooms, the exclusivity of a resort (where the Survivor crew stayed while filming the reality show) and, most importantly, a gorgeous beach.
Gota Village Resort may seem intimidating at first (budget-wise). Apart from their own tour packages, room rates are not clearly stated in their website and facebook page. Minus the adrenaline junkie’s dream activities included in their tour packages, the accommodations are fairly priced.
It takes about 30 minutes to get from Guijalo port to Gota Village. Long stretches of the road are under construction. Panoramic landscapes more than make up for the bumpy ride.
Gota Village Resort Caramoan
Small wooden cabana – Php 1,250
Medium wooden cabana – Php 1,500
Large wooden cabana – Php 1,875
All rooms are standard occupancy for 2 people. Additional Php 500 per person per night. An extra mattress will be provided. All rooms are also equipped with air-conditioning, satellite TV, mini fridge, and en suite bathroom with hot shower. Transfers to and from Guijalo port are also included.
*These are documents sent by Gota Village.
You may also inquire about their VIP area called Honungan Cove, which can only be accessed by boat.
According to some of the locals, Survivor has a 25-year contract with Caramoan. I’m not certain if they still stay at Gota when they are filming, but they mentioned that in the past, the resort is closed to the public during such times. As well as some of the other islands.
Gota Village indeed looks like a little village. The brown walls and red roofs of the wooden cabanas wonderfully compliment the green backdrop of the limestone mountains surrounding the entire village. Most of the cabanas are arranged in small circles. A palm tree and a rather unsightly lamp post now stand at the center of these circles where campfires used to.
There weren’t that many people during our stay in Gota Village. Understandably, guests are accommodated only within a certain area of the resort near the massage and housekeeping cabins and closest to the beach. There’s easily over a hundred cabanas in Gota Village after all. You’re free to roam around of course.
Security is a serious business in Gota Village. Security personnel are visible at the village entry, beachfront and surrounding areas; complete with radios and shotguns. Perhaps this is a measure that got carried over from ensuring the safety of foreign guests while Survivor is filming or because Gota Village is situated inside a National Park reserve.
Unfortunately, many of the other cabins in Gota Village, especially those farthest from the beach, are in disrepair. Some of the walls and floors are crumbling and are slowly being reclaimed by Nature. Also, with the village being surrounded by mountains, cellular reception is poor (Globe subscribers only).
We rented a Small wooden cabana. The room is pretty straight forward. Apart from the listed inclusions, there’s a small desk, a chair and a wardrobe. There is a pleasant woody aroma when you enter the cabana.
Gota Village housekeeping did a great job in maintaining the cleanliness of the room. The sheets are without stain, no accumulation of dust on the floor and other surfaces and you wouldn’t feel queasy stepping into the bathroom. Although there was an incident when we opened the shower and as soon as water started to collect on the floor, several black things (what we presume are insect droppings) started coming out from the crevices where the sliding door meets the floor. It quickly drained away.
Here are the activities offered at Gota Village in Caramoan from a brochure I got from the resort. You may want to check with them as well if there are changes in the rates.
All Marine Activities are subject to tidal and weather conditions. You will need to undergo an orientation at the Marine Office near Gota Village’s beach area.
|Isaland Hopping – Maralad Islands
– Max 7 people
|Isaland Hopping – Manlawi Islands
– Max 7 people
|Back-to-Back Island hopping||Php 5,000|
|Cliff Diving – per dive||Php 150/person|
|Cliff Diving – unlimited||Php 300/person|
|Rent Kayak||Php 500|
|Snorkelling Set (full day)||Php 150/person|
|River trekking to Umang Cave with rental equipment||Php 500/person|
|River tubing to Mandiklum Cave with rental equipment||Php 700/person|
|Mountain trekking||Php 300/person|
|Mountain trekking with rappelling||Php 500/person|
|Intro to rock climbing||Php 700/person|
Dining at Gota Village is like going to a casual dining restaurant in Manila. In terms of price, that is. Most of the meals ranges from around Php 200 to Php 500. These meals are good for sharing, despite the menu saying otherwise. The food is really good. Gives you that lutong-bahay experience. I enjoyed everything we ordered during our stay. The Laing is a must try!
You can also order half of the fish dishes (listed as one kilo on the menu). They’ll also be happy to store any leftovers for you and serve it on your next meal. If you really want to save, there is a small farming village right outside of Gota Village where you can have a meal for less than Php 50.
All meals are freshly prepared, so you need to make your order at least 45 mins in advance. Or you can inform Gota Village’s kitchen staff at what time you’d like to have your meals and have it delivered to your cabana.
Some of the islands included in most island hopping tours are directly in front of Gota Village’s beach. Located within a cove, the mocha-colored beach is planked by dramatic limestone formations. One even has a small cave in it. This also causes for the shore to be constantly pummeled by waves. The water is clear and cool.
Another awesome thing about Gota Village’s beach are the huge slabs of flat, smooth rocks that cover an area between the shoreline and the sea. Makes for sure footing. Also, there are none of those creepy seaweeds that are ever so abundant on the islands we visited during our island hopping.
The beach is, of course, exclusive to Gota Village guests. Most of the time you’ll have the entire place to yourself. Perfect for lounging on a lazy afternoon, watching the sky turn blue.
If you follow the Survivor series, you’d spot some of the items used during the reward and immunity challenges displayed along the beachfront. The area can still use some sprucing up though. Its too barren and, despite being clean, looks unkempt.
There is also a trail, near the marine office, going through the mangrove forest that leads to another gorgeous beach. I’m not sure if this beach is still part of Gota Village as it serves as a dock for the boats used for island hopping. The sand there is lighter in color and finer than that of the one in front of Gota Village.
The contrast of the small, red-roofed wooden cabanas against the greens of the impressive limestone mountains that surround Gota Village is a true charmer.
Reasonable rates, clean rooms, multitude of activities at your disposal, good food, beautiful beach, all make for a truly wonderful vacation. Sure there are some rough edges. Small things that can be overlooked. Above all, the best that Gota Village has to offer is the hospitality and service that the staff provide. There’s a certain warmness with how people interact with you. It doesn’t feel like they’re doing it because their job requires it. It’s just their nature.
Gota Village is already showing some signs of age. Some of the structures in the village has undergone a lot of patchwork. While others seem to have been completely left in disrepair. But there is a glimmer of hope. During our stay, a large building was being constructed near the beachfront. What looks to be the new restaurant. Not sure. And some of the cabanas with broken foundations are being fixed. I would like to think that Gota Village’s prime is yet to come.
05 April 2016 – Added list of activities with rates
14 April 2017 – Add information about driving from Manila to Caramoan