It is comparable to the renowned island of Boracay for its powdery white sand beaches. That is how a local from Cebu City described Camotes Islands. I have not yet been to Boracay but per her description, the most popular destination in this group of islands may attest to that “mini-Boracay” characteristic.
|Santiago White Beach
San Francisco, Camotes Island
Santiago White Beach is a long stretch of white sandy beach along the coast of Santiago Bay which is under the municipality of San Francisco or Sanfran as locals call the sole town of Pacijan Island. It is a public plaza maintained by the local government where everyone can frolic during their free time, free of any fees.
We visited Camotes Islands without an itinerary, thus the owner of the resort we stayed in brought us to the islands’ interesting places on his own phase. He toured us around the connected islands of Pacijan and Poro via the resort’s shuttle for a day and had let us spend another day in Santiago White Beach. A day was just enough as we did not run out of activities during our stay.
Laid-back travelers would be delighted by the view of the beach and the sea horizon kissing the clear blue sky. Some tourists savor the pristine beach while they sunbathe on the sandbars visible when the sea is at low tide.
Apart from the “milky polvoron-ic” sands of Santiago, enticing rock formations on the farther side of the shoreline is a great area to enjoy the beach. Water was shallow and sands were visible as the sea is at low tide that time. Tide marks upon the rocks provide a shade from the scorching sun’s heat.
Adventurous travelers may find it monotonous to just sit back or lay down by the beach all day. Different water sports and activities in Santiago beach may quench their thirst for adventure. Jet skis, kayaks and other water rides were available at the establishments on the beach.
We kayaked around until we reached a secluded part of the island and took some photos. It was fun to go kayaking for the first time despite getting my skin sun-kissed and my arms numbed after an hour of rowing. Kayaking for an hour cost us 150 pesos per kayak.
Camotes Islands is also perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts. Its underwater marvel may be affirmed by a map posted at the Camotes Fun Divers’ station showing numerous diving spots surrounding the islands. I hate to pass up but I am neither a licensed diver nor even an experienced swimmer. Cost of scuba diving starts at 1500 pesos.
A day on the beach would not be complete without satisfying the palate. Pito’s Sutokil, a restaurant along the beach, serves one of Cebu’s delicacy. Sutokil is a seafood fusion delicacy which is a combination of different dishes prepared in three different types of cooking.
Sutokil is an acronym. SU stands for sugba, TO for towa and KIL for kilawin. Sugba is a Cebuano term for grilled dish. I was about to believe that grilled delicacy is a Cebuano favorite as different grilled dishes can be snacked on even in the city. Towa on the other hand is a term for soup dishes perfect for a yearning tummy. A regional favorite, kilawin, is a Filipino dish similar to ceviche. Made from raw fish cured in spiced vinegar, it is a perfect pair for an ice cold beer. Each dish costs around 100 pesos and can be ordered separately.
A number of private resorts and the small diners lining the beach offers room accommodation for guests opting to stay in Santiago White Beach for their entire Camotes Island getaway. Rooms offered by small diners are a better option for budget travelers. Aside from rooms, foods and refreshments, souvenir items are also sold by these diners.
|Diners offer more affordable rooms for rent|
|Private resorts sit atop the rock formation|
Since we would be staying on the beach for just a day, we just rented and pinched a tent under a shady area where we can left our belongings. Tent rental is 350 pesos for a day. Hut cottages that comes with wooden sunbathing benches can be rented out for 250 pesos. Camping overnight could also be a great idea.
Still having more time before calling it a day, we sat down at the same restaurant where we chartered our tent and sang our hearts out loud with their videoke machine. For 5 pesos a song and a bottle of beer, the serenity of Santiago beach has been disrupted. Other restaurant have their videoke machine hired at 100 pesos per hour. However, using videoke machines are allowed until 2AM only.
Travelers who would feel a little sporty may rent a ball and get sweaty at the beach volleyball area or in the basketball court near the barangay hall. These are just some of the fun activities to do while waiting for the sun to set.
Nothing is more spectacular than a sun setting by the beach, isn’t it?