What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

5:41 PM

Another summer weekend means another beach trip. We went to the Carnaza Island this time. This island is located a few kilometres off the coast of Daanbantayan, Cebu. It is said that Lito Osmeña owns Carnaza Eco Park, the island's go-to-campsite. Well, they offer rooms for those who hate setting up tents.

Currently, this has been Cebu's fast-rising tourist destination. Many are intrigued; only a few have conquered.

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

Getting there

From Cebu North Bus Terminal, catch the earliest bus that plies the Maya - Bagay route. Don't get confused with the buses bound for Bantayan Island, this is certainly a different one. The travel time is about 4 hours. The fare is around PHP 217 for the air-conditioned buses and PHP 150 for the economy buses. Again, catch the earliest bus if you want to spend more time in Carnaza. 

Inform the bus attendant that you're getting off at Tapilon Port or simply inform them to drop you off at the port for Carnaza Island. Locals are familiar with this newest tourist destination and surely, you won't get lost unless you're a full moron.

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

Anyway, upon arrival at Tapilon Port, don't expect a grand or even a proper port. You'll have to ask around for boats that may take you to the island. Hate to say this but it's better to visit the island on a weekend as the boat trips depend on the influx of the passengers. The more passengers they have, the more boat trips they make. But, if you're one of those employees with a sad rest day schedule, there's a boat that leaves at 8 AM everyday.

The boat fare varies; solely depends on the captain or boat owner's c̶o̶r̶r̶u̶p̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ discretion. The fare ranges from PHP 100  - PHP 200 per person. But, according to Diana, one of Carnaza Eco Park's caretaker, it should only be PHP 100. Aside from this monetary damage, you'll also need to prepare yourself for the hellish 2-3 hours boat ride.

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

Prepare to battle those big ass waves - Waves in between Carnaza and Daan Bantayan are fierce all-year round. These are not those typical baby waves that you experience on most island hopping activities. They're huge, strong, and powerful. They could capsize a 30-40 capacity outrigger if not handled skillfully. Definitely, pop those strongest anti dizzy pills for a smoother ride. 

Also, wear clothes that are light and the comfortable. Ensure that these clothes are okay to get soaked in as waves may splash anytime within the course of the trip. Technically, your life depends on the boat captain's navigational and maneuvering skills.

Prices of goods on the island are fairly reasonable - Contrary to most beliefs, the island has ample supply of basic goods. In Carnaza Eco Park alone, they barbecue skewered pork and chorizo for PHP 10 pesos per stick. They also conveniently sell water for PHP 60 per 5 gallons. For the a̶l̶c̶o̶h̶o̶l̶i̶c̶s̶  occasional drinkers, they also sell brandy and beer. But like other island getaways, it still better to bring your own food or cook on your own.

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

For our stay at Carnaza Eco Park, we paid the following:
  • Motorcycle ride from the port to the Eco Park - PHP 20 each
  • Entrance fee per person - PHP 200
  • Tent Space - PHP 50
If you want to avail of their rooms, please directly contact Carnaza Eco Park at 09998609761 or 09367316495. Their iconic, triangular, tipi-like huts are priced at PHP 200 per room.

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

There is a limited supply of electricity on the island - Though the island has several inhabitants, electricity is still scarce. Electricity is only available from 6 PM til sunrise. Hence, ensure that you juice up all your gadgets and bring your most powerful portable power storage. 

Also, mobile signal is not that strong in the area. It's good for sending SMS or calls but not adequate for streaming your favourite Spotify playlist.

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

Clean water and toilets are available - Though we all love those Survivor - like escapades and island life immersions, but let's admit it, we secretly pray that our next island to visit has ample water supply and clean toilets. As for Carnaza Eco Park, they partly fulfilled those wishes. They have an overflowing supply of tap water, I'm guessing it was brackish, and they have toilets to service everyone. They aren't as clean but they're not as bad as you think. Personally, I think they should add more toilets and shower rooms. Currently, they only have 2 toilets and 2 shower rooms. 

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

There are other fun activities at Carnaza Island - Aside from swimming, which we all enjoy, they also offer "tours". Motorcycle tours may be availed for only PHP 100 per person. They'll bring you to known sites such as Skull Cave. There are also boats available to take you to the nearby La Manok Island for only PHP 1,500 roundtrip. Unfortunately, we didn't avail of these services since we were dead tired and just want to chill by the beach.

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

Watch out for the lurking Money - Hungry Boat Operators - Carnaza has so much tourism potential. It could easily become the next Malapascua or Bantayan Island. But with these opportunistic monsters around, Carnaza may lose its charm in no time. 

As discussed earlier, boat trips depend on the tourist traffic. Since the trips are not monitored nor controlled by the coastguard or any governing entity, chances are boat operators tend to dictate their own fare and safety policies. The route to Carnaza is no joke. You'll need to have a well- built boat that is sturdy enough to hurdle those strong waves. Plus, a skillfull shipman to navigate its way to the island.

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

In Carnaza's case, we foresee an underlying issue that needs immediate government intervention. Boat operators increase their fares in an instant. They could double the standard PHP 100 fare evertime they feel like doubling it. What is even worse is that they sacrifice the safety in exchange for more money. 

In our experience, we boarded the PJ MAE boat that left Carnaza Island at 11 AM. Since it was a Sunday, it was expected that everyone will storm the port. The PJ MAE boat operator/ crew accepted more passengers than the usual. Crowds filled every inch of the boat. Some were standing, others occupied the small emergency boat whilst others squeezed into the tightest and weirdest spaces. And the worst of all, we were not provided with any life jackets. With all the passengers on board, clearly, the boat was overloaded. 

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

We left the island thinking that the fare was PHP 100 each. But when we reached the mainland, the fat guy in black iconic Sinulog shirt told everyone that the fare is PHP 200. Everyone silently protested. But the greedy guy in black shut down everyone's murmurs of disapproval. 

There is no problem with striking the iron whilst it's hot but I wish the government of Daan Bantayan would regulate the boat trips to help the thriving tourism of Carnaza. Furthermore, boat trips must be monitored and registered by the coast guard. 

Also, both locals and tourists should dispose of all their rubbish in proper trash bins. I have personally observed plastic packs, shampoo sachets, plastic bottles, and even soiled diapers lying around the island. Again, we should protect our environment.

What to expect on your Carnaza Island Trip

Overall, Carnaza has its own beauty and uniqueness but after everything that we've experienced, from the highs and lows, I'm convinced that the island is not yet ready for the tourism limelight. Hence, unlike the others spots that I've been to, I can firmly say that I will not go back until everything is regulated and protected.

P.S.
We have raised our concerns to the proper channels. We have received an assurance from the Central Visayas Coast Guard that they'll look into this issue ASAP.

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