When people think of Cebu, one of the first things that come to mind are its beaches. Cebu is well-known for its beautiful beaches, whether it be those of hotel resorts near Mactan Cebu International Airport, or the public ones in South Cebu.
One destination that has been slowly getting attention over the years is Carnaza Island. This turtle-shaped island is about 174 hectares and is located at the northernmost tip of Cebu. It is part of Daanbantayan and is surrounded by the Visayan sea on all sides.
Why Visit Carnaza Island
The short answer is: peace and tranquility in nature. Going to the island can be a turbulent ride with the waves in the open sea. However, once on the island, Carnaza feels like a secret, especially when visiting during the summer months. It is one of the best places for swimming, snorkeling, cliff-diving, sunset viewing, and stargazing.
Carnaza Eco Park
On top of this, accommodation is cheap. In Carnaza Eco Park – the island’s most popular accommodation – two people can stay in a unique teepee-style huts for only Php200 a night. It is also possible to rent a tent from the park for Php100 or pitch one’s own tent for Php 50. As the island has gained more traction, homestays and other types of accommodation have now become available in other parts of the island, too.
Friendly and kind locals
People on the island are friendly and kind and would generally leave visitors be, except when answering queries or offering services. They are very approachable and easy to negotiate with. There are no hawkers on the island that would follow visitors around while on their trip.
It is best to plan ahead and bring food and drinks from the mainland. As the island is far, replenishments can be scarce and expensive. Fortunately, there are grilling areas on the beach for guest use. Staff can also cook your food for a fee.
What to Do in the Island
Upon arrival, visitors would alight at the barrio where habal-habal drivers or motorcycle taxis would take them to their accommodation. These drivers would usually offer a land tour around the island for around Php 150 per person, depending on the number of places chosen. Some of the beautiful spots to visit are:
Legend has it that a couple lived in this beautiful cove to isolate themselves when the wife became sick of leprosy. Their skulls are apparently the ones displayed inside the cavern. It is possible to stay overnight, if prior arrangements were made.
Entrance Fee: Php 20
this is the one of the best spots for sunset-viewing in the island. The sea is calmer here than in Carnaza Eco Park with lesser rocks in the beach. Overnight stay is also possible.
Entrance Fee: Php 20
How to get to Carnaza Island?
- From the North Bus Terminal in Cebu, take a bus or a passenger van bound for Maya-Kawit. Tell the conductor to stop at Tapilon Port, NOT Maya Port.
- Fare: Php 200-250 / 3-4 hours
- Get on a boat for Carnaza Island. The schedule for the boat highly depends on the number of passengers and the tides. It is best to make arrangements with your accommodation beforehand if they have a chartered boat.
- Fare: Php 100 (2 hours) + environmental fee of Php 50
Total travel time: 6 hours
When the mind and body get tired from the daily grind, communing with nature is always a good way to unwind. Carnaza Island is the perfect destination to escape the hustle and bustle of the city affordably. Stay in the island for at least two nights to make the most of your experience.