If you’re out looking for a hidden vacation haven north in Cebu, you’re bound to come across turtle-shaped Carnaza Island, which seems afloat amid the Visayan Sea. This 174-hectare island is part of Daanbantayan, a municipality on the northern tip of Cebu that comes more alive with its festive Haladaya celebration every August.
Things to Do
First, idling on the beach in itself is rewarding enough even the entire day. Enjoy the fine white sand, the sound of ripples that come either gently or in roars, and the glorious Carnaza sunlight. But you may also try cliff jumping from a certain part of the island or hire a boat to roam around the island beaches and appreciate its perimeter. Or else, try snorkeling. Some tourists lodging on Malapascua Island often stop by Carnaza just to snorkel.
Or, visit nearby La Manok Island, just about thirty minutes off from Carnaza. It’s basically a pair of islands joined together by a sandbar. Explore the twin islands and then frolic on the sandbar for a light swim or choral appraisal.
But some say the best thing to do in Carnaza is cove-hopping via rented motor-bike, or what is popularly called here as habal-habal. You’d discover some 18 coves, or small bays, around the island.
There is the Skull Cove, Panlao, Kailina, Kang Gorio, Liog-Liog, Baliwanan and Candionesio, to name a few. Most visitors also try not to miss seeing the Carnaza Eco Park in Kambinaldo, the only resort that offers snorkeling, swimming, and sightseeing.
If you want to try walking barefoot on powdered white sand, the Kang Gorio cove would be a perfect spot to hit.
You can walk from one cove to the next but it can be time consuming, so it is preferable to hire a habal-habal.
You can stay at Carnaza Eco Park for a fee, but you need to contact them for a reservation. Another option would be to look for a local offering homestay for a small cost or if you’re lucky, you might find one who’d offer a homestay for free. There is also the option of camping out on the beach or on the grounds close to the cliff.
Going to Carnaza
Take a bus (or ride a van) from the Cebu North Bus Terminal located in Subangdaku, Mandaue City, then go to Talipon. From Tapilon Port in Daanbatayan, Carnaza Island is accessible by boat. Just be prepared for the three- to four-hour land trip and two- to three-hour sea trip. But the fatigue from the long trip will be worth it once you take in the sights during the journey.
While approaching the island, you will never miss the exhilarating white-sand beaches on all the shorelines, yet unspoiled by commercialism. The crystal clear waters make it possible to observe sea life beneath it even at chest level.
There’s a resort on the island but one that can be reached only by invitation. However, chance visitors may bring along tents and supplies for a daring rugged overnight camping on the island, or else arrange a stay in a paid lodging through some local officials or barangay councilors. There are small community stores in the area, but prices of commodities are bound to cost a lot. So, visitors are advised to bring along food and basic supplies.
Once you get to the spot, make sure to visit the barangay office to register. Some information will be required for safety purposes. Visitors may also inquire about paid lodging arrangements there.