Exploring Carnaza Island of Daanbantayan, Cebu

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Carnaza Island (4)

Our trip to Carnaza Island was definitely an unforgettable one. Where do I begin?

Okay, this trip was two years in the making. A couple of years ago, when I was still working in the corporate world, an office mate, who also loves going on adventures, told me about this tiny island off the coast of Daanbantayan, Cebu. He showed me the pictures that he took in Carnaza Island and the images told me that it’s not like any of the tourist infested islands here in Cebu. Since then, I’ve always wanted to go. The boyfriend and I have been planning to do so, but since going there isn’t that easy, we just went with our other travel plans. However, we never forgot about Carnaza.

Earlier in March, we finally decided to plan the trip and make it happen. Since the available mode of transportation going to the island doesn’t quite work for us and our schedules, we shopped around for affordable boat rentals. With the right connections, we were able to find a boat that would take us to Carnaza for Php 3,500. Thankfully, we didn’t have to split that amount between just the two of us because we were able to invite a few people to join our adventure!

So, adventure day came. We left for North Bus Terminal and arrived past 1 AM. The plan was to board a bus that would pass by the place where our contact told us to meet him. But then, we got so confused with the bus routes because we didn’t know where the exact place was, so we ended up getting on a v-hire at around 2:45 AM. The v-hire ride was quick. It was scary as f*ck, I tell you. What was supposed to be a 3 to 4-hour journey to Daanbantayan was reduced to just 2 hours. Not to mention that the road was really dark! What if we collided with another vehicle during a hard turn? I just kept closing my eyes and tried to sleep it off, but I couldn’t! The next thing we knew, the driver was telling us that we’ve arrived at our destination.

We then met up with our contact and he took us to his home for refreshments. Upon walking to his house, we noticed that all the boats around were small fisherman’s boats. Thinking that our boat was docked somewhere else, I shrugged off the thought of riding one of those boats out in the open sea.

But then, the very thing that I feared started to materialize when it was time to board our boats just a few minutes after sunrise. Upon walking to the shore, there they were. Two small fisherman’s boats, waiting for us. We all thought that we were going to board the kind of boat used for island hopping trips, but boy, we were so wrong. Haha. Our contact is a friend and we were so glad when he told us that he was coming with us and bringing his own boat. It really helped calm the nerves knowing that there’s another boat that could rescue us if anything bad happens in the middle of the sea. They gave us huge plastic bags (originally used for fish) to put our bags in. I thought that it was just to protect our bags from occasional splashes, but I was wrong again.

Carnaza Island (11)

Carnaza Island (10)

Now, I know why Moana’s father didn’t want her sailing beyond the reef. If the water looks calm from afar, it definitely is the complete opposite when you’re already in the middle of the sea. Cramped up in the small boat together with five people and two boatmen, we faced huge waves and before we even got to our destination, we were already soaking wet from the heavy splashes. The thought of it might seem scary, but I actually enjoyed the ride. I actually just laughed every time the water hit us. To be honest, I am more afraid of road accidents than falling into the ocean. However, the engine of our boat suddenly shut down while we were in the middle of nowhere, and that’s when my anxiety started to kick in. Thoughts of being tipped over by the waves started to scare me. But thankfully, the boatmen were able to turn the engine on again after a few minutes. *insert sigh of relief here*

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Carnaza Island (5)

So, we continued our journey. I was back to enjoying the ride. But what we thought was going to be a 2-hour trip, since that’s what I’ve read on the internet, turned into 3 hours because our tiny boat was going against the waves.

Carnaza was finally in sight but we had to go around the island to find Carnaza Eco Park, the resort we were going to be staying in. After a few minutes, we finally saw it, but unfortunately, it was on the side of the island where the huge waves are. It took us time to reach the shore because the current was too strong.

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Carnaza Island (16)

Getting off the boat and finally getting to step on land was such a relief! The resort’s cook, Kuya Daniel, greeted us when we arrived.

Because we were all on a budget, we stayed in their wood sheds, which costs only Php 200 per night. We arrived past 9 AM. We were so hungry, but unfortunately again, there’s no food at the resort. Thankfully, the boyfriend’s mom was able to bring some boiled eggs and sweet potatoes. Before noon time, some of our companions went to into town to look for seafood that we can cook. Unfortunately (feel free to count how many times I’ve been using this word), there is no market on the island (what?) and there was also no seafood available in any store at the time. What? No seafood in the island? I know. They ended up buying canned goods, but good thing we brought marinated pork for grilling. Yaaas! Haha. Our companions were finally able to buy seafood later in the afternoon though.

We thought we could go snorkeling in the resort, but the waves were too strong. The boatmen also scared us by saying that there are sharks in the area sometimes, and not the harmless Thresher sharks like in the nearby Malapascua Island. I wasn’t really convinced, but I didn’t want to lose any body parts either. lol

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Carnaza Island (2)

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Carnaza Island (1)

We planned to tour the island after lunch. However, it was already raining. It was so hot during the morning, but the afternoon was enveloped with strong winds and rainfall. But you know, since we didn’t want our time in the island to go to waste, we didn’t let the rain stop us. Kuya Daniel was nice enough to get us habal-habal drivers that would take us around.

I honestly don’t remember all the names of the places that we went to, except for Skull Cove. I think one beach was called “Kang Elena” and another was called “Kang Goryo,” but now I can’t really tell which is which. We just let the driver take us to the best spots in the island. lol

Carnaza Island (36)The photo above was taken in the beach called Kang Elena, I think.

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Carnaza Island (47)This one was taken in Skull Cove.

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Carnaza Island (45)The view from the helipad at Skull Cove beach.

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Carnaza Island (37)These skulls are the reason why the place is called Skull Cove. According to the locals, these are Japanese skulls from Wold War II.

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Carnaza Island (57)

Carnaza Island (6)This photo was taken at the edge of the runway, a place in the island where small private planes can land.

Carnaza Island (59)I think this is the Kang Goryo beach. It’s the best place to watch the sunset. However, it was raining at the time, so…

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Carnaza Island (9)

I think this was definitely the most YOLO (if that term still exists in 2017) trip that I’ve had so far. If the journey going to the island seemed daunting, the boat ride going home was even worse. Buuuut I sat in front because I was trying to channel Moana. Hahaha. Nobody was even able to record our journey going home! It was that nerve-racking. Haha.

About Carnaza Eco Park

The resort just opened late last year and it’s the only one in the island that is open to tourists. It’s owned by someone from an influential Cebuano family, as is the majority of the island. It’s pretty spacious, but there aren’t a lot of guests since the island itself isn’t that easy to access.

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The dining area.

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The air-conditioned rooms. Rate is posted below.

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This is the small lagoon behind the wood sheds.

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The docking area for boats.

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A mini cave in the resort, which also serves as the grilling area.

If you want to visit Carnaza Eco Park and you’re on a budget, staying in a wood shed or pitching your own tent could work. However, when it rains, water will definitely get inside the wood shed- on the floor and on the walls. Always check the weather before your trip because that’s what we failed to do. Luckily, Kuya Daniel was nice enough to let us sleep in the dining room. We laid out our lazy beds and set up our hammocks on the posts. He also provided our other companions with cushions to sleep on.


  • Entrance fee: Php 200/person
  • Wood shed: Php 200/night
  • Cooking fee (if you want the cook to prepare your food): Php 300
    • Note: There’s usually no food available in the resort, so you have to bring your own. 
  • Tent location: Php 50/tent
  • Deluxe room: Php 2,900/night (good for 2 people)

For more information, you may visit Carnaza Eco Park on Facebook.

P.S. I’ve uploaded a video of our boat ride on my Facebook page.

P.P.S. This was such a long post. I wish I had a picture of a potato to end it. 😀

xo Faith Mari



    • Hi Kathy!

      Since we hired a private boat and stayed at a resort, I think the budget was around 1,500 to 2,000 pesos per person. This already includes the payment for the boat, food, cheap accommodation at the resort, and tours.

      However, there’s a way to get to Carnaza without spending too much. You can ride a boat at Tapilon Port in Daanbantayan, the fare is around 100 pesos, I think.

      First trip going to Carnaza Island is around 7AM and the last trip is 4PM. However, the boat going back to Daanbantayan has only one schedule. I heard it’s at 8AM.

      You can also pitch a tent in one of the beaches to save money on accommodation.

      If you have more questions, just let me know! 🙂

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