Carnaza Island in the Eyes of a First-Time Visitor

Carnaza Island in the Eyes of a First-Time Visitor

Carnaza Island has been a frequent subject of enormous interest to us. As the northernmost offshore island and barangay of Daanbantayan municipality, Carnaza is a turtle-shaped island that covers an area of 173.5 hectares and can be found to the north of Malapascua Island.

One morning over coffee, Neil and I were watching a video of Carnaza Island for inspiration. The video was about Osmeña, who owns most of Carnaza, advertising his private resort and showing the island’s scenic spots.

Later that fateful day, Brennan of Baktin Incorporation, sent me a message on FB, saying he needed more people to join him on his journey to Carnaza. Wouldn’t you call that “serendipity?”

Sleepless and Excited

Last-minute shopping for goggles and swimwear done, we hardly slept through the night before the trip. Concerns about safety, comfort, and social awkwardness tormented me. (I’m uncool like that.) Plus, the call time was 3AM at the North Bus terminal.

(See Also: The Ugly Truths About Most Weekend Travels)

As for Neil, he was bursting with excitement after six months of traveling hiatus, as he finally had the chance to swim again. I turned to face him, eager to soak up his energy and welcome Carnaza Island with the zeal it deserved.

this is carnaza island

We set out to explore the hill that overlooked the vast sea, our belongings safely stowed in a temporary abode for the night. Several pieces of litter were strewn along the path as I strolled through the area. I disregarded them and ran to catch up with our young guides, a rambunctious group of kids who had run ahead to a nearby hill.

Cliff Diving in Carnaza

Once we reached the hill’s highest point, my gaze scanned the horizon, taking in the sight of idyllic islets scattered across the glistening waters, vibrant fishing boats adorning the shores, and the ocean’s playful hues against the backdrop of a deep blue sky. The view was simply breathtaking.


As we stood there, taking in the scenery, our brave guides, a group of local kids, gathered near the edge of a cliff. Two of them jumped into the water below, daring Neil to do the same. Neil surveyed the height of the cliff, took a deep breath, and jumped into the water with a resounding splash! The local kids immediately accepted Neil as one of their own, welcoming him into their adventurous gang.

Cliff diving in Carnaza

As Neil’s biggest fan, I couldn’t contain my excitement and let out a delighted gasp as I witnessed the entire event unfold. I eagerly took photos and videos, wanting to capture every moment. Others urged me to try it, but my anxious side took over, and I hesitated, feeling a sense of cowardice creep in. I chuckled to myself, admitting that I wasn’t always the most daring when it came to such things, but I learned that it’s part of my appeal – unpretentious and uncool in my own way.

Applause for Awesome Food

Food and travel go hand in hand, and when we visit a new place, our taste buds are often forever altered by the cuisine of that place. Our hosts in Carnaza Island were wonderful people who knew how to make us feel at home and spoil us with delicious seafood.

As we gathered around the table, ready to savor the flavors of the sea, our host Brennan encouraged us to express our gratitude by applauding the sheer awesomeness of the food laid before us. We gladly obliged, and the joyous sound of laughter filled the air.

We tucked into the delicious meal without hesitation, savoring every morsel. We didn’t think to take pictures of the meal until much later and now we’re regretting it. However, Bren’s upcoming post will detail our DIY trip’s delicious lunch, dinner, and breakfast.

The times we shared meals together in Carnaza are some of my fondest memories of that place. The freshness of the ingredients, the explosion of flavor, and the hospitality of our hosts made for an indelible meal.

Exploring Carnaza Island Cove


We visited Carnaza Island Cove, a picture-perfect spot with emerald waters, a mysterious cave, and a helipad.

cove of carnaza island
Carnaza Cove’s Emerald Waters

Neil took multiple photos of this rare sight on this remote island. The lad surely was surprised to find this curious thing in an island.

helicopter landing space in Carnaza

We lounged around the cove all afternoon, taking naps, strolling aimlessly along the beach, and even going snorkeling to check out the fish and other sea creatures. An hour or two was easily whiled away here, just taking in the breathtaking scenery and relaxing in the tranquil setting.

We planned to go to La Manok Island, but Cleo, one of the boatmen, warned us about strong tides. Given his expertise and familiarity with the seas around Carnaza, we took his advice and decided not to take the risk. It was smart to prioritize safety and respect local knowledge.

Beach Stone Collecting and Bonding

Envision a destination devoid of tourist traps, where you are free to make your own one-of-a-kind keepsakes. In Carnaza Island, I found that. Its rocky, wave-battered shores were littered with seashells and pretty beach stones just waiting to be discovered and treasured.

carnaza island sea shells

I felt such overwhelming happiness as I reached down and picked up the first few colorful stones. I could have sworn I was holding some of the world’s rarest treasures in my hands. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my enthusiasm was spreading. My traveling companions picked up on my excitement and began collecting and giving me their own souvenirs. Even our hosts’ daughters, who were acting as guides, told me about their favorite finds.

I got hooked on collecting beach stones. I couldn’t help but be drawn in by the natural beauty of each one’s distinctive form, color, and texture.

But it wasn’t just the stones; it was the experience of connecting with nature and the people around me that made it truly special. The excitement of the hunt, the sound of the waves lapping against the shore, and the feel of the salty sea breeze on my skin all combined to awaken my senses and bring me closer to the island’s natural, unspoiled beauty.

sea-shell collecting in Carnaza
I got a tan from beach stone collecting! Can you spot me?

Airstrip, Sunset and Team Carnaza

I asked the kids how much further we had to go, and they kept saying it was “really near.” Indeed, they were right.

carnaza island airstrip

When we got to the airstrip, we were greeted by a stunning view. I couldn’t take my eyes off the sky because of the brilliant colors and intricate patterns of light. As a team, we posed for a photo in front of the magnificent sunset.

team carnaza

As we stood there, I was struck by how fortunate we were to be sharing this moment with each other. After what felt like an eternity, we finally made our way back home. But the time spent on Carnaza Island, the friendships we forged, and the natural beauty we witnessed would remain with us always.

sunset in Carnaza

Sailing Back to Cebu

Rough seas made our boat ride to the mainland of Cebu an exciting adventure. Despite the engine stalling, our skilled boatmen navigated the treacherous tides.

carnaza waves

It was a heart-stopping moment, but we made it out alive. It was a reminder of the unpredictability of nature and the resilience of the human spirit, leaving us with unforgettable memories of our thrilling encounter with the waves of Carnaza.

6 responses

  1. Thank you Issa and Neil for not only filling in the headcount I needed that time, but for also making our Carnaza trip fun and memorable. Reading your narrative makes me miss the simple pleasures we enjoyed in the island.

    PS: I’m still looking for a good time for Dinagat. I hope you guys will be available by then/

  2. We thank you Bren for even considering us! 🙂 Neil will have his own version on Island Trotters soon. I’m sure he has a lot to say about your masterful planning.

    Waaaah. Dinagat! Let’s do it this year!

  3. Definitely will be on my list. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Have you seen it Island boy? 🙂

  5. Thankyou for your story, My name is Martin Pegrum, British, Philippine permanent resident of 16 years. Two days ago I visited Carnaza Island for the second time because it is my favorite place, and I have been very lucky to have travelled a lot during my life. The local fiesta was terrific, colorful and dozens of smiles and a perfect example of the wonderful culture. I am 72 yrs old and circumnavigated the entire island by foot, 2.77miles (6.1Kilometers) at a steady pace enjoying the beauty of the forest trees and beautiful views, it really was wonderful, now back home in a Agujo, Daanbantayan, to me the memory will live a very long time indeed. I am an artist so I intend to paint s few pictures of my adventure .I will post in fb, thankyou.

  6. Hello Martin! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Carnaza. Back when it wasn’t that popular, the place really has something for every type of traveler. I wasn’t able to walk around the entire island so I’m really curious about the artwork you’d come up with. Would be happy to see your paintings! Please leave a link here so we can see it. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your Carnaza adventure!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.