Saturday, April 24, 2010

Calicoan Island, Guiuan Eastern Samar

Yey! I went to Calicoan, yeah! And OMG did I learn a lot!

An Island that is not
Technically and officially, Calicoan (pronounced ka-li-ko-an more like “kuh-lee-ko-un”) is an island but you will never easily feel or observe that indeed it is. Composed of four barangays, its still part of the town of Guiuan as anything else southwards. The proximity with mainland has long ago prompted folks to build a bridge/causeway over at Barangay Pagnamitan. Looking down both sides of this bridge, you will already see people having picnics either by the mangroves, islets or in their little boats. The shiny clear emerald waters are most inviting. But no, that is not (yet) what made this island famous!

Then, over at the southern end in Barangay Sulangan is another bridge that connects to yet another island. As you would realize, going Calicoan even further to Sulangan is a straight landside ride even if those are really islands. Oh nope, its not Homonhon yet. While it is also part of Guiuan, Homonhon is another small island way far from this cluster of little islands, islets and corals near the center of town. How far is Homonhon? Well uh… no one will think of building a bridge going there, that’s how far it is hehe! Anyway… and back to Calicoan…

For the record
As these are mostly my realizations, owing to confusing inputs from the web and word-of-mouth, Calicoan is not an island resort. It is an island yes, but there are a number of resorts, residentials and a number of other things in the island! Whew! It is not after all like Pandan Island, Sumilon or Amanpulo where the resort is the island or the island is the resort! Oh, you heard or have come across Ocean Villas and CIRDC on the web, right? Go on google them if you need to. As of yet, stop looking for them live when in Calicoan because they’re not yet up! Yes, they are not! And they said the target was 2009? I think they might as well wait for the road to get concreted. Calicoan is just like any other island with different resorts, spas, owners, farms, beaches, etc., Some are new, some are small, some are family owned, some are closed, some are dilapidated, some are planned, some have owners living abroad, some are owned by military dudes, some for sale, some are being disputed in the courts and so on!

But yes, the most prominent and most popular (rightly so) in the whole island is The Surf Camp. But let us reserve the best for last, okay?

Other things Calicoan
The road is not yet concrete but boy have they improved it! It does not only make Calicoan more accessible but it makes the thousands of pilgrims who go onwards to Sulangan year round, quite happy! At least during my visit, those roads are still dirt roads but obviously flattened and widened by big equipment, probably in preparation for concrete to be poured soon. I hope! Oh, the monkeys crossing the road? They’re still there and hopefully for long. I just hope they don’t become (food) snatchers or thieves in the future like those pesky darlings over at the jump-off point to Palawan’s underground river hehe. There is a Yoga Sanctuary. I did not go there but I saw the signs and driver tells me it’s already operational though he is not aware if it has a constant following. But of course you know that the town of Guiuan fared in a big way during WWII, right? The supply depo of dear Douglas M was in this place too!

For those who don’t like the rampaging barreling waves of the pacific coast, try exploring the western side of the island. There are long stretches of white beaches too all the way to Sulangan, all fronting the more serene Leyte Gulf.

The Surf Camp
What else is there to tell you, aside from a very direct “I WAS THERE” hehe, since almost all infos and even tales about the surf camp is out on the web, even twice or thrice on one airline magazine?! But yes I always have my own notes of my own sojourns, so here I go…

The resort (Surf Camp) is very secured and fenced all over. No guards are stationed at the two gates. You bang the gong. Gong? Yes that “gandingan” hanging by the side of the closed wooden gate! You see a wooden stick hanging with it, and that’s what you use to whack the thing hehe! You actually don’t need to “whack” it lest the obviously worn gong get ripped into pieces. A light tap is enough since the serenity of the whole place will get the soft sound traveling towards the reception area/restaurant about 20 or so meters down the well maintained garden. It’s a musical instrument after all so tap it with the stick like you were playing music! (Aside: a gandingan by the way is composed of four such gongs – I learned that while traveling in Mindanao.)

In our case, after I tapped on the gong, a resort crew came walking towards the gate. He did not open up but just peeped and asked what we wanted. I said “mamamasko pooooo”! The man lightly laughed and asked us to walk a few steps to, and enter from the other (smaller) gate that he said was not locked. In a half-protesting tone, I asked “how about the car”? His laugh seemed to have grown louder, though I never felt bad with it as he said “kahit saan dyan sir, wala namang trapik dito hehehe, alam po yan ng driver nyo hehehe”. Hmm, oo nga naman, ano?! And when I turned back to tell my driver, car was already being parked. Where? “Anywhere there” of course!

So we were in… what now? Of course, like many who’ve been there, we said… “woooow, ang ganda”! Yun lang! And then we went away!

Hahaha, I am joking of course. On entry we were ushered into the restaurant/reception area where a jolly group of uniformed crews eagerly awaited us. We settled in one of the restaurant’s ‘tables with a view’ to order snacks. Yep, just snacks as I had a lunch-like breakfast over at Sulangan earlier. Food prices here are not as outrageous as other high-end resorts. Three souls (waiter, waitress, manager) were around me and my driver just to take that order. After I pointed to the clubhouse sandwich, waitress asked (in English) “where would you like it served sir, the poolside, the garden or at the viewdeck”. Wheh! I almost said “in my room” hehe, but said we’ll take it here. Waiter and waitress disappeared but manager remained to have a chit-chat with me and my driver.

“So why just a day visit sir, why not stay overnight” asked the manager. And I replied with “as I told you during my call, I cannot be staying in those big fantastic cottages alone, sayang ang pera kung walang kasama”! Then he asked when I and my family and friends might be coming to stay. I said “depends on what I will experience here today. Next he asked “would you like to go around the place sir”? I countered with “how about our food?” and he said “ah don’t worry they’ll look for us when its ready! Wow! These people seem so eager to talk to people. So we went around and he showed us some of the cottages.

As we talked, I sensed that this manager actually looked and sounded familiar to me. So I asked in that area. Asus mga bisdak hear this… he comes from Talisay City in Cebu and has had years at the Cebu Country Club as one of the F&B chiefs there! No wonder! Silingan diay hehe! BUt mind you, he already speaks waray-waray too. Anyway…

The infinity pool is not like any other. It is a salt-water pool. While you might wonder during low tide how the pool gets its water, wait for the high tide waves and you’ll see! Its irregular shape follows the contour of the ridge and low-tide or high-tide, its some meters (probably 5 to 10) high up from sea level. Yes yes, this is a rocky cliff (more like Sumilon), sea level is down below but during high tide, the waves come a battering! Aw, fun watching the only two souls checked-in at the time of my visit. They were having their initial surfing lessons at the pool. A very young couple from Northern Samar who now live in the US of A.

Hear this… the resort has no white sandy beach.

Oh really? Yes dear, and let me describe it more for you lest you start to sour. The white sandy area with lounge chairs or sunning chairs that you see in pictures all over the web? Its on ground level of the resort yes, but everything is high up from sea level . The whole area of that white sand is probably just the length of a bus or slightly longer. But you have seen the picture of a handsome model riding an ATV by the white sandy beach, right? On their website? And magazines? Well, its also owned by the surf camp but it’s a ride away from the resort. That is where the further developments are supposed to occur that has not happened yet. But oh my oh lala, that beach is secluded and has nothing but white sand and the blue sea amidst rock formations at both ends and breezy greens!

Okay, back to the resort. My favourite part of The Surf Camp is the viewdeck whatever they call it! It’s a long stretch of wooden pathway by the edge of the rocks battered by waves during high tide. But its not just a so-so wooden pathway. Its long and winding till it reaches an even wider area. So that is like a boardwalk restaurant-cum-bar with all the lights and sounds and intercom of a fine resort. Should you visit the Surf Camp and miss this part… kill yourself!

Ah the grass and greens are to die for. Very well maintained with even the flowers meticulously monitored by their gardeners. You can romp around or lie down just about anywhere in this place. Do it anywhere and in a sec, someone will be by your side with a towel, a lounge chair, cushions, throw pillows or all of the above PLUS the menu! Haaay, this Surf Camp, I will be very bold to declare… it is the best in the whole island of Samar!

Oh, theres no wi-fi (yet)! And I tested all my three broadband kits… all are erratic with SmartBro being the most promising! But who needs them? Well, I do hehe!

Be there before it gets urbanized! Go!


  1. HI!

    can you email me the rates on this resort? and how to get there? i'm currently in Western Samar and i want to go there. just moved here.

  2. Naka anhi napod ko! Nag surf mi atong bakante na place na walay abang. We just paid for the instructors and the boards. :)