Most tourists to Cebu head to the northernmost destinations of Bantayan and Malapascua for an island escape. Camotes Islands, however, offers more diverse insular attractions – such as white-sand beaches, cave pools, waterfalls, heritage churches, and highland viewpoints – that’s much closer to Metro Cebu. The island group is comprised of three main islands: Pacijan (under the municipality of San Francisco), Poro (divided into the municipalities of Poor and Tudela), and Ponson (under the municipality of Pilar). Most of the accommodations are clustered at Santiago Beach, a shallow white-sand bay at the southernmost end of San Francisco, that serves as a home base for exploring the islands of Pacijan and Poro, which are connected by a causeway.
One of the best places to dine and stay at Santiago Beach is Pito’s Sutokil & Bamboo Rock Resort, located right along the beachfront. Pito’s Sutokil is the pioneering beachfront restaurant in the area, specializing in sutukil dishes. Sutukil is a Cebuano pormanteau of three ways of preparing seafood: sugba (grilled), tuwa (stewed) and kilaw (marinated in vinegar and spices). Sutukil dishes are only ₱150 per serving.
During my stay, I enjoyed a sutukil preparation of yellow-fin tuna freshly caught off the waters of Camotes. There are also chicken, pork and beef dishes for meat lovers such as sizzling sisig with egg (₱170), fried chicken (₱150), and sizzling beef with mushroom (₱180). Another bestseller is their bam-i (₱180), a Cebuano stir-fried noodle dish made with pancit canton (egg noodles) and sotanghon (vermicelli noodles).
For beverages, they have a detached refreshments bar, serving fruit shakes, hot coffee, soda and beers. I can’t get enough their mango shake for only ₱50!
Aside from offering excellent and affordable dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Pito’s also offers rooms on the hillside behind the restaurant. A yellow concrete building has basic air-conditioned rooms starting at ₱1,200 for two persons. There are newer “bamboo rooms”, also air-conditioned, starting at ₱1,800 for up to 3 persons. A few of these native-style rooms have nice balconies overlooking the beach.
How to Get There
Camotes Islands is a two-hour roro ferry from Danao City, north of Metro Cebu. Take a northbound bus (₱50, non-aircon) from SM City North Bus Terminal and alight at Sands Gateway Mall in Danao City, where the ticket counter and waiting lounge of Jomalia Shipping is located. The ferry line travels between Danao City and Consuelo Port (San Francisco, Pacijan Island) . From Consuelo Port, it’s a 30-minute ride by habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) or tricycle to Santiago Beach.
A practical and cost-efficient way to get around Camotes Islands is to rent a scooter. Camotes Island Scooter Rental (Tel. +63 938 649 6913 )offers rental scooters with bike helmets for only ₱400 per day, exclusive of fuel consumption. For guided tours by motorcycle, tricycle or multicab, contact Camotes Island Tour Guide by Lance.
Pito’s Sutokil & Bamboo Rock Resort
Address: Santiago Beach, San Francisco (Camotes Islands), Cebu, Philippines
Contact: +63 945 550 0757