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A Complete Guide to Carnaza Island, Cebu's Undiscovered Gem

Discover this hidden paradise in the middle of the Visayan Sea!

By: Peter Parcon | April 01, 2021
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white sand beaches Cebu

There are 7,107 islands in the Philippine archipelago. And many of these islands have remained under the radar of tourists; only the most intrepid of travelers have ever explored them. These islands are considered hidden paradises with delicate beaches untouched by human development. One such paradise is located close to the northernmost tip of Cebu—Carnaza Island.

Carnaza Island is a turtle-shaped island located along the northern coast of the island of Cebu. It is located in the middle of the Visayan Sea. While close to Masbate Island, Carnaza Island is part of the municipality of Daanbantayan, Cebu. The island has a small community living off the bounty of the sea, sharing its resources with some 18 bird species endemic to the area. But other than that, it is a quiet keeper of a gem that travelers are always out to discover.

Carnaza Island

One of the beaches on Carnaza Island

Carnaza Island is blessed with a number of white sand beaches scattered along its coastline. To top it off, its crystal clear water is enticingly appealing for anyone visiting the island. The marine life surrounding the island is rather diverse and has become one of its main draws among visitors. What makes it extra special is that it is not even necessary for visitors to swim far from the shore to see the diversity of life under the water.

Read on to see a guide to the island!

Getting to the Island


The white sand beach of Carnaza Island is a perfect weekend getaway for anyone looking for downtime from the rat race.

The journey to Carnaza Island starts at the Cebu North Bus Terminal in Mandaue City. Travelers should hop on a bus marked Maya-Bagay or Maya-Kawit. One can also ride a van-for-hire going to the municipality of Daanbantayan. The trip will take around four to five hours depending on the traffic. Since Carnaza Island is not a well-known destination, it is necessary to tell the driver or bus conductor to stop at Tapilon Port in Daanbantayan.

From the port, one can ride an outrigger boat going directly to the island. There are regular boat trips from Tapilon Port going to Carnaza Island. The first trip from the port to the island leaves at 7:00 AM while the last trip leaves at 4:00 PM. The boat trip will take around two hours, and it is advisable to travel in the morning since the seas can become a bit rough in the afternoon.

Things To Do on the Island

island hopping

Visitors can get their adrenaline fix by cliff jumping on Carnaza Island.

Since the island is a hidden paradise of sorts, the best thing to see on the island is the beach, of course. Left untouched by commercial activity, the white sand beach is comparable to the other more popular tourist destinations in the country. In fact, Carnaza Island is sometimes included in the itinerary of tourists staying at nearby Malapascua Island whenever they go island hopping. The island has a number of beaches and visitors can explore them by renting an outrigger boat from one of the locals.

cliff diving

One of the outrigger boats visitors can hire for a side trip to La Manok Island

Visitors can opt to snorkel along the coast and catch a glimpse of the diversity of the underwater life around the island. One of the best places to snorkel is on the side of the island where one does not need to swim far from the beach to see the richness of the marine life there. One activity that local kids enjoy doing is jumping off a small hill close to the residential area. The hill has an elevation of eight meters and is perfect for a short adrenaline rush. But visitors should always remember to exercise caution if they want to go cliff jumping since there are no lifeguards in the area.

hidden paradise

A side trip to La Manok Island can be on the itinerary when visiting Carnaza Island.

Visitors to Carnaza Island have the option to take a side trip to La Manok Island, which is already part of Esperanza, Masbate, but only around 30 minutes away from Carnaza. The place is actually two islands connected by a sandbar. The name of the island was based on how it looked to travelers from a distance—like a hen and a cock facing each other.

La Manok Island is used as a temporary shelter by fishermen as well as migratory birds. The island has no permanent residents because they have no supply of electricity there and water is hard to come by. Meanwhile, the sand on the island is not as impressive as that found on Carnaza Island since it is made mainly of crushed corals and pebbles. But one nice feature of La Manok island is that the water on one side of the sand bar is calm and peaceful, although it can be a bit rough on the other side.

Things To Remember

white sand beach

The crystal clear water of Carnaza Island can entice anyone to take a dip.

• There is only one trip from Carnaza Island going back to Tapilon Port, if visitors are not getting a private boat. It leaves the island at 8:00 AM. But if they want to spend more time on the island, visitors can always hire an outrigger boat of one of the locals to take them back to the mainland.

• It is advisable to bring cooking implements when traveling to the island. Visitors should also buy all the necessary supplies before leaving for Carnaza Island. While there are some small convenience stores in the island, visitors should expect prices of the goods sold there to be quite expensive.

• Some locals sell fresh seafood for visitors who want to feast on the fresh catch of the day, so don’t forget to bring some cash.

• Visitors may opt to bring their own camping gear and ask locals where they can pitch a tent for the night. Some residents may also offer bed spaces or even a whole house for a fee. Visitors can simply inquire about the lodgings at the barangay hall.

• When taking a dip at the beach, it is advisable to do so away from the residential area of the island.

Frank Borman once said, “exploration is really the essence of the human spirit” and exploring hidden paradises demonstrates the inner wanderlust of man. Carnaza Island is proof that there are a lot more places in the archipelago that are yet to be discovered by locals and foreigners alike.

Visit Yoorekka to discover more unexplored beaches in Cebu!

Photos are from the Facebook page of Carnaza Island, Daanbantayan, Cebu

Prices may change without prior notice.

This article was originally published in Yoorekka on October 15, 2016.
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About Peter Parcon
After leaving spending 16 years of his professional life in the academe, Peter decided to try his luck in the world of online freelancing. For the past eight years, he has been creating content for clients all around the world. He can work on just about any topic - from tattoos to technology and food to finance. He dreams of visiting every island in the archipelago some day.
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Disclaimer: All articles in the Consumers Magazine of Yoorekka are for general information and entertainment purposes only. Although careful research has been made in writing them, Yoorekka does not make any warranty about the completeness and accuracy of all information presented in our articles. Our content is not intended to be used in place of legal, medical, or any professional advice.
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