WHEN I first heard of the island named Carnaza, I imagined it to be a scenic and mystical place; full of life and spirit, and yet quiet and calm.
I was drawn to it more when I saw photos of its beaches. I, too, vowed to experience the island myself one day. A few years later, I found myself marveling at its sea and sky, and I was right about how I imagined Carnaza Island to be - it is indeed enchanting.
My friends and I promised to keep coming back, but our plan was postponed because of the pandemic. The novel coronavirus disease, Covid-19, was declared a global health crisis in March. Travel was halted, local and international tourism suffered, and quarantine measures were implemented to control and stop the spread of the virus.
It dawned on me that our trip last February was a glorious taste of the outdoors, and of the summer we all miss these days.
Aside from Carnaza Eco Park resort, where the famed wooden tents are, there are other accommodation options on the island. My friends opted for a homestay arrangement, and that gave my first visit an authentic island-stay feel.
We stayed in Candionesio, a cove on white sand beach by clear turquoise waters. It’s an idyllic place perfect for a cozy rest or retirement house. Most of the area is privately-owned and is restricted to the public, but a few residents live in the unrestricted parts.
We set up our tents and camped on the beach on our first night. It was an opportunity to get to know the friends I had only just met, and the locals who took good care of us during our entire stay.
While the island is fascinating by day, it’s more magical by night. Imagine lying on soft sand while watching shooting stars appear and vanish. Imagine closing your eyes while listening to the sound of waves kissing the shore.
When you’re luckier, you can also see the Milky Way. When you’re luckiest, like my friends and I were, you can experience these blissful moments while holding the hand of the person you love.
The island has other coves and attractions, like Kailina Beach, Daan Barrio Cove, Baliwanan, Skull Cove, and the Helipad to name a few. We savored the tranquility that some of these attractions could offer. We were also blessed with good weather and visited other nearby islets, like La Manok Island.
There were other visitors on the island, but it felt like we had Carnaza just to ourselves the whole time. Three days are enough to capture its picturesque landscapes and explore it with great pleasure, but there is more to the island than what I saw.
I must admit, I am captivated by its enigma. I’m looking forward to more days of
relishing its seclusion and more nights of listening to stories and legends. But beyond these, my friends and I have a family on the island that we long to see again, too.
The pandemic took away our chance to go back sooner, but it cannot take away our beautiful memories of enchan-ting Carnaza Island.
(Photos by Jenalyn Arcenal and Anne Claudette Teofilo)