Gota Village, on the Philippine Caramoan Islands of Camarines Sur, is what I imagined it to be; a tropical paradise. The US TV show 'Survivor' has filmed at least three seasons of the show in this beautiful location and it's not hard to see why.
Camarines Sur is a province in the Bicol Region of Luzon, approximately four hundred kilometres south of Manila. Caramoan Islands are a group of at least ten principal islands that are dissociated from the rest of the province. Because of their isolated location, they have remained pristine and unexploited. They are referred to as the Philippines' Secret Paradise.
A couple of hours' boat ride and a further hour drive on rough, mostly unpaved roads will take you to Gota Village. And if, like me, you happen to travel during the wet season, it may even entail a very exciting and adventuresome crossing of an inundated river.
The village operates as a resort, with a reception area at the entrance and a couple of dining areas. It is not as flash as a five-star resort, or even some four-star ones. Rather, it is countrified and provincial and has a 'camp' look and a 'tribal' feel to it. It is for travellers who do not mind 'roughing' it a little. It is, after all, directly connected to the 'Survivor' TV show; it was home to the show's crew during all of its seasons' filming.
Its tropical location is the best part of Gota Village. The beach is a short walk from it, mountains and caves border it, beautiful islands are easily accessible from it, and a river skirts it. The possibilities for activities are plentiful: swimming, rafting, kayaking, trekking, mountain biking, dirt biking, rock climbing, rappelling, trail biking, hiking, island hopping, snorkelling, scuba diving. If up for it, one also has the choice of discovering nearby areas aboard a native water buffalo or a carabao.
If a relaxing time is more the go, then the sound of the ocean may help while napping or reading a book. And then, there is the heavenly massage. The village does not have a spa, but a massage can be booked through reception. Massage sessions can be done in one's cabin or in the village's designated massage cabin.
Free Wi-Fi is available at the reception area and using the village's network is recommended over phone networks. As Gota Village is out-of-the way and far off the main island; connectivity is troublesome.
In true 'Survivor' fashion, Gota Village is a different and interesting place to visit, especially for travellers who like to remain active while holidaying. As Jeff Probst is wont to say, 'the tribe has spoken.' This tribe's verdict: redemption awaits on these Caramoan Islands.