Up North in the Philippine archipelago, 324 miles away from megalopolis and more or less 18 hours of travel by land and sea, the adventure to Calayan Island is no place for the faint-hearted or a typical sightseer. Rather, it’s a Utopian feel for dauntless travelers willing to take cuts and scrapes as souvenirs in exchange of experiencing the rustic simplicity and untouched beauty of nature.
This is the Ultimate Travel Guide to Calayan Island in partnership with Go PH Travel and Tours.
How to get there
Via bus and boat – Our trip to Calayan Island was arranged by Go PH Travel and Tours. It’s more or less 18 hours of travel (13 hrs by land and 5 hrs by sea). Meetup venue was at GV Florida Bus Station in Sampaloc, Manila, where we took a deluxe bus ride (with reclining seats and a bathroom) and departed at around 16:30. Safely arrived in Aparri, Cagayan at around 05:30, we transferred to a tricycle and headed to the port. Big boats heading straight to Calayan Island cannot dock in the wharf since water is shallow, so we took a smaller boat to get to the main boat. The boat sets off early morning from Aparri and schedule is very limited. Set sail via MB Godfrey, our travel to Calayan Island took 7 hours (normal duration is 5 hrs) due to a small delay. Another boat, ahead of us, had a machine glitch that we need to assist them since rescue might take more time. We arrived in Calayan Island at around 14:00 safe and sound.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Manila.
Via plane, van, and boat – Instead of a long bus ride, another option is the time-saving flight from Manila to Tuguegarao via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines (1hr and 15 min duration). Upon arrival in Tuguegarao, take a van heading to Port of Aparri. From Aparri, take a boat ride straight to Calayan Island.
Where to Stay
The accommodation was included in our tour package. We stayed at Villa Innocencia Inn, a rustic cabin by the sea. Has the basic amenities (en suite bathroom, comfy beds) yet not the place for travelers with high hotel expectations (no fan/air-con but sea breeze instead, no room keys so bring along valuables). The power supply on the island is limited as well, available only from noon and shuts down by midnight. A true island experience, simple and serene, and an ultimate break away from the cyber world. Here are some other cheap hotels where you can stay in Tuguegarao before or after your trip to Calayan Island.
- Water: Stay hydrated while on the road, especially during the island tour. You can buy water in the town proper of Calayan Island or just refill reusable container to save money and to save the planet.
- Sunblock/Rash guard: It’s is very likely that you’ll get hooked by the turquoise water of the island so be sure to apply for sunscreen protection or wear a rash guard with UV protection.
- Medicines: Pack smart and bring a travel health kit (Paracetamol, Mefenamic Acid, Antihistamine, Anti-motion sickness medicine, antibacterial hand wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, band aid, antiseptic and your own prescribed medications).
- Ziplock/Dry Bag: Secure your gadgets by using dry bags or zip locks. From Aparri to Calayan Island, sea splash can make or break your stay.
- Small and Big Plastic Bag: If seasick, a small plastic bag comes in handy. If travel bag is not water proof, bring along a big plastic bag (I used a large garbage bag) to keep it dry all throughout the journey.
- Pocket Money: ATM is not available on the island and chances of getting stranded is very high (due to weather conditions or machine boat problems) so be sure to bring extra cash.
- Camera: The Calayan Island experience is surely an impossible to forget the trip. You can either use your senses to capture and savor each moment or better yet, use a camera so you can share the experience with other wanderers.
- Power Bank and Flashlight: As mentioned earlier, the power supply on the island is very limited. Hence, these items might be of great help during the quiet, dark nights on the island.
- Aqua Shoes (or hiking shoes/sandals): Protect your feet from rocks and other sharp objects during the island tour. Bring along your aqua shoes, hiking sandals or lightweight water/hiking shoes.
The Must-see Destinations
Day 1 of our Calayan trip began right after we set foot on the island. Since everyone still got spare time and energy, we all agreed to see our first surprise, the Bangaan Hills. Short trek to this private site, we were accompanied by our tour guide Kuya Eric. Free-range goats were running through the hills, feeling the waft of the sea breeze, with our eyes on the vast blue ocean, seemingly an unending horizon. A sweet way to end our first day on the island, we watched the sun disappear over the clear calm sky.
Eastbound, our travel to Malansing Falls was an absolute jumpy boat ride as we conquered the monstrous waves of the island. After the breaking wave adventure comes an enchanting revelation of a natural phenomenon, witnessing a rainbow over the dripping waterfalls.
Vista of an immaculate oeuvre, Sibang Cove is a secret place tucked away from the worries of life. A sun-drenched coastline, of turquoise water and coral sand left us open-mouthed. It’s an obvious display of raw beauty, simply sequestered. Remember to watch out for unpredictable sea waves on the shoreline and if not a good swimmer, better keep you from swimming too far since sea slope could be a surprise.
Right next to Sibang Cove is another spotless paradise of the island, Caniwara Cove. Compare to the former, and it’s a rugged coastline abounding in stones and a few distance away from the Nagudungan Hills.
Few minutes walk from Caniwara Cove, we have reached Nagudungan Hills. Branchy trees welcomed us along the trail. Reaching the top of the hill was a display of seascape, a wondrous scenery of waves crashing against the cliff, acres of greenery with a lighthouse solely standing at peace.
Last day of our island exploration, headed west and reached Lusuk Cave. Take extra precaution when walking and wear durable shoes as you stroll along the slippery rocks. Ready, your water camera for the jump of your life and, try a quick dive off the cliff.
Another boat ride from Lusuk Cave and a short trek, we have reached Bataraw Falls. Cool off from the cold gushing waterfalls, a perfect way to relax and enjoy the untouched paradise. Again, take necessary precaution as you walk along the path with rocks and fallen branches.
Quite a long trek from Bataraw falls, Caanawan falls certainly a test of patience, balance, alertness, and endurance! Passing along the bright green rice fields into the dense forest, of the rugged path, boulders and fallen tree limbs and twigs, it was easily perceived as an off the beaten path. It’s a welcome relief as we reached the waterfall, the best time to recharge after a complete long walk in the backwoods.
4D3N in Calayan Island
DAY 0: 03 Apr 2016
15:00 Assembly at Florida Bus Sampaloc
16:00 En route to Aparri
DAY 1: 04 Apr 2016
05:30 Arrived at Veterance Aparri Port (town proper of Aparri). Breakfast (pax account)
07:00 Departure from Aparri Port
14:00 Arrived at Calayan group of Island. Check in at Villa Innocencia Inn. Lunch (pax account)
16:00 Bangaan Hills (sunset)
17:00 Rest. Free Time. Dinner (Chip In)
DAY 2: 05 Apr 2016
07:00 Breakfast (Chip In)
08:00 Start of Calayan Island Tour
Sibang Cove (Lunch c/o Go PH)
Dinner (chip in)
DAY 3: 06 Apr 2016
07:00 Breakfast (Chip in)
09:00 Start of Calayan Island Tour
13:00 Back to Villa for Lunch
Free time: VIDEOKE TIME!
DAY 4: 07 Apr 2016
06:00 Departure from Calayan. Breakfast by the boat (Chip in)
02:00 Arrival at Veterance Aparri Port
LUNCH (Chip in)
17:00 Departure from Aparri
08 Apr 2016
10:00 Arrived at Sampaloc, Manila (long hour of travel due to traffic)
Video was taken by Ramed Hizole Recto of Go PH Travel and Tours
Big thanks to Go PH Travel and Tours (AE, Jepoy, and Ramed) for inviting us in this adventure of a lifetime, to the whole team, to the municipality of Calayan Island, our tour guide (Kuya Eric) and the locals of the island. Hope to see you all again soon!
Planning your trip to Calayan Island? Contact Go PH Travel and Tours thru:
AE : 0932 412 6016 (Sun / Viber)
AE : 0906 529 8654 (Globe / Viber / Whatsapp)
Jepoy : 0906 413 8275 (Globe)
Jepoy : 0998 851 4730 (Smart / Viber)
Ramed :0919 511 3105 (Smart / Viber)
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