Catanduanes is an island off the eastern coast of mainland Bicol. Considered the 12th largest island in the Philippines, its size is comparable to the province of La Union.
Catanduanes has the unfortunate fate of being labeled as the “Land of the Howling Winds” for its geographical location makes it susceptible to being the first to take the hit when storms ravage. With this, Catanduanes has continued to remain under the radar for most local and foreign tourists. On my recent visit, I came with zero expectations and left with a newfound appreciation for the island.
Here are the beautiful sights to see in Catanduanes:
First Things First: Getting There
From Manila: Cebu Pacific flies 4x weekly (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) departing at 0655 and arriving at 0800
From Clark: Philippine Airlines flies 3x weekly (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) departing at 0900 and arriving at 1030.
By Air and Sea
Air: Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly daily from Manila to Legazpi. Allot 30 minutes to 1 hour for your travel time from Legazpi Airport to Tabaco Seaport.
Sea: There are 3 trips leaving at 6:30 AM, 7:00 AM, and 1:00 PM daily for the ferry boat from Tabaco to Virac. The trip takes 3-4 hours.
Public: Most buses going to Tabaco is at Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City. Look for the bus going to Tabaco City. Travel time may take you about 10-12 hours. Bus fares are approximately ₱1,000-1,500.
Private: Drive all the way to Tabaco Seaport and board the RoRo to San Andres, Catanduanes. Travel time takes 3-4 hours.
Passenger fares are as follows:
Adult: ₱ 230 (Ordinary), ₱ 300 (Air-con)
Children (4 – 11 years old): ₱ 115 (Ordinary), ₱ 150 (Air-con)
Senior Citizen: ₱ 184 (Ordinary), ₱ 240 (Air-con)
Cargo fees for vehicles:
Bus: ₱ 5,413
Mini Bus: ₱ 3,750
Pick Up or Van: ₱ 1,950
Motorcycles (above 400 cc): ₱ 700
Motorcycles (below 400 cc): ₱ 350
Bicycles: ₱ 200
Like most provinces in the Philippines, the tricycle and jeepney are the most common form of transportation around the island. This isn’t ideal if you plan to go to multiple sites throughout your stay. Hiring a private van can save you more time and provide a better and hassle-free experience. I highly recommend just booking a tour through a DOT-Accredited Tour Operator.
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Tignob Island is part of the Palumbanes Group of Islands situated on the Western side of Catanduanes. Catanduanes is dubbed as the province with sleepy shores, and the absence of tourists during our visit proved just that. It’s as if we rented the whole stretch!
En route, these crystal clears were beckoning us to hurry and jump into the waters.
There is a vantage point which you can climb to see a complete view of the shoreline. The weather was erratic when we were there, I could even see the dark raincloud on the horizon.
Another one from the Palumbanes Group of Islands, Bitaog Beach is the ideal spot to just sit by the shore and stare at the waves. The waters are still welcoming, but it gave a homey vibe that made me want to just sit still and forgo swimming.
There’s also a small shaded area with a long table which we utilized for our boodle lunch.
Carangyan Beach served as our jump-off point to the Cagnipa Rolling Hills and Tuwad-Tuwadan Lagoon. There was barely any electricity in this area – you could hear the hum of the generators the whole time.
My feet dug into the sand with every step, a clear indication that not many people have set foot here. These huts were the perfect spot for an afternoon nap.
While not the most spectacular beach of them all, its isolation proved worthy of becoming a great spot to learn astrophotography during the wee hours of the morning. Thank you to Ferdz Decena of Ironwulf for teaching me!
Right smack in the middle of the water is a rock formation that just burned by my feet when I attempted to climb it. LOL. Learn from me and don’t climb it at 12 noon – or at least don’t climb it barefoot.
Puraran Beach is most popular among surfers. We went at high noon, so it wasn’t the most ideal time for surfing – temperature-and-swell-wise. We did see some surfers walking around as we were about to leave.
Easily one of the most Instagrammed places in Catanduanes, it’s easy to see why once you reach the peak.
The trail to Binurong Point is easy to follow, although slippery at some points as it rained the day before our hike. The hike took around 20 to 30 minutes.
The most common spot for photos is at the edge of this cliff. It’s not as death-defying as it looks though. You just need to be limber enough to navigate the rocks.
However, I found this other spot to be a better choice.
It’s more distinct compared to the hills and has a great view of more lagoons.
I could spend hours just staring into the water as the waves crash upon the rocks and turn seafoam green.
I hiked in a breathable shirt and shorts, and just changed into my dress once we reached the top. This is how Kara and I looked throughout the hike – sweaty and not-so-glam.
Some tips for Binurong Point:
- Bring water with you on the hike. There’s nowhere to get water once you reach the peak.
- An umbrella would also be ideal as there’s no source of shade.
- Wear something comfortable. For girls: don’t wear your dress during the hike. Just bring it with you and change once you reach the top.
- Go early in the morning or late in the afternoon so it’s not too hot.
Cagnipa Rolling Hills
Vast, green, and unspoiled. One might say “What’s so captivating about vast green lands? It’s all just grass.” Cagnipa Rolling Hills cannot be reduced to such a mundane description. These hills go as far as the eye can see, its peaks with views of the ocean, all almost overwhelming in its entirety.
Peaceful in its stillness, but also very much alive in its energy.
A quick descent from Cagnipa Rolling Hills will lead you to the Tuwad-Tuwadan Lagoon. A secluded rock pool that served as an exquisite retreat after a short hike and photo session at the hills. Best to come here right before the sunset as the breeze starts to cool down and the sky starts to change colors.
Don’t resist the urge to take a dip!
Our view from the boat ride to Poseidon’s Lagoon was peppered with these walls with wave-like formations. These walls were naturally sculpted by the amihan and habagat that ravage this island.
Catanduanes awakened a love for lagoons in me. I can’t swim to save my life so I have a slight fear of open water. These lagoons are perfect as I’m able to swim without worrying about floating too far away. Carorian has several more islets, but we were only able to visit Poseidon as we were pressed for time. This just gives me another reason to return to the island.
The oldest church in the province, The St. John the Baptist Church is built from mortar and coral limestones. Said to have been built in 1830, the Church has already weathered through years of natural calamities – evident in its cracks and grime. There is already an initiative to restore and retrofit this church so it can last longer and serve more generations.
Caramoan Islands Day Trip
If you’re an avid fan of the Survivor series, you would know that they filmed an entire season in Caramoan. It’s much faster to travel to Caramoan through Catanduanes than Naga, although it’s still considered part of Camarines Sur.
We were able to take a day trip to just two of the islands. We couldn’t visit the other islands as Survivor was filming again during our visit. Getting there is straightforward. From San Andres seaport, make your way to Codon port where the boats to Tugawe Cove are.
Tugawe Cove was our jump off point that morning for our next island. They have decent accommodations for those who wish to have a place to stay, but we just passed by the resort to get to our boat.
I initially climbed this thinking there was a lagoon I could swim in on the other side. It was a quick 5-minute ascent, but I feared for my life as the rocks were sharp and I honestly don’t have the best balance. Imagine my disappointment when I found out it was only a viewpoint for a couple of milkfish (I badly wanted to swim after that hike). However, the locals tell of a mysterious tale that surrounds these two fishes. I heard at least three versions that day, so I can’t really tell what the original story is.
The best part of the trip from Caramoan to Catanduanes is this stunning, unobstructed view of the Mayon Volcano.
This visit to Catanduanes made me rethink of other underrated islands in the Philippines. I did not expect to see such a diverse selection of vistas – from beaches to hills, and even lagoons. A single location can easily offer all three experiences. It’s distinctly different from the previous island hopping experiences I’ve had.
The local tourism board is even exerting more effort into discovering more spots in the island to always give travelers a reason to return. I know I will.
Live an Awesome Life,
Monique of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: This trip was made possible by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and the Provincial Government of Catanduanes.
P.S. This trip is especially memorable as we were traveling with Sir Arnold Gonzales (in red), whose appointment as the OIC of the Tourism Promotions Board was made official during one of our lunch sessions.