“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Calayan, an island municipality that make up one of the five major islands of the Babuyan Group of Islands in the province of Cagayan. It is located south of the Batanes Group of islands and north of Cagayan mainland. The island has a rough rectangular shape with rolling hills, rugged cliffs and some heavily forested areas. It is believed that the island is of volcanic origin and has rich deposits of greyish white rocks called perlite. And Calayan Island is one of the Philippines best kept treasures.
How to Get to Calayan Island:
From Manila, there are no direct transportation going to Calayan. However, there are three points where one can take a vessel to Calayan Island: Claveria Port, and Aparri Port — both of which are in Cagayan Province. To reach these ports, you may opt for the following:
By plane: One may take the plane from Manila to Tuguegarao (Cagayan), Cauayan (Isabela) or Laoag (Ilocos Norte). From among the 3, Laoag is nearest to Claveria Port while Tuguegarao is nearest to Aparri Port. One may opt to take a bus or a van going to the three points mentioned above.
By bus: There are several bus companies in the Greater Manila Area that have direct trips to the three points mentioned above. GV Florida bus have direct trip to Claveria (P730, 13-14 hours).
Once in Cagayan:
Aparri Port: There are vessels coming from this port that usually leaves early in the morning. That’s all I can provide since I didn’t personally get the chance to see this port.
Claveria Port: This is the closest to Calayan in terms of distance and travel time (although it sometimes depends on the condition of the waves). “Lampitaw”/ vessels usually leave between 5 am to 9 am. These vessels usually contains cargo and only offer a few space for people (so it is best to have your contact in Calayan reserve you a space in the lampitaw). Travel time is between 4 to 6 hours (or more). The availability of these vessels is not assured hence it is important to ask your Calayan contact.
- As a passenger, fare is P500 or you can hire the vessel from P8,000 – P15,000 depending on the size or your haggling skills.
NOTE: Planning a Calayan trip requires a lot of precautions. Rainy season or not, the sea condition is pretty much unpredictable, and getting stranded on the island is very much of a possibility.
WHAT TO DO IN CALAYAN:
- Go trekking. The Nagudungan Hills is a spectacular place to go for an early morning trek and wait for the sunrise.
- Go beach-bumming. Calayan is blessed with beautiful coves dotted with fine, white sand. From Caniwara to Cababaan to Cibang – all 3 coves are worth experiencing.
- Chase some waterfalls. You can do this by either trekking your way to the waterfalls or you can hire a motorized boat to see them like Malangsi Falls at Cabubadan Falls.
- Snorkel at Punta Magsidel, then wait for the sunset at this side of Calayan.
- Just walk or bike your way around the Poblacion and mingle with the locals.
*** Getting around the island: Since roads are unpaved within the island, land travel can be long and difficult so some spots are best reached by boat. Motorized boats can be hired from the port in poblacion area where the rates vary. P2000 to P3000. This works best if you are with a big group. You may also opt to rent a tricycle or a motorcycle or even a bike.
Where to Stay
There are no hotels in Calayan however, there are several homestays. My friends and I stayed at Ate Connie’s (San Jose Inn & Mini Grocery Homestay) where we paid Php250/night. Contact Number: 0907-544-7692 or 0921-534-9231.
Another option is the TPS First Homestay of Calayan. It is considered the first homestay in Calayan owned by Tessie Pimentel Singun, a long-time kagawad and now tourism head of Calayan. Contact Numbers: 0939-9158667 or 0929-8375737.
Where to eat & other things to consider:
There are no restaurants in Calayan Island. You can ask Ate Connie prepare your meals for a minimal fee. There are several sari-sari stores where you can buy your other needs. Please note that there are no ATMs or credit card machines in the island so it is essential to really make a budget outline for your trip.
Signal is very patchy with only Smart & Sun as available mobile networks in the island.
Since the boat ride to Calayan is long and wet, make sure that you use dry bags for your gadgets or better yet, waterproof everything in garbage bags. One may also be exposed under the sun for a long time so prepare your sunblock, cap, shades or anything that can protect your skin.
Electricity is not 24 hours. During our stay, electricity schedule is from 12:00 nn to 12:00 midnight. Some have generators but are only used during special occasions.
And as I always tell my friends who ask me about Calayan, get ready or be open with the idea that you will be stranded for several days.
Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…