calayan island

Calayan Island: Babuyan Islands’ Unheard Of Beauty

Calayan Island? Where is that, you ask?

You may be familiar with the Babuyan Group of Islands off the coast of Cagayan Province. Calayan Island is one of the four major islands comprising the Babuyan Islands, and the other three are Babuyan Claro, Dalupiri, and Camiguin. Of these four islands, Calayan is the most visited as the lampitaws frequented the island to ship cargo and to bring students back to their hometown on weekends. But because of the long travel, heartstopping boat ride, and volatile weather conditions, this part of the Philippines is spared from flocks of tourists.

calayan island

If you are one of the gutsy people who dare visit the remote island, then read on to see what soon will be the highlights of your amazing adventure.

How To Get To Calayan Island

nagudungan hill

By Air

From Metro Manila, take a 1-hour flight to Tuguegarao City, the capital of Cagayan Province. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have daily flights and will cost you around PHP 2,500 to PHP 4,000 per trip.

From Tuguegarao City, take a tricycle to Brixton Mall, where the van to Aparri is stationed. A tricycle ride costs PHP 20 while the van ride costs PHP 100. Once in Aparri, transfer to a tricycle, and head to Toran Port to book for a 4- to 5-hour ferry ride to Calayan Island. The ferry ticket costs PHP 500.

By Land

The cheaper but longer way to get to Tuguegarao City is by bus. Several bus lines offer tickets to the city for an affordable price of less than PHP 700 per trip. But the travel will take you 11 to 16 hours depending on the traffic in Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, and Isabela due to constant road repairs. When you reach Tuguegarao City, you can follow the same guide stated above—head to Aparri and then take a ferry boat to Calayan Island.

1Cibang Cove

cibang cove

At the southeastern portion of Calayan Island lies a kilometre-long white sand beach called Cibang Cove (or Sibang Cove) that is constantly washed by clear turquoise waters. Black rock formations sprout in the middle of the beach, while a high wall of white rock formation separates it to the nearby community.

This is one of the most peaceful beaches you’ll ever encounter. There are no cottages at all, and camping is the only option you have if you wanna stay longer. You might encounter a family of locals having a quiet swim at one side while two local fishermen are catching fish using their small boat off the coast. But most of the time, you will only see one set of footprints in the sand—yours. Be careful when you choose to swim because the sea floor is at an incline and just a few meters off the coast could already be more than neck deep.

2Caniwara Cove and Cababaan Cove

caniwara cove
Image Credit: @percymaya via Instagram

There are two other coves in Calayan Island although Cibang (or Sibang) Cove is the most popular because of its fine, white sand, and calmer waves compared to the other two. The one nearest to the town proper is Caniwara Cove, which has flat, rocky shore. The farthest of the three is Cababaan Cove, which has stronger waves, and here, you will see a rock formation that locals call “puraw.”

3Nagudungan Hill

nagudungan hill

The hills are alive in Calayan Island, most especially the Nagudungan Hill. Hike up the trail and be welcomed by goats and carabaos grazing the fresh grasses.

nagudungan lighthouse

Atop the hill, spot the restored lighthouse and the permanently bent trees because of the mighty sea breeze. But most of all, enjoy the wondrous seascape right in front of your eyes. You are now at the best spot to marvel at the heavenly view of the three coves.

4Rich Biodiversity

calayan island

The island is home to many species. You may chance upon different marine creatures, wildflowers, sea eagles, and of course, plenty of wild pigs if you know where to find them! The Filipino term “baboy” means “pig,” and true to its name, Calayan Island of Babuyan Islands is home to many wild pigs. However, if you want something more memorable, spot the endemic flightless bird that inhabits the island—the Piding or Calayan Rail.

Where To Stay At Calayan Island

calayan island

We stayed at TPS Homestay which is managed by Ms. Tessie Singun. The Homestay is along J.P. Rizal Street in Calayan Town Proper and a night’s stay will cost you PHP 250 per person. The room is very basic and don’t expect hotel-like amenities in this remote island. A lot of turo-turo offer food for lunch and dinner, but you can also ask Ms. Tessie to cook for you. The cost depends on what dish you want. You may contact Ms.Tessie at +63929 837 5737 or +63906 603 2299.

Philihappy Pro Tips

  • Getting to and out of Calayan Island can get tricky. The ferry trip gets cancelled whenever the weather off the coast gets bad, and this is very likely. Also, it is even trickier to go out of Calayan Island because you will be competing with locals for a spot in the ferry once the skies clear. Thus, allow some room for delays. Prepare for plans B, C, and D in case you get stranded for a day or two. When you hear news of a departing lampitaw, take that chance. You will be on board with some carabaos, and the waves are wild, but like we said, this trip is for the gutsy ones.
  • The best time to travel is during the summer season which is from March to May.
  • Bring a flashlight with you because there is limited power supply on the island.
  • Prepare your cash on hand because there is no ATM.
  • Make sure you give the LGU a heads up that you’ll be heading to Calayan Island so that they can assist you. Before planning a trip there, contact Mr. Eric Nuñes of the Calayan Tourism Office at +63947 893 9619. He will accommodate all your queries

Calayan Island may be unheard of, but this trip is one that will make you want to scream at the top of your lungs because of its beautiful isolation. It could even be the best and most daring trip of your life!

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Jim is a part-time traveler & blogger but a full-time geologist & Filipino. He works & sleeps sometimes but eats all the time. He uses #supportlocal #visitpinas & #...
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