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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cagayan Valley : How to Get to Palaui Island

My curiosity stemmed from an article I read about Palui Island being considered as the 3rd best beach in the Philippines by CNNgo, following El Nido being the 1st and Boracay the 2nd, beating other more famous beaches like Panglao in Bohol (4th), Bantayand Island in Cebu (5th), Caramoan in Camarines Sur (6th), Samal in Davao (7th), Siargao Islands in Surigao Del Norte (8th), Great Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga (9th) and Pagudpud (Bangui) in Ilocos (10th). For a complete article, click here

I thought, so what does Palui Island have to gain its spot?

According to Wikipedia, Palaui Island is one of the islands in the Philippines, located off the northeastern extremity of Luzon Island, the largest island in the country.

An opportunity immediately came when I had to go to Isabela for personal reasons. Without a second thought, I know I am going to Palaui!!!!!! 

I tagged along my hubby who couldn't just say NO or else.... :P I did a little bit of research online as I complete our itinerary. I knew it's going to be a pretty long ride but, heck, it didn't tear down my excitement. I found a contact person from other blogs for our boat that would take us to Palaui Island - Kuya Edwin Tabucol 09269064657. He quickly responded to my text messages with tour rates:

Boat (can fit upto 10 persons)
San Vicente-Palaui Island - P750
San Vicente-Cape Engano - P1800
Crocodile Island - P500
Aguib - P1500

Hubby and I availed a boat ride to Palaui Island for P750. But since we'll be staying overnight in the Island, we were charged additional P250, hence, a total of P1000 for our boat.

How to get to Palaui Island? Here's how.............

Saturday night came. At 11:30 PM, we boarded Victory Liner Bus in Kamias and started our plight towards Tuguegarao City. Good thing I made a ticket reservation, I witnessed chance passengers who willingly stood on the bus. Among these chance passengers was a family with 2 kids. Good thing the woman was able to find a seat and had the older kid sat on her lap while the husband stood up carrying the younger kid, who I think was just an infant. Tsk Tsk Tsk.... I don't know who to blame, the bus conductor for accommodating  letting these passengers or the passengers who insisted in taking this last trip even it meant standing for 6-8 hours.

I regret riding in Victory Liner. The trip took longer than I expected because the bus made a stop over at their Santiago City terminal where they dropped and picked up passengers. Not to mention, picking up passengers along the highway though it's already full. Tumauini, Isabela is my father's hometown. This province is next to Tuguegarao. All buses plying to Tuguegarao passes through Isabela. When we were kids, my family and relatives used to visit Tumauini and I remember travelling at night and then waking up in the morning just in time to get off the bus, just around 9-10 hours travel time via Baliwag bus. Now, Manila to Tumauini took 12 hours via Victory Liner!! owmygawd!

Moving on, we reached Tuguegarao at 1PM - that's 13.5 long hours!!! Since we already had our lunch during our stop over in Isabela, we hopped on a tricycle (which they call tricy, pronounced as "tri-cee")to take us to the Van terminal. It was just a quick ride, I guess not more than 5 minutes and the driver collected P40.

Van Terminal
Vans schedule trips to Santa Ana and Gonzaga
At 1:30 PM, we left the terminal for Santa Ana, Cagayan and then braced myself for another long ride - estimated 3 hours. It was really scourging hot, unfortunately most vans here are non air-conditioned. Good thing the road is clear going to Santa Ana. No traffic. No intersection. I just let the wind become our "airconditioners".

Finally, at 4:30 PM, we dropped off Santa Ana Market. Vans can drop passengers off at San Vicente where the fish port is located but for us, we needed to purchase supplies from the Market. Don't attempt to pay the driver fare beforehand. The driver will collect it once you reach your destination. After purchasing stuff we needed for our overnight camping, we again rode a tricycle going to San Vicente (famously known to the locals as SanV) and paid P15 each.

Santa Ana market
In San Vicente port was our boatman waiting. Unfortunately, Kuya Edwin wasn't the one who serviced us because he had to attend to other customers. Instead it was his brother, Kuya Edward, who assisted us. Contact number 09067596292.

San Ana Fishport
We were led to the Tourism Office to secure a permit (P50 each). Tourism office is open even during weekends/holidays. Their security guard will assist if no staff is available.

Off we sailed to Punta Verde, Palaui Island for around 20 minutes.

Santa Ana to Palaui Map

Along the way, we passed through crocodile island. This can be part of your island hopping too!
The first thing I noticed as we sailed through was  the island's thick forest

We were lead into a small community (Punta Verde) where the campsite is located.
Campsite. To the right is the camp area. 
at the side of the campsite. papaya trees are everywhere. be careful of the ants near the papaya's. 
I felt an instant joy when I saw the campsite. The place was clean, peaceful and it feels like playing camp at your own backyard. What's more exciting was we were the only guests!! The campsite, formed by an organization, is managed by a caretaker and his family and is a 2 minute walk from the beach. Guests are allowed to pitch tent along the shores and wander around as long as we stay near the site. If Guests would like to go to both ends of the beach, a tour guide is required. I know it's a strict rule, but it's all for the security of their guests.

Aside from camping for P250 per person per night, they also offer homestay for the same price per night though at this point the construction is still on -going. By the way, other houses offer homestays as well for the same amount, unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a chance to check them out. 

The campsite's restroom and bathroom are separate for boys and girls. When I took a shower, I was quite comfortable because of its cleanliness and overflowing water. The caretaker explained that whatever amount they collect from guests are for the sites' maintenance. Guests can cook food using stove for a small amount. Water is available 24/7.

The beach near the site is not swimmable. It reminded me of the beach in Bgy Ilog Malino in Bolinao with tons of seaweeds. But if you'd go further to the ends of the beach, the sand is cleaner which makes it more inviting to swim.

I was awed by the simplicity of the people's lives here in Punta Verde. Electricity is supplied by generators and only those who can afford to have one can have brighter homes at night. Water comes from a deep well. There are cellular signals, thank gawd! There are small sari sari stores.

typical house in Punta Verde
rooster sitting comfortably while waiting for the sun to set. 

After eating dinner, we settled inside our tent and the realization of how we got there began to sink in. EFFORT. This is the exact word I can best describe getting to Palaui. Almost 18 ours of butt numbing ride is no joke. This is just the start, I told my hubby. We have yet to find out if all these would make any sense once we see the Cape Engano and its cove, and only then we can decide if everyting is all worth it.

Cagayan Valley: Palaui Island - Trek to Cape Engano
Cagayan Valley : Palaui Island - Itinerary / Expenses / Lesson Learned


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences during your visit in Cagayan. I am planning to go and
see the place early next year and Your itenerary will be of a huge help.

elle said...

@Anonymous feels great i am able to help in some way. Good luck on your visit next year!