Catanduanes Travel Guide: Everything you need to know about Happy Island

Catanduanes travel guide

Here’s a travel guide to Catanduanes, also known as the “Land of the Howling Winds” and recently the “Happy Island.” I hope this will give you all the basic information you need to know about Catanduanes.

As a traveler’s destination, I feel like Catanduanes is still in its budding stages. Even Binurong Point — a pastoral cliff often compared to Batanes — has gained popularity only last year. Its local tourism branch is quite new, having only been established early this year, to accommodate the growing number of visitors in the area.

Case in point: I think there is still much to discover in Catanduanes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if after a year this Catanduanes travel guide will need some major updates.

Most of what I’ve written here are gathered from our trip. Feel free to add more information, especially must-visit places you’ve been to, in the comments section.

Catanduanes travel guide: 4-day itinerary

This was our schedule on our trip to Catanduanes. We were pretty laid back then. If you want to maximize your visit, read the additional notes.

Day 1
Arrival in Virac airport, head to Virac town center
Ride a van (or bus) to Pandan, get off at Caramoran (3 hours)
Check in at Coco Beach Resort

Day 2
Island hopping in Palumbanes group of islands (1 hour boat ride per way)

Day 3
Tour Pandan (Tuwad-tuwadan pool, Hiyop highlands)
Check in at Carangyan Beach Resort

Day 4
Ride van back to Virac
Hire a tricycle (or habal-habal) and tour Bato and Baras
Head back to Virac, check in at Kemji Resort

Day 5
Early morning flight back to Manila

You can squeeze in more stops here if you manage your time more efficiently. For instance, on the first day in Catanduanes, you can proceed to island hop in Palumbanes islands in Caramoran. On the second day, tour Pandan and then stay overnight in Carangyan Beach Resort. Leave early morning and head back to Virac, catch a ride to Puraran and spend the rest of the day surfing. On the fourth day, start early to view the sunrise in Balacay point and tour the rest of Baras and Bato.

Catanduanes is one of the cheapest provinces to visit. Our budget is P4000 each for 2 people for 4 days.

How to get to Catanduanes

The easiest way to get to Catanduanes is to book a flight to Virac. As of this writing, Cebu Pacific flies once a day from Manila to Virac, with a morning schedule.

An alternative is to get on a bus to Legazpi (12 hours) and then head to Tobacco Port. From Tobacco Port, ride a passenger boat to San Andres, Catanduanes (3 hours). Boat schedules from Tobacco Port to Catanduanes are 7AM and 1PM only.

Bus and van schedules in Virac

Take note of the limited schedules of public vehicles because it’s going to affect your tour schedules.

From Virac, there are buses and vans to Pandan from 9AM to 1PM (others say there are still rides available at 5PM).

From Pandan to Virac, the earliest van schedule is 4AM but you’ll have to go to the terminal in the market to confirm this, as I’m not sure if this is part of their regular schedule. The latest schedule is 12Noon – 1PM only, except on Friday’s where there are occasional vans leaving at 3PM.

Tourist attractions in Catanduanes

Although most websites talk about Twin Rock Beach Resort, Puraran and Binurong Point, there’s actually a lot more attractions in Catanduanes that it’s difficult to compress it in this short Catanduanes travel guide.

Here are the places we’ve visited (or read online):

Caramoran

The main attraction in Caramoran is Bitaog Beach in Parongpong Island. You can also do a side trip to the other islands in Palumbanes: Tignob and Calabagio islands.

Bitaog beach in Palumbanes Islands, Catanduanes
Bitaog beach in Palumbanes Islands. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

For boats for island hopping, head to the port and just ask around for any fishermen willing to take you across the islands. If you’re staying in Coco Beach Resort, Ate Letty can help you find one.

Rates are P1000-1500 for a small boat and P3000 for a bigger boat.

Pandan

In Pandan, you can visit Cagnipa rolling hills, which is near Tuwad-tuwadan natural pool. You can also visit the viewdeck in Hiyop highlands.

Cagnipa rolling hills, Catanduanes
View in Cagnipa. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Tuwad-tuwadan natural pool
Tuwad-tuwadan natural pool in Pandan. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

I recommend staying overnight in Carangyan Beach Resort in Pandan. The beach is quiet and beautiful, and there are none to few guests during off-peak season.

You can tour Pandan via a habal-habal for P800-1000.

Baras

Puraran is where you go to surf. Catanduanes is famous for its great waves. In fact, it holds an annual surfing competition, the Majestic Puraran Surfing Cup, every October.

Here are the available accommodations in Puraran:

  • Puraran Surf Beach Resort, 0906 494 6651
  • Majestic Puraran Beach Resort, 0927 357 2665
  • Pacific Surfer’s Paradise, 09178 046 648
Binurong Point, Catanduanes
Sunset in Binurong Point. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

Other tourist attractions in Baras, Catanduanes, include Binurong Point and Balacay Point, both featuring pastoral cliffs and a favorite of sunrise viewers.

Bato

Bote lighthouse in Bato, Catanduanes
Bote lighthouse in Bato, Catanduanes. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

In Bato, we’d visited Bote lighthouse near Sakahon beach. The lighthouse entails a 30-minute mountain trek. The trail is steep, so leave any heavy backpacks in your vehicle. Local kids will normally volunteer to guide you to the lighthouse. Don’t forget to give them a tip.

Other points of interest are the Bato Church and Maribina Falls.

Virac

If you take a flight to Catanduanes, you’re going to land in Virac. Virac is the jump-off point to other municipalities, to Caramoran and Pandan (left) or Bato and Baras (right).

Hali and I didn’t explore the city, since we prefer to go nature tripping. That saying, the popular destinations in Virac include the Twin Rock Beach Resort and Mamangal Beach Resort.

You can also buy your pasalubong here.

A complete Catanduanes travel guide map

Here’s a map from the Catanduanes Tourism Board listing the current tourist attractions in Catanduanes. To download, simply click directly on the map and click save-as.

Map of Catanduanes tourist attractions
Map of Catanduanes tourist attractions.

Accommodations in Catanduanes

These are the ones we’ve stayed in on our trip to Catanduanes.

Coco Beach Resort, Caramoran

If you’re staying the night in Caramoran, I suggest Coco Beach Resort. It is owned by Ate Letty and is just across the Palumbanes islands. Accommodation is P300 per night. Food is also served in the resort.

Contact info: 0928 620 4592

Carangyan Beach Resort, Pandan

This resort in Carangyan is a bit on the expensive side, but I guarantee that it’s worth it. It’s packed during summer, but during off-season there are few guests and you can enjoy the beach to yourselves.

Carangyan Beach Resort in Catanduanes
We recommend staying in Carangyan Beach Resort when you’re in Pandan. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

Rooms are available at P1500 (fan room) and P1800 (aircon). There are also cottages at P300 each, although I wouldn’t recommend getting one for an overnight stay because of mosquitos and other insects at night.

Contact info: 0949 435 3044 / Official website

Kemji Resort, Virac

We’d planned on staying in a cheap inn in Virac, but our tricycle driver suggested here instead. I consider this a good find, and it’s only 5 minutes away from the airport. They also have free shuttle service to and from the airport, if you have any heavy luggage.

Kemji Resort features artistic decorations — warm lights at night, round swings beside the pool and so on. It has pools and a restaurant, which serves reasonably priced good food. Rooms are available at P1000-1100 for 2 people and P1000-1500 for 3 people.

Contact info: Facebook page

 

Have anything to add in this Catanduanes travel guide? Any must-see destinations you’ve been to or recommended accommodations? Feel free to post in the comment section below. 🙂 It will be of great help to fellow travelers.

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5 Comment

  1. Anonymous says: Reply

    Hi! To minimize hassle for land trip, you can book a bus ticket in bicolisarog. Com for an rsl bus. You can leave your bags in there when you boarded the ferry and come back when the ferry arrives in san andres port. Fare is 825php for aircon bus. Hope this helps. Thanks for enjoying and promoting our happy island! 🙂

  2. I am delighted to see travel guides to different beautiful areas of our country. Surely, there are more to see and go to, aside from Boracay. I also think going to far-flung or non-touristy places will be more enjoyable and relaxing compared to going to the beach teeming with tourists and visitors. I sure hope I can visit Catanduanes one day, it is a lovely place!

  3. Zwitsy says: Reply

    Whoah, whichever option to go to Catanduanes, it sure is not a joke. Having those long trips make me dizzy but lo, with so many beautiful places to see and to experience, that’s worth the trip after all. It’s just that, one needs to be keen with the time if they want to go here. Looking forward to set a foot at the said place.

  4. Wow! Just P 4,000 for two people to tour Catanduanes? Count us in! I would try to take a plane though as I know how energy consuming it is to travel for 12 hours for a light sleeper like me. How I wish we have a drone by that time. Catanduanes really looks like Batanes.

    1. It’s P4000 each for 2 people. I had to re-check that I got it right. 🙂 But yeah it really is cheap. Usually we spend about P5000+ each for a 4-day trip.

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