Calayan Island is a backpacker’s dream: a remote community island filled with beautiful beach coves, cliffs with breath-taking views and hidden waterfalls. Calayan Island is actually one of the 5 major islands comprising the Babuyan Islands in Cagayan Province (along with Babuyan Claro, Dalupiri, Camiguin and Fuga islands). It’s located in Luzon Strait, south of Batanes.
This is our DIY guide to Calayan Island. Hali and I went here with a group sometime in 2016 and we had since then updated this article for rates and other information.
How to get to Calayan Island
From Manila, if you’re going to strictly travel by land and boat, it will take about 20 hours to reach Calayan Island.
There are 2 ports going to Calayan Island: Aparri and Claveria. Claveria is the nearest jump-off point to Calayan Island.
- From Sampaloc, Manila, ride a Florida bus to Claveria, Cagayan (12 hours, P850). Alternatively, you can take a local flight to Laoag, Ilocos Norte, and then ride a bus (P100) or van (P120) to Claveria (2-3 hours).
- From the bus terminal in Claveria, ride a tricycle to the port (P20).
- From the port, ride a lampitaw to Calayan Island (3.5 hours, P500).
- From Sampaloc, Manila, ride a Florida or RCJ bus en route to Tuguegarao (14 hours, P750). Alternatively, you can take a local flight to Tuguegarao.
- From Tuguegarao, ride a bus to Appari and get off at the bus terminal. Take a tricycle to Veteran’s Port (P20).
- From the port, ride a lampitaw to Calayan Island (5-6 hours, P500).
Claveria or Aparri to Calayan Island
Boats in Aparri or Claveria leave for Calayan Island once a day at 6-7 AM. You can contact them for confirmation of schedules or reservations.
- M/B Macarra : 0927 3277 889 / 0921 477 9167
- M/B Romina : 0919 663 4954
- M/V Eagle Ferry : 0947 773 3904 / 0939 568 0817
Calayan Airport officially opened this March 2019. Schedule is not yet updated (updated as of March 2019).
When is the best time to visit
Summer is the best time to visit Calayan Island. Boat travel to Calayan Island during ber-months is considered risky, and there had been incidents in the past when passengers have died. Under rough sea conditions, boat ride can extend to 7-9 hours.
During summer, sea conditions are manageable. There’s also a chance, albeit slim, of seeing dolphins and humpback whales in the open sea during the boat ride.
5 Days Itinerary to Calayan Island
Ideally, you’ll want to spend 3-4 days in the island. If you’re planning to visit other islands apart from Calayan, allot another day in your itinerary.
Here is a sample 5 days itinerary to Calayan Island:
3:00PM Meetup in EDSA
5:00AM Arrival in port in Aparri
6:00AM – 12:00NN Boat ride to Calayan Island
12:00NN – Lunch
2:00 – 3:00PM Trek to Sibang Cove
3:00PM – Set camp in Sibang Cove
3:30PM – 6:00PM Explore Nagudungan Hill
Days 3 – 4
Explore Tapwakan rock formation, Bataraw Falls, Caanawan Falls and Malansing Falls, Lusok Cave
Explore Caniwara and Cababaan beaches
05:00AM Call time, pack up
06:00AM – 12:00NN Boat ride back to Claveria
12:00NN – 1:00AM Back in Manila
Take this as a rough guide. In our experience, we had to change our itinerary depending on the weather. For instance, we were supposed to take our boat from our accommodation to Sibang Cove but ended up trekking due to rough waves and we missed visiting Malansing Falls altogether.
I personally think Calayan Island is a place for unwinding and taking things slow. Just go where your feet leads you. For one, I could spend a whole day just bumming in Sibang Cove and then another picnicking and chasing goats in Nagudungan Hill. A friend who’s been there twice feels the same.
Places to see in Calayan Island
Here are the spots you can see in Calayan Island. Our favorite would be Sibang Cove and Nagudungan Hill, which are just right next to each other.
- Sibang Cove, Caniwara Cove and Cababaan Cove. Sibang Cove is our favorite beach in Calayan Island. It’s a long idyllic stretch of pure cream sand. The shore is met with strong waves, so you have to be careful when swimming. Caniwara Cove and Cababaan Cove are the other beaches in the island.
- Nagudungan Hill. Aside from Sibang Cove, this is another must-see spot in Calayan Island. It’s a wide pastoral cliff with amazing ocean views. From here, you can also see the coves in the island. During our visit, we saw free-roaming goats and cows in Nagudungan Hill.
- Bangaan Hill. Another hill with great views. There is a cross built here.
- Tapwakan Cliff Diving Site and Beach. From the mainland, you can walk or ride a kuliglig to reach Tapwakan Cliff Diving Site. It is a bit challenging to get up the cliff, so make sure that you’re with a local guide. You will need to cliff jump or swim around the cliff area to reach the small beach cove.
- Bataraw Falls. A small waterfall that you can reach via trekking or boat ride. If the latter, you only need to walk for another 10 minutes to reach the falls.
- Caanawan Falls. This waterfall is more difficult to reach compared to Bataraw Falls. It requires longer trekking into the dense backwoods. Again, going with a local guide is advised.
- Lusok Cave. Lusok Cave is accessible via boat only, as the cave entrance goes directly to the ocean. It has interesting rock formations. Shells grow within the cave walls, which locals gather for food.
- Malansing Cave and Falls.
Here are some of our photos in Calayan Island.
Boat and land tours in Calayan Island
Here are the current rates (updated as of September 2019).
- Guide fee: P500 per day (up to 5 pax)
Depending on where you’re staying at, you can take habal-habal/kuliglig/trike to your place of visit or a boat ride.
- Boat tour – Bataraw Falls, Lusok Cave, Magsidel: P3500, good up to 10 pax
- Boat tour: Malansing Falls, Caniwara Cove, Cababaan Cove, Sibang Cove: P1500-2000, good up to 10 pax
- Trike from Sentro to Sibang Cove/Nagudungan Hill: P500, good for 2 pax
- Trike from Sentro to Bataraw Falls/Caanawan Falls: P600, good for 2 pax
Note that the boats do not actually have a standard rate. It depends on your group size and how many boats you’ll require. You can haggle the island hopping rate but I suggest not to especially if the rates offered to you are reasonable. This is to support our locals who benefit from tourism, especially in Calayan Island where visitation is normally limited during summer. The same goes for land transfers, via habal-habal or kuliglig.
As for us, we stayed at Villa Innocencia Inn. From there, we walked to the Tapwakan rock formation and then to Sibang Cove for an overnight stay. From there, we took a boat to visit Lusok Cave and Bataraw Falls.
- Kuya Sonny, tour guide: 0998 324 9288
- Kuya Cesar, tour guide/boatman: 0918 617 0327
Other islands: Babuyan Islands triangle tour
- Island hopping rate: P8000-10000
- Ate Connie, Calayan Island-Babuyan Claro-Camiguin Norte tour: 0921 534 9231
Island hopping depends on your haggling skills. It’s expensive since boats don’t normally go from Calayan Island to Camiguin Norte. I was told by a resident that some fishing boats do, and you can ride along if you’re lucky to chance upon one during your visit. Otherwise, you’ll have to get back to the port in Claveria where there are daily boat trips to either location.
The caveat is that some of you may find the triangle tour too short to do in a single day. A good acquaintance recommends staying longer in each island instead.
Where to eat
You can eat in eateries, ask your accommodation to cook for you (rate is per head) or buy food from the market and cook it yourselves/have your accommodation prepare it for you.
As for us, we had a cook from Villa Innocencia Inn that delivered our food. We paid for the dishes per plate. My favorite home-cooked dishes were kinilaw and spicy buttered lobster. For the latter, we’d contributed P50 each for one large piece to go along with our main meal. Lobsters are incredibly cheap in Calayan Island.
Where to stay in Calayan Island
There are a few homestays and resorts where you can stay in Calayan Island. I’ve listed some of them here, but if you want to know other options, you can contact Calayan’s tourism officer. Your selected accommodation can also help you arrange getting rides for land and boat travel.
- TPS Homestay: 0939 915 8667 / 0929 837 5737, P250 per pax
- Pagdagusan Homestay: 0998 510 0621 / Facebook, P250 per pax OR P1500 per head per day including meals
- Villa Inocencia Inn: 0949 600 1931, P250 per pax
- San Jose Inn: 0921 534 9231, P250 per pax
- Apollo Beach Resort: 0947 8939 619 / 0999 7151 283, P500 per night
During our visit in 2016, we stayed in Villa Inocencia Inn, a two-story house with 6 rooms. I’d say it’s okay but it requires necessary upgrades: including running water and functional door lock in all bath rooms, electric fans for all rooms, clean mattresses complete with bed sheets. Among the things listed here, this was the one that really bugged me. Like other accommodations in Calayan Island, the rent overnight there is cheap.
Budget and expenses
For the budget, we spent about P6000 each for this 5-day Calayan Island itinerary.
We chipped in P2500 each for a private van rental, which served as our round-trip transfer from Manila to Claveria and back. We paid P1000 each for a round-trip boat ride to Calayan Island. The rest — accommodation, food, land and boat transfers and tour guide fees — were divided evenly among the group.
Exclusive of tour rates, an estimated daily budget including food and accommodation is P500 per person.
If you plan on going to Calayan Island for 5 days as we did, a safe budget would be P5500 – 8000 per person. This applies to whether you’re going to commute or ride a private van. Make sure to add a little extra to your overall budget in case you get stranded, which is a possibility even during the height of summer.
Must-read reminders before your trip
Here are a few basic reminders you need to know before setting off to this northern island in Babuyanes.
- Waterproof your hand-carry on the boat ride; you may also bring a raincoat if you wish.
- During our visit, there was no signal from Globe network; Smart and SUN are fine.
- There is no ATM machine in the island; make sure to bring all the cash you need and a little more in case you get stranded.
- No electricity in the island from 12 midnight to 12 noon.
- We were told there wasn’t any market but there’s a store that sells refrigerated meat. If you want to eat fresh seafood, inform your hosts ASAP so they can buy from fishers in the morning. I’m not sure if it’s the same all over the island or only in Barangay Dadao where our inn was located.
- Prepare for the possibility of being stranded for a few days. Schedule your trip when you can afford to take a longer leave at work, for instance.
More tips here:
- While in Aparri, drop by Ten-Ten’s pancit cabagan restaurant and order their pancit specialty. It’s just a few-minute drive from Aparri port.
For safety purposes, always get updated on the weather conditions and watch out for gale warnings.
You can also contact Calayan Island’s tourism officer for any other questions. The other numbers here I haven’t personally contacted but had listed for reference early on, before deciding to joined a do-it-yourself organized event. So I’m leaving it up to you guys to contact these people.
- Eric, Calayan tourism officer: 0947 893 9619
You can watch our summer video in Calayan Island here:
Do you find this Calayan Island itinerary and travel guide helpful? Have anything else to add? Feel free to post in the comments section below. 🙂
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