Cast away in Calayan Island: Travel Guide + 5 Days Itinerary

Sibang Cove, Calayan Island | Calayan Island travel guide
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Calayan Island is a backpacker’s dream — a remote community island filled with beautiful beach coves, cliffs with breath-taking views and hidden waterfalls. This is our DIY Guide to Calayan Island, including updated rates and other information.

Calayan Island is located in the north of Luzon, just below Batanes Island. It’s part of Babuyan Islands in Cagayan Province. It’s one of the 5 major islands, along with Babuyan Claro, Dalupiri, Camiguin and Fuga islands.

Due to the difficulty in going here, Calayan Remains one of the off-the-beaten destinations in the Philippines.

Our trip to Calayan Island

Before anything else, let me tell you about our trip to Calayan Island. Calayan Island has been one of my dream destinations in the country ever since I’d seen photos of a pre-nup couple in Nagudungan Hill online.

In 2016, Hali and I went here along with a backpacking group. It’s one of my best backpacking trips as of yet. We camped along Sibang Cove, walked barefoot along Nagudungan Hills with free-roaming views and took pictures of the coastal views from above the cliffs, and then went on a boat tour to visit the less-accessible areas including Lusok Cave and Bataraw Falls. The natural island features of Calayan Island are truly one of a kind. Just Sibang Cove and Nagudungan Hill are worth visiting alone.

Sharing coconuts in Tapwakan rock formation, Calayan Island
Me and Hali at Calayan Island.

Do I recommend visiting Calayan Island? Yes! Especially if you’re not a maarte tourist. Remember that this is a remote destination so you will need to go through hours of boat ride to get here and the usual comforts may not be available. That saying, there are proper resorts in the island and locals who can help you explore it.

You can watch our summer video in Calayan Island here:

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.

By land

There are 2 ports going to Calayan Island: Aparri and Claveria. Claveria is the nearest jump-off point to Calayan Island.

Via Claveria

  • 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).

Via Aparri

  • 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

By air

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:

Day 1
3:00PM Meetup in EDSA

Day 2
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

Day 5
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. You may need to adjust your itinerary depending on the weather. In our case, we were supposed to be fetched by the boat in our resort but the waves were rough, so we ended up trekking to visit Nagudungan Hill and Sibang Cove. We also missed visiting Malansing Falls altogether.

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.

Sibang Cove in Calayan Island, Cagayan
Sibang Cove is a virgin beach in Calayan Island. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Sibang Cove in Calayan Island
Remote and quiet. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Sibang Cove in Calayan Island, Cagayan
A prominent rock formation Sibang Cove. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Nagudungan Hill and Sibang Cove
Coves, including the virgin beach of Sibang Cove, can be seen from a cliff edge in Nagudungan Hill. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Nagudungan Hill, Calayan Island in Cagayan Province
Nagudungan Hill. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Nagudungan Hill in Calayan Island, Cagayan
Beautiful views in Nagudungan Hill. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Nagudungan Hill in Calayan Island
With the wind blowing. Nagudungan Hill in Calayan Island. (Photo by Hali)
Goats in Nagudungan Hill
Chasing goats. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Goats in Nagudungan Hill, Calayan Island
Goats are freely roaming on one side of Nagudungan Hill. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Nagudungan Hill in Calayan Island in Cagayan Province
Caves from below the hill.
Tapwakan rock formation in Calayan Island
Tapwakan rock formation/cliff diving site. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Lusok Cave in Calayan Island
Lusok Cave.
Bataraw Falls in Calayan Island
Bataraw Falls.

Other islands: Babuyan Islands triangle tour

If you have more time for your vacation, at least a week for instance, you can also visit the rest of the islands in the area: Babuyan Claro, Dalupiri, Fuga and Camiguin Norte.

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

Sibang Cove in Calayan Island, Cagayan
Summer in Calayan Island. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

We took this trip in 2016 and we spent about P6000 each for this 5-day Calayan Island itinerary.

Here are the updated rates:

Manila to Calayan IslandPrivate van rental (Manila to Claveria) – P2500 per person
Bus from Manila to Claveria or Aparri – P1500 per person round-trip
Lampitaw – P1000 per person round-trip
ToursGuide fee – P500 per day (up to 5 pax)

CALAYAN ISLAND:
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)

BABUYAN ISLANDS:
Babuyan Islands triangle boat tour: P8000-10000
AccommodationPer night – P250 per person
MiscellaneousFood – P50-100 per meal

Here are some notes:

  • Boats do not have standard rates. It depends on the boat size and how many you are in the group. Please don’t haggle too low and support the locals in the island, since visitation is normally limited during summer only. The same goes for land transfers via habal-habal or kuliglig.
  • Depending on where you are staying, you might or might not need land transfers. 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 Sibang Cove, we went island hopping. Then we went back to our resort.

For a 5 days trip, a safe budget would be P6600 – 8000 per person.

Reminders and Tips

Walking along Sibang Cove, Calayan Island
Me and Hali.

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.

Contacts

For safety purposes, always get updated on the weather conditions and watch out for gale warnings.

  • Eric, Calayan tourism officer: 0947 893 9619

Tour guides in Calayan:

  • Kuya Sonny, tour guide: 0998 324 9288
  • Kuya Cesar, tour guide/boatman: 0918 617 0327

Others:

  • Ate Connie, Calayan Island-Babuyan Claro-Camiguin Norte tour: 0921 534 9231

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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Travel guide to Calayan Island, Cagayan, PH

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17 Comments

  1. Hi, thank u for the informatioan. Ang ganda po! ask ko lng po if need po ba magpareserve ng boat ride going to calayan? thanks po.

  2. Grabe. Ang ganda! Di ko akalaing may ganito pala malapit sa Cagayan. T_T Sayang nung pumunta kami sa Palaui, malapit lang sya.

  3. Hello! Calayan is my parents’ hometown (basically my province) and I really feel proud and happy whenever I get to read travel stories about the island. 🙂 Just to add, if you’re commuting, there are also Florida and RCJ bus rides that go straight to Aparri or Claveria. 🙂

  4. hi sir, san po kayong port sumakay? sa claveria o sa aparri? may passengers boat naman sila. right? thank you

  5. I was wondering if you have a pic of the Town centre where the municipio is located close to the Catholic church/school n the elementary school nearby. I was in Calayan some 30 yrs ago. I wonder how the Town centre now looks.

      1. @Toni, the town center especially the church had improved a lot. The elementary school looks good as well. I think there are also some tables for picnic at the right side where the palm trees are of the docking area.

        @Katherine the municipal hall is the building across the covered court and the same building connected to the MV Eagle Ferry payment office.

        I will be going home to Calayan on the 26th of April!

  6. Hi, are you also planning to go to Calayan? Maybe we can join you. We are 3 and planning to depart on OCt 3 and stay until Nov 3.

    1. Hi, are you also planning to go to Calayan? Maybe we can join you. We are 3 and planning to depart on OCt 3 and stay until Nov 3.

  7. thank you! this is very helpful to me. I’m planning to visit Calayan island before summer ends. May I ask what month was your visit? since the only thing that concerns me is the weather. thank you. 🙂

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