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
- How to get to Calayan Island
- When is the best time to visit
- 5 Days Itinerary to Calayan Island
- Places to see in Calayan Island
- Other islands: Babuyan Islands triangle tour
- Where to eat
- Where to stay in Calayan Island
- Budget and expenses
- Reminders and Tips
- What to read next:
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.
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.
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. 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.
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
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 Island||Private 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
|Tours||Guide fee – P500 per day (up to 5 pax) |
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 triangle boat tour: P8000-10000
|Accommodation||Per night – P250 per person|
|Miscellaneous||Food – 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
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.
- 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
- 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. 🙂
What to read next:
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Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).