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Catanduanes Travel Guide (2019): All You Need to Know About Happy Island

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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 wrote this knowing that soon enough it will need some major updates.

Catanduanes is one of our favorite provinces in the Philippines. It has scenic landscapes — pastoral cliffs, rolling hills — as well as great beaches and natural lagoons. I hope you’ll enjoy visiting Catanduanes as much as we did!

By the way, you can also read about our trip to Catanduanes here.

How to get to Catanduanes

By air

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.

By land

It will take about 15-16 hours of land travel to get to Catanduanes.

  • From Manila (Cubao, Pasay or Alabang), ride a bus with direct route to Tabaco (about P840, 11-12 hours). An alternative is to ride a bus to Legazpi (12 hours). From Legazpi bus terminal, ride a jeep or van bound for Tabaco.
  • From Tabaco, ride a pedicab to Tabaco Port.
  • Once in Tabaco Port, you can ride a passenger boat to either San Andres Port (P290 aircon, P220 non-aircon) or Virac Port (P320 aircon, P240 non-aircon). Travel time is about 4 hours. Another option is to ride a fast craft to either port in Catanduanes (P320, 2 hours). However, schedules for the fast craft are limited.

It’s best to get to Virac since it’s easy to find hotels and resorts there. Other attractions in Catanduanes are also accessible from Virac.

From San Andres Port, you can ride a jeepney to Virac or charter a tricycle.

See this infographic on how to get to Catanduanes.

How to get to Catanduanes map
How to get to Catanduanes. (By Catanduanes Tourism Board)

When is the best time to visit

The best time to visit Catanduanes is during the summer months, from March to May.

How to get around

From Virac, there are public jeepneys, multi-cabs and vans to nearby towns.

For touring, it’s best to charter a private motorcycle or tricycle. You can specify which areas you would like to stop by. Rates vary depending on the destination. For instance, going to the nearby beaches in Virac usually cost P500.

Top Attractions in Catanduanes

Although most blogs talk about Twin Rock Beach Resort, Puraran and Binurong Point, there’s actually a lot more attractions in Catanduanes. You can do a lot of things in this province, including island hopping, surfing, trekking through rolling hills and visiting historical churches and landmarks.

Here are the best tourist attractions in Catanduanes. We’ve visited several of these already, as you’ll see in our itinerary in the section below.

Virac

  • City tour: Virac Cathedral, Museo de Catanduanes, Virac Viewing Deck, FIAT House Inspired Chapel, souvenir stores
  • Beaches: Twin Rock Beach, Mamangal Beach, Balite Beach, Marilima Beach, Talisoy Beach

Virac is the capital city of Catanduanes. Here you can find city attractions including souvenir shops. Virac is also known for its beaches. The popular ones are the Twin Rock Beach Resort in Igang and Mamangal Beach Resort in Balite.

Twin Rock Beach Resort in Virac, Catanduanes
(Photo by Twin Rock Beach Resort)

To explore Virac, you can move around via public transpo or charter a private tricycle.

Virac is the jump-off point to other municipalities in Catanduanes: to Caramoran and Pandan (left) or Bato and Baras (right). From here, it’s easy to charter a habal-habal or tricycle to get to Bato or Baras.

Caramoran

  • Palumbanes Islands: Bitaog Beach (Parongpong Island), Tignob Island, Calabagio Island
  • Toytoy Beach
  • Hitoma Lake
  • Banban Falls
  • Guiamlong Falls
  • Natotoo Falls
  • Lintig Falls
  • Inalmasinan Falls
  • St. John the Baptist Parish
  • Campo Ermetanyo

The main attraction in Caramoran is the Palumbanes Islands, specifically Bitaog Beach in Parongpong Island.

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 large boat.

Coco Beach Resort: 0928 620 4592

Bitaog beach in Palumbanes Islands, Catanduanes
Bitaog beach in Palumbanes Islands. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Bitaog Beach, Palumbanes islands, Catanduanes
Caught! Building a fort in my legs in front of this clear blue expanse. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

Other attractions in Caramoran are still off-radar. For assistance in exploring these locations, you can contact Caramoran’s tourism office:

  • Warren Evangelista: 09484102035 / Maria Reenah Borbe: 09104584146

How to get here:

From Virac, ride a bus or van to Pandan and get off at Caramoran. Travel time is 3 hours.

Pandan

  • Cagnipa Rolling Hills
  • Tuwad-Tuwadan Natural Pool
  • Hiyop Highlands view deck

These attractions are close to each other. Cagnipa Rolling Hills is a very scenic farmland in Catanduanes. From here, you can see Carangyan Beach in the distance. From Cagnipa Rolling Hills, you can climb down to the Tuwad-Tuwadan Natural Pool.

You can tour the attractions in Pandan via habal-habal for P800-1000.

Carangyan Beach, Catanduanes
Hill overlooking Carangyan Beach.
Cagnipa rolling hills, Catanduanes
View in Cagnipa. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Tuwad-tuwadan pool in Catanduanes
Tuwad-tuwadan pool. (Photo by Hali)

How to get here:

From Virac, there are buses and vans to Pandan from 9AM to 1PM. There may be a late schedule at 5PM, but it’s best to confirm this first.

From Pandan back to Virac, the earliest van schedule is 4AM and the latest schedule is 12noon – 1PM only, except on Fridays where there are vans leaving at 3PM.

Baras

  • Binurong Point
  • Balacay Point
  • Puraran

Binurong Point and Balacay Point are pastoral cliffs and a favorite of sunrise viewers, although Binurong Point is the more popular one. Binurong Point is located within the private property of Kayandit Ranch. It requires an easy trek of about 20 minutes.

Fees to Binurong Point. Guide fee: P150 | Entrance fee: P20 | Parking fee: P10.

Binurong Point, Catanduanes
Sunset in Binurong Point. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

Binurong Point, Catanduanes

Similar to Siargao, Catanduanes is famous for its great waves. Puraran is its main surfing spot. In fact, every October, Catanduanes holds an annual surfing competition, the Majestic Puraran Surfing Cup. Surfing months are July to October. Beginners can also visit from March to June.

Surfing in Puraran, Catanduanes
Surfing in Puraran. (Photo by Majestic Puraran Beach Resort)

As above, you can visit these attractions in Baras via habal-habal.

How to get here:

There are various way to get here from Virac:

  • Ride a jeep (about P35) or van (P100) to Baras town proper.
  • Charter a private tricycle to Baras/Puraran (about P150-200 one way).
  • Direct to Puraran: Ride a jeep to Puraran (about P45). Alternatively, you can also ride a jeep bound for Gigmoto and get off at Puraran (about 45).

Bato

  • Bote Lighthouse and Sakahon Beach
  • Bato Church
  • Maribina Falls
  • Cagraray Falls
  • Poseidon Rock (located in the village of Carorian)

One of the tourist attractions in Bato is the Bote Lighthouse near Sakahon Beach. Sakahon Beach is negligible, but the lighthouse is worth a trek. It takes 30 minutes to reach the lighthouse. 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.

Similar to Tuwad-Tuwadan Pool, Poseidon Rock has unique formations and natural lagoons. There are also snorkeling sites nearby.

Tuwad-tuwadan pool in Catanduanes
Tuwad-tuwadan pool. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

Gigmoto

  • Nahulugan Falls
  • Dororian Falls
  • Beaches: Sicmil Beach, Biong Beach, Macalanhog Beach

You can go all the way up to Gigmoto to visit several waterfalls and beaches.

Bagamanoc

  • Ilihan Point
  • Padre Falls

Bagamanoc is one of the least visited places in Catanduanes, but it’s worth visiting if you have time.

Ilihan Point is one of the most iconic spots in this province. It’s a phallic-shaped rock located in Bagamanoc Bay. It is also called “Boto ni Kurakog” or Fertility Island.

Catanduanes travel guide map

Here’s a map from the Catanduanes Tourism Board listing the current tourist attractions in Catanduanes. To download, click the image and then right click – save as.

Map of Catanduanes tourist attractions
Map of Catanduanes tourist attractions. (By Catanduanes Tourism Board)

5 Days itinerary to Catanduanes

Here’s a sample itinerary to Catanduanes, based on our trip.

Day 1 – Caramoran
Arrival in Virac airport
Ride a van or bus to Pandan and get off at Caramoran
Island hopping in Palumbanes islands (1 hour boat ride per way)
Check in at accommodation

Day 2 – Pandan
Explore Pandan (Tuwad-Tuwadan Pool, Hiyop Highlands)
Check in at accommodation

Day 3 – Puraran OR Bato and Baras
Early van ride back to Virac
From Virac, head to Puraran
Surf at Puraran and/or charter a habal-habal/tricycle to Bato and Baras
Check in at accommodation

Day 4
Ride back to Virac
Check in at accommodation
Explore beaches in Virac

Day 5
Flight back to Manila

You can read about our experience in Catanduanes here.

Total budget and expenses

Catanduanes is one of the cheapest provinces we have visited. For 4 days in Catanduanes, our budget for 2 people is P4000 each (excluding airfare).

Where to stay in Catanduanes

There’s a lot of options on places to stay in Catanduanes, depending on whether you want to book in a resort, hotel or homestay.

Virac

Kemji Resort is a convenient place to stay in Virac. It’s about 5 minutes away from the airport. It’s artistic, with a pool and restaurant. Rooms are available at P1000-1100 for 2 people and P1000-1500 for 3 people.

Contact: Facebook

Other options:

For beach resorts in Virac, here are the most recommended ones:

Puraran

Here are the best resorts in Puraran:

Caramoran

Coco Beach Resort is located just across the Palumbanes Islands. The owner, Ate Letty, can help you find a boat for island hopping. Accommodation is P300 per night. For meals, you can order in the resort or go to nearby eateries.

Contact info: Facebook | 0928 620 4592

Pandan

Carangyan Beach Resort is one of the best places you can stay at in Pandan. Rooms are available at P1500 (fan room) and P1800 (aircon).

Contact info: 0949 435 3044 / Official website

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

Did not find what you’re looking for? Search for other discounted accommodations in Catanduanes.

Things to know before you go

  • Schedule of public vehicles especially to distant municipalities such as Pandan and Caramoran are limited. Take note of these before you plan your itinerary.
  • There is minimal signal in certain areas in Catanduanes.

 

Do you 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. 🙂

If you like this post, save it in Pinterest!Catanduanes travel guide (Philippines) | Best tourist attractions in Catanduanes | Palumbanes Island | Bitaog Beach | Binurong Point

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22 thoughts on “Catanduanes Travel Guide (2019): All You Need to Know About Happy Island

  1. Hi, gusto ko lang ask kung ok na ba ang aqua shoes when trekking papuntang bote lighthouse and binurong point? or need tlga shoes or sandals? Thanks

    1. Nope, I edited the text to clarify. Also pls note we traveled there back in 2016 pa and during our trip, habal-habal/tricycles do not have a standard rate so expect some adjustments when budgeting.

  2. Hi Kath and Hali! I’m a student studying in Catanduanes, and I hope you could help me because I chose to write an article about the island in a perspective asking, “why catanduanes isn’t THAT known” sort of way,especially in the point of view of people who are not native from the island like me. So I just wanted to ask the following questions, hoping you could help me in writing my paper :

    1. Before coming to the island, what were your initial thoughts or ideas about catanduanes?
    2. Why do you thinks that catanduanes is not that known or famous in other regions of the country especially in manila?

    Your thoughts on these would really help, Thank you! and God bless!

    1. Hi Kezia. I’ll answer you here instead of email.

      1. As far as I remember (this trip was dated 2016), we didn’t really have any clear expectation about Catanduanes. We only that it’s “beautiful” from what other backpackers said and it’s where we can find the popular Binurong Point (often likened to Batanes).
      2. There’s a lot of provinces in the PH that are not popular yet, Catanduanes is just one of them. You have to understand that the surge of local travel is a recent phenomenon. Catanduanes isn’t that “known” yet but this is starting to change now. Catanduanes though has a disadvantage in terms of commuting from Manila – unlike other places in Bicol which are easier to visit, you need to take an overnight bus and then a ferry to get to Catanduanes. If you’re a typical backpacker that only has 3-4 days to spare for traveling, this isn’t a good option. There are flights to Virac but the schedule is limited and can be expensive unless bought in a promo period. Also, Catanduanes may need more marketing for its tourism… Its geographic location renders it susceptible to strong typhoons, so it’s unlike other tourist attractions where the weather is usually good or at the very least more tolerable. (That saying, we dearly love Catanduanes and think it’s one of the best provinces in the country for traveling.)

      I hope this helps. 🙂

  3. Hello! Hoping you could answer. We’re planning to rent a car going to the east and west part of Catanduanes. Our trip is this coming May. We are group of 5. Do you think its possible for us to drive around the island? And is globe or smart LTE working all through out the island? We’re just planning to use waze or google map. Thanks!

  4. Hi! How much time will it take to island hop Palumbanes? and to tour Pandan? I was planning to squeeze the those two in one day. Hehe.

  5. Catanduanes is a beauty that is so pure. Even if it’s always struck by typhoons during the rainy season, it still boasts of its wonder. I’m glad you found it as a happy place! Even if I’m from Albay and literally neighbors with the province, I haven’t explored it yet. Maybe next time though! Haha.

    Btw, I noticed that you spelled Tabaco as Tobacco. I hope you could check it. 🙂

    1. We read this super late! Must’ve been buried under all the comments. Thanks so much for pointing that out, changed it already. 🙂

  6. 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! 🙂

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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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