Catanduanes: Updated Guide to Happy Island + 5 Days Itinerary

Couple shot in Cagnipa Rolling Hills
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I have said it before and will say it again — Catanduanes is one of the most underrated destinations in the Philippines. With its pastoral hills, cliffs, and beaches, you won’t run out of places to see and things to do in this province.

Catanduanes is located in the easternmost side of Luzon. It used to be called the “The Land of Howling Winds” since it’s position is open to the path of tropical storms entering the country. Recently, it’s being marketed as “Happy Island” which is a more positive nickname for this beautiful province.

Hali and I went here sometime in 2016. On the first day of our trip, I immediately knew that this place is special. We spent days exploring the province, from the hidden beaches in Caramoran to the now-famed Binurong Point in Baras. In most of the places we’d visited, there were few or no people at all.

Tourism in Catanduanes is relatively new. In fact, its local tourism branch was only established around 2016 as well. There is still so much to discover in Catanduanes.

Here’s a starter guide on your journey here, including a sample 5 days itinerary.

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.

By land

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

  • Option 1: From Manila (Cubao, Pasay or Alabang), ride a bus with direct route to Tabaco. Fare is about P840, and travel time is 11-12 hours.
  • Option 2: An alternative is to ride a bus to Legazpi. Travel time is 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. There is also a fast craft available to either port. Fare is P320 and travel time is shorter at 2 hours. However, schedules for the fast craft are limited.

It’s best to head directly to Virac Port, since Virac is the capital of the province and it’s easy to find hotels and resorts there. Other attractions in Catanduanes are also accessible from Virac.

If you got a ferry to San Andres Port, you can ride a jeepney or charter a tricycle to take you to Virac.

Here’s a simplified infographic on how to get to Catanduanes.

How to get to Catanduanes map
How to get to Catanduanes. (Photo by Catanduanes Tourism Board)

When is the best time to visit

It’s important to plan your schedule carefully. As mentioned above, Catanduanes is in the path of tropical storms so it’s not recommended to go here the rainy season.

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

How to get around

From Virac, there are public vans, jeepneys, and tricycles that can take you around or to nearby towns.

The best way to explore Catanduanes is by chartering a private motorbike or tricycle. Rates vary depending on the destination. If you want to explore the attractions in Virac, a motorbike tour will cost you around P500. If you want to go further, it will cost P1000 or higher.

You may also rent a motorbike per day. Rate is around P500.

Top Attractions in Catanduanes

There’s a lot of places to see in Catanduanes. Most blogs only talk about Twin Rock Beach Resort in Virac, Puraran, and Baras but there are more options out there. You can beach bum, island hop, surf, or trek across rolling hills. If you’re into history and culture, there are also old churches and lighthouses you can visit.

Here’s a general rundown of the best attractions in Catanduanes.

Virac

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.

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.

Places to see:

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

Caramoran

Caramoran is located on the western side of Catanduanes. The main attraction in Caramoran is the Palumbanes Islands, specifically Bitaog Beach in Parongpong Island.

To get here, from Virac town proper ride a bus or van bound to Pandan and get off at Barangay Baybay in Caramoran. Travel time is 3 hours.

Trips from Virac to Pandan are from 9AM to 1PM only. 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.

Once you get to Caramoran, register at the tourism office. This is also near the port where you can proceed to island hopping. Rates for boat rental start at P1000-1500 for a small one.

Places to see:

  • 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
Bitaog Beach in Palumbanes Island
Bitaog Beach in Palumbanes Island.
Bitaog Beach in Parongpong Island, Palumbanes
Soft sands and sea shells. In Bitaog Beach.

Pandan

Pandan is next to Caramoran.

The attractions here are close to each other. Cagnipa Rolling Hills is a scenic farmland. From here, you can see Carangyan Beach in the distance. You can also climb down to Tuwad-Tuwadan Natural Pool for a refreshing dip.

I don’t recommend going to the Hiyop Highlands because the trail consists of rough roads and there is nothing much to see there.

Places to see:

  • Cagnipa Rolling Hills
  • Tuwad-Tuwadan Natural Pool
  • Carangyan Beach
  • Hiyop Highlands view deck
Cagnipa Rolling Hills in Catanduanes
Cagnipa Rolling Hills.
Cagnipa Rolling Hills in Catanduanes
Tuwad-Tuwadan Natural Pool in Catanduanes
Tuwad-Tuwadan Natural Pool.
Cagnipa Rolling Hills with view of Carangyan Beach
With view of Carangyan Beach.

Bato

Bato is located on the north eastern side of Catanduanes. This is the closest municipality from Virac.

Here you can visit Bato Church and waterfalls. You can also head to Sakahon Beach which is the jump-off point to Bote Lighthouse. The trek to the lighthouse is steep and takes about 30 minutes. I suggest leaving your backpacks in your vehicle. Local kids normally volunteer to guide you to the lighthouse — don’t forget to give them a tip!

Another attraction in Bato is Poseidon Rock, located in the village of Carorian. This is a fairly new attraction, with unique rock formations and natural lagoons. There are also snorkeling sites nearby.

Places to see:

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

Baras

Just further ahead of Bato, you can find the municipality of Baras. It’s known for Binurong Point and Balacay Point, which are scenic pastoral cliffs. You can visit either area for sunrise viewing.

Binurong Point is the more popular one. It’s located within the private property of Kayandit Ranch. It requires an easy trek of about 20 minutes.

Aside from these, you can also find Puraran. Unbeknownst to many people 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.

Places to see:

  • Binurong Point
  • Balacay Point
  • Puraran
Couple shot in Binurong Point
Me and Hali in Binurong Point.
Surfing in Puraran, Catanduanes
Surfing in Puraran. (Photo by Majestic Puraran Beach Resort)

Gigmoto

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

Places to see:

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

Bagamanoc

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.

Places to see:

  • Ilihan Point
  • Padre Falls

Catanduanes Travel Guide Map

Here’s a map from the Catanduanes Tourism Board listing the current tourist attractions in Catanduanes.

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

5 Days Itinerary in Catanduanes

Here’s a sample 5 days itinerary in Catanduanes.

Day 1 – ViracArrival in Virac Airport
Check in at hotel or resort

Morning:
– Museo de Catanduanes and Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

Afternoon:
Explore the beaches:
– Amenia Beach
– Mamangal Beach
– Balite Beach
– Marilima Beach
– Batag Beach
Day 2 – CaramoranCheck out of hotel or resort
Travel to Caramoran

Island hopping in Palumbanes Islands
– Parongpong Island
– Tignaob Island
– Calabagio Island

Check in at resort
Day 3 – PandanCheck out of resort

Morning:
– Cagnipa Rolling Hills
– Tuwad-Tuwadan Pool

Afternoon:
Check in at Carangyan Beach Resort
Free time / relax in the beach
Day 4 – PuraranCheck out of resort
Early morning, head back to Virac
From Virac, head to Puraran

Afternoon:
Check in at Puraran
Surfing in Puraran
Day 5 – Baras and BatoCheck out of resort
Morning:
– Binurong Point

Mid-morning to late afternoon
– Bato Church
– Maribina Falls
– Bote lighthouse

Back to Virac / Head home

Where to eat

Catanduanes is part of Bicol Region, so you can enjoy Bicolano delicacies such as laing and bicol express.

Seafood is also available throughout the province. There is an abundance of fresh fish, as well as shrimps, crabs, and lobsters.

The food here is very affordable!

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

If you’re looking for a place to stay near the airport, we recommend Kemji Resort. It’s only 5 minutes away. It’s reasonably priced, with a pool and restaurant.

Here are the recommended hotels and resorts in Virac:

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 | 09286204592

Pandan

I highly recommend staying at Carangyan Beach Resort. It’s located across a small beach cove — it’s relaxing and a great place to swim and idle for the day. Rooms are available at P1500 (fan room) and P1800 (aircon).

Contact info: 09494353044 / Official website

Others

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

Budget and expenses

Catanduanes is one of the cheapest provinces we’ve visited.

Here’s a summary of the major expenses:

AccommodationCottage – P500 / Standard rooms – 1000-1200 (good for 2 people)
TransportationCharter a motorbike or tricycle for tours. Rate is around P800-1000 or depending on destination.
ActivitiesIsland hopping in Palumbanes:
– Registration fee – P100 per person
– Small boat – P1000-1500 / Big boat – starts at P3500

Surfing in Puraran:
1-hour surfing lesson is P400-500

Binurong Point:
– Entrance fee – P20 per person
– Guide fee – P150
MiscellaneousMeals – P50-100 per person

Things to know before you go

  • You can drop by the Tourism Office in Virac for assistance once you arrive in Catanduanes.
  • Schedule of public vehicles especially to distant municipalities such as Pandan and Caramoran are limited. So do your research when planning your itinerary.
  • There is minimal mobile 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. 🙂

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22 Comments

  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. 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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