Catanduanes Travel Guide: Everything you need to know about Happy Island

Catanduanes travel guide

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.

Most of what I’ve written here are gathered from our recent trip to Catanduanes. Feel free to add more information, especially must-visit places you’ve been to, in the comments section.

Catanduanes travel guide: 4-day itinerary

This was our schedule on our trip to Catanduanes. We were pretty laid back then. Here’s a revised itinerary so you can maximize your time in Catanduanes.

Day 1
Arrival in Virac airport, head to Virac town center
Ride a van (or bus) to Pandan, get off at Caramoran (3 hours)
Island hopping in Palumbanes group of islands (1 hour boat ride per way)

Day 2
Tour Pandan (Tuwad-tuwadan pool, Hiyop highlands)
Check in at Carangyan Beach Resort

Day 3
Early van ride back to Virac
Travel to Puraran and check in at selected accommodation
Surf at Puraran and/or hire a tricycle (or habal-habal) and tour Bato and Baras

Day 4
Ride back to Virac
Flight back to Manila

Catanduanes is one of the cheapest provinces to visit. Our budget is P4000 each for 2 people for 4 days.

How to get to Catanduanes

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.

An alternative is to get on a bus to Legazpi (12 hours) and then head to Tabaco Port. From Tabaco Port, ride a passenger boat to San Andres, Catanduanes (3 hours). Boat schedules from Tabaco Port to Catanduanes are 7AM and 1PM only.

Bus and van schedules in Virac

Take note of the limited schedules of public vehicles because it’s going to affect your tour schedules.

From Virac, there are buses and vans to Pandan from 9AM to 1PM (others say there are still rides available at 5PM).

From Pandan to Virac, the earliest van schedule is 4AM but you’ll have to go to the terminal in the market to confirm this, as I’m not sure if this is part of their regular schedule. The latest schedule is 12noon – 1PM only, except on Friday’s where there are occasional vans leaving at 3PM.

Tourist attractions in Catanduanes

Although most websites 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 tourist attractions in Catanduanes that we’ve visited along with those we’ve researched online:

Caramoran

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)

The main attraction in Caramoran is Bitaog Beach in Parongpong Island. You can also do a side trip to the other islands in Palumbanes: Tignob and Calabagio islands.

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 bigger boat.

Pandan

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

In Pandan, you can visit Cagnipa rolling hills and the nearby Tuwad-tuwadan natural pool. You can also visit the viewdeck in Hiyop highlands. I recommend staying overnight in Carangyan Beach Resort in Pandan. The beach is quiet and beautiful, and there are none to few guests during off-peak season.

You can tour Pandan via a habal-habal for P800-1000.

Baras

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 where the surfing happens. Every October, Catanduanes holds an annual surfing competition, the Majestic Puraran Surfing Cup.

Here are the available accommodations in Puraran:

Other tourist attractions in Baras, Catanduanes, include Binurong Point and Balacay Point, both featuring pastoral cliffs and a favorite of sunrise viewers.

Bato

Bote lighthouse in Bato, Catanduanes

Bote lighthouse in Bato, Catanduanes
Bote lighthouse in Bato, Catanduanes. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

One of the tourist attrations 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.

Other points of interest are the Bato Church, Maribina Falls and Cagraray Island.

Virac

If you take a flight to Catanduanes, you’re going to land in Virac. Virac is the jump-off point to other municipalities, to Caramoran and Pandan (left) or Bato and Baras (right). Hali and I didn’t explore the city, since we prefer to go nature tripping. That aside, tourists normally stay in Virac to visit its beaches. Popular stops include the Twin Rock Beach Resort in Igang and Mamangal Beach Resort in Balite.

You can also buy your pasalubong here.

You can ride a tricycle to tour you around Virac. You can also charter a private tricycle or habal-habal here to take you to Bato and Puraran.

A complete 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, select view full size and manually download.

Accommodations in Catanduanes

These are the ones we’ve stayed in on our trip to Catanduanes. You can also check out the lowest prices of accommodations in Catanduanes here.

Coco Beach Resort, Caramoran

If you’re staying the night in Caramoran, I suggest Coco Beach Resort. It is owned by Ate Letty and is just across the Palumbanes islands. Accommodation is P300 per night. Food is also served in the resort.

Contact info: 0928 620 4592

Carangyan Beach Resort, Pandan

Carangyan Beach Resort, Catanduanes

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

This resort in Carangyan is a bit on the expensive side, but I guarantee that it’s worth it. It’s packed during summer, but during off-season there are few guests and you can enjoy the beach to yourselves.

Rooms are available at P1500 (fan room) and P1800 (aircon). There are also cottages at P300 each, although I wouldn’t recommend getting one for an overnight stay because of mosquitos and other insects at night.

Contact info: 0949 435 3044 / Official website

Kemji Resort, Virac

We’d planned on staying in a cheap inn in Virac, but our tricycle driver suggested here instead. I consider this a good find, and it’s only 5 minutes away from the airport. They also have free shuttle service to and from the airport, if you have any heavy luggage.

Kemji Resort features artistic decorations — warm lights at night, round swings beside the pool and so on. It has pools and a restaurant, which serves reasonably priced good food. Rooms are available at P1000-1100 for 2 people and P1000-1500 for 3 people.

Contact info: Facebook page

 

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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16 Comments

  1. 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. 🙂

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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. 🙂

  5. 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! 🙂

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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