Palumbanes Islands: The Hidden Gem of Catanduanes

Bitaog Beach in Palumbanes Island
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Catanduanes is mostly known for its mountainous terrains and rolling hills, but did you know that it also has amazing beaches? In our past trip to this province, Hali and I spent a day island hopping in Palumbanes Islands.

Palumbanes Islands (also referred to as Parompong by locals) is a group of islands located at the Maqueda Channel in Caramoran, Barangay. It consists of Parongpong Island, Tignob Island, and Calabagio Island.

How to get to Palumbanes Islands

Palumbanes Islands is located in Barangay Baybay in Caramoran, Catanduanes. It’s about

From Virac, Catanduanes

Virac is the capital of Catanduanes. It has its own airport, so it’s the easiest jump-off point to Palumbanes Islands.

From Virac, ride a bus or van bound to Pandan and get off at Barangay Baybay in Caramoran. Take note that regular schedules are from 9AM to 1PM only. Travel time is 2 hours.

From Tabaco City, Albay

If you’re coming from Tabaco City in Albay, ride a ferry to San Andres Port in Catanduanes. Then ride a van to Caramoran. Travel time is 1 hour.

Boat to Palumbanes Island

Once you arrive in Barangay Baybay, head to the tourism office or go to Coco Beach Resort and look for Ate Letty, who will help you arrange a boat to the islands.

Here are the current rates (Updated as of 2020):

  • Registration fee – P100 per person
  • Island hopping: Small boat – P1000-1500 / Big boat – Starts at P3500
  • No entrance fees at the islands

Aside from Palumbanes Islands, you may also ask your boatmen to take you to Cagnipa Rolling Hills and Tuwad-Tuwadan Pool for an additional fee.

Island hopping in Palumbanes Islands

These are the islands you can visit. We actually just visited Parongpong Island, but I’d also included the other two islands for your reference.

Parongpong Island

Parangpong Island is home to Bitaog Beach, a pristine creamy-sand shore that is perfect for swimming.

It’s an hour away from the mainland. We went here during the ber-months and the boat ride to the island was challenging — the waves were strong and there were times that I was afraid our boat would tilt sideways. The experience was worse even than my previous boat trips to Calaguas and Calayan Island. That saying, the beautiful beach awaited us!

There was no one else in Bitaog Beach when we arrived. There is a residential community in the island, but it’s on the other side. The beach has a beautiful cream sand and clear blue water. There is an open cottage and hut where travelers can stay overnight. Camping is also allowed here.

Bitaog Beach in Palumbanes Island
Bitaog Beach in Parongpong Island.

Another thing that’s great about Bitaog Beach is despite the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any caretaker here, it’s clean. The same can be said in other places we’d visited in Catanduanes. The people here must be so responsible!

We swam, built stuff in the sand, and walked until the midday sun started burning our bare backs. It was pure bliss and relaxation.

Bitaog Beach in Palumbanes Island
Kat in Bitaog Beach
Bitaog Beach in Parongpong Island, Palumbanes
Soft sands and sea shells. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

At the end of the beach is a beautiful, exotic-looking inlet. There is no easy way to get there — I had to find a way across shrubs and slide down the ground. Unlike the rest of Bitaog Beach, the water here is calm and dark emerald in color.

Inlet in Palumbanes Island
At the other end of the beach are cliffs and an inlet.
Inlet in Palumbanes Island

After a few hours, we went to the other side of the island. We passed by the island community who greeted us and asked where we were going. I had the impression that they rarely get visitors.

We then started to trek to the lighthouse. It took around 30 minutes. Local kids accompanied us. We passed by fields of tall grasses and then the non-functioning Parongpong Lighthouse. From atop the hill, we had a nice view of the surrounding island and Calabagio from afar.

Trail to Palumbanes Lighthouse, Catanduanes
Trail to the lighthouse. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Palumbanes Island lighthouse
Hali and I atop the hill. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

Overall, I can say that even though we’d only visited Parongpong Island, it was worth it. Bitaog Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines and the best thing is it’s still untouched. I hope the tourism office gets to manage it effectively, since Catanduanes is getting more visitors every year.

Tignob Island

Tignob Island is only 30 hours away from Parongpong Island. Tignob Island is mostly known for its untouched coral reefs. However, you will need to bring your own snorkel and mask.

It also has a stretch of white-sand beach where you can swim. A cliff offers a nice overlooking view of the beach.

Calabagio Island

Calabagio Island is a small island where you can find a long grassy hill. There is really nothing to do here, but you can still drop by here before going back to the mainland.

Calabagio Island in Palumbanes Islands
Calabagio Island.

Reminders and Tips

Here are some reminders and tips for the island hopping tour:

  • The boats used for island hopping are usually just the fishers’ regular boats. Lifevests are still provided for safety.
  • If you plan on spending a whole day in the island, make sure to bring your own snacks and water. There are eateries near the port; Ate Letty can also cook food for you if you have pre-booked your island hopping tour.
  • Bring your own snorkel and mask.
  • Take your trash with you.

Where to stay

Most people go to Caramoran for a day trip. If you plan to stay overnight, you’ll find limited accommodations in the barangay.

Here’s where we stayed at:

  • Coco Beach Resort, Ate Letty: 09286204592

Other places you can visit in Caramoran

Palumbanes Islands is the main attraction in Caramoran. That saying, you can also head to lesser-known attractions:

  • St. John the Baptist Parish
  • Campo Ermetanyo
  • Hitoma Lake
  • Banban Falls
  • Guiamlong Falls
  • Natotoo Falls
  • Lintig Falls
  • Toytoy Beach
  • Inalmasinan Falls

Has this guide on Palumbanes Islands in Catanduanes been helpful to you? If you have comments of questions, let us know in the comment section below!

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3 Comments

  1. I can’t believe you had that entire beach to yourself! I love looking for hidden little adventures like this, thank you for including the “how to” if you want to get to Bitaog Beach yourself. I can’t wait to visit!

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