Lobsters in Palanan, Isabela
Guides and Itineraries,  Philippines

7 Reasons why you should visit Isabela Province

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Isabela Province is one of the less visited provinces in the country, due to its distance from Manila and logistical difficulties in reaching certain areas such as Palanan and Dinapigue. However, with road constructions on its way to make this province more accessible to tourists, it’s time to plan your visit to Isabela in the future! Here are the reasons you should visit Isabela.

1. Delicious local delicacies

Whether you’re into food tripping or just want to sample some local dishes in a province, you won’t be disappointed with what Isabela has to offer.

On the top of your must-eats is pancit cabgan, which consists of think miki noodles with pork lechon carajay, pork or chicken liver, veggies and quail eggs. For snacks, you can try sticky rice options including binallay, moriecos, inatata and pinatara. As Isabela is considered the Corn Capital of the Philippines, you don’t want to miss buying corn coffee.

Lobsters in Palanan, Isabela
Enjoy fresh seafood in Bilay Makadawi. Lobsters for P500 per kilo.

If you’re staying in coastline communities such as Dicotcotan Beach, you can enjoy fresh seafood and lobsters, which can be bought for only P500 per kilo (4-5 pieces). Personally, eating seafood is one of the things I enjoyed best in my visit to Isabela.

2. Pristine nature attractions

Did you know that Isabela has the largest remaining rainforest in the country? This region is blessed with so much nature attractions that you can explore.

If you’re after beaches, take a boat ride to Palanan where you can see fine white-sand beaches such as Dicotcotan Beach, Didadungan Beach and Diago Beach. Or you can visit the exclusive Honeymoon Island and Dipodo Island in Divilacan.

Another place you shouldn’t miss is the famous Blue Lagoon which can also be found in Palanan.

Group shot at Blue Lagoon, Palanan, Isabela
Blue Lagoon (Photo by JV Francisco).

Blos River in Maconacon is purported to be one of the cleanest rivers in the country.

Dibulo Falls in Dinapigue is a gigantic waterfall, measuring about 100 meters in height and is considered the tallest one in the region.

Aside from these established spots, you’ll enjoy touring the province and sightseeing rice paddies, mountains, rivers and streams.

3. Aerial view of Sierra Madre mountain range

If you opt to ride a plane via Cyclone Air or Sky Pasada to reach the coastal towns in Isabela, you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous aerial view of Sierra Madre mountain range. Getting on a plane might be more expensive, but the view alone is surely worth it.

4. Historical spots

If you’re a history buff, you’ll definitely enjoy visiting the various historical areas in Isabela.

Go to the Palanan town center and you’ll find the Aguinaldo Shrine, which is where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo made his last stand against the Americans in the past.

Aguinaldo Shrine in Palanan, Isabela
Aguinaldo Shrine.

In Ilagan, you’ll find the Ilagan Japanese Tunnel, a prison/storage for weapons used during the WW2, and the Old Capital Building, a library/museum where you can see relics and art related to the history of Isabela.

5. Old churches

Whether driven by religion or love of architecture, you’ll find several churches to visit in Isabela.

San Mathias Parish Church in Isabela
San Mathias Parish Church (Photo by)

Old San Pablo Church in San Pablo is said to be the oldest church in Isabela Province, if not the entire Cagayan Valley region. In the same line, Saint Ferdinand Parish Church in Ilagan features one of the oldest bells in the region. Other notable churches include in Tumauini and Our Lady of the Pillar Church in Cauayan, which were built in the 1970s.

5. Adventure activities

Ilagan Sanctuary in Ilagan City offers an adventure escape where you can go hiking, bird watching and mountain climbing. Within this area, you can also dip into the refreshing water of Pinzal Falls or explore the atypical formations found in Sta. Victoria Caves.

If you’re up to some nature adventure activities, head to Abuan River which is the largest river in the Northern Sierra Madre Park. Here you can do kayaking, water rafting and wall climbing.

6. Lively Festivities

Bambanti festival street dance

Isabela holds several festivities which you can take part of.

A notable one would be the Bambanti Festival also known as Scarecrow Festival, which is held annually as a celebration of the agriculture in the region. Here you can witness a street parade and various competitions related to cooking, dancing and more.

7. Meet the warm locals

Whether you’re staying in the cities or rural areas in Isabela, you’ll find the locals friendly and accommodating to visitors.

Dumagat Village in Palanan, Isabela
With the Dumagats. (Photo by Jay Agoo)

You may also go on a cultural immersion and interact with the tribes in Isabela. One place you may want to visit is the Dumagat Village in Palanan, a seaside settlement where Agtas live. Agtas are known to be one of the earliest settlers in the country.

Has this list convinced you to visit Isabela? Anything you want to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below!

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