CATANDUANES : Philippines’ Uncharted Gem of the East

Catanduanes remains a less travelled destination in the Philippines but offers as much majesty as the more well known Batanes.

Catanduanes used to be known as the “Land of the Howling Winds” due to the fact that the province received a lot of typhoons, but later on changes its name to “The Happy Island” mainly because no matter how they are frequented by typhoons, they always stood up again and smile.

Photo Credits to my friend Sheila who took this awesome angle. =)

Personally, I haven’t thought about visiting Catanduanes, and thought more about Batanes instead. As a Cebuano, it is costly for me to visit Batanes – mainly because of airfare cost since there is no direct flight from Cebu to Batanes– then came the thought of Catanduanes.

I did not regret deciding to visit Catanduanes. The province itself offers so much than its well known counterpart. Hence, I could call Catanduanes as the “Batanes of the East” although one cannot really compare the two since both have their own charm and character.

 

How to Get to Catanduanes from Manila

By Air:

Cebu Pacific is the only airline that flies from Manila to Virac, Catanduanes. Normally, the airfare will cost around 2,500php if you will book it around a month prior to departing

By Land:

Several Buses leave from Manila (Cubao, Pasay Alabang)  to Tabaco, Albay. Travel time will take approximately 10-12 hours.

However, if you miss the bus going to Tabaco, Albay. Take the bus going to Legazpi City. From Legazpi Bus Terminal, walk to the van/ jeep terminal then take the van/ jeep to Tabaco.

From Tabaco Terminal, take the tricycle which costs 10php/person to Tabaco Port (if you are coming from Legazpi). If you took the bus from Manila all the way to Tabaco, just tell the driver to drop you off at the Tabaco Port.

From Cebu:

Cebu Pacific already offers direct flight from Cebu to Legazpi City. However, starting December 02, 2017, Philippine Airlines will also be catering direct flight going to Legazpi City.

From the airport, take a tricycle to the van/jeep terminal where you can hop in going to Tabaco. I would advise, however, to stay a night in Legazpi and leave early in the morning.

Tabaco to Catanduanes Fast Craft Schedule:

 

TOURING AROUND CATANDUANES

Public Transportation in Catanduanes is practically non existent in the eye of a first timers. There might be some jeeps but no reliable schedules. So if you want to roam around the province, it is best to book it via operators, especially if you’re in groups. I was able to get mine at ARTGO Travel and Tours. They are a tour operator based in Legazpi City. They offer wide variety of tour packages concentrating the Bicol Region. This will give you a stress-free vacation in this Paradise. Contact posted below.

If you are travelling solo, you may want to hire a motorcycle with driver for a day or two. The rate ranges from 1,000-1,500/day depending on your haggling skills.

ITINERARY:

DAY 1

I was travelling with my friends. We were 5 and took the 12:30pm fastcraft trip from Tabaco to Catanduanes. It was a smooth sail and arrived in San Andres, Catanduanes around 2:30pm.

We booked our tour with ARTGo Travel and Tours so upon arrival, our van was already waiting for us. We went first to our Hotel for check in then on we go to our tour.

Since we already arrived late, we could only visit Sakahon Beach and Bote Lighthouse.

SAKAHON BEAH

Sakahon Beach

BOTE LIGHTHOUSE

The view from Bote Lighthouse facing Pacific Ocean

 

DAY 2:

Its an early start for Day 2. We started our tour at 6:30am. We visited these places in order:

1st stop: Binurong Point. One of the famous spots in Catanduanes due to its picturesque landscape.

2nd stop: PAGASA Observatory. It is a working observatory overviewing the Pacific Ocean for incoming Typhoons.

3rd stop: Batag Beach. During low tide, the Famous Arch is visible and can be reached by foot to have an awesome photoshoot. Too bad it was high tide when we got there but it was still amazing.

4th Stop: Talisoy Beach also Known as Talisoy Cove wherein you can notice the face of Jesus engraved in the cliff.

 

5th Stop: Twin Rock Resort. A night in this resort would have been amazing but due to budget constraints, we chose another Hotel which for us, was still a steal.

WHERE TO STAY

We stayed in Kemji Resort. Our accommodation was already included in our tour package so it was pretty much stress free.

Anyway, I was able to take a photo of their room price.

 

Catanduanes became one of my favorite Philippine destination because of 2 major reason. 1. it offers majestic untouched beauty. 2. uncharted by multitude of tourists which gives you the opportunity for a fair amount of photo ops! Hahaha

Then it made me think, why this roaring-filled attraction Province of the East have been in mute to most travellers? Maybe up until now, there isn’t enough tourism exposure, I guess. But I highly urge you to visit here!

I was so wrong to compare Catanduanes with Batanes. Catanduanes is not just a Batanes alternative, it is a destination of its own.

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