(Last Updated On: January 15, 2018)

BABUYAN ISLANDS…


What’s the first thing that comes to your mind upon the mention of these infamous group of islands?

Remote…

Unfriendly Seas….

Cannibals!!!

Okay the last one’s a bit exaggerated but given how these islands up the tip of our country have been so privy and out of the radar even in these modern times, the thought of that shouldn’t come so absurd after all. In fact, far would be an understatement considering the hours of travel just to get to one of these islands. Fifteen (15) hours on the road and Seven (7) hours sailing in the unfriendly seas of the Pacific and Southern China is no joke. Much worse when the ocean gods is in the mood for some hell ride. Call on all the saints you know but your fate is already at the mercy of these unforgiving seas once you step on that lampitaw (the local cargo boat) to journey to the distant land of the Babuyanes. But hey! Didn’t we say that the most difficult of roads lead to some of the most beautiful destinations?

…And that absolutely made perfect sense the moment we witnessed the otherworldly beauty of  Babuyan Islands unravel in front of our very eyes.


THE BABUYAN ISLANDS DISSECTED


The Babuyan Islands is a small archipelago located along Luzon Strait just above the main island of Luzon. It is consists of several islets and five (5) major islands namely Babuyan, Calayan, Fuga, Dalupiri and Camiguin Norte. Out of the five, four (4) of them are part of the Municipality of Calayan except Fuga Island which is part of Aparri both of which are within the province of Cagayan. Historical data says that the first settlers of the island were the Negritos who arrived in there some 60,000 years ago, followed by people from Japan, Samoa, Hawaii and Tonga making the local community a mixture of all these ethnicity.


OUR BABUYAN ISLAND STORY


We are slaves of the corporate world. We work by day and seldom do we have time and energy to do anything fun during the night. We’re only humans after all and once the 9-hour shift takes its toll, there is nowhere else we wanna be than in the comfort of our beds. Time has finally caught up with us and age has started to show on our slightly wrinkled faces. We’ve had our fair share of this mundane life that we’re coming to a point of falling out. Sad but that long overdue holiday we’ve kept on putting off for so long was exactly what our too spent souls needed. Problem is we don’t have the luxury of time either. Hence on our 4-day long of freedom during this year’s Holy Week, we thought of nowhere else to spend it than in the unsung paradise of Babuyan Islands.

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Planning the trip was my very first dilemma considering the limited info available on the internet about Babuyan Islands. Worse the resource person and other contact numbers indicated on some blogs that I’ve read were not responding. I didn’t wanna resort to travel agencies as you might know most of them if not all are ripoffs and I hate not getting the best value of what I paid for. Besides I am used to travelling on my own terms with me having full control of every aspect from transportation, itinerary down to food and accommodation. Since I was bringing with me ten (10) of my friends, I feel more comfortable if I was to plan our travel and take care of everything that in the event something unexpected happens, I know how and what to tell them which I will be denying myself if I give in to simply booking a tour with a travel agency.

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Weeks before the much awaited holiday, I still couldn’t come up with anything good. I might have tried every option I could think of but since we were to go there during the holidays, nothing seemed to work. If it wasn’t too unrealistic, it was too expensive. With days left before our travel date, I seemed to have no other choice that I finally accepted one my friends’ suggestions of getting the tour offered by W3GO Travel for P6600 that covers everything.

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April 13, Maundy Thursday after work, the journey to the Babuyan Islands began. We were looking forward to a rough 15-hour ride but surprisingly, ours was a smooth one. Props to our very skillful driver for that one heck of a relaxing travel. What made it better was that our travel time to Aparri was cut down to only 12 hours!


DAY 1: Dolphins And The Verdant Island Of Camiguin Norte


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After 12 hours on the road, we finally boarded the outrigger boats to get started with our adventure to the unknown islands of Babuyan. We had expected rough seas and the Pacific gave us no less. Our first day seemed like we have been caught in the whirlwind of things but it was no less spectacular. Magnificent scenery. Fun moments dancing with the dolphins. Delicious local dishes to fill our tummies. Unforgettable sunset. Too bad the humpback whale was a no show but hey we were just getting started. After a roller coaster of emotions -Fear. Excitement. Anxiety – there was nothing more I could ask for. You know that moment when you can’t help but be grateful for being given more than what we ever hoped? That was exactly how I would describe our first day in this secluded paradise.


Day 2: Sibang Cove, Caniwara Cove And Nagudungan Hills: The Treasures Of Calayan Island


BABUYAN ISLANDS, CagayanLike I had said, we were caught in the whirlwind of things and our second day was no exception. One minute we were sulking at the unfortunate news of no longer making it to Calayan Island and another minute, the unexpected voyage to Calayan Island happened so quickly and before we realize it, we were already aboard a boat I spent several good minutes thinking how much more would cost us. There were a lot of things going on in this story that I had difficulty keeping up. I wish I could tell you more about it but I’ll just leave it at that. I will probably write a separate post chronicling every single detail but for now I wanna focus on how much this day simply became the most memorable among my travels. Making memories is just common especially during trips and this day was no different. What sets this day apart though is that it could be that one memory besting all the others just as much as how the treasures of Calayan Island bested the rest of the shining jewels in the Philippines -including Palawan.


Day 3: Cliff Diving At Its Best In Paradise


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The weather had not been friendly even after spending three days in Babuyan Islands. The sea continued to mirror the wind as it blew 30 Mph. There was no rain and the sky was as clear as crystals with not a single rain cloud around. From an ordinary perspective, this is another day full of sunshine but things are a whole lot worse in the ocean. Despite forewarning, eleven stubborn kiddos brace the unfriendly seas again in search for another heart-stopping adventure. Their persistence took them to Lusok Cave, Tapwakan Point and Bangaan HIlls. All three offered yet another fondly memories of the wonderful beauty of nature and how always, it could easily become a perfect avenue to get some adrenaline pumping.


Day 4: Farewell, Babuyan Islands


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All great stories eventually would come to an end. For us, the inevitable goodbye happened on our 4th day in Babuyan Islands. We knew four days were too short of a time for a holiday away from work we spend most of our days on. What we have not anticipated was how four days could be too short while in paradise. It was like four days have gone by in a blink of an eye and before we knew it, we were sailing home. It was hard but reality was already waiting in Manila and so sadly we had to go. Then, just when we thought the fun was finally over, the unexpected happened.

As if to relieve us of the burden in our hearts, the humpback whales showed up playfully doing their stunt against the water from afar. Their massive structure still vividly visible several miles from the beach as they rose from the surface and falls back to the water. We watched them for fifteen glorious minutes until they slowly went out of sight. Our days in Babuyan Islands might have been one of those roller coaster rides from the start to finish but it was the riveting ending that will surely make it to the box-office of memories.




HOW TO GO THERE


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There are 3 major jumpoffs where you can hire a boat or board a ferry to go to The Babuyan Islands.

  • Via CLAVERIA – This route is the nearest jumpoff. Boat ride will only last up to 5 hours going to Calayan Island but in some cases it may take longer depending on the weather and sea condition.
  • —–From Manila, ride a GV Florida Bus in their Sampaloc Terminal going to Claveria, Cagayan (12Hrs ; P850). Another, more convenient option is to fly to Laoag, Ilocos Norte (Check Cebu Pacific Air for schedules) and ride a bus going to Claveria. Kindly check this link for updated bus schedule and fare.
  • —–From the bus station in Claveria, ride a tricycle going to the port (P20).
  • —–From the port, ride a lampitaw going to Calayan Island (5Hrs ; P500/way). You can also hire a private lampitaw if you are travelling with a big group. (See table below for Tariff Rates)
  • Via APARRI – This is the next more convenient route considering weather and sea condition but boat ride to Calayan may take up to seven (7) hours.
  • ——From Manila, ride a GV Florida Bus in their Sampaloc Terminal going to Aparri, Cgayan (14Hrs ; P750). Another, more convenient option is to fly to Tuguegarao (Check Cebu Pacific Air for schedules) and ride a bus going to Aparri. Kindly check this link for updated bus schedule and fare.
  • —–From the bus station in Aparri, ride a tricycle going to the Veteran’s port (P20).
  • —–From the port, ride a lampitaw going to Calayan Island (5Hrs ; P500/way). You can also hire a private lampitaw if you are travelling with a big group. (See table below for Tariff Rates)
  • Via STA. ANA – The sea in Sta. Ana Cagayan is the most hostile out of the 3 routes but here you may be able to ride the M/V Eagle Ferry, the most convenient mode of transpo to get to Calayan Island.
  • ——From Manila, ride a GV Florida Bus in their Sampaloc Terminal going to Sta. Ana Cagayan (15Hrs ; P750). Another, more convenient option is to fly to Tuguegarao (Check Cebu Pacific Air for schedules) and ride a van or a bus going to Sta, Ana (3Hrs ; P250). Kindly check this link for updated bus schedule and fare.
  • ——From Sta. Ana town proper, ride a tricycle going to San Vicente Port (P15).
  • ——In San Vicente Port, you can either hire a private boat for your tour in Babuyan Islands. Boat prices start from P40000 and would depend on how many islands will you be visiting. The better option is to ride the MV Eagle Ferry to Calayan Island (P800/way).

USEFUL TRAVEL TIPS


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  • The best time to go to Babuyan Islands would be during the months of May-July. These months experience weak to zero eastern winds which means more friendly seas. Yet expecting for the unexpected is still very much encourage.
  • Make sure to allot a week or two for your travel to Babuyan Islands. Being stranded for days is no stranger in these islands so you will do best to have a buffer.
  • The most ideal place to stay at among the islands of Babuyan is Calayan Island. In this island are several affordable transient houses and eatery where you can stay and eat and has basically everything you might need.
  • If you are going there during the holidays, make sure to reserve your accommodation at least two months in advance since they tend to be fully booked pretty fast.
  • Another thing that is hard to come by during the holidays are the lampitaws. Operators tend to cease operation in observance of the holidays so you would do best to coordinate with them beforehand.
  • Mobile signal in the island is weak basically for all the networks and is limited to calls and texts only. Mobile data is not available.
  • Electricity is not available 24Hrs.
  • There are no ATMs on the island. Bring extra cash and make sure to stick to your budget.
  • If you only have five days to spare on a visit to Babuyan Islands, I suggest you spend all of it in Calayan Island. There is so much to see in this island and five days may not even be enough.
  • If you are going there to see the humpback whales then you should visit during April particularly on the second and third week where they are often seen in the mornings.
  • The main mode of transportation in Calayan Island are motorcycles (Habal-habal) and kuliglig.

WHERE TO STAY


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Out of the 5 major islands of Babuyan, Calayan Island is the ideal place to stay at due to its proximity to the other islands as well as it has most of the things you might need when exploring i.e boat, guides, provisions etc. Hence the list of the most affordable and easily accessible transient houses and inns below.

  • San Jose Inn  – Situated within the town center, this inn is easy to get to. It has an eatery that serves affordable food, a grocery store where you can buy pretty much your essentials and a bakery that sells freshly baked breads. For updated rates, reach them via mobile at 0907-544-7692.
  • Villa Innocencia Inn – This is where we stayed during our 3 days in Calayan Island. This two-storey cabin is of rustic design and is amazingly situated by the beach. The only downside is that it’s kinda far from the town center which is a painstaking 25-minute walk under the sun. For updated rates, reach them via mobile at 0949-600-1931.
  • Apollo Beach Resort – Another place that’s several walks away from the town center but offers that much needed serenity. For updated rates, reach them via mobile at 0999-7151-283 | 0947-8939-619.
  • Pagdagusan Homestay – This place is a 5-minute walk from the beach in the town center. It offers visitors both food and accommodation package at a reasonable price. For updated rates, reach them via mobile at 0998-510-0621.
  • TPS Homestay – This place is one of the popular choices while in town as it is strategically located within the town center and offers accommodation, food and tour packages at affordable rates. For updated rates, reach them via mobile at 0939-915-8667 | 0929-837-5737.

If you need a place to stay at before or after your journey to Babuyan Islands, here are some affordable hotels in Tuguegarao and Aparri.

  • Hotel Dian Aparri – Located along Maharlika Highway, Macanaya District, Aparri, Cagayan. Check Rates in Agoda.
  • Holiday Plaza Hotel – Located 1/F Holiday Plaza Hotel,  Arellano Cor Blumentriit Sts. , San Gabriel, Tuguegarao City.  Check Rates in Agoda.
  • Mango Suites – Located at Rizal Street Corner Balzain Road Centro 8, Annafunan, Tuguegarao City. Check Rates in Agoda.
  • Hotel Joselina – Main – Located at 52 Aguinaldo Street, Tuguegarao City, San Gabriel, Tuguegarao City. Check Rates in Agoda.

BUDGET, SAMPLE ITINERARY & OTHER ESSENTIALS


SUMMARY OF EXPENSES For our visit to Babuyan Islands, we chose to get a package from W3GO Travel for P6600. This covered everything of 4D3N in Camiguin Norte and Calayan Islands. We initially planned to DIY but this would only be possible if there would be 13 people to share the cost. Reason behind is because we were renting a van to Aparri so we don’t have to conform with bus schedules due to our limited time. Since only 11 people made it, we opted for the package instead. Below is the breakdown of expenses had we chosen to DIY.

2-Way Van @ P25k/13 – P1950
2-Way Lampitaw – P1000
Boat Island Hopping 4D @ P22k/13 – 1700
Guide Fee 4D – P300
Accommodation @ P200/pax/day – P600
Food @ P50/meal – P450
Total – P6000

THINGS TO BRING * Flashlight/Head Lamp + Extra Batteries
* Other camping materials like stove and butane (if any)
* Clothes for 4-5 days (bring extra)
* Towel/Toiletries/Tissue/Wet Wipes
* Personal Medicine + First Aide Kits
* Powerbank + File Saving Devices
* Camera | Video | Extra battery camera/video
* Pocket money + Extra Junk Foods
SAMPLE ITINERARY Day 0

1630 Assembly in Pickup point
1700 ETD Enroute to Aparri

Day 1

0600 ETA Aparri Port
0630Port of Aparri
0645 Ride a Lampitaw (Boat) to Camiguin Norte Island
0900 ETA Camiguin Island.
0930 Fishing and explore the Camiguin Island
1300 Rest and explore the Island of Camiguin
1400 Humpback Whale & Dolphin Watching + See Subterranean Cave + Pamoktan Island
1700 Return to Camiguin Proper
1900 Dinner
2000 Socials
2200 Lights off

Day 2

0500 Wake-up
0600 Breakfast (Fish)
0630 ETD Calayan Island
0930 ETA Calayan Island,
0945 Homestay
1000 ETD Sibang Cove
1100 ETA Sibang Cove – Set-up Boodle fight
1200 Boodle Lunch
1300 Beach walk. Swim. Rest
1600nd Start Trek Nagudungan Hills
1700 Nagudungan Hill Sunset Watching Sibang Cove
1730 ETA Homestay
1900 Dinner
2000 Socials
2200 Lights off

Day 3

0500 Wake-up
0600 Breakfast
0700 ETD Lusok Cave
0800 ETA Lusok Cave. Explore.
0900 ETD Bataraw Falls
1000 ETA Bataraw Falls
1200 Lunch
1300 Start Trek To Tapwakan Cliff.
1500 Tapwakan Cliff. Cliff Jumping
1600 Start Trek To Banggaan Hills
1700 Banggaan Hills. Sunset Viewing.
1800 Homestay
1900 Dinner
2000 Socials
2200 Lights off

Day 4

0400 Wake Up
0500 Breakfast
0530 ETD Aparri Port
1100 ETA Aparri Port. Wash Up.
1200 Lunch
1300 ETD Manila

CONTACT PERSON Local Tour Coordinator:Jeffrey Umengan – 09755 225 878

 


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BABUYAN ISLANDS, Cagayan

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There you have it lovelies. Our journey to two precious islands of Babuyan was one nerve-wracking but rewarding experience. If you have plans to go here, know that this trip is not for the fainthearted. Bring lots of courage and resolve. You’ll need it. For questions, suggestions, comments, violent reaction or to simply send me some love, leave them on the boxes below. Until next time. Ciao!

Credits: Eric Banes/Dean Ignacio for the memorable photos and videos.

Author

Hi There!

Watashi no namae wa Kezu desu!

“A wanna be. Wanna do everything kind of badass”

Chos!

Hmm. I’m wondering what I should tell you since I really don’t wanna oversell myself. Let’s see.. Just like any other girl, I’m just ordinary. I love to travel, take photos, share stories and write. I’m an anime otaku and my favorite country is Japan although I haven’t been there yet. I have a 9 by 5 job but I hope to travel full time someday. And I’m also a blabbermouth since birth. Me blogging and writing stuff online is just some sort of therapy so I don’t get myself in trouble. You know, me and my big mouth. Lol

Hey Guys! Care to share me your thoughts? 👇👇👇

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