Calayan Island, Cagayan: A Travel Guide
|Small lampitaws dock at the beach fronting the main village of Centro in Calayan Island|
Located 60 km north of Luzon in the Babuyan Channel, Calayan Island is the seat of the municipality of Calayan, which includes the islands of Camiguin, Dalupiri and Babuyan Claro. The Calayan Islands, plus Fuga Island of the Aparri municipality, forms the Babuyan Island Group between Luzon and Batanes. Calayan Island boasts of stunning seascapes, secluded coves, white-sand beaches and lush rainforests, home to an endemic species of flightless bird, the Calayan rail, locally known as piding.
Since the island sits along the typhoon belt, the best time to visit is during the summer months of April to May, when the weather conditions allow a relatively calm and safe voyage. Nonetheless, the Babuyan Channel is unpredictable; and rough seas may be experienced even in the most favorable weather. According to our host, some visitors can get stranded for weeks, during the wet season. Monitor the weather at Typhoon 2000 and PAG-ASA before heading to the island.
|M/V Eagle Ferry at San Vicente Port in Santa Ana, Cagayan|
HOW TO GET THERE
Calayan Island can be reached by lampitaw (motorized pumpboat) or ferry from the towns of Claveria, Aparri and Santa Ana in northern Cagayan. Take a GV Florida bus to Claveria (13 hours, via Laoag, PHP 850), Aparri (14 hours) , or Santa Ana (16 hours, via Tuguegarao, PHP 750). Pumpboats from Claveria and Aparri leave between 5 to 7 AM everyday, weather permitting. Contact them in advance for schedules, reservations and the latest weather updates.
• M/V Eagle Ferry (capacity: 180) travels twice a week between Santa Ana (San Vicente Port) and Calayan (PHP 700), via Camiguin Island (PHP 350); Travel time: 6 hours; Contact # +63 9477733904 or +63 9395680817.
• M/B Macarra (lampitaw) travels daily between Claveria and Calayan (PHP 500); Travel time: 5 hours; Contact # +63 9214779167 or +63 9273277889. Claveria is the nearest access point on the mainland to Calayan.
• M/B Romina (lampitaw) travels daily between Aparri and Calayan (PHP 500); Travel time: 8 to 9 hours; Contact # +63 9196634954.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: When riding a lampitaw, prepare to be under the heat of the sun, and be seriously drenched in seawater for hours. Protect yourself from the sun; and splash-proof your baggage and valuables with plastic (eg. garbage bag).
|TPS Homestay, the best place to stay on the island|
WHERE TO STAY
The eponymous municipal councilor Tessie P. Singun runs the lovely TPS Homestay (capacity: 30 persons) in the middle of town, along the main road of J.P. Rizal St. Rate: PHP 200/person/night. Reserve rooms at least a week in advance. Contact # +63 9298375737. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Note: Electricity is only available from 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM daily. And the only cellular network on the island is SMART. Smart Bro works, the signal is weak and intermittent.
|Fresh lobsters for dinner!|
WHERE TO EAT
Arlene Arellano owns a sari-sari store across TPS Homestay. She can prepare meals – mostly seafood and vegetables – for you on a daily basis (PHP 60/meal) You can also request her in advance to have your meals packed for hikes and for you to enjoy at the beach. Sometimes, she also sells barbeque at night. Contact # +63 9214599597.
Gretchen’s Store just down the street has a small grocery. There’s no public market in town. Fresh seafood and produce are sold door to door by villagers. Or you can always buy straight from fishermen along the shore. At Caniwara Cove, we bought half a kilo of lobsters (four pieces) for only PHP 150, and had them cooked by Arlene.
|Enjoyed biking to the beach coves everyday.|
HOW TO GET AROUND
• Take a motorbike, tricycle or kuliglig (farm trailer) to get around poblacion.
• Borrow or rent a bicycle from TPS Homestay.
• Around PHP 500 per day
|Sweet banayuyu wine|
WHAT TO DO
• Swim and explore the rock formations and white-sand coves of Caniwara, Sibang and Cababaan. Also a fantastic place to camp – just watch the weather.
• Hike up along the jaw-dropping chasms of Nagudungan Hill
• Watch the sunset at Centro Beach in poblacion
• Go jungle trekking in Longog Wildlife Sanctuary in search of the endemic Calayan rail (piding)
• Drink sweet banayuyu wine, made from native wild berries. Available in PHP 75, PHP 150 and PHP 225 bottles. Ms. Singun is the sole producer of this wine on the island, together with other products such as banayuyu vinegar and wild honey.
• Explore the unchartered. There are waterfalls and caves in the interior of the island, accessible by several hours hike through dense jungle or boat ride around the coast, weather permitting.