The Happy Island of Catanduanes – 2019 DIY Travel Guide

The province of Catanduanes is located in the easternmost part of Bicol Region and gained the moniker “The Land of the Howling Winds”, primarily because of the fact that the province is closest landform to Pacific Ocean making it a direct path of tropical storms. Today, Catanduanes is dubbed as the “Happy Island”.

The island province of Catanduanes is a rising tourist destination home of unspoiled beaches, rolling hills, beautiful lagoons, rock formations, pristine waterfalls to scenic landscapes and old Spanish-era churches.

This guide will unveil some of the best spots in discovering the Happy Island of Catanduanes.

How To Get There

Get every detail you need to know before you plan your trip to Catanduanes. Decide whether you like to travel by plane or by land and sea transport. These elements will help you crop your itineraries according to your preference and time.

By Air

Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines have direct flights to Virac, Catanduanes. Travel time is around 1 hour.

You can also fly from Manila/Clark to Legazpi, Albay and ride a van to Tabaco port. From the port, ride a Roll-On Roll-Off ferries or fascraft to San Andres or Virac, Catanduanes. Travel time is 2.5 – 3 hours (RORO) and 1.5 hours for fastcraft.

By Land and Sea

  • From Manila, you can ride a bus or drive a private vehicle going to Tabaco City, Albay. Travel time on average is 10 – 12 hours. Buses traveling to Tabaco are Cagsawa Bus Line, RSL Bus Line, DLTB Bus Co. Line, Alps and Bicol Isarog Bus Line.
  • From Tabaco port, hop on RORO or fastcraft from Tabaco Port to San Andres Port or Virac Port in Catanduanes. RORO boats travel time is 2.5 hours to 3 hours and fastcraft for 1.5 hours.
  • There are also buses with direct trips from Manila to Tabaco to Catanduanes like Bicol Isarog Bus and Mirasol Bus
at Tabaco seaport, you’ll have this stunning view of Mayon

Touring the Island of Catanduanes

Getting around Catanduanes supports different mode of transportation. Mainly, tricycle is the common medium with jeepneys and vans as additional transport vehicles to connect from one town to another. Trip schedules may change so it is better to hire a private vehicle to tour the island or get your tours from accredited tour operators like Island Escape Travel & Tours and Katandungan Travel & Tours.

Backpackers and solo travelers may opt to hire a habal-habal/motorcycle. There are local riders who can partake to your island adventures and ensure your safety.

Where to go Around Catanduanes

The whole island of Catanduanes is a tourist destination. Each town has its own presents to their visitors whether you are looking for beaches, waterfalls, lighthouse, old churches, hills and local cuisines.

You won’t be able to visit all of them even if you stayed for a week, just select the spots you want to explore and then start your own adventure.

Virac, Catanduanes

The capital of the province of Catanduanes is Virac and where the airport is located. This is the center point to connect to other municipalities. You can go on a city tour or explore its beaches.

Some of the places to visit in Virac are:

  • Virac Cathedral
  • Twin Rock Beach
  • Balite Beach
  • Mamangal Beach
  • Marilima Beach
  • Talisoy Beach
  • Batag Beach
  • Hicming Falls
  • Pasalubong Centers

Bato, Catanduanes

If you are heading east upward of the island, Bato is closest to Virac and have some interesting places to explore.

Bato Church

The St. John the Baptist Church or better known as Bato Church is the oldest church in the province that has stood the test of time, typhoons and other natural calamities.

As of May 2019, the church is undergoing renovation. Its current look maybe different from what you’ve seen online.

If you want to spend more time to explore around Bato, check these places:

  • Bote Lighthouse
  • PAGASA Weather Radar Station     
  • Sacahon Beach
  • Batalay Mangrove Eco-Park
  • Cagraray Falls
  • Maribina Falls
  • Poseidon Rock in Carorian (there is also Carorian Island Hopping Tour if you wish to further explore this place)

Baras, Catanduanes

Next to Bato is the municipality of Baras. If you are planning to go on surfing, Puraran is the best place for you. When it comes to beautiful cliffs and hills, then Balacay Point and Binurong Point are your destinations.

Puraran Beach

Puraran is considered the surfing capital of Catanduanes and even described as majectic waves by Hawaiian photographer Warren Bolster in 1980 issue of Surfer Magazine.

Surfer or non-surfers, you can enjoy Puraran Beach to your heart’s content with its amazing waves, long stretch of white sand beach and beautiful rock formations.

You can even get a taste of their fresh seafoods gastronomies from lobster to various fish.

Planning to stay for overnight, check these resorts:

Puraran Surf Beach Resort: Ate Cerilyn – 09397142384

Alon Surf Stay – 09065547590

Majestic Puraran – 09271944212

Binurong Point

A must-see destination when in Baras, Catanduanes is Binurong Point. This pastoral cliff is commonly being compared to Batanes for its scenic landscapes and green hills.

The best time to visit Binurong is before sunrise or few hours before sunset. Getting here requires 20 – 30 minutes trek with local tour guides.

Binurong has stunning rock formations and verdant hills which definitely worth your visit. Know more about Binurong Point here.

Other tourist spots in Baras, Catanduanes:

  • Our Lady of Peñafrancis Grotto
  • Balacay Point

Gigmoto, Catanduanes

Go all the way up to Gigmoto and visit Nahulugan Falls and Dororian Falls. There are also potential beaches like Sicmil Beach, Biong Beach and Macalanhog Beach.

Bagamanoc, Catanduanes

Another municipality you can include in your itinerary is Bagamanoc located in the northerneast part of the island. Places you can visit here are Ilihan Point also known as “Boto ni Kurakog”, a phallic landmass resembling a male sex organ and Paday Falls with tall drop surrounded by dense greens and rock boulders.

Pandan, Catanduanes

The places you can visit in the municipality of Pandan are Cagnipa Rolling Hills, Tuwad-Tuwadan Natural Pool, Carangyan Beach and Hiyop Highlands and viewdeck.

Caramoran, Catanduanes

Now, if you wish to visit a secluded place with unspoiled beaches, Caramoran is proud to have the Palumbanes Group of Islands.

Bitaog Beach

This pristine beach of Bitaog is rested in Parompong Island with slanting white sand and bluish water. There are open cottages and huts for visitors planning to spend their lunch or overnight stay.

You can also visit the lighthouse atop but it will require you 30 minutes of trek to get there with guide.

Tignob Island

This is the highlight of island hopping tour and is 30 minutes away from Bitaog Beach. It has a long stretch of purely white sand with interesting rock cliffs on each end. There are no cottages or huts for cover or accommodation. The water is clean, clear and displaying shades of blue from different depth.

If you want to get away with crowded beaches, Tignob and Bitaog Beach are the perfect place for you. Read and know more about Tignob and Bitaog here.

In Caramoran, there are more places you can visit. You may contact their local tourism office on these numbers:

Warren Evangelista: 09484102035

Maria Reenah Borbe: 09104584146

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

There is only one resort in Caramoran owned and operated by Ate Letty Dizon, the Coco Beach Resort. You can book your rooms and island hopping tour with her. She can also cook you breakfast, lunch and dinner that you can bring to your island tour.

Contact Numbers: 09286204592 or 09260571940

Catanduanes is somewhat off the tourist radar compared to other provinces in the Philippines, but we believe that this beautiful island with extraordinary tourist destinations and kind locals will have its limelight to country’s must-visited places. With this guide, we hope it helps them reach closer to that goal.

Things to Consider

  • Plan your trip ahead of time and read blogs and travel guides as many as you can to build your preferred itinerary
  • Best time to visit Catanduanes is during summer from March  – May
  • Book your hotel and resort accommodations in advance
  • Book and coordinate your tours in advance for a hassle-free trip
  • Select which mode of transportation suits you best – by plane or by land + sea travel
  • Pick the tourist spots you want to visit and explore how to get there and manage time accordingly.
  • Food around Catanduanes is cheap / affordable
  • Don’t litter. Always bring your trash with you.

The Challenge of a DIY Trip to Catanduanes

We know you will also ask yourself, are 3 days and 2 nights enough to visit Catanduanes? The answers are Yes and a No. Yes, you may visit Catanduanes and select only the tourist spots you want to explore and No, because there are too many places to visit and to do’s in Catanduanes. Travel time should be on your utmost consideration.

Doing a Do-It-Yourself trip to Catanduanes for 3D2N is a real challenge especially when you have it by land and sea travel. From Manila to Tabaco, Albay it would take an average of 12 hours travel time. Assuming you will leave Manila at night, you will more likely reach Albay before sunrise. Earliest ferry trip to San Andres or Virac, Catanduanes is 6:30am – 7am and travel time is 1.5 hours (fastcraft) or 2.5 – 3 hours for RORO. Expect some delays onboarding and offloading, you will arrive at Catanduanes an hour or less before lunch. That is less half-day on your 3D2N itinerary already and start of your Day 1 in the island. You should maximize your Day 1 and Day 2 (1 and half day to explore Catanduanes) because your third day is more likely spent in travel time as well. Ferry schedules from Virac / San Andres Port start almost the same time from Tabaco which is around 7am. You need to get in the port as early as you can to secure your ticket or your spot if you’re bringing private vehicle. After the ferry ride, estimate time of arrival in Tabaco, Albay is before lunch which gives you another 12 hours land travel back to Manila.

Planning your trip carefully and ahead of time is the best thing you can do. If you think you can’t maximize a 3D2N trip, then you may want to adjust your itinerary and stay longer. It is always a good thing to come prepared and aware of all the things a tourist should know before they even go on a trip.

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