Catanduanes went by different nicknames to define its identity as a province.
In the 1950s, when a tribal group called Cobos used to inhabit the land, it was briefly referred to as “Isla de Cobos” by the Spanish conquistadores.
It also went by the alias “Land of the Howling Winds” due to the strong monsoons that frequent the province. Its location lies in the country’s typhoon belt and is usually where the eye of the storm lands.
Despite several calamities, Catanduanon’s exemplify unwavering resilience and a delightful disposition. For this, they earned the moniker “The Happy Island.” This is the name they have been using since 2013.
In April 2022, the island province was also officially declared as the “Abaca Capital of the Philippines.” Aside from being the main source of the country’s abaca supply, Provincial Tourism Officer Carmel Bonifacio-Garcia says it’s a fitting name to the province because “just like abaca, the people of Catanduanes have tensile strength that has been tested through time.”
But no matter what name you decide to call it, this offshore island of the Bicol Peninsula is a destination worthy of a visit—and multiple returns, too! Here’s a sample itinerary for a 4D3N (four days, three nights) trip.
Day 1: An enchanting, majestic day
Nahulugan refers to “the spot where something fell” in Filipino. Legends say that this three-tiered waterfalls used to be a bare mountain until a farmer and his carabao slipped down while crossing the mountain ridge. Since then, waters suddenly cascaded and formed this multilevel attraction.
Entrance is free.
This 5km beach known for its “majestic” long-barrel surfs has attracted foreign and local surfers to its shores. It is the first tourist destination in the province. The best time to catch waves here is every July to October.
Entrance fee is Php30 for adults and Php20 for kids.
Watching the sunset from Binurong Point is the best way to cap off the first day in Catanduanes.
To reach its viewpoint, tourists must trek for approximately 30 minutes from downtown Baras. Tungkod (wooden cane) can be borrowed from the jump-off point. There’s an environmental fee of Php20. Tour guide fee is Php250 for every 3 persons.
Fleur de Lilies Glamping Farm
After a day of adventure, tourists can spend the night at this glamping farm over a bonfire and some s’mores. Outdoor film watching is also available.
Fleur de Lilies is the first of its kind in Catanduanes, featuring A-frame cabanas that cost Php800 per night. It is an off-the-grid spot, meaning there’s no cellular signal. But WiFi vouchers are available for those staying overnight.
Non-staying visitors have an entrance fee of Php150.
(ALSO READ: Go glamping at this charming Catanduanes farmhouse)
Day 2: The wonders of Carorian and Bote
The Carorian Wonders is an island-hopping circuit that takes travelers to the Carorian Beach, Seaside Waterfalls, Patag Islet, Japanese Kaidan, Pinta Beach, and Poseidon Rock and Lagoon.
Among the activities that can be done in these destinations include swimming, cliff-jumping, trekking, and snorkeling.
The long stretch of golden white sandy shores of this beach is a spot where travelers can laze around while taking some time off the Internet.
Sacahon may just be another beachscape in the province, but the main attraction here is the Bote Lighthouse. Tourists must go on a 30-min uphill trek to reach the top and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the beach. It’s a funny fact among locals that it’s the only spot in Bote that has a strong signal.
St. John the Baptist Church
Also known as the Bato Church, this structure is built with mortar and coral limestones designed to withstand strong typhoons that hit the island yearly.
It was built in the 16th century and considered to be the oldest church in the province.
This six-meter-high waterfalls spouts rapids of cold water and catches it in a tiny pool at the bottom of the mountain.
Life vests and buoys can be borrowed for free. There are also cottages in the site open from 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Entrance fee is Php15 per person.
Day 3: From sunrise to sunset
One of the things travelers must experience in Catanduanes is to watch the sunrise from the Summit View Park. On a good day, this mountain viewpoint becomes encapsulated in a Sea of Clouds at the break of dawn.
The mountain park is located along the Viga highway. A quick trek is needed to reach the viewpoint. Entrance fee is Php20.
San Miguel Nature Spring
This privately-owned resort is where the rivers Kawayan, Taprang-Taprang, Lumbya and Manhawon converge. The natural spring has refreshing, cold waters for a quick afternoon dip.
Entrance fee is Php20 for kids and Php40 for adults. Cottages may be rented for Php400 to Php500.
Ilihan Point Fertility Islet
This odd islet seemingly erected right in the middle of the shores of the town of Bagamanoc. It is known to the locals as Boto ni Kurakog because of its phallic shape.
It’s a popular site for fertility rituals for locals and tourists. Those who want to see it up close may rent a boat by coordinating with the local tourism office.
Paraiso ni Honesto
Located at the edge of the hill of Pandan, this leisure park offers an overlooking view of the Pacific. The gentle breeze of the ocean winds can be enjoyed here while sightseeing from their nipa cottages and cliff-side benches.
At its foothill, there’s a cave and lagoon for spelunking and swimming.
Cagnipa Rolling Hills
Known as the Little Batanes of Catanduanes, this series of gentle slopes is a place for sunset watching.
From the viewpoint, travelers can see the Tuwad-Tuwadan Lagoon, Muraw Beach, and Lampawan Rock Formation. There are cottages where you can stay for free. Campers are allowed as long as they bring their own gear.
Day 4: Souvenir Shopping
Catanduanes has unique pasalubong offerings aside from the usual Bicolano delicacies. Here are some items travelers should take home.
Abaca Face Mask
These face masks are entirely made from abaca–from its cloth, color dye, and even its paper packaging. It is non-toxic, washable, and reusable. It costs Php50 to Php180 per piece and can be bought at Tyra Couture Shop in Virac.
Chef Impling’s Latik
This Catanduanon delicacy is made from rice cakes and caramelized coconut milk. It is available per piece at Php30, in boxes of 5 at Php150, and in boxes of 10 at Php300.
Another must-buy is Tilmok, a viand made from freshwater shrimps cooked in coconut milk with garlic, ginger, onion, and chili. One pack of this has three pieces inside for Php350.
Both Latik and Tilmok can be bought directly at Impling’s Residence at Sogod-Tigbao, Bliss in Virac. Tourists may also order in advance by texting or calling the following mobile numbers: (+63) 919-957-9797 / (+63) 928-740-0000 / (+63) 921-982-1661.
(ALSO READ: A Look into the Original Latik of Catanduanes)
Carol’s Rice Brew
These coffee bags are made from toasted rice and an antioxidant with no caffeine ingredient. It has a strong taste and can be taken with honey, sugar, or milk, just like normal coffee.
It is available in two sizes: small (Php45 per pack of 5) and large (Php100 per pack of 15). Tourists may buy directly at Carol’s Residence at the town of Viga.
Where to Stay
E-Crown Hotel and Resort
This 4-star accommodation offers quad rooms at Php2,250 per night and family rooms at Php7,000. Check in time is 2:00 P.M. and check out time is 12:00 P.M.
They have an on-site restaurant, swimming pool, fitness center, business lounge, and a bar.
Oro Azul Leisure Resort
This beach resort features loft-type cabanas that face the ocean. Their accommodations range from Php2,600 to Php5,000. Check in time is 2:00 P.M. and check out time is 12:00 P.M.
They have an on-site restaurant and a souvenir shop where you can get abaca items like bags, fans, and sunscreen.
Catanduanes Halfway Resort Hotel
This 4-star hotel has Premium Rooms that can accommodate 4 people at Php3,500 per night. Full-board meals may be included for additional Php1,250 per person. Standard check in time is 11:00 A.M. and check out time is 9:00 A.M.
They have an on-site restaurant. Among the best sellers include the must-try Catanduanon delicacy Kaluko and their homemade carbonara.
How To Get To Catanduanes
- From Manila, board a plane bound to Virac. Direct flights are available daily via Cebu Pacific. Travel time is approximately 45 minutes.
By land + sea
- From Manila, ride a bus (Php950 to Php1,350) or drive to Tabaco, Albay for approximately 10 to 12 hours. Then hop on a RORO ship (Php250) from Tabaco Port to Virac.
Outsource the Planning
For a seamless trip, you may leave the planning to DOT’s accredited tour operators in Bicol. Click on this link for a comprehensive list of agencies.
All tourist destinations in Region V have health and safety protocols in place to protect locals and visitors alike. Everyone is expected to comply by wearing face masks, regularly washing their hands, and practicing physical distancing.
To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit http://www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel on the Google Playstore.