From Claveria to Sta. Ana, Cagayan.
After an unforgettable 5 days in Calayan, we again embarked on the long “lampitaw” journey back to Claveria. This time around, the sea was calmer and we got to our destination sooner. From Claveria, we took a tricycle to the terminal for vans bound for Tuguegarao. We had the van driver drop us at the junction of Magasin in order for us to transfer to one that was headed towards Sta Ana. The travel time from Claveria to Magasin was 2 hours, and much to our surprise, we were dropped off at a roadside junction that literally looked like an abandoned island in the middle of nowhere. Given that it was highly unlikely that the remaining six of us would be in one van since we weren’t coming from a terminal, we split into pairs and got on the passing vans as could be accommodated. From Magasin to Sta. Ana took 2 hours. We asked to be dropped off at Jotay Resort, where we met our newest adventurous member, my mom.
If traveling from Manila to get to Sta. Ana, Cagayan:
1. By Plane
Fly to Tuguegarao via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. From Tuguegarao, ride a van to Sta. Ana (2-3 hours) for Php 180.
2. By Bus
Take Florida Liner to Sta Ana, Cagayan for Php 650. It leaves Manila either 12 PM or 3PM. They say that it takes 15 hours, but when we did this on our way back to Manila and it took us 22 hours!!! (due to some construction works and road congestion)
Where to Stay in Sta. Ana
1. Country Inn
This was one of the best resorts we walked into in Sta. Ana. On our last day, we got here in time for the sunset, which was perfect as they had a restaurant by the sea and a nice boardwalk. We had dinner here too; the food was a bit pricey but it was good. They also showed us their rooms which were nicely styled and looked “interior-decorated”. If you want a relaxing vacation, this is definitely the place to be in.
Sunset from Country Inn’s boardwalk
Jotay offered us an air-conditioned room for 7 persons for only Php2500. The room had 3 bunk beds and 1 single bed. It had its own bathroom with shower and heater. Compared to our Tuguegarao and Calayan accomodations, this was the most comfortable we had been in 7 days. The resort had a swimming pool. At the end of that long day, some of us decided to go night swimming, while the others rested.
Onward to Palaui
From Sta. Ana, take a trike to San Vicente port. It is a 15-minute ride and costs 15 pesos per head.
What to See in Palaui
1. Cape Engano
This is one of the main attractions in Palaui. Despite the many pictures I have seen in Instagram, nothing beats seeing it first hand. Depending on the tide, the island can be reached by boat in around 30 minutes. The trail to the lighthouse is a 15-20 minute easy hike. It begins with a staircase, turns into a gradual uphill, and before you know it, you have reached the top. Going up, we kept looking back to take in the beauty that was before us. From there, Siwanag Cove (former shooting location of Survivor Asia) is very visible and a green lush land that is sandwiched between two beautiful coves. With proper sunlight, Siwanag looks turquoise while the other cove shows deeper shades of blue.
When we got to the top, we ran to the 100 year-old Spanish-built light house and marveled at the sight of twin islands called Dos Hermanas ( two sisters). From the windows of the light house, it already looked interesting.
The guide told us that it could get better. He showed us a short path going one level down, and how right he was. From there, it was definitely a view to take in. The view of a long cove on the right and Dos Hermanos to the left—-as we all said, “Taking in this view from all angles”.
2. Crocodile Island
This is just 10 minutes or 2km from San Vicente Port. It got its name from the rock formation in the center of the island that looks like a sleeping crocodile. It is also called “Manidad Island”. There are no crocodiles on the island and surrounding, rest assured, but you can find small fishes and oysters, especially during low tide. There is no entrance fee on this island and it offers small enclaves that provide shade.
We decided to have lunch in one the enclaves. After eating, we couldn’t find the trail to go up, so we just chose an easy part of the formation and the boys hoisted us up. It was very windy. All our malongs, hats and shades started flying all over. We had to put rocks to weigh down on our things. We spent some time up here, taking pictures and enjoying the wind before we decided to leave for our next destination. Going down was the same way, the boys treated us like princesses as they lifted us and brought us to lower ground so we can return to the boat. I’m sure there is a better way to get up this rock formation, perhaps from the tail, but at that point, we were simply being lazy. Besides, it’s fun being a “princess” sometimes.
This is where you can snorkel. We didn’t spend a lot of time here since at that time, it was all weeds. You’re not allowed to snorkel without a guide and it costs Php 200 per person. At that point, we were really just looking for a beach to lay on, so we decided to head for Anguib beach instead.
4. Anguib Beach
We were welcomed by a long stretch of very nice, white, powdery sand that felt more calm and quiet than our previous adventure beach. The water is also clear. When you get there, you have a choice of paying Php 30 pesos per head entrance fee at one part of the island, or Php100 at the other. We asked the boatman what the difference was and he said the cheaper side didn’t have much water during low tide.
Recently, a new addition to those two options opened. It was at the farther left side of the island and was once a private property of a distinguished family. For also Php 100 pesos entrance fee, the facilities were a bit better, though they still took efforts to maintain an “island feel”. It had a few “bleacher style huts”, each with a fresh water faucet, and 2 bigger “covered-court style huts” which could accommodate a bigger number of people. There were also a few nicely made toilets at the back side of the property, and a big parking lot for cars. We were surprised when told that Anguib Beach could actually be reached by land too!!! For now, they do not allow overnight stays yet.
We chose to stay at the middle property, just because the rest of us were already in “docile-mode” and refused to walk any further. LOL!!!
The Php 100 you pay is just for entrance and does not include the use of hut. The huts vary in prices from Php 500 for the small ones and Php 1000 for the big ones. We opted to find shade as there was an abundance of it. We picked a nice big tree and set camp there. Again, thanks to our trusty malongs; we used it as a mat and we just chilled and laid in the soft white sand.
Mom and I decided to swim while the others played a game of “baseball”, again using wooden sticks and random things that they found. A volleyball net can be found in the vicinity. The long stretch of the sand also allows you to play soccer or frisbee.
Just before sunset, our boatman called us and said that the water was high enough for us to pass the mangroves (can only be reached if high tide or late afternoon). This was the perfect cap to our island-hopping. The vast and thick layers of mangroves amidst the sunset was just stunning. We all sat quietly in our boat, basking in the sight that surrounded us. This trip just kept getting better—-from Calayan all the way to Palaui.
Photo taken by @benjstagram
1. Jotay and Country Inn are located in Sta. Ana town proper which is 15 minutes away by tricycle to San Vicente Port. It costs Php 15/head for a tricycle from those places to the port.
2. Bring Breakfast and Packed Lunch
3. Bring a trash bag to collect all your trash
4. Chips, Coffee, Noodles and Water are available for sale in Camp Engano but there is none in Anguib or Crocodile Island.
5. Bring Cash. We found one ATM in Sta Ana town but its best to be safe.
Coming from a 10 day travel up north and the many adventures I encountered, I learned how to truly appreciate the beauty of our country. Much more, on this trip, we ventured into and explored some less touristy places, with Calayan clearly on top of it. Yes, at the end of 10 days, I couldn’t wait to get back to my bed and enjoy a proper shower; despite all that, if you ask me if I’d do it again, I DEFINITELY WOULD!
After the 10th day, we headed back to Manila via Florida Bus lines from Sta. Ana Cagayan. As I previously mentioned, the supposedly 15 hour bus ride took us 22 hours!!! Nonetheless, we were thankful for comfy seats and proper stops.
I can’t wait to go back.
Read on my mom’s version here: ( Coming soon)
Adventure begins at 50. Couldn’t be prouder to say, “ I got it from my momma”