Santa Ana, Cagayan: A Paradise Called Palaui Island
Cagayan‘s northeastern island, Palaui, instantly leaped from an offbeat destination to one of Luzon’s most coveted tourist spots, after the reality game show Survivor has revealed the magnificent artistry concealed in this remote paradise. Palaui Island’s unspoiled beauty even made it to CNN’s list of the best beaches in the world. We want to find out why and see with our own eyes. The road has finally come to an end, our seventh and last destination in Cagayan – this is Palaui Island of Santa Ana.
I asked our host what this was, he said the structure was used during the shoot of survivor.
The long stretch of Punta Verde serves as the main entry point of Palaui Island’s hiking and camping visitors. Travelers are required to register on a naval detachment unit stationed within the island. Punta Verde is also home to a small fishing village where our host, a friend of a friend of a friend, also resides, and the best thing about his place – our campsite is a stone throw away from the beach.
An abandoned structure in Punta Verde.
There are two ways to explore Palaui Island: first and easiest would be by boat which would take you to most attractions in a shorter period, second, by hiking into Palaui’s dense jungle to vast clearings, and traversing beaches to assaulting for peaks, via Laguznad Trail. Taking this two-hour route gives hikers a closer look into the island’s wide range of flora and fauna. Seasoned hikers might want to try the more challenging Leonardo Trail. Either way, both leads to our next destination.
Into the wild.
Cape Engaño Lighthouse
The fortress-like Faro de Cabo Engaño stands on top of a 90-meter cliff guiding sea vessels passing by the turbulent waters of the northeastern coast for over a hundred years. My fascination with centuries-old structures such as this lighthouses brought me to the island, but what I pictured as the cherry on top was merely a premise to a breathtaking vista of rolling green hills and jaw-dropping cliffs surrounded by the immense blue ocean. The majestic panorama stunned me from where I stood – it was surreal.
One last assault and we’re almost there. Just have to outwit, outplay, and outrun these carabaos
Quarters at Cape Engaño Lighthouse
Cape Engaño Beach
Trek to the lighthouse, if you’re exploring Palaui Island by sea, kicks off at Cape Engaño Beach. From the white-sanded shores, only a flight of stairs set you apart from Palaui’s famed lighthouse. In our case, we went back towards the Cape Engano Beach, spent a few minutes before hiking again to another attraction in the island.
Cape Engaño Beach on the background
Rocky area of Cape Engano Beach
Tucked deep beneath the thick foliage of greens lies Baratubut Falls where the cool and crisp mountain water cascades through huge rocks approximately 10-15 feet high. A shower under the cascade or a dip in the shallow basin refreshes your body exhausted from all the walking.
This time, we’re traveling by sea on the western side of the island passing by the Siwangag Cove, a protected marine sanctuary in Palaui Island. Filming the reality game show was also conducted in Siwangag’s beach which sprawls with soft sand and tiny corals. From here, there’s another trail which cuts through the jungle leads to Punta Verde which is on the opposite end.
Survivor was also shot here in Siwangag Cove.
Roughly 2 kilometers from San Vicente Port is a bizarre island with a massive chunk of rock that resembles, according to the locals, a crocodile, thus, also being called Crocodile Island. But aside from the obvious piece of earth sticking out of the island, the clear azure water surrounding the beach is something to look forward to.
Two girls picking out shells in Manidad Island.
Palaui Island possesses a spellbinding allure coming from the utmost rawness of the whole island. The abundance of flora and fauna, the endless flow of pure mountain, towering cliffs and mountain peaks, and spectacular beaches, the few residents of the island act as stewards to what they call their home – these are pieces of a puzzle that sums up to a picture of an ideal paradise where man and nature could live in perfect harmony. It’s an idyllic paradise. The 10th best beach of the world – for me, Palaui Island one of the best islands in the country (well, I don’t know, it’s really hard to judge, we have 7,107, and I’ve only seen few).
Here are some fast facts that may help you on your trip:
1. Victory Liner Buses have daily trip to Tuguegarao City. Check their website or call the terminal to regarding the schedule. It’s advisable to get your tickets ahead of your target date to avoid the hassle (really, book at least 3 days before). Since Florida Bus Lines‘ operation was on hold, going to Tuguegarao City might be a problem. Florida used to have direct trips to Santa Ana, Cagayan. Everlasting Bus is another bus that goes directly to Santa Ana, Cagayan, but I’m not sure where the terminal is.
2. From Tuguegarao City, ask the tricycle to drop you off at the terminal to Santa Ana. It’s a three hour ride, but waiting until the van is almost filled might take about an hour.
3. Tell the driver to drop you off at San Vicente Port where you could get a boat to Palaui Island.
4. Boat ride to the island and attractions have a standard rate. I’m not really sure about the prices.
5. Visitors spend the night at Nature Village, it’s a campsite with rooms, again I haven’t tried so I’m not sure about the price.
6. Hiking from Punta Verde to Cape Engano Lighthouse is approximately 2-3 hours. It would be advisable to wear good sandals or hiking shoes.
7. This is my 7th post on The Road To Palaui series.
8. More destinations in Biyaheng Cagayan
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11. Enjoy and have a safe trip.