Sunday, March 18, 2012

Amazing Palaui Island

Dos Hermanas islets seen from Cape Engaño 

February 27, 2012
Palaui Island, Santa Ana, Cagayan

I woke up to the snoozing sound of my phone. It was only 4 in the morning and the place where I stayed was very still. Aside from the occasional ticking sound of the electric fan, I could hear nothing but silence. Since I missed the van going straight to Santa Ana, I was left with no other option but to spend my night alone in a humble lodging house in Gonzaga, a town one hour away from Santa Ana.  

I texted kuya Ernie, the kind van driver I met the other day and who helped me find a place to stay in, to fetch me at the lodging house. He arrived in a moment's time and joined me for a morning coffee while waiting for the bus. After about 30 minutes, the bus arrived. After thanking kuya Ernie, I boarded the bus and off I was to Santa Ana, the jump-off point going to Palaui Island.

As the bus was trailing northbound of Cagayan, a thin streak of sunlight was already showing in the horizon. It looked like it was giving me signs of a promising weather ahead that day. I could only keep my fingers crossed, hoping that a clear blue sky with patches of clouds hanging by and a beautiful green scenery would be my souvenir photos from Palaui. 

We arrived in Santa Ana in less than an hour. At the bus terminal, I hailed a trike to drive me to the wharf where motorized outrigger boats going to Palaui Island are docked. After about 15 minutes, I arrived at San Vicente Port.  

Sunrise in Santa Ana, Cagayan

Since it was still too early there were only a few people around there when I arrived. I immediately asked for ways how I could rent a boat going to Palaui. Since I was travelling alone, I tried to haggle for cheaper boat rate. But the boat operators I've talked to refused to give in to my request. :(  

They gave me two options: P1,800 going straight to Cape Engano or P750 going to the island then hike for 3.5 to 4 hours going to Cape Engano. Since I was trying to keep my expenses low, I chose the latter. 

At the tourism center, located at the port, I paid P50 fee to get to Palaui, signed my name at the log book and discussed with the officers there the details about the boat that will take me to and from Palaui Island.

All set and already raring to go, I boarded a big boat that has a seating capacity enough to accomodate about 7-10 people. As the boat was speeding off towards Palaui, I was thinking of the people who I would have wanted to join me in that boat. I thought it would have been a happy crowd. :)

Palaui Island is located in the northeastern tip of Cagayan Province. According to Wikipedia, it was declared as a National Marine Reserve in August 28, 1994. It is home to 21 species of fishes with about 50 hectares of undistured corals and a sanctuary for 90 migratory birds.   
After only about 15 minutes of boat ride, I arrived in  Punta Verde in Palaui with the morning sun already up. I met Kuya Beloy, the leader of the guides going to Cape engano. He explained to me that the trek could take up to 4 hours and that there is a P250 guide fee. He also ushered me to a place where a small military unit is located and asked me to log in for security purposes. 

Before I started my trek, Kuya Beloy and his wife ate Linda offered breakfast  and sent me off the trail with a packed lunch and a warm coffee. I thought, how could this people be so kind to a person they've only met just a few minutes ago! Right then and there, I already fell in love with Palaui. 


At around 7.30 a.m., along with my guide Ate Eufrocina, we hit the dirt road and started trekking the Lagunzad Trail. Good thing we started early because we had to walk along a very very long stretch of coral sand beach. The morning sun didn't hurt so bad. Aside from that long beach, we also had to cross three hills, pass by a thick forest, streams, a mangrove park and a rice field. Bad luck had it because I also lost my eye glasses during the trek.   Midway I was already thinking that hiking to Cape Engano wasn't exactly a walk in the park as I thought it was going to be. But despite that, I enjoyed the scenic view of the green fields and mountains, the humming sound of the birds and the wild plants and flowers I saw along the way. 

Finally, after 2.5 hours, we reached the tail end of the trail. And pain of knowing that I lost my eye glasses and my legs already hurting was rewarded by a breathtaking sight of the lighthouse perched on a hill and the verdant grass that looked very much like the ones I saw in Batanes. It was simply amazing! 

I realized that the trek did not end to just seeing the lighthouse from afar. We had to take the concrete stairway zigzagging towards the top of the hill. There were a handful of tourists when we arrived at the lighthouse. The place was very picturisque and everyone there seemed to be having a photo holiday.

Palaui is known for its centuries-old lighthouse known as the Faro de Cabo Engano or Cape Engano Lighthouse. It was built by the Spaniards in the 18th century following the designs of other lighthouses like Cape Bojeador in Ilocos Norte and Faro de Punta Capones in Capones Island, Zambales. Although the pavilions around the area had already been reduced to ruins, the lighthouse still functions to this day using solar panels. 

I kept imagining how great it must have been to live in that place during its heydays. How mornings were greeted with the sight of the crystal blue sea, with the beautiful Dos Hermanas islets in the view and the cascading green grass below the hill. Aww! 

After a few minutes exploring the lighthouse and taking in all the beauty around it, we started to descend. I couldn't resist taking a quick dip at the clear blue water at the beach located near the hill. I felt so bad that I had to get off the water too quickly. I had to convince myself that I have a bus to catch in Santa Ana so I felt really pressed for time. After a hurried lunch, ate Eufrocina and I started our trek back. And great luck was on our side, we found my glasses on our way back, unscathed and peacfully lying on some yellow flowers along the way! yey!

We reached the Punta Verde at around 1p.m. and after thanking kuya Beloy, ate Linda and ate Eufrocina, I boarded the boat waiting for me at the beach area. In no time, I was being ferried back to Santa Ana. I looked back at Palaui Island, thought about the beautiful people and sights it posses and I realized I was missing it already. 


How to get to Palaui Island:

Option 1:
  • Plane ride from Manila to Tuguegarao City - Approx 1 hr
  • Van or bus from Tuguegarao City to Santa Ana - P180 fare - Approx 4 hours (last van going to Santa Ana leaves Tuguegarao at around 5pm)
  • Boat options from Santa Ana to Palaui Island-- Rates: P1,800 straight to Cape Engano -approx travel time 30 minutes                                  P750 to Punta Verde in Palaui Island then hike for 3.5 to 4 hours going     to Cape Engano. Guide Fee is P250.
Option 2:
  • Bus from Manila (Florida Bus and Victory Liner) has direct route to Santa Ana, Cagayan - approx travel time is 16 hours.
  • Hire a boat going to Palaui. Rates: P1,800 straight to Cape Engano -approx travel time 30 minutes P750 to Punta Verde in Palaui Island then hike for 3.5 to 4 hours going to Cape Engano. Guide Fee is P250.

Things to remember:
  • It is advisable to go there during the summer season when the sea is generally calm. During rainy season, the waves going to the island can be very rough.
  • Camping overnight is allowed but you have to secure a permit at the tourism office at San Vicente Port and inform the guide leader at Punta Verde. 
  • There are no hotels/restaurants in the island. Be prepared for a primitive camping. Bring camping essentials: enough food, potable water, flashlight, etc.
  • The boat transfer from Sta. Ana to Palaui Island is safe and the boats provide life vests. 
  • Waterproof your things.
  • If commuting from Santa Ana to Tuguegarao/Manila, the last trip of bus is at 3 p.m. 
  • It is advisable to hike to Cape Engano with a guide!


  1. Very promising. This is inspiring, breathtaking photos. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Cha and Kidd, Palaui is so much better seen in real life! you guys should see it! :)

  3. pwede! pwede ulit mag-solo si majaders! =))

  4. After seeing your photos and the accompanying paragraphs, I am greatly compelled by the beauty of this island. Dati nasa bucket list ko na sya but really, ngayon ko lang narealize talaga na kailangan ko na siya puntahan. Sobrang ganda pala!

    1. Thank you! :) And yes, must-visit talaga ang Palaui! one of my favorites! :))

  5. They say that a lot of people died during the construction of the lighthouse. I had goosebumps the entire time I was there.

    1. I also heard about that story ciel. pero dahil sobrang overwhelmingly nice yung place, di ko naisip yung mga ghost stories dun. hehehe

  6. Can you stay on the island any tips for a solo traveler??? I'm planning to go there soon:)

    1. Hi Carey, yes, staying in the island is allowed but you need to inform the tourism office before leaving Sta. Ana, Cagayan. Just be reminded that there is no commercial establishment in the island so better bring your own tent and important camping stuff like food and water. Alternatively, you can opt to find a more comfortable accommodation in Sta. Ana. In Punta Verde (Palaui), there is a small community where you can ask help for guide hiking to Cape Engano. I've met the leader of the guides there, a very kind man. He will be happy to help out. :) Good luck and enjoy!

  7. can i have contacts there mam? plan namin pumunta...thanks

  8. the P1,800 boat ride, is that per head? thanks.

  9. Where would you suggest we set up camp? Is it allowed to set up camp at Engano Cove? Is there wet market in Sta. Ana where we can buy food we need to bring?

  10. Hi! We're planning to go there this summer with my 4 year old son but reading your post about the trek made me think twice about it. Just wanted to get your opinion if that's advisable, with the boat ride and 'primitive' camping experience. He really loves the beach so I would really be happy if I can take him here. Hoping for your response. Thanks!

  11. We're planning to go there this end of march. reading about the place makes us more excited... we're planning to camp there as well... We're going there this weekend, do you still have the contact number of the van driver you met? May I have his contact number and also the number of your guide. Thanks :)

  12. Hi Ma-ay and other readers! Do you mind sharing the contact number of the van driver from Tuguegarao to Sta Ana? (Really need one as we might arrive there by 7pm-ish and will not make it to the last trip by then) I'd appreciate any help from all of you guys. We plan to be there this Holy Week. Thank you! - Cam

  13. Hi guys.. me and my friend will tour around palaui on May 7-8.. boat rental is for 3500 for 5 destinations including cape engano. The boat can load up to 8 pax and since there's just 2 of us we're looking for group of not more than 6 who would like to join us to cut expenses. Please text me 09174475809 - ange

  14. che, magayon tlga? worth sa travel? - cint

    1. HI Cint,magayon su lugar buda, maboot su mga tawo kaya sobrang enjoy su experience ko duman. :)

  15. i recently visited palaui island and anguib beach....what can i say? simply breathtaking! the raw beauty and the unspoiled natural resources here are just no words to has been my greatest travel so far...i will be back next year...just can't get enough of the place...i was the only tourist that time and i had a blast exploring and touring...i already miss palaui!

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