Cagayan Chronicles: Calayan

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Story & Photo by Lovel Aniag

Calayan is the main island of the Babuyan Group of Islands. Going to Calayan can be likened to a fairy tale – but not the princess kind; more like Hansel and Gretel, or Little Red Riding Hood. It’s a place far, far away, with an air of mysticism and sorcery and landscape and seascape that look unreal — like everything is made by CG.

There are no big ferries that cross the Babuyan Channel from Cagayan to Calayan, just small outrigger boats or lampitaw – small fishing vessels that double as passenger boats. The trip takes about five to seven hours, depending on the boat size and the current.

Sentro
After the grueling five-hour sea travel under the scorching heat of the sun, we decided to just stay within the town center. Sentro is small – it would only take about an hour to explore it on foot – and even fewer steps to take you to Sentro Beach.

Nagundungan Hill
I had no set itinerary for Calayan, just a list of places to see. I showed our tour guide Kuya Jaymar my list. He scanned the list and told us to hop on his bike, and off we went.

I will be honest. When we first set foot in Calayan, I was unimpressed and disappointed. People were telling us that Calayan was very similar to Batanes. But a tricycle driver tried to rip us off; people were unfriendly (but actually just painfully shy) and the view going to Sentro was so-so. It was a let down; we wanted to cut our four-day stay to an overnighter.

But the island proved that first impressions never last. What we saw during our bike tour made our mouths drop: We are in paradise!

Kaniwara Cove
Our first stop was the rolling hills of Nagundungan. After a short trek passing through a beach and up an open grassland, we arrived at the lighthouse, giving us an unobstructed view of the three coves: Kaniwara, Sibang and Kababaan.

Sibang Cove
Our next stop, Sibang Cove. We immediately decided we were spending the night here. No tent? No problem. We borrowed a mosquito net from Kuya Jaymar and a sleeping mat from the nearest village. Here, we got to spend a little time with the locals, sharing a snack and drinking fresh coconut – the island has an abundance of it, they give it away for free!

I had the best sleep that night, lulled by the sound of the crashing waves, warmed by the bonfire and guarded by the full moon.

The following day, we woke up to this glorious sunrise.

We spent the day lazing around. Being in an isolated beach, you might be wondering how we dealt with “comfort.” Let’s just say that our experience was very similar to Survivor on cable. Fortunately, we found a fresh water source nearby. We used it for drinking and for taking showers.

Had we walked down further, we’d be in Kababaan Beach. But the sun was blazing so we decided to just stay within Sibang. Kuya Jaymar picked us up after lunch, and we were able to squeeze in a couple more hours of joyride, this time heading towards Dibay.

We left the island the following day. Three days here is too short. I hope to go back and stay longer to explore the island by foot.

How to get there:

From Claveria, go to Fish Landing or Blue Lagoon to catch the boats heading to Calayan: PHP 500

From Calayan Sentro port to TPS Homestay via tricycle: PHP 10

Where to stay:

TPS Homestay : 0908.399.8062 or 0939.915.8667

Tips:

There are no ATMs in the island. Bring enough cash.

Having a flexible schedule is recommended. Prepare to be stranded on the island due to weather and current conditions.
Ingat and see you on the road!

Know a place I should discover? Email me at eatpraylovelemail@gmail.com

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