Catanduanes Island: A Travel Guide To The Happy Island Of The Philippines

catanduanes island diy travel guide

It’s been a dream to visit Catanduanes Island. I was supposed to visit the island around January 2021, but it was postponed during the pandemic. 

Then that dream finally came true after a year of waiting. Restrictions on traveling domestically and internationally have become more lenient! I have waited for this moment. The feeling was unexplainable, but I knew from within that I was on cloud nine. 

Going backpacking around Catanduanes Island has always been a dream. The island is known for its scenic mountains, white-sand beaches, and happy people. In my case, the main reason why Catanduanes Island really caught my interest, was due to its most popular tourist spot, Binurong Point, where its scenic views are often compared to Batanes Island.

In this travel guide, get to know more about Catanduanes Island, how to get there, and the things that the island has to offer. 

About Catanduanes Island

happy island catanduanes philippines
the happy island catanduanes signage

Located in the Bicol Region of Luzon, Catanduanes Island is the 12th largest island in the Philippines. In addition, Catanduanes is dubbed the “Land of the Howling Winds” due to the fact that strong typhoons hit the island every year. But it’s also known as “The Happy Island” because of the island’s friendly locals and its resilience in the face of typhoons every year.

Catanduanes has a great deal to offer. From its breathtaking views of the mountains to its amazing hidden waterfalls, awe-striking architectural designs of Spanish colonial churches, diverse culture, friendly locals, and untouched beauty of beaches. Furthermore, the island also annually celebrates “The Abaca Festival” to showcase the importance of abaca and its status as the main source of livelihood for the locals. It is also a celebration of the fiber industry and the products it produces, which is the primary material used in the handicrafts of Catanduanes and the entire Bicol region.

How to get to Catanduanes Island 

There are a lot of options to get to the island. Here are the following: 

By plane

From Manila, book a flight bound for Virac, Catanduanes (direct flight). The flight usually takes around an hour. On the other hand, direct flights heading to Catanduanes are usually expensive. But you are lucky if you score discounted or cheaper flights, especially when airline companies go on seat sales. You may book a flight via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. 

From Manila, book a flight bound for Legazpi, Albay via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. This is another good option, especially if you plan on backpacking around the Bicol region. (Read my travel guide to the Bicol region).Then, take a van heading to the SM Legaspi terminal. From there, take another van bound for the port. Once you arrive at the port, take a ferry heading to the Virac port. The ferry ride takes around 3 hours.

By bus

From Manila, buses from Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) are now available heading to Virac, Catanduanes. The one-way regular bus fare from PITX to Virac is around Php 1,350 and Php 950 for the economy (non-aircon) bus. Buses depart from the terminal at 4:30 p.m. daily and from Virac at 11 a.m. daily. You may find out more information on the Bicol Isarog website. 

Getting around the island

The two most commonly used public transports on the island are the habal habal (single motorcycle) and the tricycle. It is very accessible to get around the island. 

If you are staying in the main town (Virac), most of the eateries, stores, and cafes are very accessible.

Places to Visit Around Catanduanes Island 

Based on our experience, my friend and I took a ferry to the island, and I didn’t regret taking this option. I’ve always imagined myself backpacking through the Bicol region. The ferry took us some time to get to the island, but it was all worth it. As we almost embarked on the island, I saw how huge the island is. It was really long and seemed to be really big from afar. Even the view from the ferry was amazing. 

My friend and I stayed on the island for 3 days and 2 nights. With that, these are the places to visit on Catanduanes Island. 

  • Bato Church
  • Bote Lighthouse
  • Maribina Falls
  • Binurong Point
  • Puraran Beach
  • Caramoan Islands

Bato Church

bato church catanduanes

The St. John the Baptist Church, more commonly known as “Bato Church,” is said to be the oldest church in the island province. This 19th-century church in Bato was built with mortar and coral limestone to withstand the strong storms that ravage the island every year. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has designated this church as a historical marker in the province.

Maribina Falls

This amazing waterfall is also situated in the town of Bato. Named after the villages of Marinawa and Binanwaha, Maribina Falls is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the province.

Binurong Point

catanduanes bicol travel guide

This is the main highlight of the trip. Binurong Point is one of the main tourist attractions in Catanduanes. Situated in the town of Baras, Binurong Point is definitely one of the best places to visit while on the island. The best time to visit the place is at sunrise.

Puraran Beach

bote lighthouse catanduanes island

Puraran Beach is the surfing capital of Catanduanes. You may come here after visiting Binurong Point and have lunch here. The beach boasts its fine, golden sand and peaceful vibe. This place is definitely an ideal spot for swimming, beach bumming, and surfing. 

Caramoan Islands

camarines sur island hopping tour

The Caramoan Islands are technically a part of Camarines Sur, they are located within an hour boat ride from Catanduanes. The Caramoan Islands are a great place to visit if you’re looking to get the most out of your vacation.

3D2N Catanduanes Island Itinerary + Expenses 

Day 1 – Catanduanes Island

07:30 AMArrive at Bicol International Airport
07:40 AMDepart to Tabaco Port
08:30 AMArrive at Tabaco Port
09:00 AMDepart for Catanduanes Island
11:00 AMArrive at San Andres Port
11:10 AMMeet up with the Tour Guide (Kuya Michael)
11:15 AMProceed to Virac
11:45 AMCheck-in at our hostel
12:30 PMHead out for lunch
01:00 PMHalf day tour (this includes Bato Church, Bote Lighthouse, and Maribina Falls)
05:00 PMGo back to our hostel
06:00 PMDinner
07:00 PMGo back to our hostel
08:00 PMFree time, rest

Day 2 – Caramoan Island

07:00 AMPrepare for our tour
08:00 AMBreakfast
08:30 AMProceed to Codon Port (Gateway to Caramoan Islands)
09:00 AMArrive at the port
09:10 AMLeave for Caramoan Islands
10:00 AMStart of island hopping tours around the Caramoan Islands
03:00 PMEnd of Caramoan Island Hopping Tour
03:50 PMArrive at the port
04:00 PMHead back to Virac, Back to the hostel
05:00 PMOut for dinner
07:00 PMHead back to the hostel
08:00 PMLights off

Day 3 – Catanduanes Island

04:00 AMCatch the sunrise at Binurong Point
05:00 AMArrive at the registration office
05:30 AMTrek to Binurong Point
06:00 AMArrive at the Binurong Point, Photo-op, Sightseeing
08:00 AMBack to the registration office
08:30 AMRest
09:00 AMHead to Puraran Beach
09:30 AMArrive at the Puraran Beach
10:00 AMLunch
11:00 AMBack to Virac
12:00 PMHead to San Andres Port
12:30 PMArrive at the port
01:00 PMLeave for Tabaco Port
04:00 PMArrive at Tabaco Port
04:30 PMHead to Legazpi Terminal
05:00 PMArrive at Legazpi Terminal, Proceed to our hostel
05:10 PMCheck-in to our hostel
05:20 PMDinner, free time

Budget for a 3D2N Catanduanes Island Trip

Day 1

  • Bicol International Airport to SM Terminal: Php 220
  • SM Terminal to Tabaco Port:  Php 76
  • Terminal Fee: Php 30
  • Ferry to Catanduanes Island: Php 300
  • Hostel for 3days and 2nights: Php 2000/2
  • Lighthouse Tour Guide: Php 260
  • Habal habal tour guide: Php 1500/2

Day 2

  • Caramoan Island Hopping Tour (Whole Day Tour): Php 4000/2
  • Habal habal ride: Php 1200/2

Day 3 

  • Habal habal tour guide: Php 750/2 (half day) 
  • Binurong Point Entrance Fee: Php 150
  • Ferry: Php 300
  • Terminal Fee: Php 10
  • Environmental Fee: Php 6

Total Expenses: Php 5,141 (per pax) 

Kindly note that these are subject to change. This also notes that the reason why we paid Php 2000 each for the Caramoan Island hopping tour is that we were only two. But the boat is also good for 4-6 passengers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Catanduanes Island known for?

Catanduanes is part of the Bicol region, known for its beautiful beaches with fine white sand and the crystal clear waters of the ocean. Not to mention the breathtaking views from the famous Binurong Point. The province is cited as the “happy island” due to its resiliency and positive spirits despite being often ravaged by strong typhoons. 

Is it cheap to travel to Catanduanes? 

Yes, it’s definitely cheap to travel to Catanduanes Island. The food, the accommodations, and even the tours here are very affordable! If you plan to visit the island soon, you may contact our previous tour guide, Michael Tanael for your Catanduanes tour. Kuya Michael is very good at taking pictures and is super kind! We really enjoyed his company during our tour. 

Is the signal good on the island?

Yes. The smart network seems stable on the island. I believe it is also an ideal place for those who are working remotely. Personally, I didn’t have any problems while working. 

When is the best time to visit Catanduanes? 

The best time to visit Catanduanes is from March to May, which is the dry season in the Philippines. 

Is Catanduanes safe for solo travelers?

Catanduanes Island is safe for solo travelers. Not just a happy place, but also a safe haven for every traveler who wishes to go around the island. 

Where to stay on Catanduanes Island?

If you’re on a budget but looking for a very nice hotel in Virac, you may book your stay at Rakdell Inn. The air-conditioned room costs PHP 1000 per night and can accommodate two people. They also offer a free Wi-Fi connection.

Recommended Tour Guide 

You may contact Sir Michael Tanael for your Catanduanes tour. Contact him on his Facebook account or you may reach out to his number at 09487423206.

This island might be an underrated one, yet it is one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines that you could ever visit! If you are considering or have finally decided to visit the island, you may read this travel guide to Catanduanes Island for your reference. 

Latest Post

Read Next

About the Author

Ara Patria

A half-travel blogger in the Philippines (based in Cavite) and a half-K-pop enthusiast, Ara Patria (The Adventuress) pursues her passion and love for traveling. She’s been blogging for years, where she writes about her own travel experiences and promotes the wonders of the Philippines. Not only does she promote the beauty of her country, but she also focuses on promoting sustainable tourism. She dreams to travel the world and inspire other people through her own written works and captured moments with her camera.

The Adventuress is a travel blogger with a purpose. She aims to inspire other people through her personal experiences, stories, and lenses. Outside her blogging world, she is an English teacher, an SEO specialist, and TEFL/TESOL certified.

Join her adventures!

Leave a Reply

You may also like these