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
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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 AM||Arrive at Bicol International Airport|
|07:40 AM||Depart to Tabaco Port|
|08:30 AM||Arrive at Tabaco Port|
|09:00 AM||Depart for Catanduanes Island|
|11:00 AM||Arrive at San Andres Port|
|11:10 AM||Meet up with the Tour Guide (Kuya Michael)|
|11:15 AM||Proceed to Virac|
|11:45 AM||Check-in at our hostel|
|12:30 PM||Head out for lunch|
|01:00 PM||Half day tour (this includes Bato Church, Bote Lighthouse, and Maribina Falls)|
|05:00 PM||Go back to our hostel|
|07:00 PM||Go back to our hostel|
|08:00 PM||Free time, rest|
Day 2 – Caramoan Island
|07:00 AM||Prepare for our tour|
|08:30 AM||Proceed to Codon Port (Gateway to Caramoan Islands)|
|09:00 AM||Arrive at the port|
|09:10 AM||Leave for Caramoan Islands|
|10:00 AM||Start of island hopping tours around the Caramoan Islands|
|03:00 PM||End of Caramoan Island Hopping Tour|
|03:50 PM||Arrive at the port|
|04:00 PM||Head back to Virac, Back to the hostel|
|05:00 PM||Out for dinner|
|07:00 PM||Head back to the hostel|
|08:00 PM||Lights off|
Day 3 – Catanduanes Island
|04:00 AM||Catch the sunrise at Binurong Point|
|05:00 AM||Arrive at the registration office|
|05:30 AM||Trek to Binurong Point|
|06:00 AM||Arrive at the Binurong Point, Photo-op, Sightseeing|
|08:00 AM||Back to the registration office|
|09:00 AM||Head to Puraran Beach|
|09:30 AM||Arrive at the Puraran Beach|
|11:00 AM||Back to Virac|
|12:00 PM||Head to San Andres Port|
|12:30 PM||Arrive at the port|
|01:00 PM||Leave for Tabaco Port|
|04:00 PM||Arrive at Tabaco Port|
|04:30 PM||Head to Legazpi Terminal|
|05:00 PM||Arrive at Legazpi Terminal, Proceed to our hostel|
|05:10 PM||Check-in to our hostel|
|05:20 PM||Dinner, free time|
Budget for a 3D2N Catanduanes Island Trip
- 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
- Caramoan Island Hopping Tour (Whole Day Tour): Php 4000/2
- Habal habal ride: Php 1200/2
- 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.
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