Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Travel Guide to Palaui Island and Cape Engaño in Santa Ana, Cagayan

Palaui Island is situated off the coast of San Vicente, Santa Ana, Cagayan. A protected National Marine Reserve area, Palaui became famous in 2013 when it was used as filming location of the international TV series Survivor. Though there are Palaui Island Tour Package offered by some travel agencies, not too many tourists are game enough to endure the long travel to this northernmost edge of Luzon. Thus, the island still retains its raw and rugged charm making it most suited for those who preferred off-the-beaten path experience.

I considered myself fortunate for being able to visit Palaui Island. It has been one of my dream destinations eversince I've read about this place on a few travel blogs. Here's a narrative of our Palaui Island experience, with travel guide on how to get there, boat rates, contact numbers and things to do.
How to Get There:

1. The Long Way: From Manila, Victory Liner (Kamias Station, Quezon City) and GV Florida (Sampaloc, Manila) buses have regular trips to Tuguegaro City (10-12 hours). From Tuguegarao, ride a van to Santa Ana (3 hours). Upon arrival in Santa Ana, look for a tricycle to take you to San Vicente Port.

2. The Faster (and more expensive) Option: From Manila, fly via Cebu Pacific to Tuguegarao City. From Tuguegarao, ride a van to Santa Ana (3 hours). Upon arrival in Santa Ana, look for a tricycle to take you to San Vicente Port.

In our case, our land trip started from Cauayan, Isabela where we had our temporary work assignment. We were in a private vehicle and arrived in Santa Ana town proper late afternoon. We decided to spend the night at Jotay's Resort and sailed to Palaui the morning after. Aside from Jotay's, there are other lodging options in the town proper of Santa Ana.

In San Vicente Port, boat tours can be booked through the PASABOMA Cooperative, a boatmen association engaging in tour services for tourists.

Aside from Palaui Island, there are also other places to visit in Santa Ana. These are the boat rates for the various island tours:

We were in a group of 4 and decided to book the Special Trip for P3,500.00. This package includes visit to Cape Engaño in Palaui Island, Anguib Beach, Crocodile Island and Punta Verde. We also pre-ordered our lunch which will be served once we reach Punta Verde.

We were directed to a small outrigger for our island trip. It is equipped with life jackets and sheltered only by a tarpaulin as protection from the heat of the sun. The boat is operated by Edwin Tabucol (contact numbers: 09269064657 or 09161165850), an officer of the PASABOMA Cooperative, together with his assistant.

The waves were generally calm when we sailed to the island. I've read some accounts that it could get really rough depending on the season. To be safe, make sure to waterproof your belongings.

We passed along a mostly rugged coastline. The gigantic rock formations are continuously slapped by the waves. A few small waterfalls cascading down to the sea can also be seen along the way.

After about 45 minutes, we reached Engaño Cove. This is where the boats usually docked and the jump off point for the short trek to Cape Engaño Lighthouse.

The cove's white sands are not fine as these are made up mostly of crushed coral. A few steps from here is the tourist registration area where we were given a short briefing about the island and provided with a local guide for the hike to Cape Engaño Lighthouse.

From the registration area, we passed along a verdant grassland. The scenery offered us a prelude of what's in store for us above the hill.

The grassland was followed by concrete steps built to provide easy access up to peak of the hill where the lighthouse stood.

The view became more and more beautiful as we got higher. To our right is the Batanes-like coastline of the island, hemmed by undulating hills, cliffs and rolling waves.

To our left is Engaño Cove, with its long, picturesque stretch even looking more stunning from this perspective.

After about 20 minutes of uphill hike, we finally reached the historic Cape Engaño Lighthouse.

Also known as Faro de Cabo Engaño, it stood 92 meters above-sea level.

Construction of the lighthouse started on 21 September 1888 and finished on 31 December 1892. Aside from the 11-meter octagonal tower, it also has a housing pavilion and service buildings. The lighthouse served to guide incoming ships during the Spanish Colonial period.

The summit provides a refreshing 360-degree view of Babuyan Island and the Dos Hermanas Island (Two Sisters) on the North, Pacific Ocean on the West and Engaño Cove on the East.

The view was really mesmerizing and made our long travel definitely worth it.

After thoroughly enjoying the view, we made our descent back to the registration area. There's a comfort room and available water for washing up. Local folks also sell food and drinks. We rested on the shaded area while waiting for our order--steamed  fresh crabs which we munched on as we sailed to our next destination: Punta Verde and Anguib Beach.

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