Calayan Group of Islands (Philippines)
Note: Our Calayan Group of Island trip is part of our 17 day Northern & Central Luzon backpacking trip therefore itinerary from and to Manila are not mentioned on this blog.
We arrived in Claveria late afternoon and were told that the boat to Calayan Sentral leaves only in the morning, so we had to pitch a tent for an overnight camping in order to catch the boat leaving early the next day.
* Claveria to Calayan Sentral (5 -6 hours by boat)
The boat leaves between 6 – 7am in the morning. It is not your typical passenger boat where you can sit comfortably. It is a cargo boat that carries goods from the mainland to Calayan Sentral with a tarp shed that only covers parts of the boat. It was a “Tidal Wave” ride for us with splashing waters the entire trip. Please do bring rain covers for yourself and your bags if you want to avoid being soaked with water. (Don’t worry guys; I still managed to sleep on the boat.) White sand will welcome you at the port. A registration will be required at the police station upon arrival.
* Calayan Sentral Port to San Jose Inn accommodation (5min by open top tricycle)
We stayed at one of the accommodation which belongs to San Jose Inn (not the main Inn). We had an exclusive use of a 1 bedroom house with kitchen, toilet and balcony. They also have laundry area at the back of the house (do not hope for a washing machine of course – only manual “kuskus labada”). Electricity is limited in the island and only available between 12nn – 12mn.
As we were too tired, we just decided to chill on our first day and joined the “tagayan” (drinking alcoholic drinks) with the group of people filming a documentary we met at the San Jose Inn.
* San Jose Inn to Sibang Cove (less than 30min by tricycle + less than 10 walk)
The next day we were supposed to hire a boat to see the falls and caves in the Island but we were discouraged by the group of film people we met as it is not worth it. They invited us to join them camping in Sibang cove instead. So from San Jose Inn, we took the tricycle to the closest point where Sibang Cove is. (Riding the tricycle will require offloading and couple of walks in between due to the slopes.) From the drop off point, we had to walk for less than 10 minutes to get to Sibang Cove.
There are hiking spots nearby Sibang Cove, but I did not go (too lazy). I would recommend you to do the hiking as the view can be breath-taking. My friend did go and trust me; I got jealous with the photos.
* Calayan Sentral to Babuyan Claro Town (5 hours by boat)
After our camping at Sibang Cove, we had to get up early and return at San Jose Inn to pick up our stuff and catch our hired boat for island hopping. It was another 5 – 6 hours ride to Babuyan Claro.
While approaching Babuyan Claro, you will see the peak of Mt. Pokis welcoming you. There is no proper docking area in town. We had to take a Styrofoam raft from the boat to the seaside despite of the strong waves.
Before we explored Babuyan Claro, we were brought to the Chieftain’s place to pay our respect and ask for a permission to explore the island. As they are still in the process of improving the tourism organization in the island, each of us were asked to pay a tourism fee and were required to take a guide (for a fee) as we are not allowed to explore the place on our own.
* Babuyan Claro Town to Accommodation (5min by boat)
As there is no inn/hotel in the island, we took a homestay referred by the boat crew. There is no transportation in the area (only a couple of motorbikes). Our accommodation took 5 minutes by boat from the town of Babuyan Claro.
In fact, we did not really stay inside the house; we slept outside as they have couple of hammocks available. The island depends on solar power, so we did not really have issues with charging our gadgets.
As for the food, we bought freshly caught seafood from the fishermen and ask the house owner to cook for us. If you want to try large fishes, small lobsters and camouflaging squid at a cheaper price, you should definitely visit this place.
* Hike to Mt. Pokis (5 – 6 hours)
The next day, we tried to hike but it was not easy as we thought it would be. There was no proper trail, it was raining and the lava got too slippery. Me and my husband decided to go back as I was no longer comfortable but our friend still managed to complete the hike with one of our guides.
* Mt. Pokis to Kahotkan Falls (2 hours)
As we don’t want to waste the day not making it to Mt. Pokis, we decided to go to the falls instead. Again, it was not an easy hike cause it was raining and we had to pass through a river. As there are not much people coming to this place, there is no proper trail. One of the locals has to accompany us with his bolo to clear the path.
* Kahotkan Falls to Accommodation (2 hours)
On our way back to our accommodation, we tried to ride a water buffalo. Farmers normally use this as mode of transport. The ride was not very comfortable due to the muddy path so we decided to get off after 2 minutes.
As it was our last night in Babuyan Claro, we decided to have a boodle fight for dinner with the locals and the boat crew.
* Babuyan Claro to Pamoctan Island (4 – 5 hours by boat)
Due to the bad weather condition, we have to wake up early morning and left Babuyan Claro between 5 and 6 in the morning to avoid the big waves. We stopped over at Pamoctan Island (10min by boat from Camiguin Island) to have our lunch. This is a privately owned island and tourists are normally not allowed. The care taker came over to tell us that we are not allowed in the island, but due to some chit chat and beer offer, we managed to grill and eat our meal before leaving.
* Pamoctan Island to Camiguin (10min by boat)
Upon arriving to Camiguin, we asked the boat crew if we can do some snorkeling. There are not so much fishes to snorkel but if you know how to free dive, you will be able to spot amazing lion fish hiding underneath the corals.
After snorkeling we proceeded to our accommodation which is a homestay with the boat owner’s parents.
Residents in this island are very accommodating. We ran out of cash when we get to this island, but the host still accommodated us, cooked every meal for us without expecting anything in return.
* Accommodation to Falls (2 hours hike)
I forgot the name of the falls, but for those who want some adventure, you can swing using a balete vine and jump on the water.
* Accommodation to Sea Hot Spring (15min by boat)
Fancy soaking in hot sea water? You can visit an area in Camiguin where you can experience sea water hot spring.
Warning: Water can be too hot next to the shoreline and the smell of sulfur may not be a pleasure for some.
* Camiguin to Aparri (4 – 5 hours by boat)
After our 2 nights stay in Camiguin, we headed back to the mainland and continued with our Central Luzon backpacking trip. Again, trips from Camiguin to Aparri are only in the mornings between 6 – 7 am.
Expenses (per person)
- Claveria to Calayan Sentral PHP500.00 (USD10)
- Overnight Accommodation – Calayan Sentral PHP200.00 (USD4)
- Tricycle to Sibang Cove PHP50.00 (USD1)
- Private Boat hire for Babuyan Claro and Camiguin PHP4667.00 (USD94)
- Babuyan Claro Tourism Fee PHP500.00 (USD10)
- Babuyan Claro Guide Fee PHP150.00 (USD3)
- Babuyan Claro Accommodation (2nights) PHP250.00 (USD5)
- Camiguin Accommodation (2nights) PHP500.00 (USD10)
- Camiguin to Aparri PHP500.00 (USD10)
- Manila to Claveria/Aparri (vise versa) one way bus fare guide PHP850.00 (USD17) (https://www.pinoytravel.com.ph/booking/search?from=Metro%20Manila&to=Claveria,%20Cagayan&ref=travelexpo)
I have not included the food expenses on this trip as we have spent quite a lot due to “takaw mata” but each meal can cost you between 50 – 150 PHP (1-3USD).
- The boat trips from the mainland to Calayan Sentral/Camiguin and vise versa normally runs daily depending on the weather condition.
- Boat hire from Calayan Sentral to Babuyan Claro and Camiguin costs PHP14,000 which is good for 10 people already. As we were only 3, share of each person is quite high. We recommend you to travel in bigger groups so it will be cheaper.
- Our accommodation in Babuyan Claro and Camiguin were “pay from your heart” basis. So you can freely negotiate the amount.
- There are no cash machine in the Island only Smart Cash Padala available in Calayan Sentral so ensure you have enough cash with you.
- Boiled egg is always a life saver. With the long journey from one island to another and long hikes, this will be a great “pangtawid-gutom”.
- Always bring mosquito repellent with you, it will save you especially at night.
- Seafood are sold 2 to 3 times the local price so ensure you bargain or you can ask your boat crew to buy it for you.
- For those who love alcohol, there are no decent drinks in Babuyan Claro and Camiguin (only Gin Bulag) so ensure you bring your own.
Thank you. Bisous x