Often battered and in the front-line of incoming storms, Catanduanes has often been out of the radar for most travelers in the Philippines. But this island province, unbeknownst to many, holds a lot of natural wonders and activities that would keep adventure travelers and nature explorers occupied. One would lead to discover pristine beaches, enchanting lagoon, stunning rock formations, sweeping cliffs, alluring waterfalls and age old churches. There’s something here for everyone.
Where is Catanduanes
The island province of Catanduanes lies at the easternmost region of Bicol Peninsula, edge of Luzon facing the Pacific Ocean. Separated by the Maqueda Channel and bounded by the Lagonoy Gulf at the southwest.
By Air: The fastest possible way is a direct flight to Virac, Catanduanes from Manila. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have regular flights. Flight time is approximately one hour.
By Air and Sea: Second fastest option is by flying in to Legazpi and taking a ferry to Catanduanes. From Manila, take either a Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airline flight to Legazpi, Albay. Flight time is one hour.
From the airport, take a 30 minute ride to Tobaco City Seaport. Then take either a Ferry, RORO, or Fastcraft to either Virac (4-5 hours travel time) or San Andres (3-4 hours travel time). Fare is from Php250 to Php350.
By Land and Sea: Take a bus to Tobaco City. RSL Bus Line, Cagsawa Bus Line, DLTB Bus Co. Line, Alps and Isarog Bus Line travels directly to Tobaco City from Araneta Center Cubao. Fare is from P1000 to 1,500. Travel time is 10-12 hours.
Head over to Tobaco City Seaport then take either a Ferry, RORO, or Fastcraft to either Virac (4-5 hours travel time) or San Andres (3-4 hours travel time). Fare is from Php250 to Php350.
|Daily Ferry Schedule||Departs|
|Tobaco to Virac||6:30 AM|
|Tobaco to San Andres||7:00 AM|
|Virac to Tobaco||1:00 PM|
|San Andres to Tobaco||7:00 AM|
Where to Go in Catanduanes
Catanduanes is a fairly large island composed of 11 towns divided to either east or west. Towns at the east of the island are: Bato, San Miguel, Baras, Gigmoto, Viga, Panganiban (Payo), Bagamanoc. At the west are: Virac, San Andres (Calolbon), Pandan and Caramoran Each town have their own highlight attractions that it is hard to explore the whole province even in a week’s time. The best is see which interest you and plan a few days visit there. Here are some towns I already explored and post related to them for details.
Catanduanes shot into the spotlight because of this area. The popular surfing spot Puraran is a favorite not only locally but in the international surfing scene as well. Recently, Binurong Point has been abuzz for its panoramic hill akin to that of Batanes.
- Baras Catanduanes | From Binurong Point to Puraran Surf
- Catanduanes: Meeting the Colorful People of Puraran
- Catanduanes: The Puraran Beach and its Majestic Surf
- Transit: Manila to Puraran Beach Baras Catanduanes
The iconic Bato Church can be found here. But the Carorian and its attractions like the Poseidon Rock is slowly getting popular. Not to mention some charming cascades here like the Maribina Falls
- Bato Catanduanes | Carorian Adventure and Bato Church Rocks!
- Catanduanes: Bato’s Old Church and Charming Cascades
Found at the northwestern region of the island, Caramoran is the largest town in Catanduanes in terms of land area at 26,374. With an are like this, they have several waterfalls, rivers, beaches and islands. I’ve only managed to visit Toytoy Beach, Hitoma Lake and the Palumbanes Group of Islands.
Found at the northern tip of the island Province, Pandan seemed to me like their final frontier. Boasting several waterfalls, beaches, scenic hills, lagoons and few heritage sites. It’s worth to spend a few days here alone. Check out Carangyan Beach, Cagnipa Hills and the Tuwad-Tuwadan Lagoon.
Found at the southwestern part of Catanduanes, San Andres (Calolbon) is also a popular gateway entering the island or a closer option to nearby Caramoan. The town also have several attractions. One is the Luyang Cave in baranggay Lictin.
South of the island is Virac, the capital and business center of Catanduanes. It is also the transportation hub of the province where most of the routes originate. It would be a good base for exploration on the island as many accommodations are found here. There are also interesting natural attractions here particularly in Igang. Twin Rock resorts have accommodations, water activities and a few limestone formations by the beach.
Where to Stay
There are already a lot of options to stay in Catanduanes. If you want to stay by the beach but close enough to the capital of Virac, try the Twin Rock Resorts (Book Online).
In our recent stay in Virac, we stayed at the Lucky Hotel and Resort at the center of town near the Virac Town Center Mall. They have a very cool pool at the 8th floor with city views.
Lucky Hotel and Resort
San Juan, Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines 4800
+63 52 740.5200
In Puraran, I was able to stay at nice cottages by the beach at Majestic Puraran Resort (Book Online).Check out more accommodations in Catanduanes
Catanduanes celebrates its main product, the Abaca (manila hemp) every third week of May. The week-long festivity is held in Virac but have coinciding pockets of activities in different municipalities. Various activities happens from float parades, concerts, dance competitions and pageants coinciding to the Bicol’s Festival of Festivals where various festivals in the Bicol region gather to compete.
Where to Eat
Catanduanes also offers the Bicolano staple cuisines from laing, pinangat and pili among the many. Those who want to eat out can try the long time favorite Sea Breeze along the bay.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.