February 27, 2016

Calayan Travel Guide

Calayan Travel Guide

Calayan, sometimes called Babuyanes Islands or simply Babuyanes, is a municipality of Cagayan surrounded by Balintang Channel on the north, which separates the islands from Batanes, West Philippine Sea on the west, Pacific Ocean on the east and Babuyan Channel on the south, which separates them from mainland Luzon. Due to the abundance of pig in the area, locally known as Babuy, the islands were called Babuyanes.

Babuyanes is composed of small islands: Calayan, Camiguin, Dalupiri, Fuga, Babuyan Claro and Didicas with Calayan being the town center. Ilocano is the native tongue of the locals of Calayan while those living in Babuyan Claro can speak “Ikarog” which originated from Ivatan dialect from Batanes.

According to some records, Calayan is called such because of the abundance of ginger, known as laya in Ilocano. The place was called Calayaan and was later shortened to Calayan.

*Calayan was a part of Batanes during the 19th Century. It became a part of cagayan in the early 20th. I got all this information from a local paper provided by tita Tess.

How To Get There

Calayan is a remote island in Cagayan (Valley) thus it is not easy to reach. The island can only be reached via boat (lampitaw) from the port of Claveria. It is best to contact someone from Calayan (Tita Tess or Tita Connie) before going there so they could arrange for your boat ride. Fee is Php 500 pesos per person.

Good to know: The boat is an ordinary boat that carries goods from Claveria to Calayan. The number of passengers it can accommodate depends on the size of the boat. There are no seats, no sun shade and you have to bear with the engine’s noise. Bawal ang pabebe sa Calayan. There’s a chance that you’ll get wet. Boat ride to Calayan takes around six hours and that is if the weather is nice.
*After our boat ride my friend and I talked like we’re 10 meters apart.

To reach Claveria Port from Metro Manila, you could ride a bus bound for Claveria or fly to Laoag City then take a van bound for Claveria.

Contact numbers:
Tita Tess – 09399158667 / 09298375737
Tita Connie – 09215349231

Where To Stay

San Jose Inn
There are two inns in Calayan: TPS Homestay owned by Tita Tess and San Jose Inn owned by Tita Connie. We stayed at Tita Connie although we were supposed to stay at Tita Tess’. Both hostels are decent and clean but not air conditioned.

What To Do

I can’t comment on the island’s marine life since we did not snorkel. It wasn’t recommended by Tita Tess and Tita Connie but I think the island has a good snorkeling site. Ask the locals, they’re nice and friendly.

The beaches are beyond beautiful and peaceful. Some offer white sand beach with clear blue water while some have sand darker than the shade of gray. What I love about the beaches is the absence of unsightly restaurants and hotels nearby. It’s just you and the beach and some hermit crabs.

The island has three scenic coves: Sibang, Caniwara and Cababaan coves. Sibang and Cababaan have white sand beaches – Sibang is also a good camping site. Caniwara on the other hand has a rocky shore.

The Nagudungan Hill, which requires a short hike, gives an amazing view of the three coves. You could also watch the sunset from the hill.

Roam around Calayan and hike up to Canawaan and Bataraw falls. I don’t really recommend going to Canawaan unless you like adventure. First, it was hard to reach the waterfall since there is no well-established trail and it’s not a place locals love to visit. Our two guides don’t know where Canawaan is when we asked them so we asked some of the locals around who, apparently, aged around 9-10 year-old. It was frustrating because the way to the falls looked inaccessible; there were big boulders and fallen trees blocking way. Somehow we managed to cross the blockages. 

Canawaan Falls

Visit Tita Tess and buy wild berry wine. She is one the most accommodating people I have met. She has a little room where she makes wild berry wine. She invited us into her house where we drank wine – a lot of wine. We drank different blends, from low to high alcohol content.

Lastly, eat lobsters.

How To Get Around

There are few tricycles available but the best way to travel around is via motorbike. Again, you could ask Tita Tess, she’s the tourism head on the island (as of June 2015). Other parts of the road in Calayan are still underdeveloped so expect a bumpy ride.

Best Time To Go

The best time to go to Calayan is during summer (March to early June) when the weather is good. The waves get dangerously big during the wet season.

Good To Know:

There are no ATMS or banks in Calayan. Bring lots of cash and don’t worry about getting robbed because Calayan is safe. Zero crime rate. During our stay, we leave the door (in the veranda) and windows of our room open when sleeping.

Due to its isolated location, Calayan has limited electricity which is 12 pm – 12 am.

Summer in Calayan is very hot (like Zac Efron hot). That’s why we leave our door and windows open.

Bring waterproof bags or garbage bags (like we did) to protect your belongings from the waves. Even though the weather is nice, the waves get pretty big sometimes. Just waterproof everything! 

The locals understand and speak Tagalog.

For the food, there is one eatery in Calayan  but I forgot its name; our food was prepared by Tita Connie's cousin. 

How Much To Bring

The money you will bring actually depends on how many wild berry wine you’re going to purchase. :D Kidding. 

Below is the list of our expenses in Calayan for your reference.
Description Cost
Bus to Claveria Php750.00
Tric from Claveria Market to Port Php70.00
Lampitaw Php500.00
Tric from Calayan wharf to San Jose Inn Php100.00
Motorbike rent: from San Jose Inn to Sibang and  Php300.00
Nagudungan Hill  
Motorbike rent: from San Jose Inn Bataraw and Php750.00
Canawaan Falls  
Room rent/night Php250.00
Food (for 3 days at San Jose Inn, yes including lobsters) Php1,000.00
Boat rent (roamed around the whole Calayan Island) Php4,000.00
there were two of us so Php2000/pax  
Wild Berry Wine/bottle Php180.00
Honey/300 mL bottle Php150.00

That's all for today. Here's Zac Efron :D

-good day!-