Surely, you already heard about the stunning beaches of Boracay and Palawan. But did you know that somewhere far north lies captivating islands less the crowd? Still under the tourist radar, we discovered some castaway destinations during our Cagayan island hopping.

Photo Credit: Martin San Diego of North Phililippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB)

It had been a rainy weather throughout our Lakbay Norte trip. Our group even missed spelunking at the Sierra Cave because of the terrible downpour. We were hoping we will be granted a better weather on the last day of our trip – a day dedicated to seeing the islands of Cagayan. And just like an answered prayer, the rain greatly subsided though it was still a bit gloomy. The Philippine Coast Guard gave us permission for sea travel.

Our group then went to San Vicente port, our jump-off point. Boats can accommodate around six persons. As we left the shore, I started to get excited as I was really looking forward to see Palaui. But little did we know that we will be battling humongous waves along our journey. Had our boat been smaller, we will surely find ourselves swimming in the sea. We held on tight and scream at the top of our lungs from time to time. I also can’t believe seeing other boats at the top of a ten-foot wave. For almost two hours, we bathed and drank salt water not to mention we occasionally laughed ourselves out while our hearts were pounding.

Finally, we reached the first island – Anguib Beach.

Anguib Beach Club

We all sighed in relief as we get off our boat. The white sand of Anguib felt good on my feet after sailing on the waters for what seemed like forever. Some claimed Anguib Beach to be the Boracay of the north with its 1.8 kilometer shoreline offering white, powdery sand.

Colorful hammocks caught my attention as I partake on the hot soup that was prepared for our group. After our snack, we walked around the beach. Just like the hammocks, nipa huts were scattered in the area. To those who want to experience glamping, Anguib Beach Club also offers glamping accommodations.

The turquoise blue water was darn cold. Some seaweeds litter a portion of the shore. Nonetheless, we enjoyed soaking ourselves in the sea.

Mapurao Beach

“Mapurao” means white in the local dialect. And yes, Mapurao can also boast of its white sand beach. From Anguib, it took us less than an hour to get to Mapurao. We arrived just in time for lunch.

Jerolynda White Beach Resort prepared our superb seafood feast. We had Sinigang na Hipon, Lato, fish and lobsters – all in generous serving.

Photo Credit: Martin San Diego of North Phililippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB)

Unfortunately, we didn’t had much time to spare in the island. After eating and an ample time to rest, we hopped in our boat again, this time to see Palaui Island.

Palaui Island and Cape Engaño

From Mapurao, it took us about an hour to reach Palaui Island. Along with Palawan and Boracay, Palaui Island made it to CNN’s 100 best beaches in 2013 landing at the 10th spot. This really made me look forward to explore the island. “I am willing to brave the tempestuous waves for Palaui”, I even told Moireen, one of our Lakbay Norte facilitators.

Indeed, after battling more tempestuous waves, a rocky beach welcomed us. Soon we were warmly greeted by the locals waiting for us in small nipa huts. We were divided into groups of four and a tour guide was assigned to each group.

The northern point of Palaui Island is called Cape Engaño where a hill can be climbed to see the ruins of an old lighthouse and more interestingly, to get a panoramic view of the island. Our guide told us that the short hike to reach the lighthouse would just take hundreds of steps.

In the first few minutes that we started, our group was all in awe by what we see. The seemingly endless green scenery instantly captivated us. At around 3PM in the afternoon, the sun shining brightly felt good on my skin – not too harsh. The wind was strong and cold that it easily dried our bodies bathed in salt water from yet another boat ride.

Every second of our ascend was magical – no exaggeration. The Palaui landscape reminded me of breathtaking Batanes. According to our guide, Batanes can already be reached by boat from the island in a few hours.

Slow – you would want your time to be so slow in places like this. I do. And before we knew it, we already reach Cape Engaño Lighthouse. Cape Engaño Lighthouse was built during the Spanish period and served as gateway lighthouse for incoming ships. Today, remnants of the old lighthouse stood beautifully with a gorgeous background.

Going further down from the lighthouse, we were blown away even more. I stared blankly at the endless, blue sea. I felt so privileged to witness such a majestic creation. Dos Hermanas (two sisters) Island was also in sight – a pair of rock, con-shaped islands.

Our group can’t really just get enough of this astonishing island. We hope to stay longer but we have to leave before it gets dark. And even though we left soon enough, Palaui Island was already engraved in our memory, for life.

Photo Credit: Martin San Diego of North Phililippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB)

This Lakbay Norte trip was organized by North Philippines Bureau (NPVB) in partnership with Manila North Tollways Corporation / NLEX-SCTEX, Victory Liner, Inc., Nueva Ecija Convention and Visitors Associations (NECVA), and Cagayan North Convention and Visitors Bureau (CNCVB).  Lakbay Norte is an annual media familiarization trip aiming to promote Philippine provinces in the north.

Sponsored by: Department of Tourism – Region 2, Department of Tourism – Region 3, Petron Corporation and Prifood Corporation.