The northeastern town of Santa Ana in Cagayan has for the past five years gained traction towards being a top tourism draw. Reached from Manila approximately 12 hours by land travel, it has drawn great raves and praises so much so that two editions of the reality TV show Survivor (Survivor: Blood vs. Water, Survivor: Cagayan) were shot primarily in this coastal town. What made Santa Ana more famous is Palaui Island which is separated from mainland Luzon by the Babuyan Channel. Here are the five major reasons why Palaui is worth all the trouble and the hype:
1. CNN Travel Top 10 Best Beach in the World
It was a great surprise that Palawan and Boracay will ever be unseated as the Philippines’ best beaches or island for that matter. But just as it takes a long road trip to get there, the odd was a long shot. CNN Travel said otherwise. Palaui Island may not possess the finest and whitest sands but it boasts one of the most breathtaking sceneries you can ever witness. The slow ascent leading to the Cape Engaño Lighthouse is rewarded by stunning and enchanting panoramic view of the cove hence the name.
Because Palaui is a protected landscape and seascape, camping along the cove is no longer permitted. Visitors may stay in Punta Verde south of the island, in Anguib Beach or Nangaramoan Beach. Budget and mid-tier resorts and luxury villas however are found in mainland Santa Ana. Through online booking sites like Traveloka, you can compare their prices, facilities, and amenities.
2. The Ageless Sentinel of the Sea
Near the end of the Spanish colonization of the Philippine Islands, an engineer named Magin Pers Y Pers embarked into construction binge of lighthouses. Construction of the Cape Engaño Lighthouse was started on September 21, 1888 and was finished on December 31, 1892. The National Museum declared it as an Important Cultural Property.
Perched atop a hill on the northern side of the island, the lighthouse complex is composed of the octagonal tower, a pavilion, and a service structure. On a very clear day, the islands of Camiguin Norte, Didicas, and Babuyan Claro, and Guinapac Rocks can be seen from the lighthouse. Dos Hermanas Islands are hundred meters north of the cape.
Today, the lighthouse is far cry from its old glorious self. But its relevance never diminished in the age of GPS and digital communications.3. Trekking and bird watching via Leonardo’s Trail and Lagunzad Trail
The hiking trails that connect the north and south ends of Palaui were named after the two leading botanists who spent their time to do research works in the island. Dr. Leonard Co was a Filipino botanist and plant taxonomist who during his lifetime was considered the “foremost authority in ethnobotany in the Philippines. Dr. Daniel Lagunzad was a terrestrial ecologist and taxonomist. He was a professor in the Institute of Biology at the University of the Philippines.
The trails provide a different perspective to appreciate the beauty, depth and breadth of Palaui. A three-hour guided hike starts from Punta Verde, with a side trip to Baratubot Falls, passing along the grassy Bulbul Beach, then finally entering the cove through Panamahan Valley. A small waterfalls can also be seen near the cove.
Several bird species such as Philippine Bulbul (Ixos philippinus), Philippine Coucal (Centropus viridis), and Blue Paradise Flycatcher can be sighted inside the thickly forested Palaui.
4. Game fishing and trolling along Babuyan Channel
The richness of the marine biodiversity in the Philippines cannot be overstated. The vast expanse of Babuyan Channel has always been an excellent fishing ground. This same compelling reason why the Philippine Game Fishing Foundation calls Santa Ana its home. In the 70’s, the PGFF started to organize an annual fishing tournament in this coastal town.
Romantically called as the Sailfish Capital and the Angler’s Mecca of the Phillippines, Susay Rocks is where sailfish, blue and black marlin, wahoo, giant trevally, king mackerel, among big fishes are abound.
5. Kite boarding and wind surfing in Anguib Beach
In January 2015, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) organized the 1st Anguib Kiteboarding and Windsurfing Festival. The week-long event was participated by top-notch local and ever international kiteboarders and windsurfers. This year, another edition was staged thus bolstered Santa Ana‘s reputation as an emerging extreme water sports destination in the country.
The mile-long Anguib Beach is also perfect for glamping. And there is a secluded part in Anguib that has become our favorite camp site.
A Palaui Island DIY trip can be done but to lessen the hassles and to see more of Cagayan Province, you can book either a customized tour package or join a scheduled group trip organized LEGENDHARRY TRAVELS.