Nagudungan Hill, just out of this world!

A small hill noted for its cliffs, rolling and grassy top and permanently inclined trees.

Calayan Is. in red

Finally, I’ve set foot in one of the country’s hidden gems. I was on assignment in Calayan Island in the Babuyanes and in between, I got to enjoy this piece of paradise in this part of the Philippines. Though it was just a few days, it was very memorable. I’m planning a longer trip later this year. At the edge of Caniwara Cove is another spectacular place, Nagudungan Hill with its rolling terrain and gnarled pine trees with some, especially located near the edge to the sea are permanently inclined due to the strong winds.

Caniwara, Cibang and Cababaan Coves as seen from the hill. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Its really a very small place at the top with access through a steep incline just where the trail opens up at Caniwara Cove and climbing up is sometimes shared with goats who graze the grass up hill.

And when one is atop, and wow, the three coves: Caniwara, Cibang and Cababaan is spread right before one’s eyes. Its a scene from out of nowhere: the white sandy shores of the two coves, the slowly creeping wave of Caniwara and the cliffs and mountains that ring these three is just so awesome! Indeed, there is a god!

Pine trees atop the hill.

Body of the lighthouse that used to stand

It’s a surreal landscape atop. Grassland, rolling terrain, heartbeat skipping cliffs that plunge down to a rocky base where the waves crash and break into foam.

The sea side part of the hill is ringed with cavities and caves and one of our guides from Isla Biodiversity Conservation, an NGO based in Calayan Island said is a haven for sea snakes, those banded white and black serpents that are quite deadly.

Forlorn tree inclined by the winds. CLICK TO ENLARGE

The hill used to have a lighthouse but due to a storm, it was destroyed, having been blown off with only its pedestal still in place, like a small landing pad ringed with bolts. Its hollow body now tumbled and resting a few meters below the base. Think of a toilet paper roll holder having been detached from its position but only in gigantic proportion amidst trees and grass.

The 'pit' of the hill

One of our guides who walked at the edge of the ridge at the 'pit'. CLICK TO ENLARGE

The hill is also known as Bangaan since there were jars used for burial were found in one section. I’m not sure if it is prehistoric or not but the people says they date to the Japanese occupation but I doubt it. In one area near the pit, was a hollowed ground with broken off parts of a clay jar. This might have been one of those artifacts.

But one of the spectacular feature of Nagundungan Hill is the area that I will call The Pit. Its a massive but shallow hole near the sea and really, the rock surface is otherwordly with its striations emanating from the ground to the mouth of the pit. There’s a few cavities and caves below.

Another surreal formation that can only be found here.

Getting There and places to stay

Getting to Nagudungan Hill is just the same as going to Cibang Cove. Check the details in the Cibang Cove post.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.


  1. ayan
    June 22, 2011 @ 17:00

    wow nice pics.
    surprising nga kasi puro batanes lang napapansin sa islands in the north..

  2. [email protected]
    June 22, 2011 @ 17:07

    Nice Estan! I like the Pit of the Hill. Surreal indeed. 🙂

    Sana mapuntahan ko din ito.

  3. estan
    June 22, 2011 @ 17:09

    @ayan, yes, a beautiful place that is so out of the way 🙂

  4. halfwhiteboy
    June 22, 2011 @ 18:46

    beautiful, estan! i just wished it were more accessible.

  5. estan
    June 22, 2011 @ 23:02

    @mel, medyo mahirap nga lang e

  6. Bugoy
    June 23, 2011 @ 5:14

    the pit is lovely! wow!
    i wonder if calayan has an airstrip ba?

  7. estan
    June 23, 2011 @ 11:31

    @rv, plans are afoot for an airstrip 🙂

  8. » How to get to the Calayan Islands | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    June 25, 2011 @ 11:55

    […] to go back home after frolicking in Cibang Cove and enjoying the view of Caniwara Cove from the heights of Nagudungan, the sea gets rough and no vessel dares travel. Then your stranded until it is possible to go. Or, […]

  9. » Personal thoughts on my Calayan sojourn | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    June 26, 2011 @ 13:11

    […] trip later this year. I admit, places I’ve visited in Calayan: Cibang and Caniwara Coves and Nagudungan were the most pristine I’ve seen and been to. Its just so beautiful, a piece of paradise. But […]

  10. » Ang Langyaw’s article in PDI’s frontpage | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    July 17, 2011 @ 17:28

    […] finally saw the light of day and nothing’s better than having my photo of the jagged rocks of Nagudungan Hill and the article making it to the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sunday edition, 17 […]

  11. » Where to stay in Calayan town proper | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    January 20, 2012 @ 0:33

    […] for food (of course, at added cost), directions to places like Cibang and Caniwara Coves and Nagudungan as well as help you in finding a vessel to ride Cagayan – Calayan – Cagayan and trips […]

  12. Christianjaycastillejos
    January 28, 2012 @ 7:53

    can i borrow some of your calayan photos….I’am a calayano….

  13. Anonymous
    February 14, 2012 @ 22:21

    sure! just provide link/credit

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