calayan_go_2

How to get to the Calayan Islands

Cargo ready to be loaded to the lampitaw (motorized pump boat) that cross the Babuyan Channel for Calayan from the Claveria fish port

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. The Calayan Islands are better known as the Babuyanes comprised by the major islands of Calayan (the municipality center), Babuyan Claro and Camiguin Norte. Fuga Island is part of the municipality of Aparri. Both are in the province of Cagayan.

The best time to go there is during April when the monsoons switch and a month long calm, with the easterlies, the only wind blowing in the area. It is possible to go there at other times of the year but the unpredictability of the weather makes it difficult and there is always the possibility that one can get stranded.

Its like this: one day, the weather is good, the sea is calm and you proceed to travel. Just when you want 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, you can hire a vessel, at your own risk.

Interesting rock formations and islands can be enjoyed along the way

Getting There from Manila

There is no direct transportation going to Calayan from Manila. Instead, there are three points where one can take a vessel to Calayan Island: San Vicente Port in Sta. Ana, Aparri Port, and the small fishing port of Claveria, all in Cagayan Province.

1) By plane: You can take the plane from Manila to Tuguegarao and/or Cauayan (Isabela, and this is several hours from Tuguegarao) and then hop on a bus/hire a van going to the three points mentioned above. Or you can get the Manila – Laoag flight and hop on a bus/hire a van to Claveria which is the nearest airport instead of Tuguegarao. These option requires you to stay overnight in one of the many resorts in Claveria or hotels and pension houses in the other two points, all catering to all types of budgets.

If you will be traveling at other times of the year, it would be better if you go by plane on the way there as you might be stranded and might miss your return flight, unless you don’t mind paying a huge sum in rebooking flights.

2) By bus: There are several bus companies in Manila that offer direct trips, overnight, at the three points mentioned above with you arriving at the ports just in time for the trip. All these bus trips should be via Tuguegarao.

San Vicente Port: Since last year, M/V Eagly Ferry (P500) used to ply from this port to Camiguin Norte and then Calayan Island, only taking two hours each, for a total of four hours travel time end-to-end. Its bigger and safer than the lampitaws and is able to travel even if the sea is a bit rough. However, it got damaged and, as of this writing, currently being repaired. It might be operational in a few months.

Aparri Port: There are vessels said to come from this port but I’m not so sure about the type of boats nor the travel time.

Claveria fish port: This is the closest to Calayan in terms of distance but travel time totally depends on the condition of the lampitaw that is sailing. In our case, the motor had problems and a five hour trip lasted for nine hours. Note that the lampitaw is more geared towards cargo and only offer a few space for people.

Tips: Riding a lampitaw can be a challenge.

  • As a passenger, fare is P500 or you can hire the vessel from P8,000 – P15,000 depending on the size or your haggling skills.
  • There’s a big chance to be exposed under the sun so prepare your sunblock, malong, cap, shades or light colored long sleeved shirts.
  • There are times that there will be nothing to lean back on and five hours is five hours. It can be difficult for your back
  • Always bring water for hydration and enough food for the journey. But, there are times where it gets unpredictable and the sea turns rough. There are cases, though rarely, that the lampitaw will have to take shelter in Fuga Island or Dalupiri and there might not be enough food.
  • Always place your things and belongings inside plastic like trash bags as it will just be placed at the cargo area and, if the sea is rough, can get wet.
  • Always be ready to get soaked. Salt water in the eyes can be painful in the long run and having fresh water to wash is always a relief. If the sea is rough and you’re soaked most of the time during travel, the wind can really make you cold and shivering. You might want to address this.
  • Lampitaw availability is not assured. You need to have a contact either from Claveria or Aparri, but a contact from Calayan is better as the person can advise you if there are vessels that will travel to Calayan. Contact numbers are in this post.

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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.

30 Comments

  1. Titanium Runner
    June 24, 2011 @ 16:32

    Man, sounds like the travel alone is an adventure! Love the pictures! More please!

  2. Josiah
    June 24, 2011 @ 19:17

    Thanks Estan for the travel guide to Calayan. Excited na ako for next summer. puntahan ko yan. 🙂

  3. RON | Fliptravels.com
    June 27, 2011 @ 20:40

    at first glimpse the telecom tower on the rocky island seems like Christ the Redeemer in Rio

  4. » Ang Langyaw’s article in PDI’s frontpage | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    July 20, 2011 @ 8:47

    […] also are tips where to stay and how to get there, which is quite important for the […]

  5. maveric
    October 18, 2011 @ 15:39

    waaahhh… ang sarap pmunta sa calayan… sobrang unpredictable nmn ng trips… anu kayang schedule ng ferry sa sta. Ana? Daily?

  6. estan
    October 19, 2011 @ 13:40

    @maveric, I’m not sure if the ferry is operational na ngayon.

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

    […] like Cibang and Caniwara Coves and Nagudungan as well as help you in finding a vessel to ride Cagayan – Calayan – Cagayan and trips to Babuyan Claro, Camiguin Norte, Fuga and Dalupiri islands. They can also help you get […]

  8. » Personal thoughts on my Calayan sojourn | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    February 17, 2012 @ 17:49

    […] Islands (or the Babuyanes) has that appeal to the adventure traveler: forlorn, so out of the way, limited transportation as it all depends on the condition of the sea: calm one day, treacherous the next. Calayan town is […]

  9. Nessy020480
    April 15, 2012 @ 14:00

    hi estan. im going to camiguin by last week of april…matagal ba ang byahe talaga…coz im going to participate in this mission. Im going to share with the teachers psychology of learning and basic counseling skills. kindly email me some tips for me to remember: [email protected]

  10. estancabigas
    April 16, 2012 @ 8:02

    Sorry, I haven’t been to Camiguin pa. Probabaly this April too.

    Estan

  11. Carlo Aces
    November 1, 2012 @ 4:34

    I seriously want to target this next month, November or early Dec this year. Or should I wait for summer next year to be safe? I’ve read your observation that weather can be tricky during non-summer months kasi.

  12. estancabigas
    November 2, 2012 @ 23:34

    unless may biyahe ang ferry, that won’t be much of a problem siguro.

  13. Jamie Mercado
    March 3, 2013 @ 13:14

    Hi. I’m from Camiguin 🙂 So happy na may mga ganto ng development sa Calayan. For sure, next na ang Camiguin 🙂 Nakakaproud! :”>

  14. estancabigas
    March 4, 2013 @ 18:16

    I really want to travel to camiguin and feature it 🙂

    Estan

  15. Louis Wright
    August 17, 2013 @ 15:17

    Hello, How to get to Dalupiri Island and from what port/city? I specially was interested in what port is used for hauling heavy materials to Dalupiri Island. Do you know the answer to these questions?
    Please reply to; [email protected]
    Thank you,
    Mr. Louis Wright

  16. arlene amogan
    June 23, 2014 @ 17:20

    thank you for the info trying to see Cagayan as a local tourist.info about the place to stay and fee

  17. mangtomaso
    October 15, 2014 @ 11:26

    i am not from calayan but im staying in the island for quite some time already. i fell in love with the island and the islanders as well. at present, the ferry going to calayan-aparri vv is undergoing routine maintenance. april-may is the ideal time to visit calayan. never go during the months of june-februray unless you have the luxury of time to stay in the island. during these months boat trip is irregular due to weather condition. looking forward to see in calayan.

  18. estan
    October 15, 2014 @ 15:26

    Thanx so much for this info Mangtomaso! Very useful! I also hope to visit the island again soon.

  19. Kate
    November 1, 2015 @ 3:34

    I hope to visit this place next year. From February or March maybe. Maybe someone wants to join me 🙂 Or if anyone knows any contacts to the place it will be a big help. thanks!

  20. estan
    November 3, 2015 @ 22:18

    Good luck Kate 🙂

  21. Emil Gosum
    February 22, 2016 @ 22:09

    This is Emil. Notice that Kate had plan to visit Calayan in 2016…… I am going there 2nd week of March. I travel solo, a company would be great. Pls fwd my email address and travel plan.
    MNL to Claveria via Florida Transit
    Claveria to Calayan by lampitaw (depending on availability)
    4 days stay, excluding travel time.

  22. Emil Gosum
    February 22, 2016 @ 22:22

    Hi estan. The best time to visit Camiguin would be mid-late May. We used to hire Banca from out of Sta Ana, at least two boats. Best to go solo on boat, for safety & faster speed. The boat stayed with us through the whole stay and is our mode of transport.
    There are steel hull cargo/ferry boat operating out of Sta Ana now
    Will let you knw if I can find enough people to go.

  23. estan
    March 1, 2016 @ 19:13

    Emil, magkano kaya ang pang solo? You need to rent it out the whole time if that’s the case di ba?

  24. lace
    March 4, 2016 @ 20:04

    2 backpackers planning on going to Calayan some time in April. If anybody else is going, please let me know (via comment here). Baka pwedeng sabay tayo to cut cost on boat rentals. Thanks!

  25. JUNERYL ALAMA
    April 28, 2016 @ 20:19

    planning on going to Calayan island on June 2-5 im not sure if that wd be enough to explore the island. Anyone who is willing to join us please let me know, to cut cost na rin. Thanks. Please do messege me on facebook @juneryl.alama

  26. Austin E.Delacruz, Jr., Ed D/HEA (s), MA Ed/ AET, RRT-NPS, RPFT
    June 1, 2016 @ 12:22

    Estan, kindly verify if there is an airstrip for a Cessna ( or any mini fixed-wing) to land directly into Calayan, please.. I believe there is a daily flight to Calayan from Tuguegarao. .
    I’d love to retire in Calayan. I am originally from the town of Allacapan, Cagayan; my mom was from Pata, Claveria. I am currently a resident of Fairfield, California USA but I visit the Philippines almost every year since I retired from the US Air Force in 2009. I normally take the Cebu Pacific ( Airbus 320) or the PAL flight ( Bombadier) from NAIA to Tuguegarao City and back. The flight duration is only 45-50 mins for 5-8K PHP if you prefer to be seated closes eat to the cockpit.

  27. estan
    June 1, 2016 @ 12:54

    I haven’t been back there for years na Austin

  28. Jules
    March 27, 2017 @ 6:21

    I’m going to Calayan Island on May 5th , flying from Manila to Laoag on may 4th , traveling solo here so , a company would be great, I love extreme adventure. Planning to hike Mt Pulag on my way back .

  29. estan
    March 28, 2017 @ 5:09

    Good luck Jules on your travels.

  30. meako akome
    June 15, 2017 @ 3:23

    ok lng b magfishing dun? di b bawal?

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