For city dwellers, escaping the concrete jungle for a short while is a great way to recharge and de-stress. According to studies, disconnecting and traveling have great benefits in mental health and well-being of a person as he gets out of his comfort zone. Often times, the more remote the destination, the better. And Palaui Island is a great destination to disconnect and just enjoy the place, the people and nature.
Best Time To Visit
According to Fidel, a tour guide and local from the island, the best time to visit is between March to August during hagabat (southwest monsoon) when the water in is generally calm on island hopping destinations against amihan (northeast monsoon) that causes big waves. Rains and big waves are expected from September to February. Generally speaking, southwest monsoon is summertime while northeast monsoon is the opposite, rainy season.
Getting to Palaui Island is located off the coast of the municipality of Santa Ana in Cagayan Valley in the northeastern tip of Luzon. Travel time can be quite long but options to cut it is available. Check them out here:
By Land and Sea
To travel by land, take the bus bound to Tuguegarao from either Pasay, Cubao, Manila, and Caloocan. Travel time to Tuguegarao is 12 hours with Php 600-1000 fare depending on class. From Tuguegarao, take a bus or van bound to Santa Ana. Travel time to Santa Ana is about 3 hours and will cost Php 240(bus) or 250(van). Once in Santa Ana, get-off in the town center and ride a tricycle to San Vicente Port. Tricycle should be just Php 20. Then from the port, take the boat to Punta Verde. Boat transfer alone to Palaui (back and forth) is Php 1000 (good for up to 8 persons). More details on boat and fees here. Total travel time: 15 hours and 30 minutes.
By Air, Land, and Sea
Traveling by air to Tuguegarao is another option to cut the travel time. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly to Tuguegarao daily. Then from the airport, take a tricycle to van terminal bound to Santa Ana for Php 12 (or just walk to the highway and wait for the bus or van). Then just do the same, get-off at Santa Ana town center, take a tricycle to San Vicente Port and then boat transfer to Punta Verde. Total travel time: 4 hours and 30 minutes.
Boat Transfers And Other Fees
You have to charter a boat to go to Palaui Island of course. Boat transfer between San Vicente Port and Punta Verde alone is Php 1000 plus an additional Php 300 per night of stay in the island (most tourists opt not to stay in the island as most resorts are located in mainland of Santa Ana). Once you have a boat for transfer between San Vicente Port and Palaui Island, tour to other attractions that need boat will vary depending on the destination but it should start from Php 500 to 3,800 (good for up to 8 persons), no more than that.
The main mode of transportation in the within the island of Palaui is by boat or by feet. If going on the different side of the island, the only option not to walk is chartering a boat, otherwise one has to walk or trek.
Places To Visit
Punta Verde is a beach community in Palaui Island. Most residents are gathered in this area. Punta Verde is also the only area where visitors can stay overnight. It is a long untouched beach that offers clear waters and fine sand with lots of dead corals. It is a great place to meditate and just soak in the waters (depending on season as it can also be wavy).
Siwangag is a cove on the west side of the island and offers rocky beach with clear water (mostly calm because of its location). Since it faces the west, it’s also a great spot for sunset viewing. From Punta Verde, it can be reached through boat or trek.
Engaño Cove and Cape Engaño Lighthouse
Located in the north side of the island, Engaño Cove also has a beautiful coral sand beach with rocky surfaces under the shallow parts of the water. The cape has a lush forest and green hill where ruins of an old lighthouse constructed during the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines. From the top of the hill, a breathtaking view of the twin beach of Cape Engaño and Dos Hermanas Island await. There’s no entrance fee but a tour guide is mandatory for Php 300 for 1-3 persons, Php 600 for 5-7 persons and Php 900 for 8-12 persons. Boat transfer from Punta Verde to Cape Engaño is Php 2,500.
This shale rock island has taken its name from locals who think the silhouette of the island from afar looks like a crocodile. This small picturesque island also has a nice coral sand beach with clear waters and rocky wavy beach on the other side. If planning to climb atop of this cliff island, be sure to have slippers as the rocks can be sharp. There’s no fee going here. Boat ride solely to this island from Punta Verde is Php 1,300.
This waterfalls located in the middle of the island lush forest. This untouched body of water runs in a rocky cliff in the southern portion of the island. Punta Verde is the starting point of the trek if staying in the island but can also be reached from Cape Engaño or Siwangag Cove. There’s no entrance fee but you have to pay Php 50 for the tour guide. Best to go here afternoon and catch the sunset when going back to Punta Verde.
Located in mainland Santa Ana, this pristine beach is one of the best spots if visiting Palaui Island. This pink beach features an interesting combination of coral, ooid, and fine sand against its dazzling aquamarine waters. It was just divine! Anguib is a name of the property, thus it collects entrance fee of Php 100 and chartering a boat from Punta Verde to Anguib costs Php 2,200 good for up to 8 persons.
It is better to book a tour to Cape Engaño, Crocodile Island and Anguib Beach as it will only cost Php 3,500, good for up to 8 persons.
Where To Stay
If staying on the island, the only options are to stay at homestays or camp. Camping is only allowed in Punta Verde’s “Nature Village.” Either set up your own tent or rent an open hut for Php 1,200 for up to 4 persons. The other option is a homestay. As of October 2018, there are only 3 homestays on the island of Palaui. Palaui island has scarcity when it comes to electricity that makes it a great place to stay and disconnect. It’s brown-out during the day so phones and other gadgets must be recharged at night (except if your host has a battery). The other option is to stay at hotels and lodges in San Ana mainland, particularly at San Vicente.
Where To Eat
Food can be hard to find if you’re on the island of Palaui. There are few sari-sari stores with limited options. The other option is to a local or the homestay hosts to cook for you which is Php 150 per meal. If craving for a particular dish, hosts must be informed ahead of time so they can be prepared. The usual dish includes fish, seafood, vegetables, and rice. Another option is to buy own supply and ask the host to cook it (or cook it yourself). In mainland Santa Ana, there are several small restaurants but it can be costly to charter a boat if staying in Palaui Island just to eat in the mainland.
When traveling, a person learns through the experience especially when put outside his comfort zone. Palaui Island is a great place to spend a time to disconnect from the chaos of the big cities and reconnect with nature and experience the simplicity of life. Palaui will surely awake and invigorate one’s senses as upon encountering this island full of charm.
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