Now here’s an island in the country worth including on your list to visit this 2015!
Some gets discouraged to travel to Cagayan Valley (Region 02) because of the long hours one has to invest if you decide to take the land route and if you opt for the air route, well it is much comfortable, fast and a little pricey.
But if discorvering mostly uncharted or non populous places is your passion you need to sacrifice either comfort or spend more. I chose to sacrifice comfort by taking the land route. If you travel by air, you can via Cebu Pacific or PAL.
Clothes to bring depends on the time and activity you plan to do. The island offers swimming, snorkeling, beach camping and trekking.
Manila to Tuguegarao City, Cagayan (Land Route)
There are many bus transport plying the highway from Manila to Tuguegarao – Victory Liner, Florida or Five Star at Php 600 to 700. Their terminals are either in Pasay, Sampaloc and Cubao. I highly recommend Victory Liner Sampaloc because of their friendly staff. If you are planning to head out during the holidays or long weekends better make an advance reservation and make it a night trip. I was a chance passenger because my trip was fueled by spontaniety.
When you get to Tuguegarao you can have breakfast at canteens near the bus terminal or if you are up for a batil patong – a specialty of Tuguegarao, an eatery near Victory liner offers just that. Eating is a must to fuel you for the next leg of the trip.
So after feeding yourself, you can either walk to the van terminal to San Vicente just a few meters away or ask a tricycle to take you. Regular fare is Php10.00 but since it is a special ride, fare ranges from Php20 to 50. Negotiate!
Just as you arrive at the van terminal, helpful barkers will ask where you are going. “Sa San Vicente port sa Sta. Ana po”, that is your destination.
Brace yourself for the more than 3 hour ride to the port but since you are tired you’ll sleep drooling. Just take note that the van goes door-to-door but be thankful because when it’s your turn they will directly transport you to San Vicente port which is a kilometer or two from what the local calls as Centro. The drivers treat each passenger like VIP’s by opening the door for you too.
Once you get to the port, register at DOT for Php50.00 and fill out the manifest at PASAMOBA. They’ll assign a boatman for you or if you made prior arrangements with Ate Elsa who caters homestays at the island (0905 283 2559), she would already have arranged that for you.
The boat ride cost Php1,300.00 (two-way), I know its pricey for less than 30min ride to an island but that is their current rates.
Accomodation (via tent or room) and food can also be availed through Ate Elsa at Php150 per night and Php100 per meal respectively. If you prefer to cook your own meals, you can bring your own cook set and buy your provisions at San Vicente wet market.
If you get lucky, a lobster or a coconut crab will be on the menu. Just as we were.