This Remote Island Is Not The Easiest To Get To, But It Absolutely Rewards Those Who Do

Most travelers fly into the Philippines and head south, however, there is an island off the north coast of Luzon that has much to offer, without the crowds. Part of the adventure lies in getting to Calayan Island which will reward you with its beauty once you get here. This stunning Southeast Asian island forms part of the Babuyan Islands, which are situated in the Luzon Strait. Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines and home to its capital city of Manila.

Calayan Island can be accessed from the mainland, but only by boat at present. If you're traveling to the north of Luzon by land then you can stop over at other beautiful and intriguing locations like the Ifugao rice terraces and the hanging coffins of Sagada. Not many tourists venture beyond Manila, so you may have some places to yourself. Before you head to Calayan Island, make sure that you're choosing the most budget-friendly time of year to visit the Philippines.

How to get to Calayan Island

While it may get easier to get to Calayan Island in the future, it currently takes most of a day depending on where you travel from. Wherever you are on Luzon Island, you will need to get to Claveria town which is where the boat leaves for Calayan. This journey takes 4-6 hours and only leaves in good weather. If you start in Manila, you can take a flight or bus to the north of Luzon.

Flights go to Laoag or Tuguegarao and you can travel from these cities to Claveria via bus or shared van. Laoag is closer by about an hour. Alternatively, it is a 12-hour bus journey from Manila to Claveria and you can get a night bus to save money on a room. As there aren't that many roads in Luzon, it is fairly easy to find a bus or shared taxi going in the same direction as you. If you stick your hand out, they will stop for you as they will usually accept passengers at any stage of their journey as long as they have space.

What to do on Calayan Island

This lush island is the perfect place for hiking and exploring. Some of the best walks are up to Bangaan Hill or Nagudungan Lighthouse to check out the views. There is also the Canawan Falls waterfall which you can trek to through the jungle. To see Bataraw Falls and Lusok Cave you will need to go on a boat trip around the island as you can't access them on foot. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the endemic Calayan rail, a black bird with a red bill that only lives on Calayan Island.

After you've been for a wander, head to one of the island's tranquil beaches. The most popular is Sibang Cove. According to the Lakwatsero travel blog, the other best beaches to visit are Caniwara Beach, Cababaan Beach, Bassit Cadaratan, Dibay Beach, and Dilam Beach. As well as snorkeling in these waters, you can take a boat out to see whales and dolphins as the Babuyan Islands are a hotspot for large marine mammals. It is a particularly important area for humpback whales as it is the only place in the country where they are known to breed. Alongside these magnificent beasts, there are 12 other cetacean species to try and spot while you're here. Once you've seen Calayan, you can visit the other large Babuyan islands of Camiguin, Fuga, and Dalupiri before heading back to the mainland.