Palaui island in Cagayan, about 457km north of Manila, was the setting for two seasons of the American television series Survivor. It's a stunning volcanic island sitting off the northeast coast of the Philippines, divided from the mainland by a treacherous strait. This is all about raw beauty - an isolated speck on the map where, if you make the effort to get there, you'll find sweeping crescents of beaches all to yourself, a vast reef on the island's eastern side, and tiny offshore islets that seem untouched by human hand. Despite its exposure on the small screen, Palaui is still relatively untouched by mainstream tourism. The long hours on the road to get there and the absence of luxury resorts keep the isle off the radar.
Where to stay
There are no resorts in Palaui, but those who want to stay on the island can find homestays. Contact Elsa Lagdaran at +63905 283 2559. A room at a homestay is P250 (about $5) per head. Tourists can also choose to stay in the Santa Ana mainland.
Jerolynda White Beach Resort is less than five minutes by boat from the San Vicente Port and boatmen can pick up guests right at the resort’s beach. Rooms are P2,500 each. Jotay Resort also offers rooms starting from P1,000.
How to get there
From EDSA, Pasay, get on a Victory Liner bus to Tuguegarao for around P680. The trip takes 12-14 hours. At the Tuguegarao terminal, get on a van bound for Santa Ana, Cagayan, then hire a tricycle to take you to San Vicente Port. At the port, boats are available for hire to take you to Palaui Island.
Contact boat operator Edwin Tabucol at +63916 116 5850 to book in advance. Boats for eight passengers are available for P3,500.
There are two ways to reach Cape Engaño, the northern point of Palaui: via boat or on foot with a choice of two trails. The boat ride takes around 45 minutes, while the trek is 3-4 hours.
Read about the country’s final frontiers
Cover photo is a screengrab from Palaui Island Facebook page.
Published July 2016