With its abundance of hundred-year-old trees, centuries-old lighthouse and beaches, Palaui Island have been turned into a paradise for those who want to experience the raw beauty of the Philippines.
Upon arriving on the island, the first thing that you will notice are the greeneries and the clear blue waters. This is probably what the director of the Survivor series saw when they filmed it here.
So what brought me to this place? My sister and I were planning our first trip together when she suggested we go to a Palaui Island tour.
After a quick Google search, I was sold. In a week we were already heading to this protected landscape and seascape with her friend and her sister’s friend. So we were two groups with two sisters each. Haha.
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How To Get There
- Since we were coming from Baguio, we took the bus heading to Tuguegarao – the Dalin bus. You can find its bus terminal in the Gov. Pack Road, just below SM. Travel time is 11-12hours and fare is 650 pesos. Then from Tuguegarao, ride a van going to Sta. Ana. Travel time is 3 hours and fare is 250 pesos. You can also ride the GMW bus directly to Sta. Ana, Cagayan from Baguio. Travel time is 14.5 hours and fare is 885 pesos. Both buses have aircon.
- Once in Santa Ana, ride a tricycle going to San Vicente Port for 10-20 minutes. The fare is 15-25 pesos per head.
- At the port, ride a boat going to Palaui Island. Travel time is 20-30 minutes depending on how big the waves are.
Note: Boat fare is already included in the island tour that you’re going to avail. You can contact Kuya Apol at to be your boatman and guide when going to the island.
Via Bus – Ride a bus heading to Tuguegarao from Caloocan, Sampaloc, or Kamias. Fare is around 600 pesos. Once in Tuguegarao, follow the steps above.
Via Plane – Aside from buses, there are also planes going to Tuguegarao. You can book online. From the airport, walk just a few meters to reach the highway leading to Sta. Ana, Cagayan. Just cross the street and wait for buses or vans to Sta Ana.
Travel Tip: Check schedules and availability of buses and flights to book online with 12Go Asia.
From Laoag, you can ride a bus going to Sta Ana. Try the GMW bus for only 465 pesos. Travel time is around 6 to 8 hours.
What To Do In Palaui Island (& What To See)
Palaui was once called Punta Verde by the locals until it became Palaui Island. When we went to the island, we already availed of the special tour to Anguib Beach, Crocodile Island, Punta Verde, and Cape Engano Lighthouse.
Just a few meters from the shores of Punta Verde, I was amazed at how clear the water was. I could clearly make out the green seaweeds dancing under the water.
Since we arrived at Palaui island at 12nn, we had to find a homestay and fix our stuff so we decided to tell our boatman and guide that we will start our Palaui island tour at 3 pm.
We chose to stay at Kuya Edwin’s homestay. After talking with the owner’s sister, ate Lyn, we heard that there was a waterfall on the island that can be reached via 30-45 minutes walk. So we thought, why not go there before we start our Palaui island tour?
Our Palaui island tour itinerary consisted of:
- 2-3 pm Walk to the beautiful waterfalls
- 3-6 pm Cape Engano Lighthouse (we wanted to watch the sunset here)
- 6-8 am Check out Anguib Beach
- 8-9 am Go see the Crocodile Island
- 10:00 am Ride the boat back to San Vicente Port
I know what you’re thinking. We probably didn’t follow our schedule. You’re right! Haha.
At 2:00 pm, while waiting for our guide to the waterfalls, all four of us fell asleep. That’s right. All four of us. We only woke up at 3:00 pm. The guide came at around 3:10 pm. Apparently, the guide called ate Lyn to check on us at 2:00 pm. That was when we were all sleeping happily by the open hut outside our homestay. So it was around 3:30 pm when we started the trek to the waterfalls.
Going there, we first had to register and pay for the guide. For the four of us, we paid 300 pesos for the guide.
Trek to the Waterfalls
Ecstatic as we were, we followed the guide, ate Jennifer, to the falls. On the way, I found out that she grew up on the island. In the past, she told me Palaui island only had around 4 or 5 houses. Before the island was declared as a protected landscape, people used to cut the big trees and anyone could build a house anywhere on the island.
Now, nobody cuts trees and only locals can build houses. If you want to build a house here, you first have to get married to a local. (You now know what to do guys – don’t tell anybody I said that LOL.)
On the way, we passed huge Narra trees (like super duper humungous giant Narra trees!). Ate Jennifer said that if you plan to hike going to Cape Engano Lighthouse, you’ll see the bigger Narra trees.
So that got me excited. I made a mental note to myself that when I come back to Palaui island, I’m going to try hiking.
Aside from the Narra trees, we also saw anahaw ( the national leaf of the Philippines) and huge vines – vines that look like the ones in the Tarzan movie. We tried swinging and hanging on to it, true to what ate Jennifer said, the vine is strong enough to carry our weight.
I wanted to be Jane, beat my chest and swing among the trees then and there. But I had to wake up to the reality that we’re about to see a waterfall up close and personal.
So we continued walking. We passed a few mangrove trees, a hanging bridge, a creek and a few interesting things (I’m not gonna be the spoiler and spill everything) before we saw the waterfalls. I was a bit disappointed, to be honest since the falls only had a little amount of water flowing from it.
Our guide said that in the rainy season, the waterfalls would look majestic with all the water coming down the mountain. The water from the falls comes from the same water source where the locals get their drinking water.
After a few minutes of rest, we went back to our starting point to get ready for our boat trip to the Cape Engano Lighthouse.
Boat Trip To Cape Engano Lighthouse
At 4:30 pm, we started our boat trip to Cape Engano Lighthouse. Our boatman asked us if we were sure about our trip since we might not enjoy the lighthouse because of the lack of time.
We said yes, we were sure. We wanted to watch the sunset at the lighthouse.
It took us around 30 minutes to reach the shore where we had to start our 15-minute trek to the lighthouse. To go up, you have to hire a guide.
Since we already paid 300 to our guide during our waterfall walk, we were told that we only needed to pay 50 for our guide in Cape Engano.
Walking up the small hill to the lighthouse, we came across large pandan plants. We also saw huge hermit crabs and a few forest crabs.
The place is so raw, green and beautiful that you can try to imagine what the Spaniards must’ve felt when they decided to build the lighthouse here in the 1500s.
When we were almost near the lighthouse, we could see the whole cove including the green green green greeneries (haha does that make sense?).
Anyway, once we reached the lighthouse, I could only stare in amazement at such a beautiful centuries-old structure. And the best part? It’s still functioning. Every 6 pm, it automatically lights up.
Compared to the other functioning lighthouses, this one has a white-colored light. Apparently, each lighthouse is designated a different color to let the ships know from what place the lighthouse is located.
We took some photos and waited for the sunset. With the golden waters and the beautiful sceneries, it was spectacular – a once in a lifetime moment that I will never forget.
By 6:00 pm, we were ready to go. We waved goodbye to our guide and were on our way back to Punta Verde.
Unfortunately, due to the incoming super typhoon Maria, we had to go the other way around Palaui island. For two hours, we were at sea. With nothing but our boat and our life vests, we had to brave the cold dark night all the while hoping it wouldn’t rain. Lesson learned. Don’t stay out late kids.
During our boat trip, I saw hundreds of fishing boats at sea. From the distance, at first I thought they were lights coming from houses but as we got nearer, I found out they were boats. It was a sight to see. Each boat had one lantern.
When we were just a few meters from the shore, I saw a few lights underwater. Apparently, they were fishes! The locals call them agmonamon.
Aside from that, I also saw flying fishes. Not literally flying ones. They’re just jumping out of the water. (Maybe these are what they call drowning fishes and they’re jumping out to get some air hahahaha). The locals call them barasot.
Since it was low tide, there were lots of hermit crabs and white crabs running around the shore. I even saw a shrimp! Hahahaha. Un-freaking-believable , huh? Would I do it all over again? You bet!
Check Out The Surrounding Islands
When you charter a boat to Palaui Island, there are also other trips available. You can go see Anguib Beach– the Boracay of the North, Crocodile Island, Nangaramoan and a lot more.
Here are some photos I took of Anguib Beach and Crocodile Island. I made another post for these two.
Other activities on the island also include:
Since Palaui Island is a protected landscape, there are tons of birds in the area! When hiking around the island, you can hear a lot of different bird sounds.
There are three trails on the island (Lagunzad’s Trail, Leonardo’s Trail, and Siwangag Trail). The trees on this island are huge and beautiful. I definitely recommend you to hike here if you have the time.
As a protected seascape, there are a lot of fishes surrounding the area. Palaui Island is also a marine sanctuary so expect to see a lot of fishes. Our guide in Cape Engano Lighthouse even told us of dolphins playing around the seawaters.
- Hiking – Guide fee is at 300 pesos per guide for 1 to 4 visitors. This means that if there are 6 of you in a group, you need two guides.
- Snorkeling – There is a 250 pesos rent for a complete gear (per person fee) and you’ll need to hire a guide for 300 pesos (for 2 persons).
- Boat Rental Rates (max of 8 persons)- For a trip to Punta Verde, Crocodile Island, Anguib Beach and Cape Engano Lighthouse, it will cost you 3500 for a day trip while 3800 for overnight.
Note: These are my expenses during our Palaui Trip. Most of it is divided into 4 persons.
- Baguio to Tuguegarao – P650
- Tuguegarao to Sta Ana – P250
- Lunch – P180 / 4 = P45
- Groceries, Fruits, Veggies, Fishes, etc – P440 / 4 = P110
- Water – P112 / 4 = P28
- Tricycle to San Vicente Port from Sta Ana Market – P60 / 4 = P15
- Boat Tour – P3800 (since we availed of the overnight trip) = P950 each for 4 persons
- Guide – P350 / 4 = P87.5
- Anguib Beach Entrance – P150
- Homestay – P250
- Tricycle to Sta Ana Market from Port – P15
- Total – P2550.50
Note: After our Palaui Island adventure, we went to Laoag, so I haven’t included the bus trip fare to Laoag.
Where to Stay in Palaui Island
You can camp here for only 250 pesos per person inclusive of tent and beddings. Rooms are at 1,200 pesos for 4 persons.
The average rate for homestays on the Island is at 250 pesos per person.
Where to Stay in Sta Ana, Cagayan
For Sta Ana, you can book your accommodations via Booking.com.
You can also contact the accommodations below.
Airbnb Cagayan Province
Aside from hotels and resorts, you can also opt to stay at an Airbnb.
Get your P2,200 ($44) Airbnb discount here!
You can cook your own food on the island. Homestays usually have a kitchen where you can prepare and cook. There are only a few stores in Palaui Island so bring everything you need and buy from Sta Ana market.
There are also catering services available on Palaui island. Refer to the photo below for details. (Sorry didn’t notice the last part got cut off). Anyways, you can contact Kuya Apol to set the arrangements for you.
You can contact Kuya Apol for boat trips. He was our boatman during our trip to Palaui island and he knows a lot about the place. Since he grew up in Palaui, you can ask him a lot of questions. You can also ask his help in finding a homestay and guides. You can contact him at:
Globe – 09557444175
Let him know you got his number from this blog.
Tips and Reminders
- The signal from SMART sim cards is barely there. If not, none at all. So be prepared. Maybe you can use a GLOBE sim card if you really need to contact someone outside of the island.
- The people are really friendly so don’t be shy and talk to them. They give the best tips and trivia. Ilocano is the main dialect spoken on the island..
- It’s best if you contact the boatman like Kuya Apol (09557444175) in advance so they can prepare the boats for you as well as guide you in going to the port.
- There are no ATMs on the island so bring enough cash.
- Buy whatever you need at Sta Ana Market. There are only a few stores on the island so better stock up.
- It’s best to stay for two nights and three days on the island so you can see everything and enjoy what Palaui Island has to offer.
- The locals rely on solar energy and generators for electricity. During the daytime, they charge car batteries using solar panels. You can use these to charge your gadgets. At night time, there are generators that run up to around 3 am to supply the electricity in each house.
Responsible Travel Tips
When traveling to one place, make sure you practice responsible tourism. Here are some tips to do so.
1. Respect the environment
Don’t litter. Please hold onto your trash until you find a garbage can.
Related: 16 Eco-Friendly Travel Products for the Earth-Loving You
2. Avoid single-use plastic
Bring your eco bag and refuse single-use plastic. Let’s lessen plastic waste.
3. Shop local
Keep the traditional crafts alive and support local artisans. Buy from them. And try not to haggle, P20 may seem small to you but it can mean a lot to them.
4. Always ask permission
Be sure to ask for permission first when taking photos or videos especially when it comes to children.
What to Pack for Palaui
- Eco-friendly Reusable Water Bottle
- Light Rain Jacket (especially from June to November)
- T-shirts, a nice top, and a long-sleeved shirt
- Aqua Shoes
- Day Bag
- Power Adapter
- Universal Waterproof Phone Case
- Packing Cubes
- Microfiber Towel
- Travel Insurance
- Money Belt
- sneakers, hiking shoes (if you’re planning to hike) and some flats
- reusable straw and reusable bag (no to single-use plastic!)
Related Article: The Only Travel Packing List You’ll Ever Need (Trust Me)
Our Camera Gear
- Mirrorless Camera: Fujifilm XT3
- Lenses: Fujifilm Fujinon kit lens (18-55mm) | Fujinon 35mm f2 | Fujinon 50mm f2
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- GoPro: GoPro Hero Black 7
- Power Bank: Romoss Powerbank
- Camera Backpack: Case Logic Camera and Laptop Backpack
- Monopod: Ifootage Cobra 2 a180
- Mic: Rode VideoMicro
- Gimbal: Zhiyun Weebill-S
You might also like…
- Crocodile Island, Cagayan: No, There Are No Crocodiles
- Palaui, Laoag & Vigan Travel Guide: A 4D/3N Itinerary
- Anguib Beach: Cagayan’s Boracay of the North
- La Paz Sand Dunes Laoag Travel Guide: Why Visit?
- Ilocos Norte Tourist Spots: 9 Places That You Should Visit
- 13 Vigan Tourist Spots That You Shouldn’t Miss
7 thoughts on “Palaui Island, Cagayan (Ultimate Budget Travel Guide)”
What can you buy in the markets in Santa Ana before going out to Palaui? Is it possible to buy fruits, vegetables, rice, etc. to take with us for our stay? Or better to shop in Tuguegarao?
I am a female solo traveler looking to visit Palaui in the next week. I will be coming from Banuane . Since I do not have anyone to split costs with I wanted to verify a couple things. It looks like your post is one of the most recent ones on the web. The 2500 rate for overnight is the cheapest overnight boat it looks like. Will that drop you off and pick you up in punta verde ? I plan on hiking to a few viewpoints using maps me. Is it required or just recommended to get a guide? Is the guide 300 pesos per day or per hike ? Did you book your homestay ahead of time or were you able to coordinate this once you got to Santa Ana ? Also, is June a good month to do this trip? I appreciate any help you may be able to give me! Thank you for your informative blog!
Hi Amanda. Yes, the boat will drop you off and pick you up in Punta Verde. I’d recommend you to get a guide. It helps the local community plus, you’ll have someone to tell you about the place’s history. From what I remember, the fee is per hike. There’s no need to book the homestay ahead of time. You can easily find one once you get there. You can also coordinate with kuya Apol for a homestay (09557444175). June is the rainy season here in the Philippines. Oftentimes, there are thunderstorms during the late afternoons. The weather can be unpredictable, too.
First of all I want to commend your blogs (I’ve also seen the Anguib blog), for they’ve been nothing but helpful. We’re planning on going to Cagayan this December and I want to recommend Palaui Island as one of our destinations considering what it constitutes. My problem is that I’d be traveling with a huge crowd, 13 adults, 7 kids, and three infants, tops.
1.) Is it possible to altogether avoid having a tour guide at some destinations?
2.) If no, then is it possible to avoid having five tour guides? Can we just have at most, three?
3.) Could the boat rides possibly trigger sea sickness? Unfortunately, some of my companions easily get dizzy.
4.) Do we need to register at the Tourism Office located at the Port area before going on our trip?
Your response would be highly appreciated! :))
Hi Johannes, after reading your blog on Palaui Island Iam now interested to visit the island. Thank you for sharing this beautiful island with us.
Glad you liked it 🙂
My name is John Stevenson and am working with Makira Ulawa Provincial Government. I, originally come from an Island called Santa Ana or in local language Owarafa.
I hope one day your Santa Ana island and my Santa Ana island communities can have a Sister relation or an exchange program.
In your pictures, these two Santa Ana s have lots in common like white beaches, blue seas and lakes, and mainly very cultured life style.
Can we work on that, I mean we can learn from each other especially in the areas of environment and conservation, climate change and any other interesting issues. thanks so much.