Palaui Island: The Ultimate Paradise for Introverts
When in Manila during one of the hottest seasons ever, it pays to visit one of the hottest places in Luzon: Cagayan.
Why in the world would you want to travel more than 12 hours to a place with sweltering temperature, you ask? It’s because this is where you’ll find one of the best-kept secrets of the country: Palaui Island.
Surviving Palaui Island
Palaui Island is the perfect destination for beach lovers who don’t like large crowds. That’s why I fell in love with the place anyway. It’s the ultimate paradise for introverted people like me. And despite the international publicity it got after being host to two of the most recent seasons of Survivor, it’s not teeming with people, like Boracay is now.
Nestled at the northernmost point of Luzon, Palaui Island can be reached via a 12-hour bus ride from Manila to Tuguegarao. From there, it takes another 3 to 4 hours to reach Sta. Ana, Cagayan.
We took a deluxe Victory Liner bus (P740) that had free Wi-Fi and a comfort room. The bus left Cubao at 9:00 pm and arrived at Tuguegarao at 9:00 am. Then we boarded a private van that took us to San Vicente. From what I’ve gathered, the fare to San Vicente is around P200.
Day 1: Scorching temperatures and cool waters
We arrived in Sta. Ana at around noon. It was a simple yet beautiful town. We could see rice fields everywhere. There were carabaos in the middle of the road. But what was most noticeable was the blistering heat.
Our destination was a few meters away from the San Vicente port (we’re lucky to have a friend who lives there, so we didn’t need to pay for hotel accommodations), so we went straight to where the boats were and began the journey to Palaui Island.
It was incredible.
Beautiful, stunning, and amazing are not enough to describe its beauty. Even from the port, you’ll see how beautiful the islands are. The water changes its hue—from green to light blue to dark blue—and is cool to the touch. The waves were a little strong during that time (it was around 2 pm) and we only had a small boat, so we were bobbing up and down during the ride, which took about 40 minutes.
Once we were out on the open waters, our boat turned left and my mouth dropped at the beauty that waiting for us.
It was like a private paradise. It was quiet–the only sounds we could hear were the lapping of the waves and the hiss of the wind.
The water here was calmer and so blue, it was like someone used crayons on it. The beach stretched out for miles and had sand that was so soft and powdery, we had to walk barefoot. A few meters from the beach were trees of various kinds. We decided to walk straight ahead and turn at the bend. This was what greeted us:
Although the sun’s rays were a little blinding, we didn’t feel the heat because of the breeze that’s coming from the ocean. Plus, the small island was surrounded by mountains. The best thing about it, though, was that there was no one there but us. My kind of place.
Because we knew the boat ride would be long and that the waves would get us soaking wet, I had to use my phone to take pictures of the islands. I’ll be the first to admit that the photos didn’t entirely capture the real beauty of the place.
After 30 minutes, we jumped back into the boat and went to Crocodile Island. This had a huge rock formation that looks like–you guessed it right–a crocodile from afar. You wouldn’t want to swim here, though, because the waves are bigger and scarier.
On the far end of the island was a rocky beach where big waves crashed into the walls. This is a great place to take selfies, but not a safe place to swim.
The ride back to the village was a lot scarier because the waves were bigger. I was clutching the sides of the small boat and we were dripping wet. I saw a long stretch of white beach several kilometers away, which I later on learned was the site where Survivor’s tribal council was made. It was quite disappointing we didn’t get to go there.