Exploring Panay Island in Catanduanes
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Wait! Are we really going to Panay? I asked Dwight with confusion, our official guide in Catanduanes. Just like Camiguin, Pandan, and Naga, there are also more than one Panay Island in the Philippines. Compared to Panay Island in the Visayas we know too well, the Catanduanes counterpart is smaller but not too tiny to surprise your inner wanderlust.
From an early morning visit to Summit View Park in Viga Catanduanes, we headed to Tarahid port in the town of Panganiban for our visit to Panay Island.
The Kumagat Beach Experience
As we get closer to the island, a beautiful lighthouse at the edge of the cliff and the serene Kumagat Beach finally came at view – and from that moment I knew that a helluva adventure here was going to happen.
Still full from the breakfast we had at Summit View Park, Joemart Dayauon, the Municipal Tourism Officer of Panganiban invited us for a snack. They served Latik, a famous delicacy in Catanduanes, and I could still remember a friend commenting on Facebook that I should try Latik in Catanduanes, and he was right, it was beyond delish!
For those unfamiliar, Latik is a sticky rice treat made with glutinous rice, coconut milk, and additional malunggay juice to enhance the flavor and color. It is served with a thick sauce made with caramelized sugar with coconut milk and condensed milk. Imagine dulce de leche with a hint of coconut that added aroma elevates the already surprisingly delicious delicacy. Yummm!
After the quick snack, everyone left for a short hike to Lolong point lighthouse. I was injured a couple of months ago so I decided to just rest in and take a short nap in one of their native huts – talk about island living! Good thing Dwight was kind enough to bring my camera and take some shots so I still won’t miss anything while I snooze. Thanks, Dwight!
If you plan on visiting Panay, we recommend you take a stop at Lolong Point. Although just a few minutes of trek, make sure to be extra careful especially in the rugged and steep parts going up. People say that getting to the top is definitely worth it, as a stunning view of the entire island, the rock formation, the trees surrounding the beach, and even the sound of waves will take your breath away.
Lunch in the Middle of the Sea
The fun doesn’t stop at the beach itself. After our short stay at Kumagat beach, we took another boat ride to the other side of the island. I thought that we’re going to another beach but I’m pretty surprised to see a pontoon that serves as a mobile restaurant in the middle of the sea. Simply amazing!
The floating restaurant is similar to the one we see in Loboc River in Bohol, but it was in the middle of the sea with a view of almost inhabited island. It was a first of its kind in Bicolandia and it was an initiative of the local government according to Joemart Dayauon, the Municipal Tourism Officer of Panganiban, Catanduanes.
For lunch, we had their local version of Humba, fried fish, pinakbet, steamed prawns and the star of the buffet spread, their famous Kinis, a local term for mud crabs.
Apart from the beautiful view, good food, and a videoke machine if you feel like a rockstar, what I like about the floating restaurant is the ambiance.
Imagine yourself in a place where the only distraction is the lack of it… It’s a perfect place to just be yourself and spend time with new found friends.
Breathtaking Views at Palestina Rolling Hills
After lunch, we took another boat ride to Palestina Rolling Hills. Located at the East of Catanduanes, this destination prides itself as they give a 360-degree view of the Pacific Ocean and two beaches surrounding sides. To give you an idea of how picturesque it is – the view from here looks like it came out on a default windows background.
To keep you safe from the scorching heat, make sure to bring a cap or shawl as there are no shelter or cottages along the way. Not to mention, the Tabing Beach also has a mini cave as well.
A Blissful Afternoon at Loran
Our next stop was at Loran Beach, also in Panay Island. It’s already late in the afternoon so we decided to take a dip. The place is also famous as the location of a former American outpost in the 1950s to guide ships in the Pacific. What’s amazing though is that it’s tucked behind the powdery cream shoreline and lush greenery of the beach.
Built in the early ‘50s, LORAN which stands for Long Range Aid to Navigation used to be an outpost to monitor activities in the Pacific Ocean. It was also taken over by the local coastguard but was again abandoned.
On our way to the town of Bagamanoc, our guide pointed another famous rock formation called Ilihan Point or Fertility Island. Ilihan Point or commonly known as “Boto ni Kurakog” is a phallic landmass located at the bay of Bagamanoc. It is literally translated as “Kurakog’s Penis” because it resembles the male sex organ.
According to local folklore, there was once a giant encanto whose name is Kurakog. He fell in love with a mortal girl but the girl’s parent disapproves of the relationship because Kurakog’s not a human. The girl committed suicide and made Kurakog depressed. When he died, he left an intimate part of his body floating in the sea to remind everyone of his sadness and anger with the humans, thus the name of islet in Bagamanoc.
Upon reaching our destination, we headed to Paday Falls. It is a wide and popular waterfall located in Brgy. Bacak in the town of Bagamanoc. Although the water is not that clear, people still love to hang out in this place.
There are cottages on the side of the falls for people who are doing a day tour or picnic. The path going here is almost concrete so going here is easy, and will take you about 5-minute motor ride and 5-minute trek going down to the falls.
Our last and final stop was at Costa Marina Beach Resort where we had an amazing dinner courtesy of the Mayor of Bagamanoc. We had steamed lobster, steamed prawns, Kinis, sweet and sour fish, and beef caldereta.
How to get there
Take a 45-minute direct flight from Manila or Clark to Virac. PAL has flights from Clark Airport while Cebu Pacific flies from NAIA.
The town of Panganiban is just an hour and a half drive from Virac. There are vans plying to Panganiban with the municipal hall as the drop off point.
If you are in Albay, you can reach Panganiban via a 2.5-hour ferry ride or 1.5 hours via fastcraft ride from Tabaco Port to San Andres or Virac Port.
From Tarahid port in Panganiban, it takes about 30 minutes to reach Panay Island. Boat rental costs 1,500 but you have to visit the local tourism office to register and for the boat rental assistance.
Tourism Officer of Panganiban, Catanduanes
Contact Number: 09198142679
Municipality of Panganiban, Sta. Maria Street., Panganiban, Catanduanes, Philippines 4806
Our Catanduanes Familiarization tour was made possible by the hardworking staff of Catanduanes Tourism Office headed by Carmel Bonifacio Garcia (Provincial Tourism Officer) and the Tourism Promotions Board.