Catanduanes Up Close

What is great about how the regions in the Philippines are structured is that visiting all provinces in one trip is doable.  Depending on your itinerary and travel goals, some regions might require a week or more to explore but some areas will only take you a long weekend.  

The other beauty of crossing all provinces, apart from the scenery as you journey, is the experience of riding different transportation vehicles.  Although the Philippines is lacking in direct transport networks, travelers from around the globe patiently endure long commutes on their trip to discover the unexploited gems of the country.  Undeniably, the rise of local tourists boosts the tourism of all localities which challenges the government to improve the infrastructure.  

Among the regions that are easy to explore is the Bicol Region as it is accessible through land or by air. It’s friendly to all kinds of tourists be it solo, couple, family or group and accommodations ranges from budget to luxe. Just use any online hotel booking site like Traveloka and you will see various accommodation options. You will find that at least a few are sure to meet your budget and needs.

A Bicol road trip is highly suggested to leisurely move from one province to the next.  Each province has its own unique attractions to offer but it’s the iconic Mayon Volcano that will fascinate you the most.  When you talk of spicy and “gata” cooking, the Bicolanos will easily pop off your head.  And one can’t discount the variety of flavors that can be formed from the Bicol endemic pili nut fruit.

The provinces of Bicol are land-linked except for Catanduanes and Masbate, being island provinces.  Both have flights directly from Manila or you can take a ferry from Bicol’s mainland.  The survivor-haven Caramoan Peninsula of Camarines Sur is best reachable through Catanduanes; hence boat tours to the islands is a regular tour packages.

Catanduanes braces the winds of the Pacific Ocean which made it the “land of the howling winds”.  Through the years, it braved the landfall of several typhoons that made the province resilient through time.

Accommodations and restaurants have started to sprawl in Catanduanes.  Travelers can opt to stay in beach resorts or the hotels in the capital town.  Hotels and resorts with pool are also available.  For those who prefers a relaxed ambiance, go for the beach resorts; far from the town’s clatters and very close to the music of the sea.

Food is abundant in Catanduanes and you will be surprised by the presence of various cuisines.  Seafood is the main offering, from mud crabs to lobsters to seashells to shrimps to fishes, name it, they have it, but don’t forget the special chili ice cream to complete your Bicol trip.  The nightlife choices need to improve to be able to accommodate party lover tourists.  As of today, there are few selections of resorts and bars to spend the night.

Travelers can wander around Catanduanes through organized tours offered by tour operators and by the hotels themselves.  For those who loves to do-it-yourself, the province is very easy to navigate.  There are several means of DIY – through the local transport, by private cars or vans, but for solo or duo travelers especially those on a budget, motorcycle is the best way.  Yes, just ask around because even a hotel crew can lend their bike for you.  Then grab a map, ask directions and hit the road.  Be mindful of your safety however and do observe road rules and regulations.

Historical attractions are also present with the Bato Church being a premiere heritage.
For adventurous souls, waterfalls, mountains and caves are nearby that both experienced or ordinary tourists can enjoy.  Puraran Beach is surfers’ paradise especially on months when the barreling waves appear the most.

Other than Virac and the nearby towns attractions, there are more places in Catanduanes to discover. The island town in the northern part houses a lighthouse with scenic view of rolling hills.  Other than the powdery beaches, natural coves and bays, the island is also rich in colorful coral plates that snorkeling or diving enthusiasts can savor.  For now, the island remains a simple exclusive home for the local’s youth.  With the incontestable beauty it holds, soon, very soon, hotels and restaurants will fill the area.  Tourists of different colors and races will flock the beaches.  Culture from different countries will influence and gradually change the customs of the island.  So, while the island is pure with beaches pristine, let’s go visit this other side of Catanduanes.


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