Memos from Asia

Discover Babuyan Channels: A Hard to Reach, but Exceptionally Beautiful Island in the Philippines

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Smith Volcano (aka Mount Babuyan) on Babuyan Island (Credit: Bing Ramos, CC BY 2.0, Cropped from the original)

From the mainland, you will clearly get a view of the Babuyan Islands. Yet, it remains on the off the beaten track. This group of islands basically consists of 24 volcanic creations that are naturally made with caves and rugged cliffs. Some islets are bordered with pristine white sand beaches with crystal clear blue waters.

Currently, there are 5 islands that are inhabited namely: Camiguan, Calayan, Dalupri, Fuga, and Babuyan. These are the largest islands where residents enjoy a peaceful, pastoral lifestyle. However, electricity supply is still limited and there’s little to no contact with people in the mainland.

If you’re looking for hot springs, you can visit the volcanic Camiguin islet. For breathtakingly beautiful white beaches, you can go to Dalupri and Fuga islets. Again, you need to consider that there’s no accommodation or electricity in these islands. For natural cove, the perfect place to check out is the Calayan island.

Where is the Babuyan Channel Exactly Located

The Babuyan Islands is situated in Luzon Strait, just above Luzon’s main island. This archipelago is surrounded by islets and is considered one of the most pristine islands in the Philippines. All four major islands are part of the Cagayan province while Fuga belongs to Aparri municipality. If you check the map, Babuyan Islands are those small dots that you find at the top of Luzon.

In terms of weather and climate, Babuyan is known for being a typhoon hotspot. It’s important to plan your trip before visiting this island in order to avoid getting trapped during the typhoon season. The perfect time to book your travel is between April and June, these are the calmest months for the Babuyan Channel.

How to Plan Your Babuyan Channel Tour

Claveria, Cagayan (Credit:Jubhel Claire Domingo, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Ideally, a 7-day tour to the Babuyan Channel will give you enough time to go around the islands. Considering the distance of the islands from the mainland, you really have to prepare for a longer trip to enjoy the whole experience. The travel costs will include transportation, professional tour guide, camping gear, fees, and meals.

Here are fun facts about Babuyan Island that will help you plan your tour more carefully:

  • Babuyan Claro or Babuyan Island has 1,423 inhabitants according to the 2010 census.
  • It is located at the uppermost northern part of the Babuyan Islands with a volcano that has a symmetrical cone shape called Smith Volcano or Mount Babuyan.
  • The height of Mount Babuyan is 2,257 feet while the Mount Pangasun is 3,543 feet high. Both are active according to experts, so it’s important to keep updated on the PHILVOCS news before going to the island.
  • Babuyan Claro beaches have stunning black sand unlike the powdery white sand in other beaches within the Babuyan group of islands. Also, the terrain is heavily forested so make sure to prepare yourself for an adventure.
  • If you’re traveling on a budget, you can go to the Babuyan Channel without booking a travel agency. However, having a professional tour guide will make you feel safer and more enjoyable.

What to Do in the Babuyan Channels

With so many things to see and experience in the Babuyan Islands, you will never run out of ideas to make your trip more exciting and memorable. Choosing this tourist destination is the best decision despite being an unpopular choice for tourists. This hidden gem in the northernmost part of Luzon will surely amaze you.

Check out these attractions in the Babuyan Islands:

Cibang Cove

From Centro, you can either walk to get there for 30 minutes or ride the kuliglig or a trailer with two wheels pulled by rotary tiller or tractor for only 15 minutes. The cove is surrounded by white sand, limestone cliffs, and stunning rock formations. From Cibang Cove, you can view the Camiguin Norte across the cerulean ocean.

Nagudungan Hill

The beauty of this landscape can be compared to Batanes. There are carabaos and goats wandering the place, but you might not notice them as they quietly eat grass in the corners. The cliffs will literally make you drop your jaw. This place is breathtakingly scenic and so peaceful you can simply lay down in the grass and relax while viewing the seascape across the Babuyan channels.

Centro Beach

If you’re into swimming, diving, snorkeling, sailing, or enjoying a picnic, the Centro Beach is the best location. The secluded hideaways of this beach is ideal for snorkeling, diving, and other water activities. Under the cool waters is a rich marine life perfectly hidden from the public.

More Interesting Attractions to Visit in Babuyan

If you’re looking for more, there are many other exciting destinations you can check out when you visit Babuyan Islands. Here they are:

  • Whales and dolphins in the Camiguin Island.
  • Piddan Point.
  • Magsidel Punta.
  • Lighthouse situated near Cibang.
  • Kumanabang, a peaceful islet.

Some people believe that you should bring a pig when crossing the Babuyan Channel in order to have a safe trip. Pig is the symbol of luck, prosperity, and wealth according to the Chinese. This is a traditional belief that was adopted by many Filipinos, especially during New Year’s celebrations.

How to Get to Babuyan Channel

The Saint Peter Metropolitan Cathedral is an 18th-century Baroque church in Cagayan, Philippines. (Credit: NSinamban, CC BY-SA 4.0)

From Metro Manila, you can book a flight to Tuguegarao or Laoag City. You can also ride a bus to Aparri, Sta Ana, or Claveria for up to 14 hours of travel time. These are the gateways to the Babuyan groups of islands. Of course, the most convenient option for you depends on where you are coming from.

From Lakay-lakay port, Aparri port, or Claveria port, you will need to ride a motorized boat going to Babuyan. Usually, the boats are available from 5 to 7 in the morning. Make sure to schedule your trip according to the availability of the boats in the port you prefer to reach Babuyan. The usual travel time for the boat is between 5 to 7 hours.

So, are you ready to conquer Babuyan Channel this year? Make sure to make your own list of the spots you should visit when you go to the breathtaking Babuyan Islands.

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