Palaui Island, Cagayan : Travel Guide

Palaui Island is a protected landscape and seascape nestled in the northeastern most part of  Cagayan Valley, Philippines.

I still recall our first attempt to conquer Cape Engaño in Palaui Island back in 2010. During that time, detailed information on how to get to Palaui is limited. In fact, if you type “Palaui” online, the search engine will suggest the country “Palau”. A kind fisherman with his family approached me and my friend Angel of Lakwatsero and let us hitched in his boat without asking for anything in return. Touched by his genuine hospitality, we asked the fisherman to be our guide to trek the lighthouse. He politely refused and gave us directions instead because he opted to go fishing at night. At that time, like many locals of Palaui, he doesn’t know yet that tourism could provide them additional income. We asked for his number, and then off we went to search for the path to Cape Engaño lighthouse.


Unfortunately, we never arrived at our elusive destination. We got lost in the forest, walked nine hours around the island and ended up having badly wounded and scarred legs. We have failed, but we took home a story of finding the courage to know when to give up, and meeting kind locals.

We blogged our experience and returned 6 months after (July 2011) with our friends.

With the influx of tourists to Palaui Island due to blogs and social media, the boat of the fisherman who helped us eventually turned into a tourist boat by day. Indeed tourism helps create jobs, but like any other tourist attractions that have risen to fame, change is expected.  New rules have been implemented to protect the island; the boat rate and guide fees are now regulated. I hope with all these changes, the locals of Palaui Island will still benefit from its tourism revenues. And may this marine reserve be continually conserved and protected for the benefit of future generations.


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How to get to Palui Island in Cagayan from Manila



If you’re taking a plane to Tuguegarao, you can just walk outside the airport, a few meters away is the highway leading to Sta. Ana.  Cross the street and wait for vans  or bus en route to Sta.Ana, Cagayan.



You can get to Palaui Island from Manila by taking a Victory Liner bus bound for Tuguegarao (Fare is Php 600) from Kamias, Sampaloc and Caloocan.  At Tuguegarao City, proceed to the van terminal and ride a van to Sta. Ana, Cagayan.



From Sta.Ana Cagayan to San Vicente port

The bus/van will stop at the Sta.Ana Commercial Center where you can buy food, water and booze.  Take a quadcycle / tricycle to Sta Vicente port. Take note of the  642 kilometer, that’s the  last kilometer marker up north.   There is a Php 50 fee that you need to pay for before going to the island  at the Tourism Visitor’s Office and you have to sign in the log book.

At San Vicente port, you can hire boats to Palaui Island.  To avoid getting lost  (like what happened to us) , please get a guide.  Depending on the package that you paid for,  or  if the sea is calm, the boat can take you directly to  Cape Engaño lighthouse, no trekking required.


I highly recommend kuya Edwin Tabucol, a local of Palaui Island. Contact no: +63 926 9064 657  or +63 916 1165 850 . He has two boats that can be rented to take you to the lighthouse and to Palaui from San Vicente. He can also guide you to the lighthouse.

I just revisited Punta  Verde and met up with Kuya Edwin to check on the changes in the island and how tourism has changed the life of his family.

He is now the vice president of  the boatmen association (PASAMOBA Cooperative).  He showed me the standardized boat rates now.

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Maximum of 8 passengers. Good for 6 hours only from the time of boarding to arrival.  An additional fee of Php 100 for every extended hour of service. Additional Php 300 for an overnight in Punta Verde.



Cape Engaño LighthousePhp 1,80045 minutes
Anguib BeachPhp 1,50025 minutes
 SiwangagPhp 1,50030 minutes
PuzuruboPhp 1,80030 minutes
Crocodile IslandPhp 5005 minutes
Punta VerdePhp 1,00025 minutes
 Pugo MuroPhp 5005 minutes




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Palaui Combination Tour Rates




Crocodile Island

2 hours – Php 500

6 hours – Php 800

Crocodile Island + Pugo Muro Island30 minutes –  Php 1,000
Anguib + Cape EngañoPhp 3,000
Punta Verde + Cape Engaño overnightPhp 2,800
Punta Verde + Mabolbol OvernightPhp 2,500
Crocodile + Anguib BeachPhp 1,800
Cape SiwangagPhp 2,200
Siwangag + AnguibPhp 3,000
Cape + CrocodilePhp 2,200
Punta Verde + AnguibPhp 2,200
Snake Island + CrocodilePhp 1,500
Punta Verde + CrocodilePhp 1,000
Punta Verde (Cape trekking)Php 2,500
Special trip  (Punta Verde + Cape Engaño + Crocodile Island +Anguib)Php 3,500
Special Trip Overnight (Punta Verde + Cape Engaño + Crocodile Island +Anguib)Php 3,800


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Camping near the beach or near the Cape Engaño lighthouse is no longer allowed to protect the beach and the island. I was told this is because of the lack of discipline of previous tourists (leaving trash and vandalizing).  There is no resort or hotel in Palaui, your only option is homestay. Rate is Php 250 per head.

You may contact kuya Edwin:  +63 926 9064 657  or +63 916 1165 850

Alternatively, you can stay overnight in Sta. Ana, Cagayan.


Country Inn Hotel and Restaurant

palaui hotel - country inn

Samuk-samok, Centro, Santa Ana, Santa Ana, Cagayan

Click here to check room rates

 Jotay Resort
palaui hotel - jotay

Barangay Centro, Santa Ana, Santa Ana

Click here to check room rates

Avalon Beach Club Hotel

palaui hotel - avalon

Dugo – San Vicente Road, Santa Ana

Click here to check room rates

Edens Lodging House

palaui hotel - edens

Arellano St., Centro, Santa Ana

Click here to check room rates


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  • Swimming, beach bumming, snorkeling, diving, game fishing, adventure trekking, camping, sunset watching, last kilometer marker for Luzon (KM 642), colonial  lighthouse Cape Engaño
  • Bring your own camping equipment and flashlight, there’s no guesthouse, hotel or resort in the island, camping near or at Cape Engaño lighthouse is now prohibited. You have to stay at Punta Verde. Check out the list of accommodations above.
  • Bring your own snorkeling gear since the waters around Palaui Island is part of a marine reserve
  • The island is actually a watershed having several waterfalls. I was told there’s already a wash room near the lighthouse where tourists can wash up.
  • On the northeast side of the island you can see two islands: the Dos Hermanas (two sisters).
  • For the more adventurous soul, try hiking the East side of the Island to the West but again, make sure you have a guide with you to avoid getting lost.
  • The trek to the lighthouse will take you through a coastal community, mangrove forest, inter-tidal zone, agricultural area, forest and some grassland before getting to Cape Engaño lighthouse.


Crocodile Island close to San Vicente port

Anguib Beach– is another white sand beach in Sta. Ana, Cagayan .
Cagayan Special Economic Zone- casinos, a naval camp

Palaui Island was used for Survivor TV series  back in June 2013.

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This 2 days/ 1 night Palaui travel itinerary is ideal for long weekends or weekend trips.  Just leave Manila Friday Night and leave early afternoon on Sunday. You can also start the trek earlier than I wrote here so you can leave early and arrive in Manila early morning.

DAY 0 
09:30 PMTravel to Tuguegarao from Manila


 DAY 1 
10:30 AMEstimated Arrival in Tuguegarao
10:35 AMEarly Lunch
11:00 AMTuguegarao to Sta.Ana by Van
01:00 PMBuy drinks, snacks and food at the market
01: 20 PMTricycle to San Vicente Port
01: 35 PMRegisterat the Tourism Office and pay the Php 50 environmental fee
01:45 PMProceed to San Vicente Port. If you haven’t contacted a boatman yet (see my recommended boatman above) you can charter a boat at Sta.Ana Port
02:00 PMBoat ride from San Vicente Port to Punta Verde in Palaui Island
02:25 PMArrival in Punta Verde, Palaui Island
02:30 PMCheck in at Homestay or Pitch Tent at Homestay
03:30 PMSwimming
04:30 PMExplore the community, talk to the locals
07:00 PMDinner (you can order dinner in advance from Ate Elsa (see her homestay details above)
09:00 PMLights Out


DAY 02 
05:00 AMWake up call
05:30 AMBreakfast
06:00 AMStart of trek to Cape Engano Cove + Lighthouse in Palaui Island
09:30 AMArrival at Cape Engano. Lighthouse Photo op + Swimming
11: 30 PMTrek back to Punta Verde community
02: 30 PMArrival in Punta Verde. Bath and prepare stuff for check out
03:30 PMCheck out
03:35 PMBoat ride from Punta Verde in Palaui Island to San Vicente Port in Sta.Ana
03:55 PMArrival in San Vicente Port, Sta.Ana
04:00 PMTricyle to Van Terminal near the market
04:15 PMVan ride to Tuguegarao from Sta. Ana
07:15 PMArrival at Victory Bus Terminal in Tuguegarao
07:30 PMBus back to Manila


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Note that this is good for 1 person. so if you are traveling with someone or with a group, trip budget is much cheaper.


Bus Fare between Manila dn Tuguegarao (roundtrip)Php 600 X 2 =Php 1,200
Van Fare  between Tuguegarao and Sta.AnaPhp 220 x 2 = Php 440
Environmental FeePhp 50
Palaui Island HomestayPhp 250
Boat to Punta Verde (roundtrip)Php 1,000
Guide Fee (trekking)Php 300 + tip
Meals (per meal x # of meals)Php 150 x 3 = Php 450

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  • Wear rashguard and aqua shoes when swimming and snorkeling to avoid being stung by sea urchins, jellyfish or stone fish.
  • Do not step or touch corals when snorkeling.
  • Never leave your trash nor collect plants or  sand.
  • Bring mosquito repellent and personal medicines.
  • Stack up cash (Philippine peso) as everything is on cash basis.  ATMs abound in Tuguegarao, you can withdraw there before proceeding to Sta. Ana
  • No restaurant in Palaui Island, you can buy food at Sta.Ana Commercial Center walking distance to the van terminal) before proceeding to San Vicente port.
  • You can also text Ate Elsa (mobile # 0905 283 559), she has a homestay in Palaui, if you want to have your meals cooked.







First published : February 2011

Updated: June 2013 /  June 1, 2014 / March 2016/ March 2017






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