Catanduanes is one of the Philippines’ most underrated tourist destinations. Its capital of Virac is a well-kept secret rich with rugged mountains for hiking and spelunking and ribboned with pristine beaches. This island province has also just recently become the new go-to place for both local and foreign surfers looking to ride new waves and experience a more laid-back beach bum vibe.
A 45-minute plane ride from the country’s capital city of Manila is the fastest way to get to Virac. But if you’re one for long scenic rides, catch a 10-hour bus ride bound for the nearby province of Tabaco, Albay and from there board a ferry for another 3 hours of travel before finally reaching this somewhat sleepy island. Once in Virac, you now have a choice to either visit Maribina Falls first and go for endless cannonballs into the cool refreshing lagoon, go spelunking at the stalagmite and stalactite ridden Buyo Caves or visit any of the old churches, specifically the one located in the small town of Bato.
Puraran Beach, located at the nearby town of Baras, boasts of its so-called “Majestic Waves,” which are known to lure surfers from all over the world. What’s perfect about this beach destination is it can actually serve as a one-stop shop for anyone looking for the complete beach holiday. Aside from the surfing experience, you can also choose to go snorkeling and sailing, or simply lounge by the beach and soak in the tropical sun.
Virac is also a gateway to another well kept paradise. Imagine virgin limestone islands surrounded by glittering beaches and the clearest waters, all scattered lazily in the Pacific Ocean. When you’re done exploring Virac, hop on a slow boat and head out to the Caramoan Islands.
To better experience Caramoan, it is recommended to take a full island-hopping tour that spans 2-3 days. Hop from one island to another, exploring lagoons, trekking its rugged peaks or snorkel and dive into its rich marina. Some of the bigger islands are now home to resorts complete with amenities, but if you prefer to soak in the island way of life and fit in with the locals, you can camp out on any of the islands and spend a night or two sleeping with the powdery white sands on your toes and be lulled by the sound of thecrashing waves.
With so much beach destinations in the Philippines to choose from, one can get easily lost in a haze of waterfront cottages, hotel rooms with infinity pools and parties by the beach being offered by most of the other well-known destinations. If you plan to go on a trip that involves lots of communing with nature and less getting drunk on the beach, then Virac and Caramoan are perfect for setting the stage for that desired beach holiday.