Palaui island is undeniably the municipality of Santa Ana’s biggest tourism draw for the moment, but there are other equally stunning places to explore at the northeastern corner of the Philippines. But aside from spending a few hours marveling the sights at the Cape Engaño lighthouse, there are other spots you could throw in the itinerary to make the weekend more interesting. Since you have traveled this far already, why not make the most out of your stay at Santa Ana then with just a minimal budget adjustment.
Our flashpacking group did just that during the long weekend last April. Only Kat, our lead organizer, knew the specific details in our itinerary, so I am pleasantly surprised to find out that after Palaui, we were headed for two more stops. Onboard our bangka (motorized outrigger boat), we then set out westward for Anguib Beach.
It is said that the roads in Northern Luzon, literally ends at Anguib. But you would not complain since where the concrete pavement ends, you would be treated to the views of green Agoho trees, the white sand beaches and the ocean with its different shades of blue. Many have dubbed Anguib Beach as the next Boracay of the North, a tagline which it may have to share or battle out with Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte.
The comparison however is something that I could not confirm or refute since surprisingly I have never set foot in Boracay to this day. But it could actually stand on its own even without dragging another tourist spot’s name to its shores.
We then ate our packed lunch at one of the huts at Anguib. But if you failed to bring food, there is a canteen there that sells affordable meals and cold softdrinks.
We then dropped by Crocodile Island or Manidad Island before heading back for the Sta. Anta Fish Port in Barangay San Vicente. This small islet is aptly named because it resembles like the reptile if viewed from a distance. We docked by the sandy portion in the island and climbed the crocodile’s rocky ‘body.’ At the top, one can observe the pounding waves at one side and the calm seas at the other. To some extent, this croc acts a protective barrier which breaks the raging waters from the ocean, before it reaches the coastal communities at Santa Ana.
The calm sea seemed to sparkle like diamonds on our way back to the Santa Ana fishport. My good friend Val, shared that she also saw a similar scene on our way to Palaui which reminded her of a few lines of a song by Incubus: “The ocean looks like a thousand diamonds / Strewn across a blue blanket.”
I could only wish then that many could see that beautiful sight and also experience all our adventures at Santa Ana – Palaui island and beyond it as well.
How to get there and where to stay
GV Florida Transport offers two direct bus trips (12:00 noon,3:00 PM) to Santa Ana (Php750.00). To buy tickets in advance, you have to go to their bus station at Sampaloc, Manila because they do not accept reservations over the phone. It is a roughly 12 hour trip but it has many stopovers along the way for meals and bathroom breaks. Cebu Pacific also serves direct flights to Tuguegarao City. From there, it is just a 3 hour trip to Santa Ana.
Once you are at Santa Ana, take a trike (Php15/pax) to the Santa Fish Port. The boat operators at Santa Ana came up with a fixed rate for various island hopping activities. Each bangka is also equipped with life vests. We rented a good-sized boat (Php3500) for our Palaui, Anguib and Crocodile Island adventures. Other rates are posted here. You may also ask Kuya Darwin, our contact person at Santa Ana, for your further inquiries (+639358876052).
The bus trips back to Manila are scheduled to travel the afternoon the following day so you may have to spend the night at Santa Ana. We stayed at Jotay Resort, which has a dormitory room large enough to accomodate our group of eight. Other options are posted here and here.