The laidback municipality of Santa Ana in the province of Cagayan is located approximately 642 kilometers from Metro Manila. This is indicated by a lonely kilometer marker which is propped right across the Santa Ana fish port. You may also likely miss this spot though, but the 12-hour bus trip to Santa Ana is already an indication by itself that you are traveling to a very remote destination in the Philippines.
But despite the long bus travel, it is fast becoming a tourist destination in the country. There are many adventures that can be had, beyond its vast rice fields. For one, it is dubbed as the “Game Fishing Mecca of the Philippines” due to its proximity to major bodies of water. Local and foreign aficionados of the sport gather at Santa Ana for the various competitions that are held there every year.
However, my friends and I traveled to Santa Ana last month not for the swordfishes, trevallys (talakitok) and mahi-mahis (dorado), but for a different kind of marine creature – the humpback whales of the Babuyan Strait. We had high hopes back then that we could witness the gentle giants at Camiguin even if their sightings at that time of the year is not guaranteed. Santa Ana was then our jump-off to one exhilarating weekend that also had its share of memorable surprises.
Aside from that, we also included in our itinerary the breathtaking Palaui island and several destinations that dot the Santa Ana coast. These spectacular seascapes are the result of the creative orchestration between the incessant pounding of the Pacific waves and the howling monsoon winds.
Indeed, the long journey to Santa Ana is rewarded by experiencing its immaculate white sand beaches, secluded coves and pristine islands. It is no wonder then why more and more water sports aficionados, weekend backpackers and tourists have headed this way already.
And if you’ll have the opportunity to be in any of these groups very soon, don’t forget to take a quick photo of the km 642 marker. It hardly qualifies as a Facebook profile picture but it is a unique reminder that after a long bus ride, you’ve finally made it to the northeastern corner of the Philippines.