Northern Luzon 360° Road Trip Adventure

The goal of this road trip is to travel to Sta. Ana, Cagayan from Manila. From there the group would tour the island of Palaui before heading back to Manila. Sounds pretty easy huh? However, I promised my readers that I'd make basic travels into adventures. then again, this road trip's challenging adventure is not by choice but due to unexpected circumstances. 

Northern Luzon 360° Road Trip Adventure

Frequent travelers to Sta. Ana, Cagayan would attest that the straightforward back-and-forth trip from Manila to Sta. Ana would be 24-28 hours long. This Northern Luzon 360° Road Trip Adventure however took me and my friends almost four days to accomplish.

Overall we spent a total of 50+ hours on the road and only more than half a day to explore. The root of all this if you'd ask -is the suspension of two of the biggest bus companies plying the route to Cagayan. So how did our adventure go?

Day 1 Saturday

Calle Crisologo, Vigan City

Vigan Cathedral

Upon learning of the bus suspension the hard way (we learned about it on the day of our departure). We decided to ride a bus heading to Vigan City in the province of Ilocos Sur. In that way, we could transfer to a bus heading anywhere in Cagayan (If there's any). We arrived in Vigan early in the morning and our first instinct was to look for breakfast (bus transfers later). So we decided to eat somewhere near the famous cobblestone road of Calle Crisologo. After eating we spent an hour taking pictures of Calle Crisologo and Vigan Cathedral. We also managed to get information about the buses bound for Cagayan. Sadly the departure time of the buses is sometime in the afternoon. 

Atoy Banaag @ Ilocos Norte Terminal

Since we don't have that much time to waste, the group jumped on a bus heading to Laoag City in the province of Ilocos Norte. It was a wise decision for the group because Laoag City is known as the "center" of the Ilocos Region. Logically, since the city has an airport there would also be buses bound for different locations in the north. When we reached the terminal in the city we were disappointed to learn that the bus bound directly for Sta. Ana would arrive in the afternoon (again we didn't have time to waste). The group interrogated (yes we did that!) the terminal's ticketing agent asking for routes and buses that can bring us nearer our goal.
Lal-lo Church

We were instructed to ride a bus heading to Junction Luna in Abulug, Cagayan. After almost 6 hours of the land trip, we arrived in Junction Luna and we immediately transferred to a van heading to the town of Lal-lo, Cagayan. We arrived sometime around 7PM. Since we were all physically and emotionally drained we decided to call it a night in one of the hotels in town (after eating of course). 

Day 2 Sunday

Kuya Nanding Cabutin

San Vicente Port with Palaui Island as its backdrop

We left early so that we could attend mass. One of the members of the group managed to rent a multicab. It's a bit overpriced but the good thing about the driver was that he agreed to bring us to Lal-lo Church and wait for us to finish mass. After the mass, we wasted no time and continued with our "delayed" journey. We reached Sta. Ana several hours later but our land trip didn't end there, we transferred into a center cab (a variation of the tricycle) that brought us to San Vicente Port in Sta. Ana, Cagayan. It was there that we (finally) met my contact/guide Kuya Fernando "Nanding" Cabutin.
Anguib Beach

Palaui Island

Dos Hermanos Islands

It took the group several minutes to prepare before we finally started our tour. We first visited Anguib Beach on the northeastern side of Sta. Ana. After taking pictures and frolicking a bit (only one member took a dip). We excitedly left for Engaño Cove in Palaui Island. It took us an hour of boat travel time to reach our destination but the view o the way to the cove was priceless. we passed by the Dos Hermanos Islands (due to their ruggedness it's impossible to visit these islands). We also had a great view of the Cape Engaño Lighthouse

Engaño Cove with Mt. Kabo at its background

Upon reaching Engaño Cove we ate our lunch and swam a bit before heading to the peak of Mt. Kabo to see Cape Engaño Lighthouse. It was midway through our hike that we had the best view of the island. It took us several minutes to reach the peak because we admired the view so much.

Cape Engaño Lighthouse

I was saddened to see a broken-down lighthouse on top of Mt. Kabo. Cape Engaño Lighthouse is passable as a ruin if not for its functioning solar lamps. We took our time admiring the beauty of the island. We came to a realization that all those sacrifices and unplanned detours were worth it. We descended, revitalized, and were proud of our achievement. Our tour didn't end there though. Kuya Nanding brought us to an isolated part of the island and allowed us to snorkel there (It was not part of the itinerary). The place was full of colorful corals and fishes of different sizes. 

Crocodile Island

Upon the suggestion of one of my friends, we immediately headed to our next stop -Crocodile Island. From afar the island really does look like an albino crocodile. We enjoyed snapping pictures and chatting on the island until almost sundown.  
Although we originally planned to visit Punta Verde, we had been discouraged by the fact that we have to shell out another P300 to snorkel. So we headed to Jerolynda Resort instead to inquire about the rates.  

Jerolynda Resort

Jerolinda Resort has a fine beach good for picnics or early morning strolls. However, the group was not satisfied with the rates and the quality of the rooms presented so we went back to San Vicente Port.  and decide to rent a cheaper room there. Kuya Nanding was generous enough to invite us for dinner (for free). it was there that I was able to eat pugita or octopus for the first time. After having a great time with his family Kuya Nanding brought us back to our hotel and we called it a day.

Day 3 Monday 

We woke up early to catch the 5AM van to Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. We arrived in Victory Liner in Tuguegarao City three hours later. We immediately booked the 1PM bus to Manila (because that was the only available bus to Manila during that time) before deciding what to do next. Since we still have 4 hours to spare, we agreed to proceed to Callao Cave in the town of Penablanca.

Callao Cave

Andoy Dalimag the tour guide

We rented two tricycles to bring us to Callao Cave and it costs P800 per tricycle. Later on, we found out that it was a rip-off. The back-and-forth trip was estimated to be two hours long so upon reaching the cave, we made sure that we maximize the one-hour caving tour. It was here that we met Andoy Dalimag whose life story was featured in a famous show. 

The group

The group left Callao Cave with much satisfaction and we arrived back in Victory Liner at around past noon just in time for the boarding call.

Day 4 Tuesday

Finally, after all the vehicle transfers we were on our way home. We endured another 15-hour bus ride back to Manila. We arrived early Tuesday morning and separated ways. Overall, each member of the group grew wiser because of the different scenarios that we faced and conquered. -Oh! and did I mention that our trip was a blast?

Meet the Team:

Neil Nicerio - The Backpack Adventures

Doy Tuppal

Vince Cabuang

Atoy Banaag

Jason Parado

Ryan Zulueta

Overall, it was a memorable and awesome 4-day trip to the province of Cagayan. Something I wish we could do every year. Looking forward to where we'd be heading next year.


  1. I love your blog! You might just want to rent motorbike the next time you travel! only at

    1. Thanks so much! Would love too. Thans for sharing your site.

  2. For your consideration.

  3. Thanks for sharing your adventure


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