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Beach Bumming

Beach Overload in Sta. Ana, Cagayan

Sta. Ana in Cagayan may have been extremely pushed on the northeast end of mainland Philippines, but its isolation doesn’t come without a sparkling reward. As it hugs the coasts of Babuyan Channel and the Philippine Sea, its beaches definitely come to a default description – fantastic!

I arrived in Sta. Ana just when the northeasterly wind season was starting to heave out its power. The howling wind and the teasing sporadic rain was starting to dampen my wanderlusts and drown my long hours of drive into waste. But my hard and sincere prayers for little sunshine were really favored. This time, patience is a virtue. Either I was happily stuck under a shack over sips and puffs or out in the rain chasing waves while waiting for the sun king to peek. But it was all worth the wait.
The glitzy parasols, neon raves and chic cherry-dipped cocktails all come to die in the beaches of Sta. Ana. Here, it’s all velvets of lustrous sand punctuated by jagged rocks, your northern sun tan bathe in the cold turquoise water and precious moments of space, silence and solitude.
Sought-after for its peaceful shore of mixed pale blond and white sand, highly contrasting with its cerulean water, Anguib is an ethereal getaway. Its crisp ocean scents blending with the fragrance of the agoho pines create delightful windswept walks or a soothing nap by the hammock. Anguib’s quiet quixotic beach is absolutely Sta. Ana’s little Eden.   
Anguib is a private beach and requires a special arrangement for use or viewing. During lean season, the beach is closed for maintenance. It can only be accessed now from the sea as the mainland gate is locked. If you are staying in Balai Cagayano, they may have this arranged for you.
Convenient and accessible anytime, Nangaramoan Beach is a sweeping cove of fine golden sand edged by limestone outcrops. Its simple development of tiki huts, humble hostels and few stores around make it the liveliest sun-kissed spot along the western coast of Sta. Ana. But lively here is defined as having a few people around to share the beach with. It can have the simplest of fun – burrow beer on the sand, put on your sunnies and plug those beats.
The small hostels in Nangaramoan are usually built for group accommodation. You may bring prepare your food or have them done by your host. Price ranges from P1,800-P2,500. Tiki Hut rentals are also available for day-trippers. If you are only beach hopping, just drop your bag and run to the water!
Pozo Rubo is like a pearl waiting to be polished. Tucked farther on the southern tail and left undeveloped, Pozorubo is rarely visited by tourists and even by the locals. But this absence of beach traffic jams create a wonderful advantage, you get to own the beach to yourself! Laden with the same fine salmon sand, its seclusion is a perfect spot for spoilt choices of a-ha! moments. Bring your boards, the swell in Pozo Rubo can sometimes be exciting.
Pozu Rubo is also a private beach. While it can be accessed from the mainland (the same as Nangaramoan), a courtesy request is much appreciated. Usually there is a beach keeper around or you may coordinate this with Balai Cagayano (if you are an in-house guest).
Shaped like a crocodile ready to devour on something, Crocodile Island is a speck of limestone outcrop on Babuyan Channel. It is hemmed in by the finest of golden sand and scattered pieces of corallines.
Accessible only by boat from the Port of San Vicente. You may include this in your island hopping itinerary as a side trip (just give the boatman a generous tip, otherwise it is P750!).
Siwangag Cove is Palaui Island’scelebrated shingle. Laden with mixed pebbles, downy sands, flings of shells and broken corallines, Siwangag Cove frames the promontory of Cape EnganoLighthouse.
Siwangag Cove may be accessed on a boat from the Port of San Vicente either on the following routes: direct to Siwangag Cove ( 1 hour, do not sail too early as the wind really gets furious) or via Punta Verde (about 15-miute boat ride + 3-4 hours of trek).
Sta. Ana’s awesome laid-back beach vibe is a refreshing take on otherwise popular party beaches around the Philippines. Finding that awesome beach inertia to soothe the harried city-soul is a guaranteed experience. My trip to Sta. Ana brings to a personal encounter of what the greatest book teaches us, “seek and you shall find; ask and you shall be granted.”
(From Manila)
Sta. Ana Direct (15-16 hours)
  • Only Florida Bus Line travels straight to Sta. Ana, Cagayan. Their terminal is located in Sampaloc, Manila. Contact +63 2 743 3809 for bookings and reservations.
  • Take the tricycle from the terminal in centro Sta. Ana to the Port of San Vicente (about 5 kilometers away). 
Via Tuguegarao (11-12 hours)
  • Buses regularly ply the Manila-Tuguegaro route. Check Victory Liner (Kamias Terminal, Quezon City) at +63 2 920 7396. 
  • Take the V-hire or mini-buses to Sta. Ana (add 3-4 hours).
  • Hire a tricycle from the terminal in centro Sta. Ana to the Port of San Vicente. 
From Manila (via Air)
Sta. Ana has a lot of hotels due to the presence of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport. You may check the web for other preferences, otherwise the following are mostly recommended:
  • Backpacking Type: RCB Inn (poblacion area/+639279767302)
  • Mid-Range: Balai Cagayano (poblacion area / +63 78 8581012, +639175922138); Jotay’s Beach Resort (beachside, poblacion area / +63 78 372 0560, +639064781270)
  • High-End: Cagayan Holiday & Leisure Resort/Sun City Resort (+639175889916)
Most of the restaurants in Sta. Ana are housed in hotels and resorts. Other than those, most recommended is Jaja’s Resto Grill. Good price for great food, clean and comfortable ambience. You will not miss it along the main road (right side).
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