Sta. Ana: Pristine Beaches of Cagayan
Cape Engano in Palaui Island is our actual destination. It is the popular destination going to Santa Ana. However, due to some unforseen circumstances, it has been closed to tourists. This seemed unfortunate, but we are not expecting that an unusual experience is awaiting us here. That is, to discover the different beaches here that looks like paradise.
Early in the morning we went off from our lodging place in Gonzaga going to Brgy San Vicente in the town of Sta Ana (about 40-minute trip). Upon arrival here, we were told by the barangay captain that the pier, Palaui Island and several nearby beaches are closed because of the ongoing shooting of the popular reality show Survivor USA (which is later called Survivor: Blood vs Water). We were disappointed, but was immediately overtaken by excitement as we learned that there are still several alternative locations that we can visit and one of them is the hidden beach of San Vicente.
Located at the eastern coast of Santa Ana and a popular destination because of its barrier reefs, a perfect place for snorkeling. The reef of the beach, facing the Pacific Ocean, serves as the natural breakwater that dampens the waves reaching the shore, making the beach perfect for swimming. There are large rocks that can be used as shade even under the noontime sun. From the shore, small boats can be seen, implying that the primary source of livelihood here are fishing. But due to the growing tourism industry, several cottages were constructed, dotted along the beach. We arrived very early and we rented a boat to go to different beaches and islands. We had to do this because after eleven in the morning, the shooting of the said reality series will start and boats will be forbidden to sail.
ANGUIB BEACH AND GOTAN MANGROVE
To ensure our safety and to make ourselves harder to be noticed, the boatman decided to pass through the mangrove area. As we sailed to our destination, the sea slowly showcased us its beauty even though we’re still on the boat. The sea are so clear that we can already see the sea grasses and white sands below. A while later we arrived at the mangrove area which directly leads to the beach.
We can already see the white strip of beach from afar. We were so excited that we asked if we can get off the boat, but we weren’t unable to. We saw several boats serving as outposts to apprehend those violating their rules. Moments later we saw a helicopter flying overhead, equipped with a camera and seemingly patrolling the area. Not far from us, we saw several props and structures that were being used in the famous TV series.
Though this place is restricted we still tried to dock here, but it was not long before a security guard approached us. But we still managed to successfully persuade him. He allowed us to stay long, but told us not to turn on the boat’s engine. No wonder why the island was chosen: this place is beautiful and pristine. The white sands carpeted the entire beach and has formations similar to a snake path (similar to what can be seen in the desert). This beach is different because during low tide, several pools of water of varying depths are left behind at parts of the beach which can be used for bathing. At its side are forests that are part of Sierra Madre. Too bad we weren’t unable to explore it further for we might be apprehended, so we decided to go back.
As we returned to Nangaramoan, it is just enough as we have explored several popular destinations here. We stayed here to swim, rest and relax. Though we were unable to visit our primary destination, we still managed to win points. Now we know why this place is chosen as the venue for Survivor – unspoiled islands, pristine beaches and also because of its very hospitable locals. They were not mistaken.
Take the Cagayan-Manila North Road. Take note of its very long trip (650 kilometers taking about 13-15 hours). From Sta Ana take the road going to San Vicente Port. At the main road you can see the marker going to different beaches.
Take the Florida Bus (Sampaloc terminal) going to Santa Ana (15 hrs) or take the bus going to Tuguegarao (13 hrs, 4 stops) and from here take the van going to Santa Ana.
From the terminal in Santa Ana, take the passenger van going to San Vicente Port. From here, hire a tricycle going to a desired beach.
When we arrived here some islands and beaches were off-limits to tourists so we were advised to rent a boat at the Nangaramoan beach. We paid PhP1,200 (six passengers) for more than five hours of beach hopping.
Make sure to stop by at the Santa Ana Market to buy your needs, as the stores in beach resorts have usually very limited goods.