Conquering the picturesque Palaui island

Gael Hilotin, Contributor
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

Palaui is an isolated enclave frozen in time. Its surprising landscape will convey you to a different place, just like a condensed version of the entire country. Palaui Island is located off the coast of Sta. Ana, Cagayan Valley. The islanders are grouped in the fishing village of Punta Verde, leaving the majority of the paradisiacal island untouched. Locals live on fishing, farming and lately, tourism.
In August 28, 1994, it was declared as National Marine Reserve, taking pride in housing various species of rattan, undisturbed corals, and migratory birds. Palaui Island’s dramatic coastline of cliffs and towering peaks were shaped by the waves smashing against the rocks. This ragged enclave is ridged with deep valleys draped in tropical vegetation.  For trek lovers, be ready to be mesmerized by its undulating valley and green meadows where water buffalos and goats roam freely.

Palaui is blessed with many scenic beaches most of them though are not seen by tourists due to the towering mountains and wild forests that surround it. Only the calm beach near Cape Engaño cove is ideal for swimming because the rest have resident monstrous waves. Climb the deteriorating old colonial Cape Engaño lighthouse and you will surely gasp at the super views of the neighboring volcanic islets, windswept mountains and the translucent beach threaded with glimmering azure and emerald waters.
I remember our first attempt to conquer Cape Engaño. During that time, detailed information on how to get to Palaui is limited. In fact, if you type “Palaui” online, the search engine will suggest “Palau”. We ventured where probably no one has been to before, pushing our body to the limits on the harshest natural environment. We got pretty lost and wounded and never arrived at our elusive destination. But due to social media, Palaui Island has made its mark now in the map of domestic tourism.  I heard new rules have been implemented to protect the island; the boat rate and guide fees are now regulated. I hope with all these changes, the locals of Palaui will still benefit from its tourism revenues. And may the lighthouse be restored and this marine reserve be continually conserved and protected for the benefit of future generations.

This year, Palaui Island has been named one of the top 10 beaches in the country by a famed travel website, a dream come true for the once forgotten island. As for me and my friend, our wounds have healed but it left indelible memories of Palaui that will be forever treasured in our hearts.