One of the less-known (or less-shared) facts about myself is that I am a Bicolana. Both my mom and dad are from Bicol and all the relatives I know are speaking Bicolano. Though I was born and raised in Manila, my heart’s home is in Bicol. Every year, I and my family are to spend at least a week within April with the whole clan in Catanduanes to celebrate our Barangay’s patron, San Vicente.
This year, I got a two-week vacation from work. Recovering from almost a year of PPD, I knew I really needed a long break. I traveled with the whole family, including Mnemosyne. It was here first air travel, and I thought it was going to be exciting until she cried her lungs out. But it all came out okay, as on our flight back to Manila, she was enjoying the ride already.
On our two-week stay in Catanduanes, we planned and listed a lot of places to visit – churches, newly-built briges, try new restos. But being a mom made my time to explore limited. Whatever. At this age, I am already torn between traveling and just lying down. What more if I have my cute little monster at home? We only had three days to go out and see places. On our third day, we had a little trek somewhere in Baras.
Binurong View Point has been sitting in my bucket list since I heard the place from a local. I think it was just opened to public in 2014 or 2015, as this is privately owned until today. The local government, though, is helping to improve and develop the spot to increase tourism, and this partnership and healthy rehabilitation and reconstruction is indeed inspiring.
It was an easy trek, but since I was with a group of beginners, we took the hike easy and slow. For an average to pro hikers, the trek would only take 15-20 minutes. For beginners, it took us more than about an hour with several “take-fives” or water breaks before reaching the peak.
The best time, though, to go up there is before sunrise. People say it is the best view at Binurong and by just imagining it, I definitely agree. We started the trek at 8am and reached the top at around 9, but it’s beauty was still captivating. It’s hot, but morning wind was still chilly.
Catanduanes is famous for it’s unspoiled beaches and surfing spots. Another spot that’s making the island more notorious is this rolling hills in one of it’s town, Baras. Just few years ago, words of mouth made this place an item in every traveler’s bucket list.
Huge rocks around the coast, big blue waves, green hills, beautiful flowers – these are just few of what you can see on top of Binurong Point.
Coming from a Cebuano (bisaya) word “binurong” or salted, the name of the rolling hills was birthed. Yep, most of the Bicolano words in Catanduanes is almost Bisaya. Locals call it as such because, stories say, fishermen sued to bring and preserve their fresh catch with salted waters in the midst of the hills.
Recently named “Batanes of the East”, Binurong Point caught a lot of attention from local and foreign travelers, which made it one of the places people are quickly ticking off from their bucket lists. Compared to distance and expenses you may incur traveling to and from Batanes, going to Binurong Point is way cheaper. But this is only a small part of Catanduanes and completely different from Batanes.
Just last year, Binurong Point was “indefinitely closed” to the public. Which made me sad, really, because I thought I wasn’t able to visit the spot this year. I’m not sure when they exactly re-opened it again, but today, local government is finding more ways to develop it as an official tourist spot.
|How to get there?
Getting to Catanduanes Island is easy, as there are only two options on how to get there – air and land travel. Only two airlines offer direct flights to the island, and while the air travel may only take you an hour, land travel may take up to 16 hours. So yep, that’s an easy choice depending on your priority.
+ via air travel
Only Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific offer a direct flights to Catanduanes from Clark and Manila respectively as of date. Landing in Virac airport, the capital town of Catanduanes, you may hire a tricycle for more than an hour ride to Binurong Point jump-off, Baras.
+ via land and sea travel
If you’re commuting, I recommend RSL bus as such have trips direct to Virac. Other bus lines offer trips from Manila, Pasay, or Cubao to Tabaco Port. From Tabaco, take the ferry to Virac. Total travel hours make take up to 14 to 16 hours. Yep! That’s more than half a day, so think twice – are you willing to give up the money or the time?
+ via land and sea travel (private)
If you’re taking your car, additional ferry charges may apply. Private transpo may take almost the same time as public commute, but at least you have the control on where and when to take short breaks. Once you get to Virac, follow the main road as also shown in Google Maps (as shown below) or on Waze. Here’s a tip: few meters past the “this was to Binurong” signage, you’ll see a Y road. Take the left one, as it’s shorter and less curvy.
|How to get around Catanduanes?
Getting around, on the other hand, is easier compared to other Philippine islands I’ve been to. Tricycles are abundant and they almost are always willing to take special trips if ever you need one. There also are UV Express vans which offers two routes – Virac to Pandan, and Virac to Viga. There are buses, too, but as I noticed on my most recent visit on April 2019, there only are two to three trips per day traveling around the island.
|How much budget do I need for this trip?
*rates are as of April 2019. Prices may vary depending on season and holidays.
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- Give yourself a favor and bring at least a liter of water, especially if you’re trekking after sunrise.
- A small bag of trail mix is good too!
- Wear comfy and (Instagrammable) clothes. Or just comfy, because who cares, right?
- Wear sunblock. Many think wearing sunblock is for “maaarte” but this is mainly to protect your skin from the harsh heat of the sun.
- With regards to commuting, I got two sides of a story – 1) tricycle drivers are not yet that exposed or aware of how to give fair rates, that they charge tourists too little; 2) drivers tend to overcharge tourists. So better be careful, and talk and choose your drivers nicely. I think 500 max is still fair enough, as they don’t really have that much of tourists passengers.
- Best time to start your hike is 6am or even earlier. Locals and other travelers say sunrise at Binurong is the best.
Binurong point is an easy trek which adds to the many reasons why you definitely have to visit it for your next summer getaway.
As a lover of hills and mountains, Binurong is one of my top 10 favorite viewpoints so far. Can you give me more suggestions on where to go next?