Cuyo Island

Cuyo Island.

Have you ever been dreaming of being on a world class beach and being the only tourist there? Well, on Cuyo Island in the Philippines, I was the only tourist there when I visited. And the beaches were world class.

I came there by chance.

The overnight ferry to Cuyo Island

The overnight ferry to Cuyo Island.

I was actually on a 2 day journey from Iloilo to Puerto Princesa with the ferry, when I realised that the ferry was docking for a day on a small island called Cuyo. I had never heard of the island. The ferry was docking there the entire day, so I had enough time to take a good look around Cuyo town, when I was there. And spend some time on the beach, before the ferry was leaving for Puerto Princesa in the evening.

 

Hidden island paradise with zero tourists.

Boys from Cuyo Island.

Boys from Cuyo Island.

The little harbour where we were docking with the ferry was very busy as the ferry was carrying a lot of goods for the island that needed to be offloaded, but right next to the harbour was a little beach that was quiet. Just a few local sailing boats and some of the most perfect sand and clean water I have seen anywhere in the 73 countries I have visited so far. And I was the only foreigner there, sharing the beach with a few local youngsters.

 

And Cuyo town is pleasant too.

The main town on the island.

The main town on the island.

After the beach, I went up to Cuyo town where I walked around for around 3 hours and it was a very pleasant little town with an old spanish fortress and a couple of war memorials from the second world war, where Cuyo Island played a role in the fight against the Japanese occupying forces.

 

Why do the place have no tourism?

Come to Cuyo Island. there is plenty of space.

Come to Cuyo Island. there is plenty of space.

The simple reason is that the place has limited transport to the rest of the world. There is the ferry that I arrived to the island with. That is an overnight ferry from either Iloilo or Palawan. Then there is the occasional small flight from Kalibo. In the old days, that flight could still have brought some backpackers in. But these days backpackers are not very happy to stay away from the budget airline trail, where they can fly almost for free. So they do not see any places like Cuyo. There is a little airstrip on the island. And if one of the Philippine budget airlines decides to start a route there, then this is an obvious place for the young crowd.

 

But you should visit the island because it is unique.

The Island is fantastic.

The Island is fantastic.

I meet so many people all around the world who tell me that they want to visit a place that is untouched by tourism. But in reality they almost all end up in some place that has a mention in Lonely Planet as a place to go. Then they sit there with all the other foreigners, pretending that they are in a place with no tourists. El Nido, which is not that far from Cuyo is a perfect example of that. Hundreds of backpackers arrive there every day because “the place has no tourists”. These people should really visit places like Cuyo if they want a place with no tourists (and yes, backpackers are also tourists). But I am not sure if they really want it. Because here they have no full moon parties. And no happy hour and no shops where you can buy coloured baggy pants. You do have a couple of small guest houses on the island. So it’s possible to stay there for a few days or weeks if you like.

 

Getting to Cuyo Island.

 

you have two ferry companies serving the Island. One is Milagrosa and the other is Montenegro. They leave for Cuyo Island from Puerto Princesa and Iloilo around 3-4 days a week. This can vary depending on what time of year you travel and what weather conditions are like. It’s hard to plan an exact transport schedule when you are going to Cuyo, as the ferries can be quite irregular. But if you have a day as a buffer in each end of the trip, then you should be fine.

There are also a flights here and there, mainly from Iloilo, but at the moment Cuyo is not served by any of the big commercial passenger airlines, but that is also why it’s still a hidden gem.

The ferry to Cuyo Island.

The ferry to Cuyo Island.

If you really want to try a unique place that is both friendly and picture pretty, then hop on the ferry to Cuyo. It leaves 2-3 times a week from both Iloilo or Puerto Princesa. Go there before Cebu Pacific Air and the rest of the world arrives

The harbor.

The harbor.

War memorial.

War memorial .

28 Comments

  1. Hi Claus, How about some info on where to stay and eat along with prices? And prices for the boat and the connections?

  2. To have a great beach all to yourself sounds pretty good! And since there are no tourists there you got to see something not many foreigners have seen. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Sounds like a very unique and beautiful experience…

  4. Franz Michael Cabiguen

    Sir, I used to live in Cuyo. I think they have full moon party called “Pabilugon” where they celebrate the island’s culture.

    • Thank you for your posting Franz. That is interesting to know. When I wrote no fullmoon parties, I was mainly referring to the fullmoon parties you see in some popular holiday destinations where it’s mostly about taking drugs and not actually about celebrating the full moon, but thank you for letting me know mate.

  5. Rosanna Pediapco Trampe

    I am from Cuyo – born and raised there – but now working as an international flight attendant. Thanks you for writing about my hometown. Just a minor correction – the ferry departs from Iloilo City and not Kalibo.

  6. … I’m not quite certain if the town has toutist information nowadays, but there are more to explore, you just have to ask assistance from the town folks. In addition to beaches, there are spots where you can do hiking/trekking. and if you can be there during our “Ati-atihan” where we celebrate the feast of st. Augustine, that would be a wonderful experience to behold.

  7. … I’m not quite certain if the town has tourist information center nowadays, but there are more to explore, you just have to ask assistance from the town folks. In addition to beaches, there are spots where you can do hiking/trekking. and if you can be there during our “Ati-atihan” every 28th of August where we celebrate the feast of st. Augustine, that would be a wonderful experience to behold.

    • Alan Alexander

      Yes indeed, there’s lots more to explore including under the sea. Snorkeling is particularly good on the less-develped east and south coasts as well as many of the 40+ smaller islands within the Cuyo group most if which are uninhabitated.

  8. Alejandro gacasa jr,

    I am from magsaysay cuyo palawan , my whole clan was born in cuyo,, native cuyonin,,, thank u for visiting there ,

  9. Ronnie F. Abid

    Claus thanks for visiting my hometown island, i am from lucbuan magsasay palawan eastern part of cuyo island. I am a genuine Cuyonon. Thank you so much for writing about my beloved hometown. Godbless…

  10. Alan Alexander

    This was a well-written piece although it refers to only one beach called Capusan next to the pier. From November to April there’s plenty of tourists in the form of extreme budget kitesurfers mostly from Europe. They inhabit an assortment of usually tiny concrete rooms scattered throughout the small town. Theres only two other beaches on the island: Quejano, part of which has been renamed Victoria on the eastern side where three exclusive mini-villas are located and Coco Verde on the southshore. An Expat runs the charming and remote budget friendly resort there. Coco Verde Beach Resort is on FB.

  11. Alan Alexander

    For full-transparency I’m the owner of CVBR which I started in 2011.

  12. Cecile Fe Tejada

    Thank you for sharing your story and informing the public how beautiful Cuyo, Palawan is, the birthplace and hometown of my beloved father. As a little child, I got the privilege of visiting Cuyo with my family during the Ati-Atihan Festival. Would love to come back there, God willing, with my very own family.

  13. Thank you for taking the time to write about our wonderful island?

  14. Nice place, but ,sometimes, it’s better that no tourist visit the place so that the virginity of the place is kept.

  15. I got to tell ya.. CVBR is one of the most beautifull beaches in cuyo.. It got quiet a veiw and the shore is really clean.. Its awesome.. !!!

  16. I am intrigued! Can you tell me how much the ferry fair cost either from Iloilo or Puerto Princesa? Thanks!

  17. Sounds like someplace the Missus and I need to go to on the next trip back to the PI! (was your visit after the last time I saw you or was that more recenty?)

    • The visit I had there was right after your wedding Chris.
      I stopped there on the way to Palawan.
      It’s a really cool little island, but be ware that you need to take the family on an overnight ferry in order to get there.

  18. Lhynn Cardona Book

    Thank you for writing my hometown cuyo palawan and regarding d transport system.
    Yeah cuyo is small island but its so blessed for everything d white sand beaches. A peaceful place and abundant of d fresh fishes catches from the sea water and seaweeds…
    For me my hometown is d small island Paradise in this world. I thank God for this island he give to us..

  19. Pingback: Brazilian beaches are the best in the world. - Travelling Claus

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