Travel Guide: Cuyo Island
Blessed with rich history and culture, unexploited islands and islets that are decorated with white sand beaches and built by waves and strong winds, is Cuyo, a group of island under the jurisdiction of the province of Palawan that sits amid the vast Sulu Sea.
It is a small community that punches above its weight and carried great importance in the province of Palawan during Spanish colonization of the Philippines. Being the oldest town in the province, it served as its second capital from 1873 to 1903 and influenced the culture, language and tradition of the whole province. Cuyunon, its native dialect is still widely spoken by the elders in the mainland Palawan today.
It is bounded by Quiniluban Group of Islands to the north, where the Pamilacan Island’s Amanpulo Resort is located. To its south is the town of Cagayancillo and the reefs of Tubbataha. Panay Island lies on the east while the mainland Palawan is on its west. It is composed of three municipalities – Cuyo, Agutaya, and Magsaysay. Its prominent landmark is its Spanish fort constructed in 1677 to protect the town from Moro Pirates.
Cuyo is more than Ploning. It has distinct and appealing charm. Its remoteness makes the island less appealing to tourists but a blessing in disguise for it has maintained and preserved its beauty.
How to Get There
There are two possible ways of going there. The easiest is to ride the plane that directly lands to Cuyo Airport. Unfortunately however, SEA Air, the lone airline serving Manila-Cuyo route ceased its operation in 2008. So unless you will charter your own plane going there, the only option left is to ride the boat from Puerto Princesa or Iloilo.
Going there by boat is already an adventure. There are two major ferry companies serving Puerto Princesa – Cuyo – Iloilo (and vice versa) routes – Montenegro Shipping Lines and Milagrosa Shipping Lines. The following schedules are as of February 2010.
Montenegro Shipping Lines
Montenegro Shipping Lines has Ro-Ro vessels serving the route. Based on their website (which I believe is not updated) here are the schedules:
Puerto Princesa to Cuyo: Departs the port of Puerto Princesa every Tuesday t 1800H and arrives at Cuyo the next day at around 0900H. Fare: Economy – P916. Fiesta – P1,099. Mabuhay- P1,374.
Iloilo to Cuyo: Departs the port of Iloilo every Saturday at 0800H and arrives Cuyo at around 1600H of the same day. Fare: Economy – P695. Fiesta – P834. Mabuhay- P1,043.
Cuyo to Puerto Princesa: Departs the port of Cuyo every Saturday at 1800H and arrives at Puerto Princesa the next day at around 0900H. Fare: Economy – P916. Fiesta – P1,099. Mabuhay- P1,374.
Cuyo to Iloilo: Departs the port of Cuyo every Tuesday at 1200H and arrives Iloilo at around 2000H of the same day. Fare: Economy – P695. Fiesta – P834. Mabuhay- P1,043.
Milagrosa Shipping Lines
Milagrosa Shipping Lines has two ferries serving the route twice a week. For more information, you may call their Iloilo office at (033)-3350955 or their Puerto Princesa office at (048)-4334806.
Puerto Princesa to Cuyo: Departs the port of Puerto Princesa every Sunday and Thursday at 1500H and arrives at Cuyo the next day at around 0700H. Fare (as of August 2009): Economy – P610. De Luxe – P715. Tourist – P860. Admiral – P2,128.
Iloilo to Cuyo: Departs the port of Iloilo every Tuesday and Friday at 1900H and arrives Cuyo at around 0800H of the next day. Fare (as of December 2009): Economy – P450. De Luxe – P540. Tourist – P665. Admiral – P1,600.
Cuyo to Puerto Princesa: Departs the port of Cuyo every Wednesday and Saturday at 1500H and arrives at Puerto Princesa the next day at around 0700H. Fare (as of August 2009): Economy – P610. De Luxe – P715. Tourist – P860. Admiral – P2,128.
Cuyo to Iloilo: Departs the port of Cuyo every Tuesday and Saturday at 1700H and arrives Iloilo at around 0700H of the next day. Fare (as of December 2009): Economy – P450. De Luxe – P540. Tourist – P665. Admiral – P1,600.
There are also cargo ship operators that ferry passengers from Manila to Cuyo. Contact the shipping lines for schedule and fare information. Please note that these are smaller cargo ships/hauls that cater specially to cargo but also allow passengers.
- Operator: J.V. Serrano Shipping Lines (M/V D’Asean Journey, M/V D’Sea Journey)
Route: Manila-Cuyo and vice versa; Coron to Cuyo and vice versa
Contact Info: (02)-243-4595
- Operator: Atienza Shipping Lines (M/V Josilee-II, M/V April Rose, M/V Q-Carrelyn-III)
Route: Manila-Coron-El Nido-Liminangcong and vice versa
Website : http://www.atienzashippinglines.com
Telephone No. : (02)-986-3118 and (02)-536-8123
Where to Stay
There are two known pension inns in the town of Cuyo – Nikki’s Pension and Feroland Hotel. Both are located near the port. In the town of Magsaysay is the Quijano Windsurfing Retreat, a resort equipped with cottages and offers windsurfing and kiting.
Nikki’s Pension (Rates and contacts of August 2009): Contact Number: +639208760008 / +639153865201
- Aircon Rooms wih T/B: Single Bed – P500;Double Bed – P575; Family Room w/ TV – P 750
- Fan Rooms with Shared T/B : Single Bed – P200
Feroland Hotel: Contact Number: +639217904848
- Island hopping: check out the white sand islands of Pandan, Bisucay, Barrin, Capnayan, Quiminatin, Malcatop, Imalaguan and Silat or the other islands in the north covered by the town of Magsaysay and Agutaya
- Wind Surfing/Kitingin Quijano Windsurfing Retreat
- Snorkeling/Diving (bring your own equipment or hop on live aboard dive cruise)
- Beach bumming in Capusa Beach and Lucbuan Beach
- Island tour – see the old houses and structures that can be traced back from Spanish era
- See the century old St. Augustine Church inside Cuyo Fort
- Trek to Mt. Aguado
The best time to go is during the the dry season or from November to May, during rainy season, the waves are generally rough. Town Fiesta is celebrated during the month of August with their Pagdayaw Festival in honor of their patron Saint Agustin. The festival features street dancing and performances that showcase the rich history of the island. You will see church goers put blue marks on their faces after the mass. While in the island, don’t forget to buy casuy.