Unwind and relax in Virac, Catanduanes, the Land of the Howling Winds. Find out the best time to go, how to get there, the must-see tourist spots and must-do activities, best foods to try, where to stay, and how to plan your itinerary with this travel guide.
Virac, a coastal town located at the southern portion of the island province of Catanduanes, might not be on most tourists’ travel radar yet, but its unhurried, friendly, provincial town vibe offers a charm to lure visitors to this off-the-beaten-path travel destination.
Catanduanes is located off the coast of the Bicol Region in the southern part of Luzon and faces the Pacific Ocean. Because of its location, the province is usually the first place in the Philippines to get battered by typhoons, and so the province is nicknamed the “Land of the Howling Winds.”
But don’t let that moniker fool you. Virac and its surrounding towns in Catanduanes have numerous exciting activities and attractions like pristine beaches, calm and peaceful fishing villages, beautiful waterfalls and caves, and gorgeous cathedrals and churches to visit and explore.
The simple island life, where everybody knows everybody, and the smaller crowds in the many beaches on the island, also makes Virac, Catanduanes very attractive to travelers the world over.
In fact, Catanduanes is now also slowly being known as “The Happy Island,” because of its beautiful attractions and friendly people.
If you're planning a trip to Virac, Catanduanes, use this essential travel guide so you can plan for and make the most out of your trip to this beautiful, unspoiled island province.
The Philippines is a tropical country and only has two seasons, the wet and dry season. But being in the middle of the country’s typhoon belt, Virac (and the rest of Catanduanes) has no pronounced dry season; rather, it has about 12-15 rainy days a month on average.
There is a greater chance of rainfall and typhoons between October to February, so you may want to check weather reports regularly, and plan accordingly if you intend to travel there during these months.
The fastest way to go to Virac is by plane but you can also travel by land or sea. Here are your travel options for each depending on your possible jump-off points:
This is the perfect option if you don’t want to travel for long hours or if you’re coming from outside the Philippines. From Virac Airport, you can take a 10-minute tricycle ride to the Virac town proper.
As of this writing, only Cebu Pacific offers once a day direct flights to Virac to and from Manila. If you’re coming from Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), flights to Virac Airport will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Alternatively, you can also fly from Manila to Legazpi, Albay, the province right next to Virac, Catanduanes. PAL has daily flights from Manila to Legazpi and takes about an hour.
From Legazpi, you can take a 47-minute bus ride to Tabaco Port, board a ferry to San Andres Port in Catanduanes with a travel time of 1 hour 30 minutes, then take a jeepney to Virac town proper.
If you’re coming from Cebu or other destinations in Visayas, flights from Mactan International Airport in Cebu to Legazpi Airport in Albay will take about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
From International Airports
Almost all major international carriers make stops at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila. If you’re coming from outside of the Philippines, you can fly straight to Manila, then take a connecting flight to either Legazpi Airport in Albay or straight to Virac Airport in Catanduanes.
Land travel is a cheaper alternative than riding a plane but expect to be on the road for long hours.
Bicol Isarog Bus Lines regularly ply the Manila-Virac route. Trips are usually on overnight sleeper buses, as it takes roughly 18 hours by bus from Manila to Virac. You can catch a Bicol Isarog bus to Virac at their EDSA Cubao terminal.
Victory Liner also has a regular overnight trip from Manila to Virac. You can catch a Victory Liner bus to Virac at their Pasay City terminal.
If you don’t mind even longer hours of journey than land travel, you can hop on a ferry from the Port of Manila in Tondo to Cebu City. From there, you can take a ferry to Masbate City, Masbate, then transfer to another ferry bound for Legazpi, Albay.
Upon arriving in Legazpi, you can take a bus to Tabaco Port, and then board a fast craft ferry to Virac Port. From Virac Port, you can take a tricycle to town. Total travel time can take anywhere from 22-25 hours.
You can easily get around Virac and its nearby towns by renting a van or tricycle.
The town has a bus and jeepney terminal that has several daily departures from Virac to different towns around the island.
There are no 5-star accommodations in Virac, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be hard-pressed to find decent hotels.
If you want to make Virac town proper your home base during your visit to Catanduanes, here are some of the best hotels and resorts within the town proper that you can check out based on your budget and itinerary.
If you didn’t fly direct to Virac, you might want to splurge on your home base in Catanduanes after an 18-hour bus and ferry trip. If you have some cash to burn and want to have a very comfortable stay in Virac, here are some of the top accommodations you can find.
Casa Remedios Bed & Breakfast
Located within the city center, Casa Remedios Bed & Breakfast offers well-kept, air-conditioned rooms with complimentary Wi-Fi and cable TV. A continental-style breakfast is also served daily.
Catanduanes Midtown Inn
This centrally-located, family-friendly accommodation has spacious air-conditioned rooms that come with comfortable beds. Notable tourist spots such as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the Museo de Catanduanes are nearby, as well as the Sea Breeze Restaurant.
If you’re looking for accommodations in Virac that offers comfort without the hefty price tag, you can give these hotels a try.
Lucky Hotel and Resort
Lucky Hotel and Resort is a small hotel near the Virac town center and offers comfortable accommodations without making a huge dent in your wallet. The hotel also has rooms that can accommodate groups of up to 8 people.
Majestic Puraran Beach Resort
Located in Baras town around 30 kilometers northeast of Virac, Majestic Puraran Beach Resort is a beachfront property that offers a great view of the Pacific Ocean. Accommodations range from native cottages along the beach to air-conditioned rooms. You can also rent a tent and pitch at the property.
If you’re traveling solo or with a small group and you’re looking for budget-friendly guesthouses in Virac, this is your best bet.
This two-story budget guesthouse in the middle of Virac town proper has rooms for solo travelers, couples, families, and groups. It has basic facilities and amenities, but there is also a restaurant and rooftop deck, as well as a tour desk offering tour packages.
Video by the Philippine Department of Tourism
The capital of Catanduanes is more than just a jump-off point or rest stop for travelers looking to go around the whole island. Here are Virac tourist spots that you shouldn’t miss during your stay:
Virac has numerous pristine, creamy to golden white sand beaches that are open to the public and are easily accessible via van or tricycle tours.
Most of these beaches have shallow, calm waters that you can wade into. Swim with your kids at the child-friendly Amenia Beach. For divers, you can go underwater off the coast of Mamangal Beach.
Looking for peace and quiet? Balite, Batag, and Marilima Beaches offer quiet stretches of beaches lined with coconut trees to give you shade. See the face of Jesus Christ on a natural rock formation at Talisoy Beach.
Adventure-seekers should get ready for fun activities, both on the beach and in the water, at Igang Beach. Surfers can head over to Puraran Beach on the eastern coast of the island.
Not a fan of beaches? Don’t worry. Visit Maribina Falls in Bato town or the Nahulugan Falls in Gigmoto. There is also the Hicming Falls near Virac. Be awed by the lush forest surrounding these falls, and swim in their refreshing natural pools.
Catanduanes is proud of its Roman Catholic heritage and faith like most of the Philippines. This is evident with the beautifully-preserved stone churches around Catanduanes.
Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (Virac Cathedral) at the center of town and marvel at its stained-glass windows and its central dome that looks very similar to the St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Make a stop at the St. John the Baptist Church (Bato Church), the oldest church on the island.
While on the island, include a stop at the Museo de Catanduanes. Here, you can get to learn about the province’s history and culture, through various artifacts and memorabilia.
There is no shortage of beach resorts on this island, and you can choose to visit any of these resorts depending on the activities you want to do.
For those looking to be active, you can go wild at the Twin Rock Beach Resort, where you can do everything from rock-climbing to ziplining, windsurfing to cliff diving, and more.
If you’re a keen surfer, and you plan to visit Virac at around July to October, you can catch the waves at the famous Majestic surf break. Book your stay at either the Majestic Puraran Beach Resort or Puraran Surf Beach Resort.
Picturesque viewpoints in Virac and the rest of Catanduanes are not limited to its beaches. Hike up to Binurong Point to see the waves from the Pacific Ocean crash onto the rocky cliffs.
You can also make a stop at the PAGASA Weather Radar Station in Bato town. Located on top of a hill, the weather station also offers a spectacular view of Cabugao Bay and the islets in its waters.
Swimming, surfing and hiking will make you hungry—but in Virac, you will never go hungry. Catanduanes is part of the Bicol Region, a region well-known for its spicy cuisine, and most Virac restaurants and eateries serve these types of dishes.
Make sure to try the Bicolano staples laing and Bicol Express cooked in gata (coconut milk). One of Virac’s highly-recommended restaurants is Sunday Blossoms, where you can order the classic Bicol Express. Other Filipino dishes such as kare-kare and caldereta are also available.
Fresh seafood is also a must-try when you visit Virac. Crab, fish, shrimp, and lobster are available throughout the province depending on the season. But in Virac, your go-to place for the best seafood is at Sea Breeze Restaurant.
Craving for coffee? Café de Au brews locally grown and roasted beans, so you can be sure that your coffee is made from the best quality beans in the province.
You can also try their very popular Ala Nachos, which are actually made from fried spring roll wrappers. Desserts at Sunday Blossoms are not to be missed as well.
1. If you’re visiting Virac beaches, make sure to bring snacks/meals with you, especially if you plan to spend the whole day there. A lot of the smaller beaches do not have any establishments.
2. Before heading out of Virac town proper, make sure you bring all your essentials (water bottle, snacks, change of clothes, sunblock, hats, etc.) and withdraw enough cash to cover your trips. There are no ATMs in the smaller towns.
To get the most out of your visit to Virac, Catanduanes, we recommend that you stay for at least three full days. Here’s a sample 4 days and 3 nights itinerary (considering the early flight times to and from the island) so you can make the most of what Virac and the rest of Catanduanes have to offer.
06:35 AM - Departure from NAIA Terminal 3 to Virac Airport
07:45 AM - ETA in Virac Airport
08:00 AM - Breakfast at Café de Au
09:30 AM - Visit Museo de Catanduanes and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
11:30 AM - Lunch at Sea Breeze
01:00 PM - Check-in at Catanduanes Midtown Inn; rest and freshen up
03:00 PM – 05:30 P.M. - Visit Amenia Beach, Mamangal Beach, Balite Beach, Marilima Beach, Batag Beach
06:30 PM - Shop for snacks, water, and other supplies at Virac Town Center. Dinner at Virac Town Center.
08:00 PM - Call it a day. Start bright and early the next day.
05:00 AM – 08:00 AM - Travel to and hike up Binurong Point to catch the sunrise
09:00 AM – 11:00 AM - Go for a swim at the natural pools in Nahulugan Falls
12:00 NN – 01:00 PM - Lunch at Virac town proper
01:00 PM – 04:00 PM - Visit Igang Beach and try surfboarding and/or windsurfing
04:00 PM – 05:00 PM - Visit the Fiat House Cave-Inspired Chapel
06:00 PM - Dinner at Carrie’s Pasta, Pizza, and More
08:00 PM - Back at the hotel. Call it a day. Start bright and early the next day
08:00 AM - Leisurely breakfast at Sunday Blossoms
09:00 AM – 11:30 AM - Travel to and swim at Maribina Falls
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM - Travel to and visit Bato Church
12:30 PM – 01:30 PM - Lunch at Bato or at Virac town proper
02:00 PM – 05:00 PM - Go to Talisoy Beach for a half-day trip
06:00 PM - Dinner at Fernando’s Asian Cuisine; shop for souvenirs at Virac Town Center
08:00 PM - Back at the hotel. Call it a day. Start bright and early the next day.
08:20 AM - Departure from Virac Airport to NAIA Terminal 3
09:30 AM - ETA in NAIA Terminal
Explore The Happy Island of Catanduanes
Virac and its surrounding towns have clean and golden-hued beaches, lush forests, tranquil fishing villages, beautiful waterfalls and caves, and gorgeous cathedrals and churches to visit and explore.
Virac is also a great place to chill, swim and surf to your heart’s content, and eat fresh lobsters on the cheap. The simple island life, exciting water activities, and the picturesque spots make Virac, Catanduanes very attractive to all kinds of travelers, and will leave you with gorgeous tans and happy memories.
Explore Virac, Catanduanes tours and activities for your upcoming adventure so you can experience all the enchanting attractions of the island!