Cuyo, Palawan: A Hidden Paradise in the Philippines
January 1, 1970
by Leah Anne
Discovered in 1622 through barter trading, Cuyo stood as the Spanish Fort in Palawan. This paradise is also the oldest town in Palawan province that maintained its culture for more than 350 years. Widely spoken dialects within the town are Cuyonon (Cuyo), Agutaynen (Agutaya), & Hiligaynon. What’s more interesting in this town is it is surrounded by 17 inactive volcanoes above and below sea level. Evident of this claim are the rocks that formed the mountains which have said to be volcanic.
A breathtakingly beautiful is this island that is quite hard to compute.
Public transportation is very limited in Cuyo and choices differ island to island but to really experience the isle, highly recommend is renting a motorcycle. The major transportation are pump boats if you are trying to travel across the islands & tricycles but can only be found in the town proper as most of the islands’ road are too narrow for a wheeled vehicle. If you prefer not to rent any transit, be involved with the folks then best option is to walk.
Where to go?
Cuyo, Palawan offers untold tourist attractions & recreations; from beaches & sightseeing to notable grounds of occupational period & ancient times.
- Capusan Beach – A white stretch of sand next to the port with a photographic scenery when its low tide reaching the northern tip.
- Amanpulo Beach Resort – A taste of a high life as this luxury resort is hailed as the most expensive, exclusive tourist trap in the Philippines & world’s most VIP Island where some of the famous faces spent their holidays like Beyonce & Brad Pitt.
- Tabunan Beach & Pier – A very lengthy port formed by huge rocks which is only 10 minutes away from the town proper.
- Anino Retreat (formerly Quijano Windsurfing Retreat) – Located few kilometers from Cuyo airport and port, honeymooners will satisfy their privacy with its detachment from the busy town.
What to do?
- Kite surfing and Windsurfing at Anino Retreat and Capusan Beach, which guests can bring their own equipment while watching the heartwarming sunset.
- Hike and Trek at Mt. Aguado, which you can hire a tricycle or go with your feet. This small alp is a 20-minute climb passing along the Cross Stations and at its peak you will see the entire town of Cuyo. They can also climb Mt. Kaymamis & Mt. Bonbon at Magsaysay, a nearby town.
- Island Hopping, allows you to rent pump boats to see the superb scenery of its neighboring islets: Bisucay, Caponayan, Bararing, Pandan, Quiminatin, Imalaguan & other islands.
- Snorkeling and Diving, enjoy the crystal clear of its saltwater and the beauty of corals & other sea creatures.
- Low-tide fishing Pakinas & Panulo, exciting part is these both activities, Pakinas which is done during the daybreak that apart from fishes, other sea living & different kinds of shells which are all harvested to serve as food. n the other hand, Panulo is only practiced at nightfall & only using “Petromax” or headlamps to serve as their light.
- Cashew Nut Plantation & its process that serve as the vital source of income of the folks. From picking from its tree, breaking the shell and scooping the nut itself was hard yet full of fun.
- Cuyo Town Tour, reminiscing the Spanish era, the structure of the town was made for easy access as the Fortress Church, Palawan State University campus; Cuyo Central Elementary School, Municipality Office, Public Market, Port and Gymnasium were established just around the corner of one another with the Park and Plaza in the middle. Hiring a motorcycle is also available so guests could go around the entire island.
What to eat?
Nothing compares to the variety of food Cuyo has to offer.
- Yahoo. An appetizer which is completely made of fermented fish with salt. Its made even tastier when being stored for days and mixed with a special kind of ginger which they call “Langkawas” (blue ginger).
- Seaweed Salad. “Lato” (sea grapes), “Tambalang” or “Paket-Paket” seaweeds are combined with vinegar, onion, tomato, green mango; soy sauce makes a snack or a salad.
- Tirik (Sand Dollar) and Tayong (Sea Urchin). You need to crack them open to get the edible part inside. It’s a nice viand and perfect partner for rice.
- Sea Cucumber. Folks called it “Batunan” or “Balat” which they tend to exert extra effort in harvesting it because it is deeply tucked in the sea land. After scraping its skin and sliced, they just soak it in a bowl of vinegar for few minutes.
- Freshwater Crab. Called “Kuday”, which is being caught by a bamboo crab trap that they put onto land holes near freshwater. These are most of the time cooked in Coconut milk or cream based dishes.
- Cashew Nuts. As the main source of finances, it is cooked in different ways: roasted, grilled, sweetened or brittle. You can found this anywhere around Cuyo.
How to get Cuyo?
- By Air – Air Juan which is the only commercial airline in the town that operates to & from Puerto Princesa City, Caticlan, Iloilo, & Sipalay.
- By Sea – The common mode of transport going in & out of Cuyo is by ferry. There are two major ferry companies serving Puerto Princesa to Cuyo to Iloilo (vice versa) routes, Montenegro Shipping Lines & Milagrosa Shipping Lines, and M/V D’ ASEAN Journey runs ferries to Cuyo Island from Manila, via Coron Island.
Where to stay?
- Nikki’s Pension, located at the Poblacion next to the port. It’s also the most popular place to stay in.
Contact Number: +639208760008 / +639153865201
- Feroland Hotel, located at the Poblacion near to the Police Station.
Contact Number: +639217904848
- PSU Hometel, located inside the Palawan State University Campus, Poblacion.
Contact Number: +639199850074.
- Dok’s La Paz Batchoy & Homestay, located at Barangay Tenga-Tenga
Contact Number: +639771641539 / +639075887177