Although I didn’t have the best time during the long ferry ride from Iloilo to Cuyo, my excitement shot up when we finally arrived in Cuyo Island. It was finally THE MOMENT! My first time to set foot in Palawan Province and on my way to explore this tiny remote island all by my lonesome. I already had a good first impression of Cuyo after seeing this long and inviting white sand beach conveniently lying beside the pier … beckoning to be discovered.

First glimpse of Capusan Beach in Cuyo Island

Cuyo was popularized by the Philippine romantic drama film “Ploning,” starred by veteran actress Judy Ann Santos. After taking a walk along the beach and the streets of Cuyo Town proper, I could sense why the island was the perfect setting to film such a beautiful story … how the seascapes of Cuyo could bring out the romance of life in a typical coastal village in the Philippines.

Movie trailer of Ploning, which was shot entirely in Cuyo

Cuyo Poblacion Baywalk

Capusan Beach

View of Cuyo Pier from Capusan Beach

Cuyo Fortress Church

For the stopover in Cuyo island, the Milagrosa ferry took around six hours, which was ample time to wander around some of the tourist spots in Cuyo. Within walking distance from the pier was the Cuyo Fortress Church. This massive church was first built in 1683 by Augustinian recollects to double as a house of worship and fortification against Muslim raiders.

Surprised to see the Cuyonon sign “Dayon Camo” at the church since it’s also the same way we say “Pasok kayo” or “(You’re welcome to) Come In”

After asking permission from the parish priest, I climbed up the stairs and walked along the pathways on top of the fortress walls. The topmost level of the bell tower had a great view of the whole church complex, the town plaza, and a few outlying islands.

Cuyo Town Plaza and Gym

School beside the Cuyo Fortress Church

View from the church belfry

Capusan Beach

Beside the pier is a charming baywalk and a white sand stretch named Capusan Beach. The beach was great for a short stroll. Some of the other passengers went to the northern end to take a dip. There were some interesting photographic subjects in Capusan like this flock of migratory birds and two wrecked boats I saw.

Deep footprints at the northernmost end of Capusan Beach

Can’t resist the self-portrait photo-op at the I (HEART) U vandal 

Locals trading fish at the beachfront

Since I had four more hours to explore Cuyo, I wanted to visit a few spots around the island, particularly Magsaysay town situated at the other side of the island. I approached a tricycle driver and asked him how much it would cost to take me to Quijano Beach in Magsaysay. The driver offered me P400 for the round trip transfers. I told him it was too expensive. Luckily, a habal-habal (single motorcycle) driver was nearby and offered me only P200 for the ride.

Quijano Beach and Magsaysay Town

It took 1 hour and 15 minutes from Cuyo Town Proper to Quijano Beach in Magsaysay Town. The road from Cuyo to Magsaysay town proper was bearable but the section from Magsaysay to Quijano Beach was very rough.

Magsaysay Municipal Hall

Church in Magsaysay town

Magsaysay Town Plaza

It would have been better if the beach was excellent but the sand fell short of my expectations. Quijano Beach had a strong yellow-orange color sand, which was a bit coarse. The beach was super calm during my visit but I read online that it’s an excellent windsurfing spot during months of October to April. There was a high-end resort at the beach called Quijano Windsurfing Retreat.

Brought my heavy backpack with when I was in Cuyo town for safety reasons. My only companion for the day ;(

Beachfront cottages of Quijano Windsurfing Retreat

Tabunan Beach and Pier

Tabunan Beach is nearer to Cuyo Town Proper, around 10 minutes by motorcycle / habal-habal. The driver charged me an additional P50 for the ride. It used to be a popular local hangout place but my habal-habal driver told me that they have actually grown tired of bumming out at the beach … ALL DAY ALL YEAR :) A few kilometers off the coast was Bisucay Isand, which had a very long and inviting white sand beach. The locals back in town told me there’s a passenger pumpboat departing Cuyo Pier for Bisucay Island daily at around noontime.

Yellowish sand of Tabunan Beach with Bisucay Island in the far distance

Bisucay Island

Really loved the twin beaches and the picturesque pier / wave breaker structure in Tabunan 

White Sandbar in the middle of the bay

Here’s a video I took when I was at Tabunan Bay:


Cuyo Town Proper

I asked my habal-habal driver to drop me off at an intersection I spotted earlier lined with a few old houses. He told me some of these houses, now used for commercial purposes, appeared in the movie “Ploning.” I went in a carinderia/local eatery near a school for a proper meal (compared to eating instant noodles at the boat). A serving of adobo, one cup of rice, and a bottle of Coke for just P55 did the trick.

Wooden houses in Cuyo Poblacion

Nikky’s Pension House located beside the Baywalk, one of the budget places to stay in Cuyo

Cuyo Municipal Hall

Palawan College of Arts and Trades – Cuyo Campus

Cuyo Public Market

Thick rain clouds on my way back to Cuyo Pier for the Cuyo to Puerto Princesa Leg of my ferry crossing

Oh! and Amanpulo Resort, the most exclusive/expensive resort in the Philippines, is actually within the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Cuyo. Just made some wishful thinking to visit the island as a day trip while I was planning the trip :) The ultra luxury resort, however, is still a few more hours by boat and an expensive plane ride from the main Cuyo Island.