Cuyo Islands

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Cuyo Islands are a group of islands in Palawan, Philippines.

Understand[edit]

The archipelago of the Cuyo Islands are located north of the Sulu sea, to the east of the main island of Palawan. They compose around 40 islands, many of which are uninhabited. Cuyo Island, in the south of the archipelago, is home to Cuyo town. The total population in the islands according to a census in 2000 is 18,257.

Cuyo Island is a group of 45 islets with a total land area of 50 square miles. It lies south of Mindoro and between Northern Palawan and Panay. The biggest island in this group is Cuyo with an area of 22 square miles and is about 9 miles long. Cuyo is divided in three municipalities, namely Cuyo, Agutaya, and Magsaysay. Cuyo is the oldest town in Palawan. Cuyo has a culture of its own which was preserved since more than 350 years. In the year 2008, the total population of the Cuyo Island is almost 25’000. Cuyo is divided into two island groups. Up north is the Quiniluban group to which Pamalican island is part and where the 89-hectare, ultra-exclusive Amanpulo Resort belongs. To the south are the Cuyo islands, where the three municipalities, namely Cuyo, Agutaya, and Magsaysay are located. Magsaysay is the location of the Anino Retreat, also exclusive but in another sense.

Weather[edit]

There are two distinct seasons in the Philippines generally distinguished by the rains and the direction of prevailing winds. The amihan winds from the north begins in November and lasts until March and is typically drier. The habagat winds blow from the south beginning in June lasting until October. This also coincides with the monsoon/typhoon season. Cuyo lies to the south of the typhoon belt that pummels much of the archipelago every year. Most rain comes in the form of short, heavy downpours that bring a pleasant coolness along with the lush, green vegetation. During the dry amihan season there are periods of hot, dusty or windless days. Aside from the windless April and May doldrums when its a few degrees hotter, temperatures are always the same regardless of season being within the equatorial zone.

Cuyo Island[edit]

Cuyo is a fourth-class municipality composed of 17 barangays. With a population of 18,257 people (2000 census), it is one of the unexploited islands in the country. Home to a fort, which shelters a church and a convent in its high stone walls, constructed during the Spanish period to protect its population from Moro pirates, Cuyo has one of the most ancient forts in the Philippines. Incidentally, Cuyo became the second capital of Palawan from 1873 to 1903.

Cuyo Town[edit]

Cuyo is known to be the oldest town in Palawan. 
From the sea, Cuyo Island's first visible landmark is a large concrete sign on Capusan Beach erected by the municipality to welcome visitors. All the streets in town have already been cemented but the town has preserved the hispanic plaza-iglesia structures. Dominating the town centre is Cuyo's church, convent, and fort built by the Spanish and finished in 1680. Nearby stands a schoolhouse, and a park with a monument to national hero Jose Rizal.

Cultural heritage[edit]

Despite its long history Cuyo has held back the hands of time and preserved its rich cultural heritage preserved for almost 400 years. The ati-ati, comedia, sinulao, sayaw, inocentes, erekay, biso, banda y tipano, cheats, tambura, birguere, pondo-pondo, curatsa, and others are things Cuyono.

Aguado pilgrimage[edit]

Mt. Aguado features life-size stations of the Way of the Cross constructed from the foot to the peak of the mountain. Cuyonon devotees, visitors and tourists make the annual pilgrimage to Mt. Aguado as part of the penitential rites done in Cuyo during the Holy Week particularly on Holy Thursday.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Cuyo is a place blessed with nature’s beauty. Secluded and quiet, it is covered with mango, cashew and coconut trees that gracefully sway to the wind. Thick clumps of bamboo
abound. And of course, the vast blue seas – home to a myriad of corals and sea creatures – that seem extend to eternity. The island would appeal to hardy, outdoor types of people who enjoy taking walks, swimming and discovering a unique local culture, rather than indulging in material pleasures.

People[edit]

Cuyonons live on the basics and hardly complain. They are very resourceful and have found ways to make the best of what they have like making tuba from coconut and cashew brittle their specialties.Life is slow, timeless, and the epitome of “rural living” in its simplicity, the kind that grows on people who visit the island. There is nothing to be lost in Cuyo except perhaps one’s heart. Its untouched beaches, gracious townsfolk, and simple life are its gems. Rare are places where the concept of excessive materialism does not exist, yet people are thankful and welcoming, where happiness is equated with putting value on love and life, and living means working with nature and not trying to change it.

History[edit]

First Settlers on Cuyo Island[edit]

Chinese traders where the first to discover Cuyo island and introduced the trade and barter system in the locality. Later Chief Matuod of Malay origin was arrived in big bangkas called “sakayan” and formed settlements. Another Malay Mohammedan by the name Datu Magbanua also later settled in Cuyo. Datu Magbanua’s leadership was so great and powerful, that even chieftains from another islands recognized his rule. The Malays brought with them their dances and when blended with native dance, the “Soriano”, it became known as the “pondo-pondo” one of the most popular folkdances even up to the present.

Chinese Settlers on Cuyo Island=[edit]

During the leadership of Datu Magbanua, three Chinese Mandarins arrived on the island. The Chinese discovered gold deposits in Mt. Aguado and introduced gold mining, smith working, pottery, and other handicrafts. The natives of Cuyo became suspicious of the their presence and were able to drive them out. They sailed to Ilongilong (today known as Iloilo) and formed another settlement called “Parian”.

Spanish Colonization of Cuyo Island[edit]

In 1622, Count San Augustin together with five Spanish missionaries colonized the island named by them as Cuyo and introduced Christianity. The friendly character of the people proved to be a blessing to the Spaniards who did not find difficulties in converting the population of Cuyo Island to Christianity. They were immediately able to baptize 500 Cuyonons.

Muslim attack Cuyo Island[edit]

In 1636 a powerful Muslim fleet under Datu Tagul raided Cuyo and other places in Palawan. In Cuyo the Muslim attacked the convent and the church and set the town on fire and took with them prisoners including a priest, Fr. Francisco de Jesus Maria. They then proceeded to Agutaya and Culion and wrought havoc and destruction on the helpless and defenceless civilians. Again their prized captive was another priest from Culion, Fr. Alonzo de San Augustin who was captured while saying mass. A Spanish naval flotilla of 6 vessels and 250 men under Capt. Nicolas Gonzales met the returning pirates with their loot and booty on December 21, 1636. Datu Tagul was killed, 300 of his men captured and 120 prisoners were liberated. The two captured priests were unlucky.

Cuyo Fort[edit]

During the early Spanish period Fort Cuyo was constructed to protect from sporadic Moro attacks and was finished in 1680. The original complex of stone and mortar was a square with four bastions. The present complex, which occupies 1 ha, is a solid rectangular edifice with walls 10 m high and 2 m thick. It has a tall belfry and watchtowers; its canons, which face the sea, are now fired only during town celebrations. It is considered as one of the most ancient and unique forts in the Philippines. Unique in the sense that you can find the church, the convent and the Perpetual Adoration chapel all within the fort. In 1762 one of the British ships that invaded Manila fired at the Cuyo fort but it was not damaged at all. Another fort was started at Lucbuan seven kilometres away on the east side of Cuyo island, but it was never finished. In 1873, the capital of Paragua (present day Palawan) was transferred to Cuyo from Taytay.

[Much of the information about Cuyo was received from the Municipal Planning and Development Office in Cuyo town in November 2009]

Get In[edit]

By plane[edit]

From Manila there are daily flights from NAIA terminals 2, 3 and 4, to Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, Air Juan www.airjuan.com flies between Puerto Princesa and Cuyo Island in small planes for maximum 9 passengers at about 10:00 taking one hour for the scenic flight. Air Juan Bookings: florabel18cycom@gmail.com +63 939 902 2348 or nackslandcuyo@gmail.com ☎ +63 918 639 9843 The airport on Cuyo Island is located in Magsaysay some 20 minutes away from Cuyo town.

Air Juan flies from Puerto Princesa to Cuyo Island (about 1 hour) every Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday. (Return tickets about ₱10,000-12,000 depending how early you book. Enough space for kite equipment. Additional weight ₱98/kg.

Arrive by Air Juan: Puerto Princesa to Cuyo 10:00-11:00 days 3, 5, 6
Depart by Air Juan: Cuyo to Puerto Princesa 11:30-12:30 days 3, 5, 6
Air Juan bookings for Cuyo: florabel18cycom@gmail.com +63 939 902 2348 or nackslandcuyo@gmail.com

By ferry[edit]

A full ferry schedule for Cuyo can be found at http://cuyokiteboarding.com/getting-to-cuyo

Montenegro Shipping: [1]


  • Puerto Princesa to Cuyo

Montenegro Shipping: Dep Monday 18:00 - Arr Tuesday 10:00

Milagrosa Shipping: Dep Thursday and Sunday 15:00 - Arr Friday and Monday 08:00


  • Cuyo to Puerto Princesa

Montenegro Shipping: Dep Saturday 18:00 - Arr Sunday 10:00

Milagrosa Shipping: Dep Monday and Friday 15:00 - Arr Tuesday and Saturday 08:00


  • Iloilo to Cuyo

Montenegro Shipping: Dep Saturday 08:00 - Arr Saturday 20:00

Milagrosa Shipping: Dep Monday and Thursday 19:00 - Arr Tuesday and Friday 10:00


  • Cuyo to Iloilo

Montenegro Shipping: Dep Tuesday 14:00 - Arr Wednesday 04:00

Milagrosa Shipping: Dep Monday and Thursday 15:00 - Arr Tuesday and Saturday 06:00


Manila – Coron – Cuyo

Serrano Shipping - M/V D’Asean Journey (Manila South Port Area Gate 1 near Delfan Port)

  • Manila – Coron Dep Monday 16:00 - Arr Tuesday 11:00
  • Coron – Cuyo Dep Tuesday 17:00 - Arr Wednesday 03:00


Cuyo – Coron – Manila

  • Cuyo – Coron Thursday 22:00 - Arr Friday 08:00
  • Coron – Manila Friday 17:00 - Arr Saturday 11:00


*These times should be used as a guide only as there are often delays due to weather, tides, cargo and mechanical problems. Best to make serious inquiries only near to planned travel date with someone familiar with these services.

Get around[edit]

There are lots of tricycles around Cuyo town. Agree to the fare before departing as most of these are territorial. Small motorcycles are available for rent in the public market area and nearby. Bicycles can be rented on the premises of Mika Cybercafe on the ground floor of the Feroland Hotel within easy walking distance of the pier and public market. Local bangka boats are also available for island-hopping, snorkeling and unique camping excursions. Visitors are reminded to always dispose of their trash properly by taking out what you bring! The Anino Retreat has a comfortable "banka" for island hopping for rent.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Heritage Trees. On the south shore along Coco Verde Beach is the only concentration of heritage hardwood trees on the island. Known locally as dangkalan and formally known as calophyllum inophyllum [[2]]. Most are located within Cuyo's only nature reserve and are a slow-growing and protected species with two estimated to be 200+ years old. The wood from these trees has been highly prized for generations in traditional boat building. Many indigenous and migratory birds can be found here. [[3]]]]  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Kiteboarding / Kitesurfing, Capusan Beach and Quejano Beach, [4]. Cuyo Island has two spots for kiteboarding / kitesurfing. One is located in Cuyo town at Capusan Beach. The other is located some 20 minutes away at Quejano Beach and the adjoining Victoria Beach. Kiteboarding instruction at Capusan and Victoria Beaches are provided exclusively by the Cuyo Watersports Association and Buradol Kite Central, part of the local Nikki's syndicate. Kiteboarding instruction is possible without restrictions at Quejano Beach however it is a private residence so inquire first. The Philippines has two principal seasons known locally as amihan and habagat, and for the kiters it's the amihan season which brings them back in small clusters every year. This season lasts from December to March and is characterized by moderate humidity, seldom any significant rainfall, and an almost daily, consistent, steady wind from the Northeast. Capusan Beach in the main town is the most popular spot for kiteboarding, due to its long sand bar, ample space, a combination of both shallow and deep water and it's free public access. The 600 metres long Quejano/Victoria Beach on the east side of the island offers very good conditions with side onshore wind and 100% safe.  edit
  • Windsurfing, Capusan Beach, [5]. Because of the excellent wind conditions, windsurfing is also a popular sport on Cuyo. Cuyo Watersports Association provides windsurfing lessons, equipment hire and storage.  edit
  • Fiesta, Cuyo Town. The last week of August Cuyo celebrates it's annual Festival of St. Augustine known locally as Purongitan. Typically it lasts for an entire week of street parades (think mardi gras) eating and entertainment contests held in the covered open-air basketball/activities center across from the college. This is just one of many traditional festivals co-opted by the Spanish during their long colonial rule.  edit

Snorkeling[edit]

There are numerous places within the entire Cuyo Archipelago where one can find an amazing variety of underwater sights. For the casual visitor it's generally advisable to snorkel in those areas free from hazards such as fishermen and other surface water sports activities. The black sea urchins are to be avoided![[6]]

Buy[edit][add listing]

All native handicrafts are brought from other places. Traditional crafts such as weaving and pottery have died-out completely. Cuyo is not known for its shopping opportunities.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • buti-buti (popped rice)
  • Casoy ( cashew nuts salted, roasted, bande, brittle, chewy bars)
  • Lato [[7]]
  • Combo (saba bananas fried in coconut oil wrapped in a mixture of flour and egg, not like maruya)
  • Bondok (cookies)
  • Tirek (sea urchin)

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Anino Retreat, Located in Magsaysay 20 minutes from Cuyo town at the most beautiful beach of Cuyo Island, +63 929 603 3275 / +63 939 917 9402, [8]. One of the best spot for kite boarding / kite surfing in the Philippines and still not over-crowded with 3 cottages, and 4 double rooms with extra beds for children, all overlooking the beach, for the exclusive pleasures of our guests who appreciate privacy, delicious food, and unspoiled nature. Kitesurfing, kiteboarding, windsurfing, SUP, canoeing, swimming, snorkeling, island excursions, etc. Rates between April and September circa 40.00 – 95.00 US$. Rates between October and March circa 58.00 – 145.00 US$..  edit
  • Coco Verde Beach Resort, (located on the island's southshore), [9]. Best value on Cuyo Island known for its delightful setting on the prettiest undeveloped white-sand beach on the island. Numerous hardwood trees grow along its shore among the swaying coconut palms. The safest swimming and snorkeling, island exploring and nearby kitesurfing are some of the many local activities. The covered, open-air restaurant offers a full breakfast menu along with hearty lunches and dinners at moderate prices. 24-hour advance reservation for non-guests is recommended. A well-equipped bar with full-time power from mains is backed-up by generator. Transportation options include local tricycles, motorcycle rental and a 4x4 mini-truck for hassle-free pier and airport transfers. Bangka boats depart from the beach for excursions to nearby uninhabited islands for excellent snorkeling. Year-round nipa and bamboo beachfront garden cottages w/shared facilities STANDARD (5): P700 ($15) / FAMILY (1): P950 ($20) inclusive of VAT and service charges. Contact Rashel: (+63) 0930 097 6307 or(+63) 0948 711 2042  edit

Other[edit]

  • Nikki's Pension with 14 rooms, fast-food restaurant and videoke bar. Often fully booked Dec-Mar Capusan Public Beach next to the pier and public market (contact: +63 920 8760 008).
  • Feroland Hotel. Tenga-Tenga, with 8 rooms located nearby (contact: +63 921 7904 848).
  • Villa Gange Pensione. Catadman, with 6 air-con rooms and 4 fan rooms plus communal kitchen. Often fully booked Dec-Mar (contact: +63 916 5029397).
  • Baywatch Resort of the Palawan State University, Cuyo Branch at Capusan Beach with 1 air-con room and 4 fan rooms (contact: +63 918 4770 102).
  • Jade Felimar Value Inn at Juan Luna Street in Cuyo town. Fan double rooms and A/C double rooms. (contact: +63 280 65958, +63 922 8540335, +63 930 3478084).
  • Apohlic Pension Cabibsing. With 3 fan rooms & plus communal kitchen (contact: Bert Baloco: +63 918 501 2315).
  • Discovery Bay Resort Hotel. Tabunan (contact: +63 905 2711089; +63 947 8009121).

Internet[edit]

Mika Cyber Cafe on the ground floor of the Feroland Hotel is within easy walking distance of the pier and public market.

There are a number of other internet cafes in Cuyo Town including both Cycom offices all using the SMART Network

Travel Agencies and Airline Ticketing Offices[edit]

Cycom: Main Road 50 metres before principal gasoline station: Ronald Palay +63 9399 064750

Cycom: Main Road 100 metres after principal gasoline station: Florabel Palay +63 9399 022348

Nacksland: Across the street from the gasoline station: +63 9982 654406

G-cash: Near Western Union: +63 9199 742741 Also currency exchange and international transfers

Get out[edit]

A full air and sea schedule from Cuyo is available at http://cuyokiteboarding.com/getting-to-cuyo



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