It's difficult to find new places in the Philippines these days, as everything seems to have been discovered already. When I heard about Sta. Ana in Cagayan province in the Northeastern part of Luzon, I had to map out a plan to get there. After visiting Tuguegarao, I finally made my way to Sta. Ana, home to the Cagayan Special Economic Zone that aims to be the next Subic or Clark. Sadly, I was surprised that the Cagayan Special Economic Zone was far from being progressive. It was located in a town called Sta. Ana, around 3 hours drive via private van from Tuguegarao. I saw the vehicle imports from Japan and Korea in empty lots. But we were here not because of the cars, nor the casino. We were here for an adventure that was only lived out in my mind.
We found our way to Jotay's Resort, probably the most popular and the best resort in Sta. Ana. It was a small, well kept resort, that looked actually like a decent motel facing the sea. I liked the terraces where one could dine and do nothing. The beach is not worth mentioning anymore, since it's just gray sand meeting murky waters.
But we weren't here for Sta. Ana. Jotay was supposed to be our base as we explore Cagayan North. We found our way to San Vicente's port to hire a boat that would take us to destination number 1: the elusive Palaui Island.
We hired a boat for P2,000 that would take us island hopping the entire day. We were then brought first to another resort, near the port of San Vicente. I don't know if it was located on a separate island, but it looked that way.
Jerolyn Resort looked very inviting, that we were contemplating on whether to change resorts. If we stayed here, we would be closer to our destinations, and would have an island resort all to ourselves. If we stayed in Jotay's, we would be trapped in a typical resort building without any good scenery. The choice was clear, and the decision was made. We went back to Jotay and took our bags. We just told the resort that we had to go back to Tuguegarao.
Jerolyn's Resort was more basic and rustic though - meaning the rooms were very standard and to a point, uncomfortable. Nevertheless, we knew we had better ambience to drink and have fun in the night, and that we could manage our time easily here.
So we settled in Jerolyn's and hopped on our boat that would take us to Palaui Island and the other destinations we wanted. Sta. Ana was beautiful, and very peaceful, and reminded me of Busuanga's eastern coast (where Club Paradise and El Rio are situated). There were several other islands nearby, so we couldn't contain our excitement. We knew this was the start of a great weekend.