I have always had the bad travel habit of overpacking. Being the Girl Scout that I am, I would always pack at least two extra change of clothes for those just in case situations. This bad habit proved to be useful when we, five random road trippers (plus our two wacky and accommodating guides), found ourselves ‘stranded’ in the charming town of Palanan in the province of Isabela.

Stranded 2

All of us were supposed to fly out of Palanan on Sunday morning, but the sky was not really in the good mood for some flying action. Some of us – 11 random road trippers – were able to board their flights to Cauyan (First three on a 4-seater Cessna plane, next five on a 6-seater, and the next three on a 4-seater). But when it was our turn, we were told that there were no more flights coming back from Cauyan and we had to wait until the following morning to fly out of Palanan.

Stranded 3

Wohoo! Extra afternoon to roam around Palanan! But my initial reaction was quickly replaced by a mini-panic attack: What will I wear tonight and tomorrow? What about work? What about my family? I mentally checked if I still have enough dry clothes (I have extra, I know. But most of my clothes are wet from the boat ride the day before). I texted my boss to let her know about my situation, and I also called home to banish their worries. And, all was well. I was determined to make the most of our reamaining time in Palanan.

So, what did we do while we were stranded in Palanan?

Nothing short of epic, of course!

Aboard a speed boat, we went from the bank of the River of No Return and out into the Pacific Ocean to the white shore of Dicotcotan Beach. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the three-kilometer stretch of white sand, relaxing and communing with nature. Some of us took a dip (careful not to go too far in the nesting site of sea snakes). Some of us decided to walk in the seaside ‘forest’. Some took advantage of the sunset and snapped away as many postcard-worthy photos as time would allow. Some of us were happy watching hermit crabs. And, still, some of us were old enough to embrace childhood and playfully buried someone in the sand.

On our way back from Dicotcotan, the moon was quickly chasing the sun away. The night sky was clear, giving way for the moon to light our way and for stars to brighten up our night. The speedboat seems to glide through the still waters of the Pacific Ocean. It felt like we were in Amazon. It provided the perfect setting for stargazing and sing-along games.

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When we got back, it was almost time for dinner. We enjoyed a sumptuous meal with the Mayor at the riverside. Then, the ever-talented Mayor and his band serenaded us with timeless songs from the 70s and 80s. How often can you say you had a jamming sesh with the local chief executive?

The following morning, the warm sun and bright skies greeted us. It was time to leave the place we called home for two days. While boarding the 6-seater Cessna plane, I just had one thought: my inner Girl Scout won’t mind getting stranded in this rustic paradise again, with or without extra change of clothes…because getting stranded is #MoreFuninIsabela!

To top everything, we were treated with a stunning aerial view of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges as if calling us to come back soon.

Stranded 5

Disclaimer: This post may cause travel envy to the 11 other random road trippers, but really, we wished you were there with us. Hahaha.


We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Mayor Angelo “Bimbo” Bernardo of Palanan, Isabela for your hospitality and for allowing us to explore the hidden beauty of Palanan.