Established in 1963, Virac Airport has been the only airport to serve the island of Catanduanes. After decades of wear and tear and stretched-out rehabilitation projects held on the premises — due to funding issues and typhoon damage — the new P39 million terminal was finally unveiled in June 2018.
Bigger, better and greener
The double-storey terminal now accommodates up to 300 passengers a day — triple the capacity prior to rehabilitation. The green color scheme also reflects the airport’s new sustainable design and typhoon-resistant structure. Also, an improved 1.8km-long runway is able to accommodate Airbus A320 aircraft. The runway is set to be further expanded, and by 2020, it’ll be able to accommodate even bigger aircraft, as well as night flight operations.
Local sweets for souvenirs
The airport may not have any commercial retailers yet, but there are local vendors selling Catanduanes delicacies. These include pili, a macadamia-like nut indigenous to the Bicol region, and suman (sticky native rice) with latik, a rich coconut syrup. Enjoy a pre-flight sweet treat or take the snacks home as pasalubong.
Secluded beaches and serene waterfalls
Although tourism on Catanduanes is booming, it’s managed to stay under the radar — especially in comparison to other destinations like Siargao. The island’s beaches, waterfalls and cliffs harbor spaces that await discovery and exploration. Check out Mamangal, Igang and Balite beaches, which are all short jeepney or multicab (small light truck) rides from the airport. Further out in the other municipalities are nature spots like Nahulugan Falls in Gigmoto and Maribina Falls in Bato, as well as Puraran Beach, a popular surfing spot in Baras.
This article first appeared in the January 2019 issue of Smile magazine.