Summer is already here! Have you decided where your next great getaway will be? Read along and consider this one enchanting island called Camiguin!
Right above the Mindanao archipelago there lies an unassuming island called Camiguin. The name Camiguin is derived from the native word “Kamagong”, a species of the ebony tree that thrives near Lake Mainit in the province of Surigao del Norte, the region from which the earlier inhabitants of the islands, the Manobos, came. Kinamigin, the local language of Camiguin, is closely related to the Manobo language.
Nicknamed the “island born of fire” it has 7 volcanoes (Mt. Hibok Hibok, Mt. Mambajao, Mt. Guinsiliban, Mt. Timpoong, Mt. Vulcan, Mt. Uhay and Mt. Tres Marias) all are dormant except Hibok Hibok. It is interesting to note that volcanoes outnumber the municipalities (5) in the island. These volcanoes over time shaped the landscape and culture of the island and its inhabitants.
If you think beach and island hopping alone are the only thing Camiguin has to offer, think again. You will be amazed on how much you can do in this smallest province in Mindanao (its the 2nd smallest province in the archipelago after Batanes)
Here are some notable attractions:
White Island An uninhabited horseshoe-shaped white sandbar with Mt. Hibok-Hibok and the old Mt. Vulcan on its background. From the jump-off point near Paras Beach Resort, it can be reached within 10 minutes through a motorized banca (a banca can fit up to 4 persons for 550php and an environmental fee of 20php is served as an entrance fee to the island) It is advisable to go here early in the morning because the sandbar submerges in the tide in the afternoon.
The enchanting white island of Camiguin
Cross Marker and Sunken Cemetery Sixteen kilometers from Catarman proper; a huge cross 50 meters off the beach was installed in 1982 to mark the community cemetery that sunk during the 1871 volcanic holocaust. A fluvial procession organized annually by the townsfolk of Barangay Bonbon is held to honor the sunken graves of their forefather every third week of September. You can also scuba dive in these area for you to be able to glimpse the eerie tombstones and the marine life thriving in the vicinity.
Old Catarman (Gui-ob) Church Ruins Another attraction situated in Barangay Bonbon, 16 kilometers from the center of Catarman, lies an old Spanish church. What remains are ruins of adobe walls, belfry and convent that are testimonials to the devastating 1871 earthquake which wiped out the illustrious town of Catarman established earlier as a Spanish settlement in 1967. This catastrophic quake made the shift of capital from Catarman to Mambajao.
Inside the church ruins
The century-old tree beside the ruins of the convent
Sto. Niño Cold Spring Located 4 kilometers north of Catarman is a huge pool of cold spring water with a sandy bottom. The area has native stores, picnic huts and toilets for visitors and guests.
Katibawasan Falls Five kilometers southeast of Mambajao center is a waterfalls which measures 250 feet high cascades to a rock pool surrounded by ground orchids, wild ferns, trees and boulders. Its cold water provides an ideal summer splash to bathers and picnickers.
Bura Soda Water Pool One of the unique attraction of Camiguin. Bura Soda Water Pool is the only soda water pool in the country which is filled with soda (carbonated) water instead of just plain water. Located at Catarman, the pool boasts a scenic beauty of fields and green hills. Two pools are available for adults and kids. The water in the pool is cold, clear and clean which is maintained on regular basis. The pool is very inviting, refreshing and good for swimming. Picnic area is available for rent in a very cheap rate and barbecue grilling is permitted. There is also decent small store for snacks and drinks.
Ardent Hot Springs
Six kilometers west of Mambajao is a mineral pool with water around 40 degree centigrade. Vapor rises from the heated waters that run down the vents of the dormant Hibok-Hibok volcano. The springs are ideal to bathe in at night surrounded by cool mountain air. It has therapeutic effects. Picnic huts and tables are available in the beautifully landscaped gardens with a restaurant on site.
Mantigue Island One of the lesser known attraction compared to White Island but just as nice, The island is a 4 hectares of evergreen forest fringed with white sandy beaches just three kilometers off the shore from Barangay San Roque, in Mahino near Benoni Port. A fishing village is found in the north side of the island. One side of the island is a white sand beach with coral offshore, while opposite side provides a deep drop-off for snorkeling and diving.
the virgin island of Mantigue
other notable attractions
Aside from the above here are some more attractions or things worth mentioning:
Giant Clam Santuary
Butterfly Garden and Sanctuary
Experience Panaad pilgrimage during Lenten season
Sample their famous Vjandep pastel
Kiping, a native delicacy made up of grinded cassava that are fried into thin crispy sheets. Eaten together with panocha (sweet concoction made out of sugar mollases)
Dead talisay tree
Row of shade going to the cold springs
Interior of eco-friendly Sagay Church where walls are made up of nipa and chandeliers are out of driftwood.
Getting there and away
As of writing, there are still no direct flights from Manila to Camiguin. To reach the islands you need to travel first to Cagayan de Oro (1.5 hrs by plane from Manila)
From Lumbia Airport of Cagayan de Oro, ride a van or a cab (200-300php) to Agora Market where you can catch a bus (152php) or a van (200php) to Balingoan port for a 2-3 hour ride.
Inside Market City is where you can find the Agora bus terminal
Get off in Balingoan Terminal and walk to the port. From there, ride a ferry (170php) to Benoni Port, Camiguin. Ferries from Balingoan Port to Benoni, Camiguin leave almost every hour from 5Am to 5PM, travel time is two hours.
Alternatively, you can ride a fast craft from Cagayan de Oro’s Macabalan Port straight to Camiguin. Paras Sea Cat departs Cagayan de Oro everyday (except Thursday) to Camiguin by 9am sharp. Regular fare is at 550php for View Deck (non-aircon) and Main Deck (aircon); 750php for Business Class
Local means of transportation includes habal-habal, motorela, multicabs, van and private car.