Day-trippers, long weekend escapees, and island-life lovers would definitely find Camiguin enchanting. For a very small province, there is just so much to do that being captivated by its beauty is anything but a surprise. One can figuratively get lost in living the dream of a laid back island life.
Sunshine, white sands, boats, and the sea at Mantigue Island
Going around the province will definitely give you the chilled and relaxed vibe of a dreamer’s island life. Traverse the road by yourself through a motorcycle or do it with your family and friends in a quaint multicab. With the wind brushing through your skin, at some point one might be able to ignore the heat of the sun.
As you go around, the backdrop of your path will always be surrounded with trees, the mountains, and on the perimeter, the sea.
View at Tongatoc
View at Tongatoc
Within the island lies 7 volcanoes that give its visitors a magnificent backdrop: either through it by engaging in a hike up one of its volcanoes (Mt. Hibok-hibok and Mt. Timpoong, being the popular choices), by following a path in the walkway of the Old Volcano (Mt. Vulcan) or with it by taking a plunge away and seeing it in one of the nearby islands.
View of Catarman, Camiguin and the Bohol sea as seen from the uppermost part of the walkway of Mt. Vulcan (Old Volcano)
View of Camiguin as seen from the vicinity of Mantigue Island
Having a diverse terrain is nature’s gift to Camiguin, as it paved the way for waterfalls after waterfalls to be scattered on different parts of the island.
Katibawasan falls at 8 in the morning
Tuasan falls and a rainbow, one afternoon
And if that is not enough, one can immerse itself in the selection of springs: a hot spring, a cold spring, and a soda pool.
Ardent Hot Spring at night
Sto Niño Cold Spring by day
Bura Soda Pool by midday
Camiguin, being an island that expands roughly 14km by 23 km is expected to have this amazing beach along its coasts. But the true gems lie 15 minutes away from either side of the island: the sand bar known as the White Island on the west, and the Mantigue Island that lies on the east.
Being placed in the vicinity of the Bohol Sea only meant that snorkeling and diving spots are just around almost every corner. One can even sneak in these activities while paying a visit to Mantigue Island, the White Island, or even the Sunken Cemetery.
White Island/Sandbar by dusk
Mantigue Island by noon
With all the natural beauty that this captivating province has to offer, one must not forget the disaster that this island once faced. In the late 19th century, several earthquakes paved the way for a volcanic fissure, giving birth to Mt. Vulcan. It eventually erupted, changing the face of Camiguin and submerging a part of the municipality of Catarman and its cemetery.
Camiguin won’t let its locals and its visitors forget, as some of the ruins still remain intact through the image of Guiob Church. A commemorative cross has also been built on the submerged land area of Catarman, which today we all know as the Sunken Cemetery.
Guiob Old Church Ruins
The Sunken Cemetery
With the volcano that once caused the catastrophe in Camiguin, a walkway has been built with 14 stations of the cross displayed along it. Known as the walkway of Mt. Vulcan (Old Volcano), this site is of religious importance often visited by pilgrims especially during the Holy Week. A climb to the uppermost part will give you a picturesque view of Catarman and the Bohol Sea, with the glimpse of the Sunken Cemetery.
Camiguin, the Island Born of Fire, as what they say, is truly one of God’s gifts to nature. It’s compact form is one of the perfect islands for an escape. First timers always feel the need to rush and its inevitable for those to cover the highlights in one go. If given a chance, take the opportunity to slow down, as this is the perfect place to step back, savour the moments and just go with the flow.
With the genuine kindness of their locals, the island experience is almost unbeatable. Feel the nature and human nature once you set foot in Camiguin. Take memories with you and leave nothing but the same, if not, more kindness behind.
Camiguin in 1 Day
For day trippers, compressing everything is nearly impossible. But to have the highlights in a day’s time, the following can be followed (having the impression that your day will start early in the morning, at 7 am).
- Take a dip at Katibawasan Falls. An early morning visit will leave you with a tourist-less sight of the waterfalls. Seeing it at 8 in the morning will make you feel that this 250 feet high waterfalls was made just for yourself. (Entrance fee is 30 pesos.)
- Climb up the walkway to the Old Volcano (Mt. Vulcan). With 14 stations of the cross, this is a popular pilgrimage site during the holy week. The first 4 stations are paved with a stairway while the succeeding ones can be traversed through the dirt paths. With minimal breaks, this can be done within an hour if you intend to reach the top. (Entrance fee is 5 pesos.)
- Have a view of the Sunken Cemetery. If possible, take a dive to see the marine ecosystem that currently surrounds the submerged part of Camiguin. (No entrance fee.)
- Pay a visit at the Guiob Church Ruins (it’s just a few minutes away from the drop off point of the Sunken Cemetery. So, why not?). (No entrance fee.)
- Watch for the rainbow from afar at Tuasan Falls, then take a closer look at the magical rainbow as you approach the cave beside it. Perhaps, there are a lot of pots of gold just scattered in different corners of Tuasan. (No entrance fee.)
- Refresh yourself further by swimming at the Sto. Nino Cold Spring. Taking a dip and being still will give you a bit of a tickle from the tiny fishes that call it home. Enjoy a coconut for 20 pesos and take enjoy a sumptuous lunch. (Entrance fee is 30 pesos.)
- Find yourself at the White Island and maximize your time before you leave for the sunset. (Environmental fee is 20 pesos.)
- Have a night cap with a relaxing dip at the Ardent Hot Spring. (Entrance fee is 30 pesos.)
Camiguin in 2 Days
Weekend escapees can follow the same itinerary in Day 1, replacing the visit to White Island (#7) with a dip (and taste) at the Bura Soda Water Pool (entrance fee is 35 pesos).
- Mantigue Island in the morning. As the sunrise can be seen at the eastern part of this world, a visit to Mantigue Island will pave the way for that. Circling the island will cost you a 15-20 minute walk around, giving you uncharted view of either the horizon or the face of Camiguin from afar. If snorkeling is of interest, a sanctuary is a few feet away on the western side of Mantigue. A forest within the island with various trees can also be traversed if it’s of interest. (Environmental fee is 20 pesos.)
- White Island in the afternoon. Sunshine and sunset lovers will definitely enjoy the open face of the White Island. Nothing more but the the blue sea, its creatures, the sand, and corals can be found here. Tree lovers are expected to not see a single one here. Umbrellas can be rented in case it gets too much. (Environmental fee is 20 pesos.)
Note: Maximizing the boat rental will give you a good 4-hour visit whether it be at Mantigue Island or at the White Island.
More of Camiguin for the rest of your visits
- Extended swimming. Given the chance of traveling slowly, one can enjoy a waterfalls, a hot spring, a cold spring, or an island one day at a time. ***Other than the above-mentioned waterfalls and springs, a few others are scattered in Camiguin. These less popular sites only mean less visitors, thus, giving more room for water fun.
- ***Hiking. Mt. Hibok-hibok, Mt. Timpoong (highest peak in Camiguin) and Mt. Mambajao to name a few. Energy and persistence in hand, this one is for the adventurous heart.
- ***A visit to the giant clam sanctuary.
- ***More snorkeling/diving. Burias shoal and Jicduf shoal are dive spots of interest.
- ***Ostrich farm.
- ***Tanguines lagoon. This man-made lagoon will also feed your craving for a bit of an adventure, as it gives the opportunity to enjoy speed through a zipline.
Note: ***Recommended places that I (author of this blog) was not able to do.
Transportation used by the author:
Motorcycle rental with driver (@ 800 pesos for a solo day-trip of 8 hours): Mel +639756412400 (if & when you get in touch with him, tell him you got his number from Kat, the girl who burned calf in the “tambucho” of his motorcycle).
Multicab rental good for 6-8 people (@ 1700 pesos for a group day trip of 12 hours): Liven
Mambajao to Benoni Port – 30-minute jeepney ride from Mambajao market (@ 23 pesos)
Mambajao to Mantigue boat drop-off – 25-minute ride from Mambajao market (@ 2o pesos)
Boat rental good for 6 people to White Island (@ 450 pesos good for 4 hours) – plus 20 pesos each for the Environmental fee.
Boat rental good for 6 people to Mantigue Island (@ 550 pesos good for 4 hours) – plus 20 pesos each for the Environmental fee.
Motorela for short distances (@ 8 pesos per person) for short distances
Places to eat:
It is apparent that tourism is one of the main sources of incoming in the Island of Camiguin. With this comes a surge in prices of places to eat.
One of our biggest mistakes was to eat at the restaurant (the only one, actually) beside Bura Soda Pool. A waiting time of 45 minutes for a so-called native chicken meal gave us the most petite, if not, anorexic chicken our eyes had laid upon on. Pretty much comparable to the left over bones you give to your dog buddy at home. Perhaps they tried to compensate with extra salt (a lot of it!), but no amount of salt can even disguise that. Although we were not asked to pay for it at the time of our complaint, we were given some bitter words of resentment as we headed out. It is possible that due to their serving time (one we never expected to take long), customers will just dive in and close their eyes of the lapses in food service out of starvation.
Mambajao market area. Being a frugal person, seeing places that are frequented by the locals is truly a budget saver. Chicken barbeque with rice for 60 pesos and a 24-hour eatery that serves carbs (pizza, noodles, or rice) with meat near the Mambajao market, a variety of fruits at the market itself, a local bakery and a grocery nearby, you cannot go wrong with it. Normally ignored by a weekend traveler, going local and fresh is the best way to go.
Sto. Niño Cold Spring. If you ever find yourself doing a tour and end up at Sto. Niño during lunchtime, a 20 pesos fresh buko (coconut) is perhaps nature’s greatest gift. Locals offering meals to cook are also scattered here that could possibly serve you better.
For a quick snack as you go along your trip, the cooked dried squid for 20 pesos/pack at the White Island boat drop off is a what value for money is all about. Crunchy, tasty, and surely will make you crave for rice at that moment in time.
Use your charm.
It goes wonders in being one with the island and living the local life. Plus you might get freebies and discounts during your visit and have a new friend when you leave. 🙂
The monetary value in the “discount” might not be relevant to most, but the gesture and the principle behind it is what truly counts. 🙂
Lastly, enjoy Camiguin.