Palawan, Boracay, and Elnido are among the most popular islands in the Philippines that are constantly listed on the top best islands in the world. But have you heard of Camiguin Island? If you’re a Filipino for sure you did! Although it may not be as known as its counterparts, Camiguin is an island worth to visit.
During my recent vacation in my home country – Philippines. I had the chance to visit this hidden paradise and experience its natural beauty. Camiguin is an island province located in the Bohol sea about 10 kilometers off the coast of Northern Mindanao.
Although I grew up from Northern Mindanao, I never had visited this island ever since. Few days before my flight back to Saudi Arabia, I decided to venture the unknown. My original plan is to visit Siargao island, not Camiguin. Since I’m from Cagayan de Oro city, then traveling to Camiguin is easier.
There are several options to reach Camiguin island, but we decided the traditional route which is going to the municipality of Balingoan, the place where the main port is located for Camiguin island. Balingoan is about 2 hours drive from Cagayan de Oro City, and from there, we took the barge for Camiguin.
From Balingoan port to Camiguin is roughly 2 hours by barge, the barge is operating from 5:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. Barges will leave every hour, no need to book in advance. The ticket is less than 200 pesos per person, I would suggest buying the ticket by yourself to the ticketing booth to avoid being duped by fixers or middlemen who will be meeting you as soon as you arrived at the pier.
Arriving in Camiguin Island there are various means of transportation such as motorbike and multi-cab. Since there were three of us, so we decided to go with the multi-cab.
If you’re alone or with just one partner, better to rent with a motorbike as it is cheaper than the multi-cab. Likewise, you would also need a vehicle to tour you around the island on the following day. In our case, we hired the same vehicle for our itinerary the next morning. Hiring an entire vehicle (multi-cab) will cost you a minimum of 1500 pesos per day.
The driver will take you all around Camiguin island or wherever you wish to go. Unlike Boracay and Palawan, Camiguin is not over-touristed, there are decent cheap accommodations all around. Do not expect to see five stars, world-class resorts in Camiguin yet. But expect to see pristine, heavenly nature that is untouched for centuries.
Camiguin is coined as the “island born of fire,” the island itself is created because of erupting volcanoes millions of years ago. In fact, there are several active volcanoes on the island. Below are the best places you need to visit when in Camiguin:
Hop on to the White Island – There is nothing more popular to do in Camiguin, but sunbathing and swimming around the white island. Although it may seem an island, it’s not really an island at all. But a sandbar, the white island is not too far away from the shore, it’s only a few minutes ride by the boat. However, visiting here requires perfect timing as the island disappears during high tide. As soon as you stepped down on the island, you would have a perfect view of Camiguin Island itself and its majestic volcanoes. During the day, there will be a lot of tourists around here, there are also no shades neither trees on the island. Therefore, bring your sunscreen with you if you’re afraid of being sunburnt.
Swim around at Katibawasan waterfall – The longest & the highest waterfall in Camiguin island, Katibawasan falls measures 250 ft or 76 meters from the ground to the top. The place is surrounded by lush forest and green vegetation, your visit here wouldn’t be complete without dipping in its basin like-pool. Don’t forget to take a selfie at the entrance with the “I love Camiguin sign” newly installed when we got there. There are also souvenir items being sold right in front of the gate.
Take a selfie at Tuasan waterfall – Another hidden jewel of the island is the Tuasan waterfall, Tuasan waterfall is shorter than the latter. However, the volume of water that cascades from the top are huge and massive compared to the longer Katibawasan fall. At the entrance, there are booths selling local delicacies and some sort of souvenirs. Just a word of caution – some con vendors are selling fake honey, I bought one bottle of honey thinking it was genuine and natural. Later I found out it wasn’t though.
Capture the best sunset at the Sunken cemetery – Another popular place to visit in Camiguin is the ‘sunken cemetery,’ yes! it sounds creepy, isn’t it? During the volcanic eruptions hundreds of years ago. Some areas at the lowland, particularly at Bonbon, eroded and eventually overwhelmed by the sea including an old cemetery. At the site, there is a huge cross erected offshore by the municipality in commemoration of the dead.
Old church ruins – Another victim of the volcanic activities, is the old Spanish church at Bonbon, not too far away from the sunken cemetery. The church suffered the same fate during the eruptions and the birthed of the volcano. Today, only its immovable walls and pillars left on the ground. Needless to say, its a magnificent site to visit if you love history.
Hike on Mt. Hibok-Hibok – There are several volcanoes in Camiguin island and Mt. HIibok-Hibok is one of them. Perhaps the most popular, the mighty volcano stands very tall from the ground to the top, great for climbers like you. The place is covered with virgin forest and surrounded with pure serenity. A refreshing experience if you want to commune with nature. I’ve never seen such immaculate environments like Mt. Hibok-Hibok and its rain forest.
Take a warm bath on its natural hot springs – Camiguin island is deemed as the land of fire, thus, there are several natural hot springs on the island where you can try on. Like the Ardent Hibok-Hibok , Bura Soda water Swimming pool, and Tangub Hot springs. These hot springs are known to cure certain diseases due to its rich mineral contents. So if you’re tired of swimming at the beach which sometimes the water is very cold. Then a soak to one of its natural hot springs is all you need.
Snorkel around Mantigue island – Look, Camiguin is an island, but there is another cute island around Camiguin called – Mantigue. Unlike Camiguin which has black sand beaches, Mantigue is the opposite – the island has crystal white fine sand like Boracay. You can swim around here or snorkel in its shallow water, to reach here, you need a boat ride from Mahinog onshore.
Satiate yourself with Camiguin’s pride fruit Lanzones – Apart from Camiguin’s natural wonders, the island had been long-known for their lanzones fruit. Camiguin’s lanzones are the sweetest in the Philippines due to its fertile soil, rich in minerals because of the presence of volcanoes. On the month of October Camiguin holds its annual ‘lanzones festival,’ perhaps it’s the best time to visit Camiguin if you want to see this sumptuous festivity.
How to reach Camiguin island?
Manila City – if your starting point is from Manila, you can get a local flight from Manila to Cagayan de Oro city.
Cagayan de Oro City – from Cagayan de Oro city, there are two options to reach Camiguin: there is a vessel called – Fastcat from Opol pier to Camiguin island, this vessel is really fast, the fares are reasonable.
Balingoan – this is the original route for Camiguin island, from Cagayan de Oro City, get on a bus going to Balingooan and from there, you can ride a barge for Camiguin island. No need to book in advance, you can buy the ticket on the spot.
Cebu City – from Cebu city, there are small airplanes operating to Camiguin Island vice-versa.
The bottom line
Camiguin is truly the crown jewel of Northern Mindanao, its untouched paradise, pristine beaches, majestic volcanoes, mighty waterfalls, and friendly people are some of the reasons why you should put Camiguin in your bucket list. On top of that, unlike more popular islands in the Philippines like Boracay and Palawan which had suffered the consequences of over tourism. Camiguin is relatively not too well-known to international tourists yet, although the island is starting to receive numerous numbers of foreign tourists due to social media and other forms of high-tech communications.
Are you now excited to visit Camiguin after reading this blog? Let me know when you’re going there! Don’t forget to share this blog with your friends.
The author is currently based in Saudi Arabia, the holiest land of Islam. He’s a full-time employee of the largest energy company in the world. He’s a graduate of Communication Management, loves to write and travel.