Perhaps one of the most beautiful islands that is relatively unheard of and waiting to be discovered.
Situated in northern Mindanao, Camiguin island has yet to experience tourism on a large scale as seen in more well-known destinations in the country. Yet, it bodes well for Camiguin island to have remained fairly untouched and unspoilt. Despite the teeny weeny size of the island, the 2nd smallest island province, Camiguin has 7 volcanoes standing aloft like sentinels of the island and just exuding confidence in the beauty of its natural wonders. Hiking enthusiasts are rewarded with panoramic views and close encounters with a volcano craters. There is even a walkway (paved stairs) to the peak of Mount Vulcan Daan (old volcano) for an easier trek up and for religious purposes, a perfect pathway to the 14 Stations of the Cross (Via Cruzes). On the way down, the continuous supply of hot spring waters invite everyone to a relaxing soak. The Ardent Hot Springs, located at the foot of Mount Hibok-Hibok, an active volcano, has several pools in varying water temperatures. In contrast, cold crystal clear waters can also be enjoyed at Sto Nino or Macao Cold Springs amidst beautiful surroundings of palm trees and native huts. Mount Timpoong’s great treasure is a 70meter drop of clear stream cold water from Katibawasan Falls surrounded by orchids, ferns and trees. Another hidden gem is Tuasan Falls, which is alleged to be as regal as the former, if not more.
Few kilometres off the coast is White Island, actually a sandbar. White, powdery sand glistens in the sun and as soon as the tide goes up, it disappears barely leaving a trace. The silhouette of Mt Hibok-Hibok in the background makes for a perfect photo op.
A commemorative cross has been erected to mark a cemetery that has fallen below sea level and is now known as The Sunken Cemetery of Camiguin. The picturesque landmark which seems to float can also be explored underwater revealing a different world underneath.
On flat and dry terrain exists old churches dating from 20thcentury. Amongst them is the Santo Rosario Church built in 1882. Spanish and American influences are reflected in the ornate ancestral homes commonly seen in the streets of Camiguin. In the town of Guinsiliban, an old Spanish watchtower still stands.
The so-called Camiguin Mindanao mountain range encompassing two scenic volcanoes, Mount Mambajao (including Mount Timpoong) and Mount Catarman (including Mount Hibok-Hibok) was declared an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2015.
To cap off the whole Camiguin experience, try those grape-sized tropical fruit called lanzones. The province purportedly grows the sweetest variety and for sure you will be coming back for more.
Daily direct flight departs from Cebu to Camiguin (CGM).
Alternatively, take a direct flight from Manila to Cagayan de Oro (CDO). Proceed to Agora bus terminal for a van or bus journey to Balingoan Port (approximately 2-3hrs) and finally a 1-hour ferry to Benoni Port in Camiguin.
From Butuan, get a cab or motorcycle for the bus terminal and take a Cagayan bound bus and get off at Baligoan Port (approximately 2-3hrs). Then, take a 1-hour ferry for Benoni Port Camiguin.
Giant Clams Sanctuary
*The best way to explore the whole island is to hire a motorbike (habal-habal in own dialect).
*Join in the fun at the Lanzones Festival, in honour of the tropical fruit, scheduled on the 3rd week of October.
* Don’t leave Camiguin without trying pastel de camiguin, a bun with yummy yema filling.
What else to see?
Mantigue Island (Magsaysay Island)
A small island just off the coast with different facades. On one side is a fishing village, on the other is a white sand beach perfect for topping up your tan and another side is a deep drop off point for snorkelling and diving.
In the heart of a dense forest lies the shortest waterfalls in Camiguin that radiates the colour of a rainbow when sunlight hits the ice-cold water.
Giant Clams Sanctuary
The Kabila Giant Clam Conservation and Ocean Nursery houses more than 2,600 clam species including 7 out of 9 giant clams in the world.