Camiguin Chronicles: A Journey Through Beauty and Resilience

September 17, 2015 Travel

There is something enchanting and quite literally out of this world about this island. Born of fire, it has captivated many, and I can't fathom why, for the life of me, it took me this long to finally visit this place.

Three days on this island were undeniably not enough. Camiguin has so much to offer in terms of discovery and love. Our recent vacation in Camiguin led us through lush mangrove forests, playful moments on white sands, invigorating plunges into refreshing waters, a reconnection with our inner selves and the higher being, and the exploration of various natural wonders.

Our journey to Camiguin began in Butuan City. After spending an evening there, we boarded a Cagayan de Oro-bound bus early in the morning. Arriving at the Balingoan Port before noon, we caught a 12:40 PM RORO to the island.

It took us a little over an hour to reach Benoni Port, where Marvin (09186044304), the multicab driver we had arranged, was already waiting for us.

It was already mid-afternoon, but our eagerness to explore prevailed. Our first destination was the Giant Clam Sanctuary.

Giant Clam Sanctuary and Kibila White Beach

Situated in Guinsiliban, Camiguin's smallest municipality, this sanctuary is home to seven out of nine species of giant clams in the world. The cooperative, Cantaan Centennial Multi-Purpose Cooperative, manages the site, exemplifying that the best stewards of resources are often the members of the community living in harmony with them.

One of their dedicated volunteers, Lovely, graciously shared a wealth of information with us about these colossal mollusks.

Lovely mentioned that she underwent a five-day training and regularly comes here to guide tourists at least twice a week.

The sanctuary is situated at Kibila Beach.

We had the opportunity to observe giant clams up close as some of them were brought to the beach from their breeding pools. One of the tour guides explained to us that it takes five individuals to lift these massive clams.

Katunggan Park

Following the sanctuary visit, we headed to the mangrove park. We initially considered skipping it, but I'm glad that we didn't because the place left me utterly in awe. 

The footbridges were recently constructed, leading us through the mangrove forest. We took numerous photo stops, relishing the fresh breeze, cool shade, and the soothing sound of the waves.

Camiguin White Island Resort

After our time at the park, we decided to conclude the day and search for accommodation. Despite online recommendations, we found it challenging to decide on a place. Disappointed with options in the town center, we asked Marvin to take us to the beach to explore resorts. Fortunately, we discovered Camiguin White Island Resort and opted to stay there. We booked a room for four at P1,200.00.

White Island

The next day started early. Although there was a drizzle just before we left the resort, it escalated into heavy rains. We considered postponing our plans but decided against it. Luckily, we encountered calm weather at our destination.

White Island is an uninhabited, white, horseshoe-shaped sandbar located approximately 1.4 kilometers off the northern shore of Mambajao. It is mostly flat, devoid of trees, and submerges during high tide. However, there are stores on the island.

The island provides an ideal setting for swimming, snorkeling, and bird watching. Additionally, it offers a breathtaking view of the main island.

Lucky me, we stumbled upon a vendor selling uni or sea urchin—my all-time favorite.

Walkway to Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross

Our companion had been eager to climb Hibok-Hibok, but none of us wanted to accompany her, particularly me due to a previous mountain climbing accident. Fortunately, she found her adventure at our next stop.

The Walkway to Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross is an 8-kilometer path featuring 14 human-sized stations of the cross. Only the first 300 steps are concrete.

Sunken Cemetery

Our next destination was one of Camiguin's most unique and fascinating attractions. Due to its haunting quality, none of my traveling companions joined me in exploring this site. Like many of the island's attractions, this location was shaped by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

In the late 1800s, Mt. Vulcan erupted, submerging the old town of Catarman, which included a cemetery and church.

As we approached from the road, the memorial cross came into view...

...but the real wonder lies beneath.

The sea was somewhat rough that day. Fortunately, a guide was willing to take me to the site of the old cross. I paid P 250 (including a P 100 snorkeling fee and a P 150 guide fee).

The first thing that caught my eye was Camiguin's vibrant marine life.

My guide took me to see an old tomb ..

... giant clams...

and the old memorial cross.

That was the highlight of the trip for me. It took us a while to get back to shore because of the waves, but it didn't matter. There was so much to see down there.

Old Church Ruins

This church, situated at Barangay Bonbon, Catarman, was constructed in the 16th century and, as mentioned, was destroyed during the late 1800s Vulcan eruption. What remains are the ruins of the church, the base of the bell tower, and the convent.

Trees and plants have flourished on the site, and the walls are now covered with moss.

Bura Soda Water Swimming Pool

After our explorations, it was time for lunch and a refreshing splash. We enjoyed a revitalizing dip and a hearty lunch at the country's only soda water pool. For a minimal fee of P 20.00 each, we indulged in the lush scenery surrounding the pool and its cold, clear, and clean sparkling water.

According to websites, the cold spring water is infused with sulphuric elements and mineral deposits from the volcanoes, giving it a curious taste. I wouldn't know; I didn't attempt to taste it.

The carbonated bubbles originate from a subterranean spring. They say it also has healing effects on osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases.

Tuasan Falls

After lunch, we resisted the temptation to nap because there was still so much to explore in Camiguin.

Our next destination was Tuasan Falls. On our way to the falls, we caught sight of Tres Marias, the three domes adjacent to Hibok-Hibok.

Tuasan has a shorter drop compared to Katibawasan Falls but is equally beautiful. The steps leading to the falls are concrete, indicating that it is not one of those off-the-beaten-path destinations. Personally, I didn't mind; it was favorable for me.


Sto. Nino Cold Spring

For another refreshing dip in this island born of fire, we visited the Sto. Nino Cold Spring, offering waters at 20 degrees Celsius. How's that for rejuvenation?

Cottages are available here, similar to the soda pool, making it a pleasant spot to hang around. However, with one more stop on our itinerary, we only sampled the water for a few minutes and then dried ourselves up a bit.

Ardent Hot Springs

We concluded our day-long exploration of the east side of Camiguin Island with some much-needed relaxation.

Ardent Hot Springs, another attraction of volcanic origins, features about four hot springs arranged in cascades with varying temperatures, heated by Hibok-Hibok. The water temperature starts at about 40 degrees Celsius and is mixed with some colder water to provide a range of temperatures. This attraction is open 24/7.

It was the most crowded place we visited, and we were fortunate to find our own spot.

Katibawasan Falls

Time always seems to pass too quickly when on vacation. Even with more than half a day left to explore Camiguin, we were already feeling the dread of leaving the island.

Our first stop on our last day in Camiguin Island was Katibawasan Falls and we can say Camiguin continued to amaze us, much like this rainbow waiting for us at the waterfalls.

Katibawasan Falls boasts a 70-meter clear, beautiful water plunge into a pool perfect for swimming. It is situated at the foot of Mt. Timpoong.

It was at Katibawasan Falls where we finally got to taste Camiguin's kiping drizzled with coconut jam.

Ostrich Farm

The good vibes continued. How could they not with these delightful creatures always ready for a photo opportunity?

We continued our exploration of the west side of the island, closer to Benoni Port, at the Ostrich Farm located inside Camiguin's Provincial Animal Breeding and Ostrich Production Center. This is a research facility that breeds not only ostriches. The entrance fee is only P 5.00.

Mantigue Island

This is like saving the best for last.

If you ask me to describe my perfect island, that would be everything Mantigue is - white sands, clear blue, lush forest, and friendly people. This 4-hectare island is a beauty.

Mantigue Island offers both natural and man-made picturesque spots. You can rent chairs and tables, enjoy fresh seafood and meat cooked to your liking, and avail clean comfort rooms.

Before leaving the island, we took a tour of the forest, and our guide, Ikoy, made it delightful. With a penchant for adjectives, he had us laughing. I believe he is the main reason visitors should go on a tour of the island.

Tanguines Lagoon

We didn't come here for the zipline or to go fishing. We came here for lunch with a view. It was our final stop, and we decided to stay here and wait for the 2:40 PM RORO back to Balingoan Port.

Trip Back to Reality

That was it. Our 3-day, 2-night Camiguin adventure, which covered most of the island's popular attractions, concluded back at the Benoni Port. It was short. It was sweet. To top it off, we got the VIP room on the boat.

At the port, we rode a van back to Cagayan de Oro, where we were welcomed by traffic, and where we spent the night before taking our flight back home from Laguindingan Airport.

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