Undecided on where to go for my first solo trip, I left it to fate and fate led me to Camiguin.
Camiguin is an island province in Northern Mindanao. It’s a usual side trip of those plying the Cagayan de Oro – Bukidnon – Iligan route. In my case I took the 40-minute flight from Cebu. From the plane window, it was already picturesque – I could see Mt. Hibok hibok towering right smack in the center, and the iconic White Island shaped like a boomerang. Behind me, I could hear a local guy seated beside a foreigner, proudly telling her what sights to see and how safe the place is, and this just made me more excited.
Outside the airport, I contracted a habal-habal driver to tour me around for the day. First stop was check-in at Caves Dive Resort (there were cheaper options but I liked this one because it was beach front). Their backpacker’s room was good for 2 so it was a bit pricey at PHP 750.
It was only 7 am when I arrived so I decided to take a quick nap before starting the tour. If you’ve seen the map of Camiguin, don’t let it fool you! The island may be small but there’s still considerable travel time from one tourist spot to another. Some like Tuasan falls are actually isolated / far from the main highways. The girl in me got scared a bit but I guess I just had to trust Kuya Andrew.
We covered the tourist attractions within the main island on the first day:
1. Katibawasan falls – tallest one I’ve seen so far! The water cascades into a small pool below.
2. Ardent Hot Springs – Take your pick from several pools with different temperature levels.
3. Guiob Church Ruins
4. Tuasan Falls – a bit far from everything else. I actually had it all to myself!
5. Walkway to the Old Volcano – I only climbed until the 3rd station haha! They say the view’s worth it at the summit but I didn’t want to miss the sunset
6. Sunken Cemetery – loved the sunset here! I joined a group of friends and we rented a boat for PHP 20 per person to get near the Cross.
We passed by the cold springs and the soda springs but I decided to skip those. I think I had enough at Ardent. 🙂
I spent my second day exploring the other islands. Boat prices here are fixed so I had to find people to share the cost with. I spent the morning in White Island – boats were stationed right in front of the resort so it was easy for me to hitch with a family checked-in at the same resort. Boats leave as early as 6 am because there’s nothing to shade you from the harsh mid-morning sun except for the umbrellas for rent.
It was a bit crowded when I got there (sigh my birthday falls on a long weekend) but you can’t miss the experience!! The powdery white sand, crystal clear water and panoramic view of Mt. Hibok hibok are worth it. If only I could stay here all day and not get dark. Haha!
In the afternoon, we drove to the opposite side of the island where the drop off to Mantigue Island was located. I wanted to visit the giant clam sanctuary too, but there was not enough time (but hey I have reason to come back!).
Round trip boats to / from Mantigue island are fixed at PHP 550. I shared a boat with a couple and the island was already empty when we arrived. The sand was as white and the water was as clean, but it was much bigger than White island and there were picnic tables for rent. For additional fees (environmental fee, snorkel fee, rentals -you get it), we decided to go snorkeling because they had a marine sanctuary in the area. And if there’s one thing I regret in this trip, it’s that I didn’t have an underwater camera! 😦
At the end of the day, nothing beats lying under the stars with the sound of waves crashing on the shore, and the gentle breeze blowing you to sleep. I loved how it was all so peaceful and relaxing. This is something you can’t have in Manila. People I met along the way were surprised I was alone but truth is I didn’t really feel alone. I celebrated my birthday with some me-time and with strangers who were like family if only for the two days I was here. Kuya actually invited me over for dinner with the family. So yeah I think I trusted too much but hey, I only have good words to say about the locals. Being a small island province, it also seemed like everyone knew everybody else (which helped calm my nerves).
I left early morning on the third day (there was only one flight schedule back to Cebu) with a happy heart and several boxes of pastel. It was a good trip but I could definitely do better with the spending! Lodging and tour could be cheaper if I had a companion. Food could be cheaper if I made more effort to eat outside the resort.
/May 2-4 2014