Camiguin Island, located at the northernmost part of main land Mindanao is popularly dubbed as the “Island Born of Fire”. It is said to be the country’s most beautiful island enriched with plethora of natural wonders and historical riches. A peaceful dreamland of pristine waterfalls, lush rainforests, volcanic edifices, hot and cold springs, numerous coastlines dotted with marine sanctuaries with exotic marine life. The remoteness is quite dissuading, but do not be discouraged, to both the adventurer and urban dweller; Camiguin is Paradise.
En Route to Benoni
Camiguin came from the word “Kamagong” an endemic tree valued for its sturdy wood. Inhabited by the Manobo’s from Surigao, this island is really a hot plate, wherein there are more volcanoes (7 overlapping active volcanoes) than its towns (5 towns).
This island also happens to be the smallest island with the most number of volcanoes per square kilometer than any other island in the world. Camiguin also houses an ASEAN Heritage Park called the Timpoong Hibok-Hibok National Monument due to its diverse ecosystem that resulted in high endemism of flora and fauna in the area.
With our day almost coming to a close due to the long travel from Iligan City, our group rented a commuter van (2000php/good for 8-10pax) at the Agora Market in Cagayan de Oro City to take us directly to Balingoan Port since we are running out of time before the last ferry leaves for Camiguin. Cheaper option is to take the Butuan bound buses that will pass by the Balingoan Port and will only cost around 150php, travel time is around 2-3hours but still depends on traffic conditions. Scenic coastal views at the left side welcomed us as we swiftly passed by the different municipalities of Misamis Oriental.
After almost 2 hours, we are lucky enough to reach Balingoan Port located at the northernmost tip of Misamis Oriental by 5:15pm. Last trip of ferry bound for Benoni Port leaves at 5:30pm. We then paid for the ferry ticket (170php) and their terminal fee (15php).
The ferry embarked by 5:30pm, crossing the gap that seperates Camiguin Island and mainland Mindanao. The Island Born of Fire contrasted by the sky’s play of colors before dusk was already in front of us, the sea greeted us with her calm waters, and we were wondering what awesome adventures are awaiting us the following day.
We arrived at Benoni Port at Mahinog, Camiguin by 6:30pm and rented a motorella (a covered tricycle that is designed to accommodate 4-6persons) to take us to Camiguin White Island Beach Resort located in Mambajao. After 45 mins we have arrived at the resort and settled down for a while in our rented barkada room which costs 1600php per night and is airconditioned, the room can accomodate up to 6 people. The tricycle waited for us to take us back to the highway where we will be having our dinner, we paid 400php for the motorella trip. We then asked the driver, Kuya Carlo, to tour us around the island on our very brief stay and agreed with 1200php rate for our chosen destinations until we get back to Benoni Port on our third day.
After having dinner, we then got back to our room and reminded our guide, Kuya Bibot Jael of our hike the following day to reach one of Camiguin’s highest point, Mt. Hibok-Hibok.
Stories On Top of H2
Day 02 of our Northern Mindanao Adventure, we then waited for our rented multicab to take us to the trail head of Mt. Hibok-Hibok via the Yumbing trail. Unfortunately, two of our friends were in bad shape to climb H2 that day so it was only four of us who’ll be hiking. We then started our hike by 5:40am and reached the highest point around 10:00am and got back to the trail head by 1:30pm.
Full Article on our Mt. Hibok-Hibok climb here:
Mt. Hibok-hibok’s famous jump-off point which is the Tagdao Trail or Ardent Trail is a more straightforward one that requires scaling large boulders and is much shorter than that of Yumbing, starts at Ardent Hibok-Hibok Hot Spring Resort, where the natural pool is heated by the active Hibok Volcano that runs down its vents, taking a dip on it is a must on your visit in Camiguin.
Right after our ascent to Mt. Hibok-hibok we then got back to our room to tidy up and prepare for the last leg of our adventure that day. Kuya Carlo then arrived by 3:30pm and took us on a scenic drive along the coastal road of Catarman. We arrived at Tongatoc Cove by 4:00pm.
An overlooking spot beside the highway, Tongatoc Cove is a good spot for picture taking while appreciating the sea that is being contrasted by the remnants of the Mt. Vulcan eruption on the left side.
We then hastily rode the motorella to reach Tuasan Falls before dusk. The road going to the jump-off point is now paved and accessible to all types of vehicles as of writing, contrary to the 6km hike that is usually done from years ago passing through Barrio Mainit before reaching this relatively untouched beauty. Beware of landslides on the left side of the road. We arrived by 5:00pm and no entrance fee is collected.
Then Tuasan Falls stood before us right after passing a little rocky riverbed, the 25 meter cascading waterfall is enthralling all the same, cold water flows down to a shallow catch basin. Swimming is really not that ideal since the pool surrounding it is also shallow and littered with pebbles and rocks.
The Sunken Cemetery
Around 6pm, after our quick visit at the Tuasan Falls, we then got back at Brgy. Bonbon at Catarman to visit the Island’s most famous attraction, the Sunken Cemetery.
It is a large white cross that marks a cemetery swept into the sea by the Old Vulcan Daan’s eruption dating back in 1871. Located 16kms from Catarman Town Proper, the white cross is accessible by renting boats that will take you to the podium where the cross is erected. One can also try to dive or snorkel in the area to get a glimpse of the pantheons buried under the sea for centuries. It was already dark when we arrived so we didn’t had the chance to see it upclose.
Other attractions near the Sunken Cemetery Cross and inside the town of Catarman are:
Walkway to the Old Volcano – with life sized statues depicting the stations of the cross which are dotted along the trail until one reaches the old volcano’s peak.
Old Church Ruins – remnants of the Vulcan Daan Eruption, the ruins are composed of century old thick walls, belfry and convent that stands remniscent of the second spanish settlement established in 1679.
Sto. Niño Cold Spring – a terrific huge pool of cold spring water sprouting from the sandy bottom of the pool. It is located 4kms north of Catarman.
Mt. Timpoong – the highest point in the Island, followed by the daunting Mt. Tres Marias and the Binangawan Waterfalls that is really a good place to visit for the adventurers at heart.
We got back to our room and visited Check-Point restaurant by 7:00pm and had a sumptuous dinner all to our stomach’s delight.
With the night which is still not quite over, we then visited the Peninsular Kape Art Cafe nearby our hotel room which is owned by a beautiful Brazilian National who had been also mesmerized by the island’s quaint charm.
The Naked Temptress
On our third and final day, we woke up early by 5:30am to wait for our boat ride to catch the sunrise and take us to the not so hidden gem anymore of Camiguin, the White Island. The small outrigger boat charged us 450php back and forth and it can accommodate up to 6 persons. Travel time is only 10-15minutes before docking at any point in the island.
White Island, located across Agoho and Yumbing, is an alluring naked temptress that continually changes shape according to the weather and tide. It is an uninhabited white sandbar with a picturesque view of the island with the peaks of Mt. Hibok-hibok and Mt. Timpoong soaring way above the clouds.
The place is ideal for swimming and snorkeling as well as sunrise and sunset watching, and ideal time to visit is before and after noon time where the heat is more bearable.
We left by 8:30am and immediately got back on our room to pack up and headed back to Mambajao around 9:30am.
The second to the last destination on our Camiguin adventure, we visited one of the tallest waterfall in the country, the Katibawasan Falls. Located 5kms southeast of central Mambajao, the road going to the falls is cemented but the lush rainforest that is surrounding it is a must see.
Upon arrival we paid 20php for the entrance fee, and the entrance gate is lined up with souvenir stores selling shirts and refreshments, one must also try Kiping, a crispy round shaped fried cracker made from Cassava flour and is drizzled with coconut jam. Katibawasan Falls is a 75 meter tall waterfall cascading from a cliff high up from a mountain wallgoing straight down into a shallow rock pool. The area is surrounded by ground orchids, wild ferns, trees and boulders.
The water during our visit is quite murky but nevertheless it was really cold that made it really inviting. After a quick dip, we headed back down to Mambajao then straight to Mahinog.
Our trip from Katibawasan going down to Mahinog almost took an hour and we arrived at Brgy. San Roque in Mahinog where we hired a boat going to Mantigue Island.
The boat rate for the back and forth day trip costs 550php good for 6 persons, and another entrance fee of 50php. There are also stalls around the registration area where one can rent snorkeling gears such as fins, goggles, and lifevests.
Around 20mins of boat ride from Mahinog, we arrived at Mantigue Island, the sky is painted in bright blue hues and accompanied by the afternoon sun and clouds. Reefs and starfishes were seen before we docked because of its clear waters. Upon setting foot on its fine white sand, the first thing that we all agreed upon is to have lunch. Inside the island, there’s a store wherein you can buy fresh seafoods and other foods ranging from chicken to pork and have it cooked for a fee, of course the rates are higher, but it is not that bad after all.
Mantigue island, is a 4 hectare oblate shaped island located 3 kms offshore across Brgy. San Roque in Mahinog and is adjacent to the Bohol Sea. The whole island boasts of its evergreen stretch of Bakawan forest trails fringed with its fine white sand beach. Its background are the surreal views of Camiguin island and the mountain peaks of mainland Mindanao, while the surrounding crystal clear waters coming in waves, washing up the shore is really good for snorkeling and swimming.
After having lunch, we then proceeded for another boat ride going to the marine sanctuary where the thriving marine ecosystem is a must see. Colorful coral reefs and different kinds of fishes flock the area, one must also witness the presence of large Taclobo’s (Giant Clams) in the area.
We were back in Mahinog by 4:00pm and washed up and prepared for our long travel going back to Cagayan de Oro, there are toilets around the area where you can wash up for a fee. Then we got back at the Benoni Port at 5:00pm and spent our remaining time buying pasalubong most especially, the island’s sweetest treasure, the Lansones Camiguin, definitely the sweetest in the country. It was really cheap in there that it only costs around 20 per kilogram, since it is in season and with the Lansones Festival coming up in a few weeks and is usually celebrated during the month of October. One must also not miss the famous yema buns filled with happiness while in the island, the Vjandep Pastel!
We got back at Balingoan Port by 7:00pm, and instead of waiting for the CDO bound buses, we then rented a whole commuter van that will take us straight back to Laguindingan International Airport since we are really short on time. (2500php/trip)
Simple yet warm, Camiguin is definitely the charmer that going back again will be on your list. Such a small island filled with volcanoes, beaches, diving spots and attractions. We will definitely be back on this super island to explore it a little bit more, its remoteness and peacefulness adds up to its unique island life that even some foreigners chooses to stay in there for months and even settled down.
How to Get There:
● Via Cebu: Cebu Pacific flies directly from Cebu to Camiguin everyday at 6:10am, if coming from Manila, take the earliest trip going to Mactan Cebu International Airport to catch the early Cebu-Camiguin flight.
● Via CDO: From Manila, take any daily flight bound for Cagayan de Oro via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines (45 minutes travel time).
● Upon arrival at the Laguindingan International Airport, ride any shuttle or bus bound for Cagayan de Oro City and alight at the Agora Terminal. (1 hour travel time)
● At the Agora Terminal, take any bus bound for Balingoan Port, Misamis Oriental (2-3hours), or if traveling in a group one can opt to rent a van for faster travel time (1.5-2hours).
● At the Balingoan Port, Misamis Oriental take the ferry bound for Benoni Port, Camiguin (45mins-1hour). Ferries leave for Benoni Port every 45 minutes and starts at 5:45 in the morning up to 5:30 in the afternoon. Another option is to wait for fast crafts (Ocean Jet) at the Macabalan Port in CDO which costs 550-650php, trips bound for Benoni Port usually leaves around 8:30-10:30 in the morning.
● From Benoni Port, if you are on a budget, you can take the public multicabs bound for Mambajao (30php) then upon arrival at the town proper take the public motorellas bound for Catarman and alight at the resort /hotel of your choice. Or if travelking in a group one can hire Multicabs or Motorella to take you to your hotel and also to tour the whole island for a day and costs around 1500php-2500php. If you are a solo traveller, one can opt to hire a motorcyle or Habal-habal for a more cheaper option, rates starts at 800php.
Where to Stay:
● Our group stayed at Camiguin White Island Beach Resort, only a heartbeat away from the White Island Sandbar, their Barkada Room costs 1600php/night and can accommodate 6 persons. Room is airconditioned with own CR. You can contact Jay Louis Salcedo at 09177947896/09399175047
● For budget travellers, there are numerous cheap hotels in Yumbing to choose from, it is 30mins away from Mambajao Town Proper and is nearer the beach and other attractions and where our group also stayed.
● Other options are:
– Cabua-an Beach Resort (088)387-2103
– Secret Cove Beach Resort (088)387-9094
– Villa Paraiso Resort and Apartelle (088)387-0419
– Camiguin Island Golden Beach Club (088)387-9163
Budget and Expenses:
Iligan-Cagayan de Oro-Camiguin 3D2N Itinerary
1900 Taxi to NAIA T3 (50php/pax)
1930 NAIA T3
2100 Depart for Cagayan De Oro
2245 Arrival at Laguindingan Airport
2345 ETD to Iligan via commuter van (199php/pax)
0110 Arrival at Iligan City, Stayed at North Bay Suites (1200php-Barkada Room good for 6pax)
0130 Dinner at the night market, tried the Halang-Halang
0215 Back at Hotel, lights off
0600 Wake up
0630 Take jeepneys bound for Buruun (Located at Ramiro St. cor Aguinaldo St., 12php/pax)
7000 Arrival at Buruun proper, breakfast
0730 Haggle with Habal-Habal drivers (400php/motorcycle/2persons/3 waterfalls)
0745 Arrival at Mimbalot Falls
0800 Depart for Brgy. Linamon
0810 Arrival at Tinago Falls (25php/pax entrance fee, 25php/pax lifevest, 15php/pax rent for raft ride, 50php/pax additional habal fee from Brgy. Linamon)
1000 Depart for Maria Christina Falls
1020 Arrival at Agus 6 Hydropower Plant, facility closed due to bomb threat)
1100 Back at Hotel, tidy up
1200 Depart for Tambo Terminal (7php/pax from Gaisano Mall)
1215 Arrival at Terminal, take buses bound for CDO Westbound Terminal
1230 Depart for CDO (85php/pax)
1445 Arrival at Westbound Market, take multicabs bound for Agora Market
1500 Arrival at Agora Market, rent van going to Balingoan Port (2000php/trip, 333php/pax)
1515 Depart for Balingoan Port
1710 Arrival at Balingoan Port, take passenger ferry bound for Benoni Port (170php/pax fare, 15php/pax terminal fee)
1730 Depart for Benoni Port, Mahinog, Camiguin
1830 Arrival at Benoni Port, Camiguin rent Motorella bound for White Island Resort, Mambajao (400php/6pax, 67php/pax) (Island Tour at 1200php/group)
1850 Depart for Mambajao
1930 Arrival at White Island Resort, rented an ACU Room good for 6 pax (1600php/night, 3200php/2 nights, 533php/pax)
2200 Lights Off
0500 Meet-up with guide and wait for multicab (100php/back and forth)
0530 Arrival at Yumbing Trail Jump-off point (200php/pax Registration Fee, and 1200php/group of 5 Guide Fee)
0540 Start trek
0640 Arrival at campsite, breakfast
0700 Resume trek
9000 Ilihan Crater Lake, rest
0910 Final assault to summit
1000 Highest point of Mt. Hibok-hibok (1332MASL)
1100 Descend down
1130 Crater lake
0130 Jump-off point
1400 Back at Hotel, rest
1530 Travel to Catarman
1600 Tongatoc Cove
1700 Tuasan Falls
1800 Sunken Cemetery, Guiob Church Ruins, Walkway to the Old Volcano
1900 Back at Town, Dinner at Check Point Restaurant
2100 Back at Hotel, tidy up
2230 Peninsular Kape Art, late night coffee, stargazing
0000 Lights Off
0530 Wake up
0600 Wait for rented boat at the Port going to White Island
0645 Boat ride
0700 White Island (450php/small boat good for 6pax, 20php/pax entrance fee)
0830 Take boat back to mainland
0845 Back at Hotel, pack-up
0930 Last leg of tour, take Motorella
1000 Arrival at Katibawasan Falls (20php/pax entrance fee)
1100 Depart for Mahinog
1200 Mahinog Port (550 boat/6-8pax, 50php/pax entrance fee, 150php/pax snorkeling mask, 100php/pax life vest)
1220 Mantigue Island, lunch
0230 Depart for Marine Sanctuary (50php/pax entrance fee, additional 200php boat fee/group)
1600 Back at Mahinog, tidy up
1700 Benoni Port, catch last trip going to Misamis Oriental
1745 Departure of Passenger Ferry to Balingoan Port
1900 Arrival at Balingoan Port, rented a van bound for Laguindingan Airport (2500php/6pax)
2030 Laguindingan Airport
2145 Flight back to Manila (250php/pax Terminal Fee)
2315 Arrival at NAIA T3
” I have learned to stop saying yes when I don’t mean it – to live as authentically as I know how. To allow the tips of my fingers to skirt the darkness, as long as i remember to keep my eyes fixed into the light. And as one door opens and another one closes, I will move forward with the knowledge that unlike so many others, I have another year ahead of me – another shot at making it all the way around the sun, and a chance to get it right this time around.”
– Lang Leav
Go, Carve That Niche,