Friday, May 14, 2010

Camiguin Trip: My First Beach Adventure Outside Southern Mindanao

White island, Camiguin


Camiguin island is known as the island born of fire due to several active volcanoes surrounding the area. It is home to seven volcanoes that hugged its landscape.

It is the second smallest province in the Philippines next to Batanes. Strategically located off the coast of Northern Mindanao near the Bohol Sea, it is cradled by hilltops and surrounded with natural wonders of white beaches, rainforest and mountains, perfect for a relaxing holiday. 

Camiguin has been one of my dream destinations when I was still in my high school years, living in the seaside town of Surigao del Sur. 

Swimming pool of the Camiguin Highland Resort

And that "one day" came eventually.

It was a cool Saturday morning, the 17th of April 2010, when we left Cagayan de Oro city for Camiguin. Half-past nine o'clock, the Paras Sea Cat finally roared and traversed the Misamis Oriental sea for almost three hours. 

It was not a smooth sailing because of bad weather and I was a little bit woozy, felt dizzy and ready to vomit during our short voyage. 

I was surprised with the reaction of my nerves because I am accustomed to a raging sea water especially during stormy weather in my home province, but it was really terrible, so bad I have not appreciated the beauty of the sea with flying seagulls. 

I struggled to control my swaying appetite from yielding.

My discomfort soon subsided the moment we arrived at the port and picked up by the service van of the Camiguin Highland Resort.

So amazed with the soothing countryside of Camiguin, the magnificent shorelines, the tropical environment, the rice fields, the varied ecosystem and the thick vegetation.

Simply relaxing!

The Accommodation

Our group booked for the night at Mambajao's premier hotel resorts, The Camiguin Highland Resort. It does not have a beach area but it has swimming pool and the accommodation is four-star. They also handled our Camiguin tour.

Dining hall of Camiguin Highland Resort

Camiguin Highland Resort is a great place to stay in the island. A great place to have a view of the Camiguin vistas and skyline, and surrounded with lush vegetation.

It's beautifully carved at the hilltop along the rugged terrain with the view of the exhilarating landscape of the municipality of Mambajao, Camiguin's capital town.

Accommodation at Camiguin Highland Resort
Dining area of the Camiguin Highland Resort

Camiguin Highland Resort is such a wonderful landmark with modern Caribbean architectural design surrounded with trees, mountain and wild plants. 

A luxury resort with comfortable rooms, overlooking the mountains and flora conservation, the place is so romantic with a warm welcome message in our room complete with petals in the bed!

Our Day Tour

Our day tour kicked off at 1:00 pm after lunch.

1. Walkway To The Old Volcanoes

The first site we visited was "A walkway to the old Volcanoes" located at the outskirt of Catarman town along its rugged cliff and trees, it has a stall market beneath, selling souvenir items. 

It was a breathtaking spot as visitors would have to climb atop using a concrete stairway to view the "station of the cross" landmark and the preserved trees and plants. 


I wasn't able to climb the stairs because it was raining, and the area has a slippery staircase, a bit dangerous for trekking. I just posed for some pictures at the staircase.

2. Ruin of the Spanish Church

For history fanatics, this area is an interesting landmark. This 16th Century Spanish Church was buried during the violent eruption of Mt. Vulcan in 1871 where half of Camiguin island sunk. 

Terrible history. But offers a beautiful spot to learn from Camiguin's interesting past. It offers a window of Philippines culture during the Spanish colonization. 

Ruins of the 16th Century Church

The ruins had imposing old stone walls preserved to remind the people with Camiguin's rich cultural heritage. This church's ruins faced the breezy coastline and a view to the vast ocean.

We walked through the small chapel, the stone walls, the dark labyrinth, and strolled half past through the beautifully-trimmed lawn. 

I marveled at its medieval wall, a reminder of the grim past of the eruption tragedy. Awesome, felt like striding back in times. Truly had a wonderful time here, poking fun with my friends and giggling. 

3. Sunken Cemetery

Anyone who will check Camiguin online will be greeted with an image of a Sunken Cemetery, for this is the most popular landmark that represents Camiguin island.

The huge cross, which is visible atop any establishments in Camiguin, is a site mark to remind that beneath this body of water lies an old cemetery of the island that sunk during the Mt. Vulcan eruption in 1871.

Sunken Cemetery in Camiguin

This is just located near the ruins of the Spanish church. For tourists to reach the Sunken Cemetery landmark, they need to ride a boat, but sea is quite risky during high tide. 

During our tour, I did not bother to try. I just posed for pictures on the steps for mementos of my trip. For brave soul who can tolerate a boat ride on a rough sea, this would not pose any trouble. 

It's a great adventure to try and see the area of the Sunken Cemetry in the middle of the sea.

Steps going to Sunken Cemetery

4. Soda Swimming Pool

Our next stop was at the famous Soda Swimming Pool, a blithe sized pool surrounded with trees and mountains, small cottages available nearby. 

It was huge and spacious and supported by natural spring water and looks like tempting to dip in. but when we arrived, drizzly weather sets in and the surrounding suddenly turned icy. We did not bother to splash in. 

Entrance is free but when you take a plunge, there's a corresponding fee collected.


Soda Swimming Pool

As much as we wanted to stay longer in the area our time was super limited and we were always in a hurry to move to the second destination. We're following a very tight tour schedule to cover the whole Camiguin in a half day.

5. Cold Spring Resort

Yeah, it was indeed super cold!

Surrounded by wild trees and ecosystem, the water freely gushed from the hills which made it super cold and icy especially during drizzly weather. 

Cold Spring resort

I didn't plunge into the water but some of my friends did. And they enjoyed the super cold water. Yaay! It's a public resort so the area was a bit crowded with locals and tourists.

I stepped outside and checked souvenir items in a nearby shop. Bit frustrated with the weather condition during our tour. I have not enjoyed the place much.

6. Ardent Hibok-Hibok Hot Spring

Oh yeah, finally I sprung up to enjoy the hot water! After all, this is one of the most historic places in ?Camiguin that every tourist should never missed.

At Mt. Hibok-Hibok hot spring

The hot spring is located at the foot of Mt. Hibok-Hibok, one of the active volcanoes in Camiguin. Its last recorded eruption was in 1953. 

I truly enjoyed this area because the water is warm and relaxing. I could really feel its simmering current and it was so therapeutic in my body, like having a massage in a spa house.

I loved its therapeutic water, a perfect tonic for tired muscles and body. I joined my friends swimming in the shallow water of just 4 feet deep. 

It was nearly 7:00 o'clock in the evening when we left the place. 

7. White Island!

Day 2 of our Camiguin tour. 

We woke up super early in the morning, at 3:30 AM so that we could travel early to White island. We're told to be at the island before sunrise as it has no shade to protect us from the harsh sun.

sprawling  sand bar at the White island

So my sweet and sound sleep was cut short for this early island trip. 

We arrived at the seaside of Mambajao at 5:00 in the morning but we waited for about an hour before the boat fetched us.

boat ride to the island

White Island is so breathtaking! 

So thrilled with the calm atmosphere that greeted us the moment we disembarked from the boat. Sun has not risen up so the surrounding felt ultra fascinating and calm.

We had plenty of fun and laughter, brisk walking, jumping and sauntering around. Cool weather and the terrific view of the ocean relaxed our tired senses.

Enjoying the sand bar at day break

It is uninhabited with only the long sand bar tearing the two parts of the sea water. And nothing in sight by emerald clear water and volcanoes hugging the background.

I love this area but for those who do not like sun bathing or being roasted under the scorching sun, it is not ideal to stay beyond lunch time. 


White island does not have any shade or shelter to seek comfort. It's purely an island with sand bar. So plan your trip early in the morning then leave before noon.

8. Katibawasan Falls

The last leg of our tour.

Katibawasan falls is a natural mountain wonder in the rainforest of Camiguin.  Just going to this place really requires an enormous courage as the road is still not yet develop and quite steep. Truly, an off-the-beaten track adventure.

So cold to take a plunge

But it has a breathtaking scenery of the mountains. 

The picturesque surrounding has a panoramic view of rainforest, hilltop and lush vegetation. The waterfalls cascading atop the mountain and ultra cold!

I didn't plunge. I felt I am going to have a fever if I would. I have less tolerance over cold temperature and Katibawas falls sent some chill in the spine.

Dipping a bit 😂

I just watched my friends enjoying the icy water and seemed like they'd fun on the chilly surface. The water was actually enticing because it's super clear and calm but my skin cannot handle super cold current so I backed off.

Again, the blowing of horn of the van made us cringe in annoyance. 

End of Tour

Shortly before 8:00 in the morning we're back at the hotel and packed our things. Again, we're in a hurry. Always in a hurry during this trip. 

I don't even have time to change my clothes, I just took off my short, put on my jeans and my jacket and grabbed my pack bag. 


As we headed to the port, memories of Camiguin started to sink in and I just watched the landscape faded in the background. 

Later, we boarded a small vessel for Misamis Oriental where a van waited to take us back to Davao. 

Memories of Camiguin

My Camiguin adventure was truly a memorable experience. It was my first time to go out of my comfort zone and tried taking part in the adventure. Something I have not done before.

Everything was fantastic from food, environment, companion, accommodation and the experience itself. I always love Camiguin. I hope I could go back there some other time.

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