[Very late post. This event happened more than a year ago.] Every year, during Mercy’s birthday, we always make it to a point that we are able to go on a trip to celebrate her birthday. This year we chose to go to Camiguin island, the island born of fire. It wasn’t a hundred percent planned. We just thought of few spots to target. Then we just kind of went with the flow.
We started off on the 18th of March. Took a bus ride to Cagayan de Oro which is a four hour ride from Quezon, Bukidnon. We reached Agora bus terminal early in the morning and then from there we rode a van going to Balingoan port. We didn’t take any break because we wanted to reach the island before lunch time. So from Balingoan port we rode a ferry to Benoni port.
It takes about an hour or more to get from Balingoan to Benoni port. While we were on board we saw a whale shark swim by. We sat at the left side of the ferry facing the open sea. At first we thought it was just some dark patch because it was a bit far. As it moved closer we realised it was something big. I didn’t think of it as a big fish at first but one of the crew member that was sitting beside us shouted “Butanding!” and I definitely knew it was a whale shark.
It was a unique experience even just seeing it from the ferry. I wondered how it feels like to encounter whale sharks closer. They also said that sometimes dolphins swim by and somewhat show off but there were no dolphins that day. After an hour or more of sitting and waiting we finally arrived.
Upon exiting Benoni port we immediately hopped on a jeep and headed to Mambajao. We honestly didn’t plan which place to go first. It was just kind of “on the fly” decision. On the way there we passed by some rice fields and some really old houses which were cool and adds up to the laid back feel of the place. The municipalities in Camiguin were not as developed compared to other provinces we’ve been to. Which was also kind of good for us because that’s what we were there for.
When we arrived at our destination, the first we did was to find a certain coop. We did a quick transaction and then went on our way. We found ourselves strolling in the streets of Mambajao with no idea were to go to. The place was not that easy to navigate because it’s unlike any other province we’ve been to. There were no street signs, etc. We were getting hungry. So what we did is we went to the nearest motorcycle terminal and we asked for the driver to take us to the nearest restaurant or eatery at the least.
The driver agreed to take us to nearest eatery for a fair price. He even took us to the nearest place were we could crash for the night. He suggested we take our tour the next day because it was getting late. Since we already found a place to stay we decided to follow the driver’s advice.
The resort we stayed in for the night was situated in front the beach which was also fronting the famous Camiguin White Island. It was a “so-so” cozy place. Not what I would recommend for other people that are looking for a really cozy place worth their money. There are a bunch of other place that have good accommodation for a lower price. One other thing that was good where we stayed is that it had a perfect view deck to see the sunset.
After that we went back our room to rest and then went out again to get dinner. We found a restaurant just a short distance from where we stayed. As far as I can remember it was Italian. We ordered pizza, Carbonara pasta and mango shake. We didn’t have any decent photo of the restaurant but their food was tasty and the ambiance was relaxing. We also noticed that there more foreigners wandering the island compared to Filipino tourists or locals.
The next day we woke up early. We were eager to catch the sunrise and get to the white island. There are many boats you can rent for 500 pesos (I think? Because I already forgot) just near the beach. You can go the white island and the boatman will just wait for you to get back. Just a note, they will not permit you to go with another group or share a boat with another group simply because they want to prevent mix up. It’s logical though because one group my want to stay longer and the other might want to go back already and there’s only one boat.
The island has a great 360° view because there are no trees (except for the other people that might be on the island). If you’re early you can see the sunrise from the island. You can also see Mt. Hibok Hibok, which is actually an active volcano on Camiguin Island. Another side note. Make sure you put sunblock or at least have something to cover or protect your skin if you don’t want to get burned.
We only stayed for about two hours and we went back to start our island tour on a motorcycle. We packed our things and checked out and then e met up with our driver, the same driver we had the day before. Our first destination was the Walkway to the old volcano and Stations of the cross. At first I thought it was gonna be an easy hike then I realized I totally messed up my counting. I was like there should only be ten stations but the stations of the cross comprises all the mysteries. To top all that, their mysteries were updated. They totally added the new set of light/luminous mysteries. In short, it was challenging hike. Note: There’s an entrance fee. (I think it was 20 pesos).
On our way to the top of walk way we met our new found friend Ashley Townsend. She was solo backpacking in the Philippines when we met her. Given that she was alone and we were basically going the same way, she tagged along. Or we tagged along with her. Anyways, we got to the top of the walkway and the view was worth the climb. The panoramic view of the ocean was breath taking. You could also see the big white cross of the Sunken Cemetery from the top.
After going down we headed to the Sunken Cemetery. When you get there you can rent a boat that will take you to the Cross. The place is pretty straight forward. The cross actually acts as some kind of a light tower. You can climb to top from inside the structure. The whole area between the shore and the cross is the sunken cemetery. The remnants are still visible because the water is quite clear.
On to the next spot on the tour was the Old Spanish Church. Sadly my camera was already out of juice when we arrived so I was not able to take pictures. I’m pretty sure Mercy and Ashley had nice photos of the place. I have yet to acquire those from them. The place was surreal. You can just imagine what the church looked like before it was ruined during a volcano eruption. People still conduct masses there even though there’s practically no roof. Just four walls and an entrance that used to have a big door.
The fourth place we went to was Tuasan falls. I’m not a big fan of waterfalls but Tuasan was a beaut. The only setback was that we came during the weekend so we kinda expected that there will be a lot of locals present. We weren’t wrong. When we arrived we just payed for the entrance and went to the see the waterfalls. It was really beautiful. I would have wanted to stay longer if it was not very crowded. If you’re planning to visit Tuasan I highly recommend you go during the weekdays.
The fifth place we went was a resort where you can see giant clams on the sea bed. Unfortunately the tide was already high and they only recommend tourists to snorkel during the low tide. So, we went to the next spot which was the Soda Water Pool.
The Soda water pool was where I really got to relax. Just what I was looking for. A quiet uncrowded place and a cold pool to dip in. The water tastes like soda, hence the name soda water pool. You can drink it but at your own risk (haha). We stayed there for more than an hour. We met some old folks there. They were members of a bike club from Cebu. I kinda expected people to come over since we have Ashley with us (you know the deal).
The last part of the tour was the Sto. Niño Cold Spring. I think it’s just like any other spring. It was still crowded given that it was during the weekend. We got in and dipped for a while but we didn’t stay that long. That’s where we parted ways with Ashley. She stayed there to read some book. We, on the other hand, had to head to port to catch the last trip back to Cagayan because we were going to attend the graduation of Mercy’s brother. We could’ve stayed for another night but we didn’t risk it since we really can’t predict the weather and we might not be able to go back to Cagayan and attend the graduation in time.
There are still many places that we were not able to go to in Camiguin. We plan to go back in the future and climb Mt. Hibok Hibok. Maybe see the giant clams and Katibawasan falls. Who knows. Till our next excursion.