Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Fall in Love with Camiguin

Who wouldn’t fall in love with the island born of fire? Pristine white sand beaches with majestic mountain backdrop… Marvelous beauty of nature from waterfalls to hot springs… Quiet, simple and laidback atmosphere of the island…  Camiguin’s fiery beauty will surely capture your heart!

Camiguin is one of the best kept paradise of Northern Mindanao. It is an island province of volcanic origin hence it is called “Island Born of Fire” and is situated off-coast of Balingoan Port of Misamis Oriental province. The port is the jump point to the province via an hour RORO vessel sea travel from the port. If you’re coming from capitol Manila, you must fly 1 hour and 30 minutes via plane to Cagayan de Oro then ride a shuttle to the city proper then travel to Agora Bus Terminal where buses with Butuan signboard will have a mandatory stop to Balingoan (pronounced as “Balingwan”) Bus Terminal. Bus travel is 2 hours to the bus terminal. The port is just a 5 minute walk on the street across the terminal which can also be reached via motorela (tricycle) if you are tired of walking and has baggage with you. 

Camiguin's gorgeous postcard-perfect view at Sunken Cemetery. 
I choose Camiguin not just as my next Summer 2015 destination but also as my birthday trip destination of 2015. And I’m glad to spend my birthday trip here since I heard so much good things about Camiguin as a travel destination! This trip wouldn’t be possible if not for Mr. Teddy Pabualan’s (www.pabualancottages-camiguin.blogspot.com/) tour services to the island. He offers complete tour and accommodation packages in Camiguin. His staff was early when we arrive in Benoni Port of Camiguin and right after fetching us, we started our island tour of Camiguin.

Approaching the "Island Born of Fire"
Welcome to Camiguin at Benoni Port.
My infatuation with Camiguin started in our destination in the island, the stunning Katibawasan Falls of Mambajao municipality. The falls is 250 feet tall cascading on a refreshing pool and cold water surrounded by ferns and shrubs. The waterfall is also surrounded by tall trees and green forests which makes it a stunning sight from various viewpoints of the place. Be careful on those mini ravines facing the viewpoints. What were distinctly charming to Katibawasan Falls are its thin cascades of water from the water source which seems to be nearing to be drought but on a closer look, the water has a very strong falling current enough to crash weak stones on its way. The falls is surrounded by picnic tables and benches maintained by the local government. It also has a clean toilet and bathroom in case you swam in the waterfalls’ pool.

We headed next to Catarman to see Walkway to the Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross. The sight is basically an old hill top mountain where in each slope there is a Station of the Cross scene depicted by statues. Hiking will be a challenge for couch potatoes if you want to finish the whole station of the cross but reaching the top is being on the top of a dormant volcano, hence it called Old Volcano. The site is very popular during Lenten Week. Almost right across this site is Guiob Church Ruins which is a 16th century church in Catarman destroyed when the Mt. Vulcan (the Old Volcano) erupted in 1871. All that is left in the church is the ruins which serves as a reminder how catastrophic was a volcanic eruption.

Fall in love with Katibawasan Falls.
The hot summer afternoon makes us long for a refreshing dip. So when we arrived in Sto. Nino Cold Springs, we weren’t able to resist its spring waters and swam into it to cool down our senses. The cold spring has really cold waters from natural spring that refreshes your weary body especially coming from a long hour of travel. I told my travel mates not to spend to long in Sto. Nino Cold Springs as there still other springs that we will visit in island tour of Camiguin. Unfortunately, Bura Soda Water Spring Pool which was famous for its distinct soda taste-like water is closed for maintenance that day. 

I personally asked to skip Sunken Cemetery as the next itinerary because it is better viewed by sunset.
The 2nd stop of around the island tour of Camiguin.
The ruins of Guiob Church with my best travel buddies!
Take a dip at Sto.Nino Cold Springs.
So we proceed to our next destination which is probably the famous landmark of Camiguin island. Catarman’s Sunken Cemetery is the iconic landmark of Camiguin due to its prominent huge cross that sits above a sunken cemetery that sink below sea level during the birth of a volcano. During this volcanic birth of Mt. Vulcan in 1871, some parts of Bonbon town subsided to the sea in which one of it was the now sunken cemetery of the town. The huge cross was placed in 1982 to commemorate the event and site of the sunken cemetery. Visitors can rent a boat to reach the huge cross to take a closer look at it. Today, Sunken Cemetery is not just an iconic landmark of the island but also a great snorkeling site in which a rich coral reef and marine life has grown to through the years.

The site faces the vast ocean view which was a perfect place during our visit as it was timely for sunset. It was my first time in that place to witness Camiguin Sunset! The shadowed huge cross of the Sunken Cemetery adds drama to the beauty of the sunset that was truly an astonishing moment to witness. I was totally in awe with Camiguin Sunset! And I think that was the point where I fall in love with Camiguin!

Camiguin Sunset at the Sunken Cemetery.  This is famous landmark of the "Island Born of Fire", called because of its volcanic origin.
The beauty of Camiguin will stay with me forever.
With our weary bodies and aching joints from a whole day of travel, we need a refreshing dip again. And it was timely for our next destination, the Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring Resort located at the foot of Hibok-Hibok Volcano in Mambajao municipality. The spring resort is a hot spring of fresh sulfuric flowing water with pools of various degrees of heat to enjoy.  The 33 degree pool is enjoyable enough but the 40 degree pool is a challenge. The resort has complete facilities of rooms, cottages, restrooms and showers for visitor’s amenities to stay. But the best thing in experiencing Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring Resort was the sulfuric water’s therapeutic effect. A dip there has definitely soothed and relieved my body pain from a whole day of travel!

A whole day of travel deserves a whole evening of hot spring dipping!
The trio takes a dip at Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring Resort.
Sumpteous meal and big servings at Rocky's Resto, Mambajao, Camiguin.
Camiguin Sunrise.
 The following morning, we started as early as 5 am to experience sunrise viewing at the famed island destination of Camiguin; the beautiful White Island. It is a 5 minute banca (boat) ride from the shores of Mambajao. We arrived in the island just in time for the marvelous Camiguin Sunrise. But as the sunrise unfolds, comes also one of the most stunning views from White Island – the imposing view of Mount Hibok-hibok and Mount Vulcan in the backdrop of main island Camiguin. I was stunned by this marvelous scenery that I only experience in Camiguin!

In Panorama: Fall in Love with Camiguin from White Island.
Unforgettable Camiguin scenery from White Island.
Play in White Island.
Fall in love with Camiguin!
White Island is definitely the place to be every Summer!
The trio takes Camiguin.
Let your Summer have a story in Camiguin...
White Island is actually an uninhabited sandbar offshore of Mambajao. This 1.4 kilometer sandbar is said to be horseshoe shaped but the tides constantly resizes and reshapes its exact form. I wandered around with my travel buddies to explore the rest of the sandbar. We found a good spot to photo opt and a good spot for snorkeling. I saw a lionfish, colorful fishes and a sea slug! While some opted to do sun bathing in its kilometer wide white sand space, I opted to swim again and again in its cyan-colored waters! There are no trees or shades in the island as it is composed solely of white sands so it is best to visit it in the morning. I bet you’ll get fried and toasted if you visit it at noon!


Breakfast at Pabualan Cottages. Danggit na pusit completed the breakfast!

Teddy Pabualan's mini-jeep is our service throughout the island.
Last day in Camiguin!
Goodbye Camiguin...
But the imposing scenery of Camiguin island with the back-drop of Mount Hibok-hibok and Mount Vulcan from White Island is arresting and enthralling sight. I fall in love in Camiguin again. Awe in the beautiful sight of volcanoes, we have to return to the shore to eat breakfast and blow my blow my birthday cake to celebrate my birthday in Camiguin. I bought danggit na pusit (sun-dried squids) for pasalubong because it made my satisfying breakfast that day. And don’t forget to bring home the famous Vjandep’s pastel (buns with filling that originated from Camiguin) and lazones (fruit that is widely grown in the island) – the best and original pasalubong from Camiguin! With a heavy heart from infatuation with the island, we then leave Benoni Port and bid goodbye to the volcanic island. The “Island Born of Fire” surely captured my fiery heart. Its alluring beauty will stay with me forever.


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*How reach Camiguin
From Laguindingan Airport arrival exit, look for LAX Shuttle booth. Fare to Cagayan de Oro proper is 150PHP per head. Head right away to shuttle booth as LAX Shuttle easily gets filled up and waiting for the next shuttle will have to be filled by the next flight and will consume your travel time to Camiguin. Shuttle has designated drop-off and to be drop-off at Agora Bus Terminal. Travel time is 1 hour.
At Agora Bus Terminal ride a bus or van that passes or stops at Balingoan Bus Terminal. Balingoan is pronounced as Balingwan. Avoid the non-aircon bus which has many stops. Fare is 150PHP per person and travel time is 2.5 to 3 hours. At Balingoan Bus Terminal, cross the street and walk towards the port. If have many luggages, motorela is availabe to ride to the port. At Balingoan Port, ride a RORO vessel to Camiguin's Benoni Port. Travel time is 1 hour and fare is 180PHP per person and does not include the terminal fee.
Upon returning to Cagayan de Oro, follow the same process. If you have a stop at Cagayan de Oro, LAX Shuttle Terminal is in Centrio Mall's Capt.V. Roa Entrance. Fare is 199PHP per person and travel time is almost 2 hours.

*LAX Shuttle Contact No: 0917-7101529 and 0925-8100529
Facebook Page: LAX Shuttle FB Page

*Teddy Pabualan's Camiguin Tour Services
Contact no: 0917-5219391(Globe)/0939-2440521 (Smart)
Email: teddypabualan@gmail.com
Website: Pabualan Cottages - Camiguin

*Fees in Camiguin (as of March 2015)
Around the island tour of Camiguin exclude entrance fees to its destination, here are the following entrance fees to the stops:
Katibawasan Falls – 20PHP.
Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross – 5PHP.
Guiob Church Ruins – no fee
Sto. Nino Cold Springs – 25PHP
Sunken Cemetery – no fee but boating to get to the huge cross has a fee.
Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring Resort – 35PHP

Fall in Love with Camiguin
is 3rd of my Summer 2015 travel trip and 1st of my Birthday Trip 2015 that happened last March 16-18, 2015. I would like to thank Ca of Adventurous Feet and Chyng Reyes of No Spam, no virus, no kiddin! for serving as my travel guide blog in traveling to Camiguin.  
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