Camiguin: Island Born of Fire

by • June 25, 2013 • Destinations, Featured, Featured StoriesComments (2)10322

Barely 240 square kilometers in land area, Camiguin is the second smallest province of the Philippines in both area and population. It is just 23 kilometers at its longest and just a bit more than 14 kilometers at its widest. Within this small area lie seven volcanoes. Lovely little Camiguin is the island “born of fire.

Much of the island ‘s natural structures were formed through earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In the late 1800s, Mt. Vulcan’s eruption submerged the old town of Catarman – pushing it below the sea, leaving behind the ruins of a church and its bell tower.

The Sunken Cemetery, now marked with a huge cross, was also one of the areas in this old town.

Aside from this, Camiguin’s natural attractions keep visitors coming.

White Island, a sandbar, and Mantigue Island, a smaller island off the shores of Camiguin, are great for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.

Cool, refreshing waters amid trees, ferns, and boulders are found at waterfalls like Katibawasan Falls or the more remote Tuawasan Falls.

Just as refreshing is a dip in the Santo Niño Cold Spring. It offers waters at 20 degrees Celsius and small fishes that will give you a unique massage!

In contrast, there’s Ardent Hot Spring40 degree Celsius waters heated by Mt. Hibok-Hibok, an active volcano.

Hikers and mountaineers will never run out of adventure here.

The steep volcanoes are a trekker’s challenge, with one of them rising to a peak of more than 1,600 meters. There are forests and dive sites for exploring, too. This island is a nature lover’s theme park.

As you trek, keep an eye out for what Camiguin is best known for – lanzones fruit, a sweet fruit about the size of a grape, with light brown skin and translucent flesh. Its harvest is celebrated by a week-long Lanzones Festival every October. Colorful costumes, street dancing, and parades mark the celebration.

Volcanic Rock

Rock deposits during the early volcanic eruptions of the island along the shore of Sagay, Camiguin by g.b.khuta | photography/Creative Commons

Apart from the island’s natural beauty, stories of volcanic eruptions lend an air of nostalgic romance. Old Spanish-era churches, ruins of past towns, and ancestral homes from the Spanish and American periods are picture-pretty side trips to Camiguin’s history.

Camiguin Island

Camiguin Island by justDONQUE.images/Creative Commons

The province consists primarily of Camiguin Island, as well as a few other surrounding minor islets including:

White Island – An inhabited white sand bar with the picturesque Mt. Hibok-hibok and Old Vulcan as its backdrop. The picturesque island is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling and viewing the sunrise and sunset over Camiguin.

White Island Camiguin

White Island Camiguin by justDONQUE.images/Creative Commons

Mantigue Island is probably a lesser known attraction in the island of Camiguin. Compared to White Island which was promoted  as a tourist destination in earlier years, Mantigue Island has not been receiving a huge and steady flock of tourists yet comparing to the latter. Mantigue is a nature park. It has a forested area rich with different varieties of trees. A trail leading to the deeper part of the forest where a huge number of bats live was made to make it more accessible.  The island has 7.22 hectares of marine protected area where various kinds of marine species could be found.

Mantigue Island

Mantigue Island by yeryabs/Creative Commons

Camiguin Island is a pearl-shaped island divided into 5 regions:

Mambajao: the most populated area and where lots of tourist accommodations are located.

Catarman: the second most populated region of Camiguin. Catarman shares the west coast with Mambajao.

Sagay: home to springs and waterfalls.

Guinsiliban: at the southern tip of the island, Guinsiliban has some beautiful views of fields and mountains.

Mahinog: seafood capital of the island.

Camiguin Island

Camiguin Island by justDONQUE.images/Creative Commons

About the Island

Camiguin Island

Camiguin Island by justDONQUE.images/Creative Commons

Among the Province’s major products are coconut, cassava, banana, camote, palay, corn, fruits, coffee and vegetables. Camiguin’s volcanic soil is a fertile ground for planting various crops. The Province is also among the best abaca fiber producers in the country. Camiguin is proud of its natural resources, which include sulfur deposits, geothermal energy, agricultural lands and fishing grounds.

Camiguineos

Camiguineos by g.b.khuta | photography/Creative Commons

The Camiguin culture is a mixture of both Boholano and Cebuano culture. It is very colorful and creative. The people are deeply religious, hospitable and friendly. Cebuano is the major dialect in the Province. However, in the towns of Sagay and Guinsiliban, where most of the indigenous tribes reside, the Kinamiguin dialect is still spoken.  Kinamiguin, from the Manobo dialect with some mixture of Boholano.  People in Camiguin like most Filipinos are well-known for their hospitality.

How to Get There:

Philippine Airlines

Philippine Airlines by kamerakamote/Creative Commons

From Manila, you can take direct flights of Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, or Air Philippines to Cagayan de Oro City. Flying time approximately takes one hour and 20 minutes. From Cebu, Cagayan de Oro City is even nearer — a mere 30 minutes away. One can also take the longer but infinitely more exciting ferry trips from the North Harbor aboard the ships of WG&A, Negros Navigation, and Sulpicio Lines. Depending on the routes (sometimes they stop over at certain ports such as that of Cebu City, Iloilo City or Bacolod City), a ferry trip to Cagayan de Oro City usually takes 28 to 36 hours.

From the Cagayan de Oro City airport, you can take a cab to the bus terminal  at the Agora Market and get on a bus for Balingoan, a town 88 kilometers outside the city. At Balingoan, take a ferry bound for Camiguin Island approaching Camiguin by sea. The trip usually takes an hour before you reach Benoni Wharf of Mahinog, which is 17 kilometers from the capital town of Mambajao.

You can also take a three-hour ferry ride from the Cagayan de Oro Ferry Terminal to Guinsiliban, also in Camiguin on board M/V Yuhum.

Top Things to Do

Enjoy postcard-perfect scenery

White sand and blue sea and sky are in large supply around here. For something different, go off shore to the sandbar of White Island.

Splash around

Choose between the two sides of Mantigue Island for swimming or diving. One side is pretty and shallow, while the other side is a deep drop off.

Make it to the top

The peak of Mt. Hibok Hibok, the island’s only active volcano, has a view of the islands of Cebu, Negros, and Bohol.

Chase waterfalls

Katibawasan Falls is impressive at 80 meters. The 25-meter Tuasan Falls is a refreshing end to a scenic trek through Barrio Mainit.

Try water therapy

Choose between the 40-degree waters of Ardent Hot Spring and the 20-degree waters of Santo Niño Cold Springs. There’s also the Macao Cold Spring and the Soda Water Swimming Pool.

Discover Atlantis

The first major Spanish settlement in Catarman that was buried by the 1871 explosion of Mt. Vulcan. You can see what’s left of the old town above ground, or go on a spooky dive expedition to the Sunken Cemetery.

Places to Visit

Many come to this island for diving. But the therapeutic volcanic black sand and the beautiful white-sandbar are what really set Camiguin apart. Lonely Planet says, “drop it down next to Hawaii or Maui and it wouldn’t look out-of-place.”

Catarman Church Ruins (Gui-ob Church)

Ruins of the Old Catarman Church

Ruins of the Old Catarman Church by justDONQUE.images/Creative Commons

The devastating volcanic eruption in 1871 wiped out the Spanish settlement (established in 1697) of Catarman. The remains of an Old Spanish church, ruins of adobe walls, belfry and convent are mute witnesses to the wrath of nature. It also allows us a glimpse into the culture of Spanish-era Camiguin.

Cross Marker & Sunken Cemetery

Cross & Sunken Cemetery

Cross Marker & Sunken Cemetery by Shubert Ciencia/Creative Commons

Located in Bonbon, Catarman a huge cross marker was erected  to mark the community cemetery that sunk during the 1871 volcanic holocaust. Years ago, gravestones were visible during low tide. Today, it is an interesting diving site.

Philvocs Observatory Station

Philvocs Observatory Station

Philvocs Observatory Station by hawaiianwebmaster.com

The Observatory houses a seismograph that monitors the island’s fiery resident, Mount Hibok-Hibok. It is also the site where one can get a breathtaking view of the island, as well as hints of the neighboring islands in the horizon

Tanguines Lagoon

Fishing at Tanguines Lagoon

Fishing at Tanguines Lagoon by frostedburn/Creative Commons

A man-made lagoon located in Benoni, Mahinog. Its mantle of limpid waters, craggy cliffs and huge boulders standing like sentinels, gently rolling hills with peaks covered by creamy clouds and a perpetually restive sea provide visitors with a sense of serenity and peace. Truly a place to convene with nature.

Katibawasan Falls

Katibawasan Falls

Katibawasan Falls by bengot/Creative Commons

The 250-feet majestic beauty cascades to a rock pool surrounded by ground orchids, wild ferns, trees and boulders. Its ice-cold waters provide an ideal summer splash to locals and tourists alike. Rock picnic tables, seats and cookout facilities are available for use.

Tangub Hot Spring

Child play at Tangub Hot Spring

Child play at Tangub Hot Spring by justDONQUE.images/Creative Commons

A volcanic spring by the sea. Water temperatures turn cold, hot and lukewarm as the tide changes from high, low and medium, respectively. Diving is good to about 1020 meters in a gradual drop off. It is an ideal site for scuba diving.

Tuasan Falls

Tuasan Falls

Tuasan Falls by myspace.com

The trek to the 25-meter high strong waterfalls is fun and exciting. One will have go through a very scenic hike passing through the quaint barrio Mainit before being refreshed under the thunderous falls.

Macao Cold Springs

Macao Cold Springs

Macao Cold Springs by officiallyphilippines.com

Located in Mahinog, the Macao Cold Spring is one of Camiguin’s idyllic springs. One will be amazed with the cool splash of crystal blue-colored water. Swimming along the pool, one could be accompanied by a school of small fishes. Huge century-old trees surround the pool, keeping it cool and shady.

Mantigue Island

Mantigue Island

Mantigue Island by yeryabs/Creative Commons

Three kilometers off the shore from Barangay San Roque, Mahinog is an island four hectares of evergreen forest fringed with sandy beach. The boat ride to Mantigue is quite exciting wherein visitors would be exposed to strong diverging currents in the open sea. One side of the island is ideal for swimming as it is shallow and has few corals. The opposite side is a deep drop off ideal for snorkeling and diving.  A fishing village is found in the north side of the island.

Mount Hibok Hibok

Curves of Mt. Hibok Hibok

Curves of Mt. Hibok Hibok by dahon/Creative Commons

The only active volcano in the island, the 1250-meter slope is a challenge even to the seasoned mountaineer, as he has to contend with loose rocks and boulders. Mount Hibok-Hibok has a crater lake at the peak and has steam outlets abound. The peak also offers a breathtaking view of the islands of Cebu, Negros and Bohol.

Old Volcano

Walkway to the Old Volcano

Walkway to the Old Volcano by Shubert Ciencia/Creative Commons

A unique underwater lava formation is the main attraction in this site that rises from the depths of more than eighty feet from the bottom forming a series of pinnacles. The coral covered molten rocks are surrounded with tropical fishes such as anthias, clown fishes, damsels and the like.

Ardent Hot Spring

Ardent Hotspring

Ardent Hotspring by dahon/Creative Commons

The local hot spa is a natural pool of about 40 degrees centigrade springing from depths of Mount Hibok-Hibok. The Municipality of Mambajao has provided cottages, restaurant and dormitory facilities that cater to local and foreign tourists. It has picnic huts, cookout facilities and restrooms for visitors.It is ideal for night swimming, a place to rejuvenate both mind and body.

White Island

White Island Camiguin

White Island Camiguin by g.b.khuta | photography/Creative Commons

Two kilometers off the coast of Agoho, Mambajao is the Camiguin’s popular sand bar. At times it is in the shape of the letter C, sometimes the letter I, depending on the ocean tide. It has the picturesque Mount Hibok-Hibok and Old Vulcan as its backdrop. It is ideal for swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling.

Jicduf Shoal

Jicduf Shoal

Jicduf Shoal by dahon/Creative Commons

The seabed rises forming a shoal of about ten hectares in size. The Jicduf Shoal is one of the best diving spots in Camiguin. It offers a wide variety of aquatic life for the diver to observe and enjoy. It is an ideal site for underwater photographers and novice divers.

Burias Shoal

Burias_Shoal

Burias_Shoal by camiguinislands.net

A favorite spot for high-adventure-seeking divers, the Burias Shoal can be reached after breezy thirty-minute speedboat ride. One can find schools of jacks, tuna, surgeons, mackerel and barracudas. The shoal boasts of a lush black coral covered bottom. Strong currents may make diving tricky, however, the experience is worth the effort.

Sto. Nino Cold Spring

Sto. Nino Cold Spring

Sto. Nino Cold Spring by dahon/Creative Commons

Located in Catarman, the Sto. Niño Cold Spring has a pool measuring 25 meters by 40 meters. It is 2 meters deep of cold spring water sprouting from the sandy bottom. The area has a restaurant, native cottages, picnic huts, cookout facilities and restrooms for visitors.

Places to Stay

Camiguin Action Geckos Dive & Adventure Resort

Very well run facility, simple, but beautiful location with personal attention to each guest. Good food with daily changing menu choices. All cottages have  a good sea view. Very fair prices. A wide choice of excursions on offer. Motorbike rental is a must – drive around the island. Beautiful beach (but volcanic ash type, not the sand you may expect). Good for long walks. Perfectly clear water.

Average room rate is $15 or P 600 up

Website:  http://www.camiguin.ph/

Secret Cove Beach Resort

Set in a tropical garden, Secret Cove is a place highly recommended for couples or divers. The rooms are simple but very pleasant and clean. Tom Solski & Camiguinon wife Bida, are great hosts and very helpful with tips on where to roam around the island. The food in their restaurant is gourmet food. & considered to be the best restaurant on the island. The bar has got quiet impressive selection of drinks. This is a very relaxing place to be and a very good value for money. The Yumbing beach area is the best place on the island.

Room rates are from $37 up or P1500 up

Website:  http://www.secretcovecamiguin.net/                     http://www.secretcovecamiguin.com/

Rooftop Hotel Bar & Bistro

All the rooms have themes that you could choose from Mickey Mouse to color coded rooms to Honeymoon rooms. The rooms are clean and very comfortable with television and Wi-fi. The nightlife is slow except on Friday and Saturday when they have a disco. Other nights you can join in Karaoke.  The owners Geld and MM are very accomodating to guests and would make your stay as if you are part of the family.  The Rooftop was superior in every way except no swimming pool.  The restaurant has the most varied menu on the island, and the bakery was second to none.

Room rates are from $48 up or P2000 up

Paras Beach Resort

This hotel is like 5 minutes or so away from the white beach.  The hotel is beautifully located across the narrow straits from White Island, with a view of the islands of Bohol and Cebu (on a clear day). All rooms are oriented seaward so there are no bad rooms to be had.  The staff in the hotel were nice and always ready to assist in every way they can. They are also quick to address your concerns.  Food in this hotel is also very good and has good value for money – delicious, reasonably priced and the servings are just right.

Room rates from $85 up or P3500 up

Website:  http://www.parasbeachresort.com/

Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin

BBC, as it is often referred to has resort grounds that are impeccably maintained and absolutely beautiful.  The motiff of the resort is filled with coconut husks in the lobby! All rooms are little cottages done in native style with thatched roof and banig walls that blend well into the surroundings.  Each cottage has thoughtful touches like racks outside to dry your swimsuits and water taps just outside the door.  Resort staff are very friendly and helpful.

Room rates $98 up or P4000 up

Website:  http://www.bahaybakasyunan.com/

Camiguin Highland Resort

The hotel is relatively new and very beautiful with a very hospitable and friendly staff.   The hotel owner is a very friendly & hospitable man who will see to all of your needs within minutes of arrival. The food was absolutely delicious and the view is absolutely breath-taking.  The pool view were nicely done  and the jacuzi were very clean.  The location of the resort is very quiet yet cozy.

Room rates $60 up or P2500 up

Website:  http://www.camiguinhighlandresort.com/

Caves Dive Resort

This resort offers the best view of White Island and is just a short boat-ride away from it.  The resort is cozy with warm and helpful staff that are always ready to attend to your needs.  They can instantly arrange a trip as well as diving expeditions around the island.  They have readily available boats that could bring you around the island.  Caves Dive Resort is strategically located amidst the “tourist spots” of Camiguin and the accommodations are way spacious, clean and relaxing.

Room rates at $21 up or P800 up

Website:  http://cavesdiveresortcamiguin.com/

Cabua-An Beach Resort

Cabua-An Resort is an affordable place to stay in where you can relax and enjoy in Camiguin.  They have dormitory type room for group stays with a maximum of 5 people in one room. The place has a free wifi and offers an affordable breakfast. The manager is very nice and accommodating. She helps you and give you guides on places and what to do in Camiguin.  This is the best economical accomodation in Camiguin.

Room rates at $12 up or P500 up

Website:  http://cabuaan.com/


An island in the northern coast of Mindanao whose beauty and splendor would make you come back.  Camiguin island is a destination that would would never make you leave for long. It’s beauty would surely make you CAM-UIGIN {come-again}!

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2 Responses to Camiguin: Island Born of Fire

  1. phioxee says:

    I love camiguin. But missed all those waterfalls during my visit

    • Trex Legaspi says:

      Thanks for dropping by Phioxee! We’d love to hear about your Camiguin experiences once you go back there to check out the waterfalls. Cheers!

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