Camiguin: Island Born in Fire

by - 6:39 PM

Camiguin is a pear-shaped island known to be the second-smallest province in the country in terms of land area and population. It is aptly nicknamed as the “island born in fire” as there are seven volcanoes in the island with Mt. Hibok-Hibok as the most famous one.

I had known of Camiguin through a shirt my Mom got as a souvenir when I was in my elementary years. What piqued my curiosity was how Camiguin could offer a myriad of varying activities and adventures - from hot spring to cold spring to stunning beaches - with its diminutive size.

The island of Camiguin as seen from Balingoan Port.

Where is Camiguin?

Camiguin is a tiny gem of an island about 10 kilometers from the coast of Northern Mindanao. There are various ways to reach the island, to name a few:

Cebu-Camiguin. Cebu Pacific offers a direct flight from Cebu to Camiguin and vice-versa on a daily basis.

Cebu-CDO-Camiguin via Ferry. There used to be several ferries and fast crafts that service the CDO-Camiguin route though some of my friends say that the schedule may be unreliable at times. The best and reliable route for this kind of option would be taking a bus or van from Agora Market in Cagayan de Oro City to Balingoan Port (two hours and a half to three hours travel time).  In Balingoan Port, there are several scheduled ferries all throughout the day to and from Benoni Wharf in Camiguin, covering about an hour of ferry transit.

Bohol-Camiguin. There is a ferry (Super Shuttle Ferry) and a fast craft that service this route. Their schedules may change without prior notice so it’s best to contact the service provider directly.

Camiguin was the second part of our trip (after Cagayan de Oro City) when we visited Northern Mindanao in August of 2013. After an exhausting adventure of braving the great white rapids of Cagayan, we checked out of the hotel at around 5 am the next day to catch the earliest bus from Agora Market to Balingoan Port. Since the bus already left when we reached the market, we decided to walk around to find something to eat when we noticed there were vans parked on the side. As luck would have it, there were two more seats left and so off we go to the port! Take note though that the van may cost a little bit more than the bus but travel time will definitely be cut in half.

The traditional way of luggage inspection at Balingoan Port.

Upon reaching Balingoan Port we were informed that the ferry that was scheduled to leave at that very hour was postponed due to heavy rains minutes before we arrived. We were able to leave Balingoan port at around 10 am and reached Benoni Wharf in Camiguin a few minutes past 11 in the morning amidst a rough sea. Good thing that the driver/tour guide Kuya Teddy sent was patient enough to wait for us.

What to do in Camiguin?

Even with its tiny size, there are a lot of things you can do in Camiguin and this lovely island is tourist-friendly all year round.

Katibawasan Falls
The first stop of our countryside tour was the Katibawasan Falls which is found at the foot of Mt. Timpoong, about 5 kilometers from Mamabajao. Measuring 250 feet in height, the waterfalls can be seen (and heard) even from afar. And the best part is, you are free to swim in its lagoon. We didn’t swim because the water wasn’t enticing enough for us so we just walked around and snapped pictures (and made fun of each other too).
Entrance fee: 20 php

Katibawasan Falls in all its glory.

Do I look like Dora the Explorer with my backpack? LOL.

Walkway to the Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross
People often flock to Camiguin for their “Panaad” (promise) of faith and devotion during the Lenten Season by doing the Stations of the Cross. It may be a bit of a challenge going up to all 14 stations but I guess that's what faith and sacrifice mean. It was raining a bit when we visited Camiguin so we were careful going up the moss-covered steps.

This is also the same jump-off point for those who want to climb Mt. Vulcan or the Old Volcano, as some would call it. Ironically, it is the youngest of all the volcanoes on the island having been formed during the 1871 eruption of Mt. Hibok-Hibok. Trekking may take 5-6 hours and when you reach the top, you'll be treated to a 360-degree view of Camiguin island.

Life-size statues are found along the pathway of the Stations of the Cross.

The Sunken Cemetery
Probably the most iconic spot of Camiguin is the Sunken Cemetery found in the town of Catarman. The cross was erected in 1982 to serve as a marker for the departed loved ones who were buried 20 feet more into the sea following the birth of Mt. Vulcan that lasted from 1871 to 1875.

The marker as seen from the viewing deck.

Though the place may be teeming of tourists and souvenir shops, I couldn't help but feel a bit sad of how this now noisy and vibrant place came to be. Another thing you can do is dive and touch the tombstones below. If diving creeps you out, there are bancas available for rent to see the marker up close.

All in a day's work:
Boatmen hauling a boat used to ferry tourists to the Sunken Cemetery marker.

Quick stopover on a view deck with Mt. Hibok-Hibok at the background.

Old Church Ruins
The Old Church Ruins, otherwise known as the Guiob Church Ruins,  is also a remnant of Mt. Vulcan's destructive power when it was slowly rising from just a fissure on the ground to a full blown volcano it is today.

All that remains are parts of the church, bell tower, and convent. I wasn't expecting much from this place but when I saw the moss-covered walls and the century-old trees I fell in love and took snapshots right away.

The insides of the Church. The area shown in the picture is the altar.

The bell tower.

The what could have been monastery and the very tall, century-old tree.

An excellent place for photo ops too!

Sto. Nino Cold Spring
It was such a refreshing treat when I finally got to submerge my tired, aching body in this ice-cold spring. With crystal clear water at 20 degrees, this spot is something you should include in your itinerary especially if you're going during summer when the weather can get really warm and sunny in the Philippines.
Entrance Fee: Php 20.00

Welcome to Sto. Niño Cold Spring!

The small pool in front and the big pool at the back. Just a trivia, there are tiny fishes living in the big pool so don't be surprised if there are fishes swimming along with you.

Soda Water Swimming Pool
After the Sto. Niño Cold Spring comes another nature's wonder: the Soda Water Swimming Pool found in Bura, Catarman. It's called a soda pool because apparently, the water tastes like soda (or so they say).  Though I didn't get to taste the water, I could say that the water is a bit different from the other pools I've been to before - it feels cold and has a slippery, silky feel to it.
Entrance Fee: Php 20.00

Look at the people just lounging about and letting the cold water wash against their skin.

There are two big pools which are perfect for those who want to swim to their heart's content and there are cottages available on the side too if you want to spend more time just hanging around in the area. We didn't spend a lot of time here because we already had our swimming pool fill in the cold spring so we just snapped pictures and immersed ourselves in the water for a few minutes.

Ardent Hot Spring
The last stop of the day was the Ardent Hot Spring found at the foot of Mt. Hibok-Hibok, an active volcano in Mambajao. Having been on the road for the entire day, I was actually looking forward to this part of the trip. There's nothing more rewarding than treating yourself to some warm relaxing swim after a long, rainy day.
Entrance Fee: Php 30.00

The hot spring boiling with tourists.

When we reached Ardent, the place was already jam-packed with tourists so we just explored the area and took pictures. We scaled the entire stretch of the multi-layered pool and when we got to the top, we found the perfect spot! We probably spent an hour or so dipping in the warm, invigorating water before we called it a day.

White Island
This is the most picturesque spot in all of Camiguin - the fine white sandbar, turquoise waters, and postcard-perfect background makes this magical place the undisputed top spot.

The C-shape sandbar of White Island. Looming over the distance is Mt. Hibok-Hibok.

I haven't personally visited White Island when I went to Camiguin because it was the monsoon season and the weather was pretty bad. The pictures I have here instead are from a very good friend who is kind enough to share his story (and pictures) to us.

Say hello to Charly! :)

And last but not the least, don't forget to bring home Camiguin's very own pastel - a soft bun filled with yummy goodness! A personal favorite of mine is the yema filling. It's best to buy them while they are fresh and cheap in Camiguin than buying them in grocery stores in nearby provinces. On our last day, we asked the driver to stop by at Vjandep bakery in the town center amidst the torrential rain so we could bring some for our folks back home.

Camiguin Countryside Tour and Accommodation
**Teddy's Countryside Tour is inclusive of all entrance, guide, and transportation fees. He also offers affordable rooms at his very own home.

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  1. hi mam eula good day thank you for sharing your wonderful camiguin tours with us.

    godbless you po mam. =)

    1. Hello, Sir Teddy! Thank you too for your superb and affordable tour service :)