For P1,183.00, I was able to book a round trip flight from MNL-CGY-MNL last February 2016 for a September vacation. CGY or Cagayan de Oro is the gateway to the other provinces of Northern Mindanao like Camiguin, Bukidnon, Iligan and more.
I just had a basic guide and no detailed itinerary for this trip. Upon arriving at the Laguindingan Airport, I went out and looked for the Magnum Express Shuttle vans parked just outside the airport. CDO is still about 45 minutes away. After paying P199, I asked the driver to drop me off at the Agora Integrated Bus Terminal. Once there, I entered the terminal after paying a fee of P3.00 and boarded an airconditioned bus bound for Butuan. After 2 hours, the bus made a stop at the Balingoan Bus Terminal. I got off and walked a few meters to Balingoan Port where I bought a ferry ticket going to the Island of Camiguin. The trip lasted around 45 minutes.
Before I started my journey to Camiguin, I was wondering, if ever I missed the last ferry going to Benoni Port, where would I stay? At the port, I saw two small inns. For backpackers, this could be a good place to spend the night and catch the first ferry the next day.
While on the ferry, I texted my habal habal driver/guide that I was already on the ferry bound for Camiguin. He said that he will be waiting outside Benoni Port in Camiguin to pick me up.
The trip from Laguindingan Airport to Benoni Port took me 5 hours more or less.
It was around lunch that I met Kuya Jojo, my guide, at Benoni Port. We had lunch in one of the nearby carinderia and talked about the places that I would like to visit on the island. He then brought me to Action Gecko Diving Resort, which I previously booked on-line, so I could rest for a while before we started the tour of the island. I will post a separate blog entry about this resort.
Camiguin is the second smallest province of the Philippines, next to Batanes. So touring the island can be done in a day. But in my case, I wanted to take slow and easy. It is also known as the Island Born of Fire because of the eight volcanoes on the island.
The Guiob Church Ruins.
The Old Ruins as it’s commonly called was a church and a convent that was destroyed during the volcanic eruption of the old volcano sometime in the 1800’s. Mass is still celebrated here once in a while and it is also home to one of the structures of the PHIVOLCS used to monitor all the 8 dormant volcanoes on the island.
Sto. Nino Cold Springs.
The Giant Cross Marker, The Sunken Cemetery, Pasil Reef.
This is an actual cemetery that was submerged also as a result of volcanic activity. But now, the area is called Pasil Reef, where there is an abundance of marine life. I went snorkelling and paid P300 for the gears and the guide. This is also the place where the iconic giant cross marker is located which was erected to give respect to the dead now lying under their watery graves.
This place also offers the best sunset view of the island.
Walkway to Old Volcano and the Stati0ns of the Cross.
I never had the chance to climb the 2,000 steps going up the old volcano. I only had a photo op. This place can be full of devotees during holy week.
It was already getting dark and I was already tired. But Kuya Jojo, brought me to a hill overlooking the ocean and Tongatoc Cove and it was breath taking.
I went back to the resort and after having dinner, I went to bed early and slept like a baby.
The next day, we started the tour early.
A sand bar, also known as Medano Island to the locals. The jump off point was the town of Agoho, Mambajao. Then ride a Bangka for 15 minutes to reach this sandbar. Once there, I was amazed and loved the white sand and the turquoise waters of the sea.
It can be reached by Bangka in 25–30 minutes from San Roque in the town of Mahinog.
During the boat ride, we were able to see a whale shark! It happened so fast that I was not able to take a photo. I almost dove in the water to have a glimpse of it. But I was a tad worried for its safety. It might get hit and hurt by the passing bangkas 😦
Because of El Nino, the cascade of this falls is no longer strong as it was before. I hope this is just temporary.
Katunggan Mangrove Park.
Ardent Hot Springs.
Now, this place got me heartbroken. In the numerous photos that I found over the internet, this place was supposed to be a hot spring with several tiers of pools with hot and bluish waters. An example is the photo below:
But when I went there, I was greeted with this situation –
The pools were all dried up. The water vanished. The culprit – El Nino. The caretakers can only hope that the place can still recover and that the spring comes back to life in the near future. It was indeed sad.
At this point, I started to feel feverish, so I decided to call it a day so I could rest and take some medicines.
The next morning, the weather was not that good. There was an overcast sky and trickles of rain. But not a moment to lose, the adventure continues…
We went up the mountains to check out the observatory of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. It offers a panoramic view of Camiguin and the neighboring island of Bohol on a clear day. It also houses a few visuals explaining the history of the volcanoes of Camiguin and its past eruptions.
We then went around a different part of the island and passed by the old volcano and a butterfly farm which seemed abandoned at the time of my visit.
Camiguin is known for its sweet lanzones. At the time of my visit, I was able to see the lanzones trees with lots of fruits. There is no actual farm but the lanzones trees can be seen in every front yard of houses, along the streets and vacant lots. So I had to stop and take some photos since it was my first time to actually see a lanzones tree.
Macao Cold Springs.
Located in Mahinog, this place is frequented by the locals and there is no entrance fee. The water is bluish and the century old tree beside cannot be missed.
Before lunch, I started to feel feverish again. I decided not to push through with my plan of going snorkelling again at the sunken cemetery. I went back to the resort to relax and have a massage instead.
The next day, Kuya Jojo picked me up and brough me to Benoni Port so I can board the ferry going to Balingoan en route to Cagayan de Oro. I was still feeling a bit feverish.
I thanked Kuya Jojo, who was a very dependable tour guide, habal habal driver, a great photographer and travel buddy rolled into one. So if ever you are in Camiguin, I recommend Kuya Jojo. Here is his number – 0905-9566288
Next stop… Cagayan de Oro!