Islands and Beaches
How to Tour the Philippines' Second Smallest Island Province: Two Days in Camiguin
Christa De La Cruz | Sep 01, 2015
In the summer of 2012, I spent seven days in the islands of Bohol, Cebu, and Camiguin. We were shuffling back and forth through plane rides, a long bus trip and a ferry ship to hop from one island province to another. Four days and three nights were alloted for the Philippines' second smallest island province, which took only two days to tour.
Camiguin is politically part of the Northern Mindanao Region despite its proximity to Bohol and location in the Bohol Sea. Its name is derived from the native word "kamagong," a species of ebony tree that thrives in Surigao del Norte, the region from which the first settlers of Camiguin came. Topographically, much of the pearl-shaped island was formed through volcanic eruptions and earthquakes caused by its seven volcanoes and several volcanic domes. Thus the name, "Island Born of Fire." These geological activities also gave birth to the island's many destinations.
First Stop: Giant Clams Sanctuary
Most of the spots in Camiguin can be reached through jeepneys and the motorela (an expanded version of Manila's tricycle) that ply the circumference of the island. The terminal is found in Mambajao, the capital of the province and its largest municipality. Places in the outskirts, like the Giant Clams Sanctuary in Sitio Kibila in Guinsiliban, can be reached through a long thrilling ride at the habal-habal (motorcycle).
The Sanctuary offers an educational tour around the man-made pools. This includes a short lesson o the six species of the giant clam it houses, how they take care of their giant clam garden, and how these mollusks live at the bottom of the sea.
Snorkelling in the Sanctuary with a guide is also an option to see more of the giant clams.
Second Stop: Bura Soda Water Park
Located at Bura in the municipality of Catarman, the water park features a cold pool filled with natural streaming soda water.
Third Stop: Sunken Cemetery
One of the most photographed sceneries in Camiguin is the large white cross that marks the cemetery driven underwater during the eruption of Mt. Vulcan in 1871.
The volcano continuously erupted until 1875, which submerged areas of Catarman and left only the ruins of the ancient San Roque Church. The volcano erupted again in 1948, which completely buried the cemetery. The cross was built in 1982 above the solidified lava to mark the old gravesite.
Located at Bonbon, the Sunken Cemetery can be reached through a short hike via the now-inactive Mt. Vulcan trail and a gated ark. The small spot right beside the cross gives a majestic view of Mt. Hibok-hibok. Entry is not allowed after 4 PM.
Fourth Stop: Mantigue Island
Located 3.5 kilometers off the coast of Brgy. San Roque in Mahinog, Mantigue is the perfect spot for lazing around a white sand beach and snorkelling and diving in a marine reserve. Behind the lush vegetation at the fringe are rows of tables and benches where one can enjoy a sumptuous lunch of freshly-caught seafood.
Fifth Stop: White Island
Camiguin's popular white sandbar is located 2 kilometers across Agoho and Yumbing. It gives front row seats to the picturesque view of Mt. Hibok-Hibok, Mt. Vulcan, and the romantic sunset.
Sixth Stop: Ardent Hot Spring
With a number of volcanoes, it is no wonder that Camiguin has a number of hot spring resorts. Ardent's water temperature reaches up to 40 degrees Celsius, which makes it an ideal spot for relaxation after a long tour of the island. Mist rises from the heated water that run down the vents from the active Mt. Hibok-Hibok.
Where to Stay: Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge Art Camp
Enigmata literally means “to open your eyes” and “enter the journey inwards the creative circles of the mind.” In a cabin hidden behind a giant tree, a meditative experience is definitely hard to forego.
The island of Camiguin is just one of the more than 7,000 islands of the Philippines that can be considered as paradise. What's on your Philippine island bucket list?
Where on Earth is Camiguin?
How To Get There
From Cebu: Ferry from Pier 8 (Cebu City).
From Cagayan de Oro:
- Fast craft from Macabalan Port (CDO) to Benoni Wharf (Camiguin).
- Ferry from Balingoan Port (CDO) to Benoni Wharf (Camiguin).
- Ferry from Jagna (Bohol) to Balbagon Port (Camiguin).
- Fast craft from Jagna (Bohol) to Benoni Port (Camiguin).