When in Manila’s Quick Guide to Camiguin

When In Camiguin…

All right. So you’ve reached the shores of Camiguin. And you’ve booked yourself a vehicle to suit your travelling needs. FYI, you don’t have to go to ALL the destinations listed in the island’s Wikipedia page nor the DOT brochure! Here are the places you must visit… and some you can choose to go to if you have the spare time.

Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin

This resort is as much a destination as it is a place to spend the night in. With rooms ranging from 3,500 pesos to 5,000 pesos, the view from the pool and restaurant facing the open sea is surreal any time of the day! Their hot tablea chocolate is also one of the best I’ve tried. Combine the two, and you have your momentary slice of heaven.

The lobby at Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin is decorated with a wave of coconut husks. Ingenious!

The lobby at Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin is decorated with a wave of coconut husks. Ingenious!

Camiguin Cebu Pacific 4

Lounge by the pool at Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin for a breathtaking view of the sea.

Katibawasan Falls (and Other Waterfalls)

A poster destination of Camiguin Island, Katibawasan Falls is a 250-foot waterfall cascading smoothly into a waist-deep pool of clear water. The pristine freshwater pool (which ironically only a few visitors take advantage swimming in) is a great place to start or end your swimming spree in Camiguin. Just outside the gates of Katibawasan Falls is a manong selling cassava-based kiping topped with coconut jam. Really crunchy!

Katibawasan Falls (Thanks Melo Villareal!)

Katibawasan Falls

Manong Kiping serves his offering with a smile.

Manong Kiping serves his offering with a smile.

For the more adventurous, you may ask your driver and/or guide to bring you to Mantalaga Falls, where visitors can rappel down a series of falls ending at the top of Katibawasan Falls. For those who enjoy the scenic route, Binangawan Falls regularly showcases a beautiful rainbow at 11 AM to 1 PM.

White Island

Camiguin’s White Island is a sand bar off the northern shore of Mambajao (where Paras Beach Resort is located). The best time to visit is at dawn when the tide is usually lowest and the “island” is a whole crescent-shaped formation of glorious white sand. We arrived in the afternoon, and the middle portion of the sand bar was already submerged.

Stunning photo of White Island by Ferdz Decena (www.ironwulf.net).

Stunning photo of White Island by Ferdz Decena (www.ironwulf.net).

I was saddened to see that compared to our 2008 visit, a voluminous amount of loose seaweeds have floated to the shores of White Island. I don’t know if it is a seasonal thing. I hope the government could clear it up though.

Seaweeds washed ashore made the sand bar not-so-white.

Seaweeds washed ashore made the sand bar not-so-white.

Renting the boat to and fro White Island is a little over 400 pesos for a group of 6 people.

Mantigue Island

Mantigue Island used to have a community of settlers before a storm flooded the entire island and its residents were ordered to relocate. It is a known nesting ground for sea turtles, and the provincial government is hoping that with the relocation of the human inhabitants, the amphibious and marine inhabitants of the island and its vicinity would increase.

Previously home to a community of Camiguinon, overnight stays in Mantigue Island are now prohibited.

Previously home to a community of Camiguinon, overnight stays in Mantigue Island are now prohibited.

If you’re visiting Mantigue, the marine sanctuary a few meters away is the place to visit. Marine life around the sanctuary is very rich and diverse, and unless you’re an oceanographic genius, I bet you wouldn’t be able to name all the kinds of fish you’ll see in Mantigue.

One of the highlights of our trip was when we spotted a green sea turtle who swam with us, diving deep into the ocean then coming up again as we tried to catch up with it. It’s the first time I’ve seen a green sea turtle. And to see one of that size and at such close proximity was just awesome! 

We were THIS CLOSE to the green sea turtle!

We were THIS CLOSE to the green sea turtle at Mantigue Island!

Rental per boat is a little over 500 pesos. Snorkeling gear is at 150 pesos.

Sunken Cemetery

Our final must-visit place in Camiguin is the Sunken Cemetery in Catarman. The story goes that in 1871 Camiguin’s Old Volcano erupted, sinking a portion of the town of Catarman and destroying nearby structures (including San Roque Parish, leaving only portions of its walls and the bell tower). The large cross that has become symbolic of this site was actually built in 1982. The original cross – broken off and lying on its side – can still be seen during low tide.

Sunset at the Sunken Cemetery by Ferdz Decena (www.ironwulf.net). The debris a little farther from the

Sunset at the Sunken Cemetery by Ferdz Decena (www.ironwulf.net). The debris a little farther from the erected cross (upper right) is actually the cemetery’s original cross!

While taking photos by the Sunken Cemetery during sunset is a favorite activity among tourists, the whole area is actually a marine protected area of shallow reefs worth another round of snorkeling! Compared to Mantigue Island, the Sunken Cemetery’s marine protected area is only 4 to 5 feet deep, so extreme care should be taken for the corals to not be damaged. (In other words, if you do not know how to swim and panic whenever the corals are close, better sit this one out, buddy!) The site is really fantastic though. Halfway through, our guide pointed us to a group of around 10 giant clams clustered close to each other. He also picked up the cross used in the movie “Ouija” from the lava bed and showed it to us!

Say hello to a 15-year-old giant clam!

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