Camiguin lives up to its promise!
The Island Born of Fire fleets in and out of mind whenever we think of where to go next, and especially when piso fare season rolls-in. Shall we book tickets to Camiguin now or shall we wait?
The Philippines has 81 provinces, no, I am not planning to visit each one. I am planning though to visit the islands and provinces which pulls at me. Camiguin is one.
Our unang tapak sa Camiguin would have been in 2015, we’ve got confirmed round trip tickets then, but we couldn’t make it that time due to a medical emergency.
Last year, there was this local tourism ad for the province which went viral.
That Camiguin Tourism Ad “No Words” was a huge success, rightly so, because Camiguin is really beautiful. I haven’t been there before, but I watched Byahe ni Drew Camiguin special as well as read lots of blogs about the island, and of course seen pictures on travel magazines, tv shows, over time, for years. 😉
A visit to this small island province is something I want to do, to experience, to immerse in.
Camiguin is one of the smallest island-provinces in the Philippines. The mainland is blessed with hot springs, waterfalls, cold springs, and more! The beach in the main island is black sand, the white sand beaches can be found on the smaller islands, particularly the “White Island” of Medan / Medano Islet and Mantigue Island.
Finally, this summer 2018, we booked a flight from Cebu to Camiguin, not only for husband and me as originally planned, but the whole family!
DIRECT FLIGHTS TO CAMIGUIN
Philippine Airlines direct flight Cebu to Camiguin is every day at 11:30 AM.
Cebu Pacific direct flight Cebu to Camiguin is daily at 5:20 AM.
PAL Camiguin to Cebu direct flight is daily at 12:45 PM.
Cebu Pacific Camiguin to Cebu flight is daily at 6:30 AM.
To maximize time and stay in the island, we took a direct flight from Mactan-Cebu airport to Camiguin via Cebu Pacific. On the return flight, we flew with Philippine Airlines.
*No direct flight from Manila to Camiguin as of 2018.
FIRST TIME SA CAMIGUIN!
So, there we were, 7 in all, and all first timers to Camiguin.
We booked our stay in Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin (BBC) for 3 nights. We stayed in the Superior Room for P4,200 a night, good for 2. Extra person is charged P800 per night. Free buffet breakfast.
I will try my best to write a review of Bahay Bakasyunan. There are some things I love about BBC, there are also some things which I don’t like.
*The water parks and islands are being manage by the government. This is something commendable; the control rest with the government, so Filipinos are assured these popular tourist spots will remain affordable to the ordinary citizen. And from what I can see, the park management is doing an okay job maintaining the parks in general. There are of course room for improvement.
If these will be handed to private groups and companies, the entrance rates may be high.
Entrance fee to the cold springs and hot spring as well as the Katibawasan waterfall is P50 for adults / regular rate. P40 for senior citizens and pwds. Children 4 feet and below entrance fee is P25. Except for the mangrove park, regular rate is only P20.
For the entrance fees and boat rates to White Island and Mantigue Island, refer further below.
Picnic shed and table ranges from P50 to P150 in the parks. Guests can bring food and beverages. There are also stores selling chips, bananana cue, kiping, softdrinks, meals, etc nearby the parks.
The family enjoying White Island of Camiguin 😉
DAY TOURS in CAMIGUIN
We did not arrange a tour before flying to Camiguin. We figured, there are bound to be tour operators, drivers, and guides at the airport. But for insurance, we saved numbers of Camiguin tour guides we found via blogs and via Facebook.
True enough, when we exited the Camiguin airport, there were habal-habal drivers and multicab drivers offering day tours to tourists.
Titus contacted drivers for our plan day tour after we settled in our room and resting a bit.
The going rate from the 3 multicab drivers we contacted was P1,700 for 8 hours tour. Drivers and tour operators have a Tariff Guide for tours, this is seen at the airport. They have uggested itineraries for the day tour, but we opted to follow our planned itinerary.
First Day Tour at P1,700
Pick-up at BBC > Katibawasan Falls > Ardent Hot Spring > Tongatoc Cove > Bura Soda Spring > Sunken Cemetery > Dinner at Dolce Vita > Drop of at BBC
Katibawasan Falls – I love this waterfall! Cold and not so deep! Plus, no long hike waiting for visitors, the vehicle parking area is just around 100 meters or so, about 2 minutes-walk.
*The old church ruin and the Sto Nino Cold Spring is part of the itinerary on the first day but kami na ang umayaw, solved na sa kaliligo at tour, lol.
I’d love to come back again and again to Katibawasan Falls!
Ardent Hot Spring – This is my least favorite tourist spot in Camiguin of those we’ve visited. The park is not as well-maintained as the others we’ve explored in the island. Plus, the hot spring pool is narrow and small, with a good-size crowd like during weekends and holidays, unhampered swimming is challenging.
Tongatoc Cove – Picture perfect cove! Love this spot!
Bura Soda Spring – We tasted the water, there is a drinking fountain there, the water taste different than usual. I supposed that’s soda water. Heheh.
This is a cold spring, cold. Hehehhe. We were there on a Saturday, good-size crowd but the water park is big so there is ample space. Plus, there are 4 feet / 5 feet areas in the pool, so perfect for me who can’t swim and will just wade in the water. 🙂
Sunken Cemetery – A good time to go here would be nearing sunset. There are boats which can take guest to the big cross for P20 each.
Dolce Vita – We ordered Pizza and Pasta, plus rice meals for Papa and Mama hehe. The pizzas’ good especially Scoglio.
Second Day Tour at P1,700
Same 8 hours day tour. But we gave extra to the driver/guide because we requested to circumnavigate the whole Camiguin Island, naging round-the-island yung tour kasi we wanted to get to Sto Nino Cold Spring after the heat and humidity of the island beach tours.
Pick-up at BBC 7 AM > White Island > Mantigue Island > Katunggan Mangrove Park > Sto Nino Cold Spring > Back to BBC
*Kibila White Beach and Clam Sanctuary is part of our 2nd day tour but we opted to skip it. On our next visit nalang ang Camiguin spot ta to.
In Medan White Island there are big beach umbrellas which you can rent for P150, unlimited use. It’s best to rent it kasi mainit at wala talagang silong dun. Naked Island talaga sya, no structures, no trees, no nothing. Parang sandbar ang White Island except hindi sya lumulubog at lumilitaw.
My mom was impressed because she gave P200 to the umbrella caretaker, since we couldn’t find the caretaker, we just left the umbrella on site. When we were about to boat the banca, humabol yung may-ari ng umbrella to give the P50 change. Kudos!
Boat operation in White Island
The port to White Island is in Yumbing, just beside Paras Beach Resort. Paras does not have a long beach line, it’s also black sand like the rest of mainland Camiguin.
To pay for the boat fare, you will go to the ticketing office, a stone’s throw away from the docked bancas. One boat can carry a maximum of 6 persons. Since we were 7, we were split into 2 boats, one carrying 3 and the other carrying 4.
Boat rate is P450, max of 6 pax. There is a separate entrance to White Island. We paid P300 for the 7 of us (1 senior citizen).
If you are a solo traveler, you will have your own boat, since according to the boat man, they are paid per trip by the government office which manages the White Island so it doesn’t matter if they have 6 or 1 person on board. If you want to save, you can approach other tourist to join them on the boat if they are less than 6 pax.
Last trip going from White Island back to mainland is at 5:30 PM. Sayang, I imagine maganda sana ang sunset dito.
You must remember the boat number of the motorized banca you sailed in from Yumbing wharf to White Island because this will be the same banca that you will take on going back to the mainland. The mechanics on going back is this – you go the drop-off / pick-up area of the bancas and find the guy with the blue hat or sombrero.
He is the assigned White Island boat coordinator for the day.
He is the lone one with the blue sombrero / cone hat on the island. Approach him, he will scan the docking area if your boat is in the island. If not, he will request you to call the yumbing wharf coordinator to send-in your banca for you/your group.
*I wish they have a communication radio so they can call the operator on the other side or at least a service mobile phone. Anyhow, we ended up calling the coordinator on the mainland side, and si kuya nakiusap na ipasali sa pagpunta ang boat no 27, 33, and 5. Naunang dumating yung mga boats nay un, kami nag-antay hehehe.
White sand and crystal, ultra-clear Water of Mantigue Island!
The water in Mantigue is SO CLEAR! Sobra!!! As in! Ang sarap maligo!
There are also water sports facility here like snorkeling, jetski, banana boat.
Mas magandang maligo dito keysa sa White Island, finer sand, calmer waves. Sa White Island there are areas na madaming small rocks sa seabed. But if you are after pictures, prioritize Medan White Island. If may drone ka, panalo! 😉
*Lunch at Mantigue Island, they have this paluto restaurant, the only restaurant in the area.
You can have chicken, pork, fish paluto (grilled, adobo, fried, etc). The price is per kilo but you can buy one-half kilo, that’s the minimum. Cooking fee is already included with the price. There are tables and chairs you can use in Mantigue for free if you order from the island restaurant.
Mantigue Island restaurant paluto is P500 a kilo ang pork, P500 ang fish, P400 ang chicken, P15 per cup of rice. You can buy half-kilo and have these cook.
I strongly suggest that the moment you arrived in Mantigue, you go straight to the restaurant because the queue can be really long. We waited an hour for our food.
Sobrang init dun, yun lang heheh
we had one kilo of chicken, fish, and pork. The fish of the day was Blue Marlin, fresh and good! Ayos ang lahat, masarap, sulit yung order namin.
*You can bring food and drinks to the island. This is what the locals do.
Cottages are available too but limited numbers.
Boat Ride to Mantigue Island
On the San Roque Mahinog wharf, there is a poster by the boat ticketing office that informs that the maximum stay in Mantigue Island is 4 hours only. Once you paid the ticket, go to the shoreline and give the receipt to the ladies coordinating the boat rides.
You/your group will be put in a queue, we waited for about 10 minutes before we got a boat. We were there on a Sunday, peak day, locals and tourists were in droves.
When you get to Mantigue Island, inform the boatman your preferred time for pick-up to return to mainland.
Snorkeling gears can be rented in the Mahinog port, you can also rent when you get to the island.
Motorboat fare is P600 per boat, travel time from San Roque port to Mantigue Island is about 25 minutes. Longer than sailing to White Island, hence the higher boat fees. Aside from the boat fee, guests and visitors will pay environmental fee of P30 per person.
Again, if you are a solo traveler and wants to save, asked to join other tourist in their boat. The downside to this is that you will have to abide by their timeline, when they will want to be picked-up. If money is not an issue, pay P600 for boat and P30 environmental fee, para sayong sayo ang isang banka.
The Katunggan Mangrove Park is home to black mangroves, lots and lots of them. According to Phillip, our tour driver/guide, this park is a favorite place for prenup and debut shoots. One can also swim or kayak in the mangrove park.
This park has the cheapest entrance fee / environmental fee among all the parks we explored in Camiguin, the rate is P20 per person. Standard discount applies to senior citizens, children, pwds.
Sto Nino Cold Spring – It’s really cold, just what we need after the heat of our island escape! This cold spring can get pretty crowded during weekend and holidays. What I don’t like about this spring park is that the shallowest area in the big pool is at 5.2 feet! No wonder, almost everyone rents a salbabida.
Kami? We stayed clutched to the stairs and sides of the 7 feet area of the pool. Yun lang ang may space sa gilid. Ayaw bumitaw kasi ang lalim. Lol.
*There is a kiddie pool in Sto Nino Cold Spring.
First dinner was at La Dolce Vita, good pizza and pasta place.
For dinner on our second night, we dine at the restaurant of Bahay Bakasyunan. Masarap yung food nila in general. But I don’t like the chocolate milk shake, lusaw.
Check here for the discounted rates in Bahay Bakasyunan of Camiguin. If you see them as sold-outs in Agoda or whichever booking site you use, I suggest to call them up. That’s how we got our room since they were fully-booked on hotel booking sites.
This Summer 2018, more and more tourists are venturing there especially with Boracay closed, hence, fully-booked situations in some Camiguin hotels.
On our 3rd night, we dined in Northern Lights. Okay yung food. Ang laki ng serving ng kanin platter nila plus they’ve got good home-made ice cream. Strawberry and chocolate flavors for the win!
One thing I noticed about dining scene in Camiguin is that they’ve got lots of pizza places. Hubby says that this could be because there are lots of foreign visitors and tourists in the island.
Camiguin is beautiful. I shall be posting a photo blog of our journey to Camiguin soon. Watch out for it, thanks!
Daghang Salamat, Camiguin! We will surely ‘come again’!
See here for flights and boat schedules that goes to and from Camiguin to/from Cebu, from Jagna port in Bohol, Opal port in Misamis Oriental, and Balingoan Port in Cagayan de Oro.
There are motorela in case you want to get from your hotel to the town center or someplace else. The usual rate is P8 per person. But the motorela is for short trips, not really ideal for a day tour. A multicab is recommended.
Some resorts also offer airconditioned vans for tours but I don’t recommend this especially if you are doing a day tour in Camiguin like what we did. I think a multicab is best for hopping in and out of falls and waterparks.
The locals in Camiguin are kind, mabait at pansin namin di sila nanamantala like other island destinations which I shall not mention haha.
Maganda sa Camiguin! Wait for that airline promo fares if you want a diy budget trip. Or splurge a bit and stay more days in the island. We stayed 3N/4D kulang pa para maikot lahat ng popular tourist spots na hindi maging sobrang siksik ang daily itinerary.
Hope this Penfires Camiguin insights and itinerary sample helps you in planning your vacation and inspires you more to come visit and explore the island born of fire!