May 11, 2012

Overnight Stay at Camiguin Island

Camiguin Island is one of the top tourist destinations in the country. A peaceful getaway of virgin forests, waterfalls and natural springs. Located in northern Mindanao under Misamis Oriental, it is just two hours away from Cagayan de Oro City.
View of Camiguin Island
About Camiguin
Camiguin is known for being a Spanish settlement in 1679. Then came the 1871 eruption of Mount Vulcan and left the island in ruins. What remains has become a tourist attraction for locals and foreigners. Aside from these ruins, Camiguin also has its famous hot and cold natural springs and waterfall.

Going to Camiguin Island
From CDO Airport we went straight to Balingoan Port. Travel time from CDO airport to Balingoan Port is around 3 hours. It's a long ride so we chose to rent a private van costing Php3,800. It was a Hyundai Starex and can fit 8 to 10 depending on your baggage. If you want a cheaper ride you can go to Agora Bus Terminal and from there to Balingoan Port which only costs around Php143.
Private Van
There are three ports of entry at Camiguin, Benoni, Guinsiliban and Balbagon.  We chose Benoni since it is nearest to Paras Beach Resort. It is also preferred by most travellers since it is nearest to Mambajao, the main town of Camiguin.
Balingoan Port Ticket booth
There is a boat or "Roro" to Benoni almost every hour. Ferry fare costs around Php100 to php135 one way.
Balingoan Port Schedules to Benoni, Camiguin
A faster option to Camiguin from Cagayan de Oro is via the Ocean Jet - Fastcraft at CDO Macabalan Port. The port is just few minutes away from the CDO airport. But the boat does costs(see rates below). Considering the time and costs to Balingoan Port, I'd say this is the better option. Add a little extra for convenience and not to mention saves time. There is only one fastcraft boat going to camiguin per day, so be sure to check with your flight schedule. Our flight arrival missed the 8:30am fastcraft boat to Camiguin so we chose the other option.
Our Boat at Balingoan Port 
The boat is a "roro", so you can transport your own vehicle to Camiguin Island. You just have to get clearance from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and Municipal office which are also located within the Balingoan port. Getting the clearance will cost you around Php192. Do not forget to bring your vehicle documents and licenses. Car transport rates depends on the size of the car and shipping line. It usually costs Php750 to Php900, inclusive of driver's fare.
Balingoan Port, CDO
Balingoan Port, Cagayan de Oro
Balingoan Port has a small waiting area but has a huge parking space. No air conditioning on the waiting area and you have to walk to the boat under the hot sun with no shade.
Inside Balingoan Port, Cagayan de Oro
Balingoan Port Docks
Once we were on the boat, there were kids climbing the boat from outside. They kept saying "tapon" meaning throw. When a foreigner threw coins on the water I was shocked that the small kid jumped from our 2 storey balcony. As much as this was entertaining, I was very disturbed that the PPA or Philippine Ports Authority allowed these kids to this dangerous stunt. There was even a young girl who seems to look like only 7 to 9 years old. The PPA or DSWD should do something about this.
Kids asking for coins
More kids asking for coins
A wonderful view from the boat as we approach Camiguin Island.
View of Camiguin Island
Arriving at Benoni Port, Camiguin
Benoni Port, Camiguin

Our Camiguin Tour
--> There are a lot of places to visit in Camiguin, so I recommend renting a private multicab van. We got Rico as our tour guide / driver for our whole stay in Camiguin for just Php1,800. This was inclusive of pick up from port to lodging, tour of Camiguin hot spots and back to port on the next day. His small van can fit 8 to 10 people. Due to time constraints we weren't able to visit Soda Water Swimming Pool, J & A Fishpen and Mantigue Island. You can contact Rico at his mobile number +63906-4917598.
Rico and his multicab van
Upon arriving we went straight to Paras Beach Resort which was 20-30 minutes away from Benoni Port.

We stayed for one night at Paras Beach Resort, which is one of the most popular resorts in Camiguin. We arrived at around 12:30pm. We were welcomed by their very friendly and accommodating staff. They have lots of accommodation options and exciting water activities. Whether for groups of 12 or just a couple, they have it. It is also the nearest resort to the White Island of Camiguin. More on Paras Beach Resort.
Paras Beach Resort Front
Paras Beach Resort Ocean View
Paras Beach Resort Pool

After eating lunch and settling down we started our tour. We were a bit slow so we got started around 3pm. We first went to Katibawasan falls. After that we didn't have time to go anywhere else so our last stop was Ardent Hot Springs which we stayed until 7pm.

Katibawasan Falls is a 250 feet waterfall at Mount Timpoong in the island of Camiguin. You can actually swim at the bottom of the falls. It has an ice cold fresh water pool great for cooling down during hot days. More on Katibawasan Falls.
Katibawasan Falls

Ardent Hot Spring is one of the most popular natural hot springs in Camiguin island. It is located at the foot of Mount Hibok-Hibok, Mambajao, Camiguin. The water is hot because of Mount Hibok-Hibok, also called as Catarman Volcano, an active volcano and is part of the pacific ring of fire. The water can reach temperatures upto 40 °C. More on Ardent Hot Spring.
Ardent Hot Spring Lower Pools
Ardent Hot Spring Upper Pools

Second Day
On our 2nd day and our last day, we woke up early and went to White Island Beach. We didn't need rico for this since White Island Beach has straight access from Paras Beach Resort. To save time we checked out before continuing our tour. Rico said our last stop was near the port so it was better for us to have our baggage with us. We continued our tour and went straight to port to go back to Cagayan de Oro.

White Island is a sand bar in the sea few kilometers away from the shores of Camiguin. Best views of the island can be seen from here. It is basically a long stretch of white sand. It has no trees, landscapes or any establishments, just sand. The sand is comparable to Boracay's white sand. The water around white island is very shallow, great for snorkeling and swimming. More about White Island Beach.
Small Portion of White Island
View from White Island

The Walkway to the Old Volcano is a series of steps on Mount Vulcan which the locals call the "Old Volcano." On the way up the walkway, there are life size statues depicting the stations of the cross. This is why during holy week (Lenten Season) or the "Panaad festival" this place draws a huge crowd. More about Walkway to the Old Volcano.
Walkway to the Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross
First Station of the Stations of the Cross

Sunken Cemetery of Camiguin is one of the most unique dive sites in the Philippines. The 1871 eruption of Mount Vulcan left the island with these breathtaking ruins and tombstones underwater, now marked with it's famous white cross. More about Sunken Cemetery.
The Sunken Cemetery

Cool Couple's Snapshots at Sunken Cemetery

The 16th century Guiob Church Ruins or simply called the Old Church Ruins is one of the oldest and unique structures in the island built in the 16th century. It was turned to ruins by the 1871 Vulcan eruption. Still visible are the convent and the bell tower. Both made from coral stones. More about Old Church Ruins.
Old Church Ruins
Bell Tower Ruins

Santo Niño Cold Spring is a water park for the whole family. It has pools with a refreshing 20 °C cold water and sandy bottom. Nice place to hangout and has lots of local food to offer. More about Santo Niño Cold Spring.
Santo Niño Cold Spring

Santo Rosario Church is a simple but unique century old church. The original church was built in 1882 using coral stones, but sadly the old infrastructures are too weak. So it was retrofitted with steel bars using modern building techniques. It is one of the oldest church in Camiguin yet it is one the youngest looking church in the island. More about Santo Rosario Church.
Santo Rosario Church

On our way back there's a bridge along the circumferential highway. Be sure to stop over and take some photos with Mount Tres Marias and Mount Hibok Hibok.
Mount Tres Marias and Mount Hibok Hibok

Going back to Cagayan de Oro
On our way back to CDO we bought chose fastcraft via Ocean Jet. More expensive but at least you'll go straight to the center of Cagayan de Oro. The 4:00pm boat to CDO is the only scheduled fastcraft to Cagayan so be sure not to be late. Below are the price rates.
Ocean Jet Ticketing Office
Ocean Jet Camiguin-Cagayan Fare Rates
Regular Fare (One-Way) - Php800
One-Way (On-Date) - Php600
Libre Balik Promo - Php800
Senior Citizen - Php571.43
Student - Php680
Minor (4-11years) - Php400
Ocean Jet Price Rates Camiguin and Cagayan de Oro
We arrived a bit early so we had to wait on Benoni Port waiting area. The chairs looks dirty but they not that dirty. They're just old and so used. 
Benoni Port Waiting Area
The ocean jet boat is not actually that  fast compared to the roro. Although they have the word "jet", it's just to make their name sound better and faster. The difference is that Ocean Jet docks to nearer port to the city than the roro boat.
Ocean Jet Boat
While boarding I noticed that some locals who did not buy tickets was requesting the crew to board the boat. And the crew agreed. Although I don't mind since they looked poor and didn't have the money to buy tickets. But then again I worry on overloading since there were a lot of them, seems like this is the usual practice there.
Boarding Ocean Jet
The interior of the boat is very basic. You have your seats and LCD TVs. What I hated about Ocean Jet was that the crew disregarded the seat numbers on our ticket. Locals just seat anywhere they liked and usually gets the best seats. Although they do move when you ask them to, it the job of the crew to assist passengers to their proper seats. One couple was pretty upset when they had to argue to get their seats from some locals. Again, it is the usual practice their so don't be shock when someone else is seating on your seat. You can check more updated schedules and fare rates on
Inside Ocean Jet Boat

Worth the travel from Cagayan de Oro. Loved the waterfall and hot springs. One night stay is more than enough for Camiguin.


Charles said...

We areplanning to go to camiguin soon.. this is a great post to help us on our plans. salamat

Reyn said...

I heard a lot about Camiguin Island. Such a beautiful place. And im waiting for Airline Promos so that I can visit Camiguin this summer.

Portico Club said...

I’ve been wanting to visit Camiguin Island for a while, so thanks for sharing all your fun pics!

Portico Club
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