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Known as the “Tropical Paradise of Asia Continent”, Camiguin Island is worth the visit. It popularized the Pastel which is a Spanish bun cake that has a sweet caramel filling that is just to die for. It is also known for its sandy white beaches at the pristine White Island, the existence of both cold and hot springs, volcanoes that are rich in history and significance into molding the tourist areas of the island, and the Lansones Festival which is celebrated every third or fourth week of October and is likewise attended by locals, nationals and tourists alike for its very fun and festive characteristics. Not only that! The island also boasts of its own pilgrimage site for the Roman Catholics known as the Walkway to Old Volcano Stations of the Cross held during the Lenten Season where Philippine people, mostly composed of Christians, visit here to pay homage to the Christian beliefs and customs. You may also visit the place even if it’s not Lent due to its very attractive and adventurous sides to it that attract tourists as well. Let me take you to a journey down to Camiguin where you will see that paradise as beautiful and exquisite does not necessarily have to label a pricey budget in order for you to enjoy its natural wonders.
Walkway to Old VolcanoFirst on the list is the Walkway to Old Volcano. As mentioned, it is the perfect spot to commemorate the Lenten Season as you will participate, along with the locals and other nationals that come here to witness or take part of the tradition. The area showcases the traditional Stations of the Cross also known as the Via Crucis that whose stops are scattered across a trail of average steepness. Locals say that the total vastness of the area is about eight kilometers but would feel shorter during your visit due to the very tranquil atmosphere that you will get while trekking the trails. It composes of fourteen human-sized stations depicting the events that occurred during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Each part of which, generally up to the fifth station, is paved with concrete stairs that make it even more comfortable to walk through. The remaining trails to complete the Station of the Cross is more challenging because it’s not paved with cement but likewise altogether worth the walk for you will feel like being a part of nature itself.
The stations are composed of depictions of Jesus condemned to death, Jesus receiving the cross, Jesus falling for the first time, Jesus meeting his mother, Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry the cross, Veronica wipes Jesus’ face with her veil, Jesus falling for the second time, Jesus meeting the daughters of Jerusalem, Jesus falls again for the third time, Jesus stripped from His garments, the crucifixion proper as Jesus is nailed to the cross, Jesus dies on the cross, Jesus body is removed from the cross (also known as the Pieta), and Jesus is lain in the tomb covered in incense . The tomb is a true-to-life mini-cave.
If you’re no Christian, you will still be attracted to this tourist destination because of its unique attribute. The locals connotes that the walkway is about a hundred-step journey that will lead you to learn and appreciate the history of the crucifixion.
The Walkway to Old Volcano has been host to the province’s Panaad Festival that occurs during the holy week annually. It is likewise one of the only few Way of Sorrows that gives a scenic mountain side picturesque view that would make the trip just simply breathtaking. Truly, this tourist destination is a must-see with relentless charm to it. Nevertheless, a sense of completeness and gratification may be felt by you as you complete the stations and likewise be amazed at how wonderfully depicted the history and customs of the Christian people are catered here.
In going here, if you’re based in Manila, you can take the flight directly to Cagayan de Oro City through Laguindingan International Airport and come aboard several transport services that would direct you a ride from Cagayan de Oro to Balingoan Pier. Upon arrival at Balingoan, you will then come aboard a Roro that will depart from the pier at every one to two hours so there’s really no hassle about which particular time you’ll choose to travel to Camiguin because transport is readily available at any time of the day.
Another option for you to take especially if you’re coming from Cebu City is to go aboard a Cebu Pacific flight that will take you directly to Camiguin Island.
Another tourist attraction, probably one of the best ones in town, is the Sunken Cemetery of Camiguin Island. It marks the swept remains of the island’s departed that are now below the waters of this area. When Mount Vulcan Daan erupted in the 1870’s, it continuously vomited lava into the sea that led to the rise of the water at two thousand fit, thus, submerging the areas of Catarman including the capitol’s cemetery located beneath it now. The townspeople then constructed a large cross that is easily located within the area to commemorate those that are laid to rest below the sea. Since then, it has captured the hearts of the locals and tourists alike with its scenic spot and appears to be like magic since you will only see a cross emerging from the waters with a rich history beneath it.
Nowadays, since the submergence of the town, all that remains of it are the ruins of ancient Spanish San Roque Church, a bell tower and that of a convent. The remains of the structures and gravestones of the cemetery though was still visible years back. However, the volcano erupted again which resulted sinking the area for another twenty feet.
Gui-ob Old Church
As promised, Camiguin is not only beautiful for its rich natural resources and magical sunken cemetery, but is likewise attractive for its historical significance. There lies the Gui-ob Old Church where the kids will love to play around while pushing their toy wheels with wooden sticks. This enticing place is located at Brgy. Bonbon by Catarman where you will find the church ruins that were once erected before it was destroyed by the volcanic eruption. Although it is now missing a roof, its strong walls and columns survived the destruction and has transformed into a massive and beautiful physical reminder of the tragedy that once was apocalyptic to the town.
From the road, it would just seem like a simple ancient wall or a fortress as you might say. But, being surrounded by majestic trees and covered by moss, you will then realize that this area just isn’t a group of stones, but an old church that once was very huge. As you enter the area, you will be greeted by a newer smaller chapel where the locals would visit for some prayers and where masses are held. The chapel is bare, absent in color, and has really nothing much to it but the narrow space between the right wall is the walkway to another dimension where you will find the cultivating church ruins of the past.
Trees are situated parallel with each other that surrounds a series of sturdy columns that will lead you to another remnant, the bell tower. As you would approach it, you might even be able to spot a salamander climbing the trees. See? Not only is it packed with history but with nature as well.
On the other side of the area is another remain of a Convent. Compared to the previous remnants, this one has lesser attributes remaining such as the walls alone. They are blanketed by thick bushes adding more touch to its old characteristic. Beside it, you will also see a very large tree. Like the remnants, this tree too survived the wrath of the eruption located atop a cliff that would give you picturesque views of the sparkling sea. Apart from the view, you will also be able to locate numerous flaura in the area adding a touch of color and exquisiteness to the site. Admission to the site is for free but there contains a donation box if you want to give something back to a priceless experience around the Gui-ob Old Church.
Soda Water Swimming Pool
Another tourist attraction in Camiguin Island is the Soda Water Swimming Pool. If you think swimming in a tub full of champagne wine is a dreamy speculation, then you’ve thought wrong! You can enjoy this and more at the Bura Soda Pool but will just cost you so less that you wouldn’t believe it’s made out of soda! Its volcanic springs fill the two pools in the area with fresh and clear soda water. The surroundings of the pool are also very breathtaking that you’d feel like you just took a dip at the royal clubhouse.
The Soda Pool may be reached through Mambajao which is about twenty-three kilometers away from the sire. The first twenty kilometers will be by road through the national highway before the road gets steeper and rises three kilometers up into the foothills of Mount Hibok-Hibok. The road in going here is paved with cement with only three short paths that are of gravel or dirt toad.
When you travel here, make sure to pack your swimming suits, hat, sun glasses and sunscreen for this will be like chilling out in the Caribbean. You will get to just lie back or swerve through the unique waters and have that “longed-for” relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There is also an available store within the premises that provides for snacks and drinks if ever you’d want to grab a bit or sip some coda while you enjoy your time here.
Here at the Bura Soda Pool, you will be rewarded with awesome views of a park and tranquil scenery of green hills. With a background of Mount Hibok-Hibok and likewise surrounded by various plants and flowers, spending time here would surely feel like paradise.
Transportation in the area are accessible through renting a motorcycle costing about $9 dollars or renting a tricycle for about $18 or renting a multicab at a rate of about $27 tops. If you wish to arrive via public transportation, there aren’t many motorelas in going to the area but you can come aboard a jeepney in going to and from Catarman.
Entrance fees to the Soda Pool would cost you only about half a dollar for the adults, a penny for the kids and $1 for cottage rentals good for four hours. I don’t know about you but that is just such a bargain for such an experience!
Sto. Nino Cold Spring
Another dipping excursion within the Camiguin Island can be experience at the Santo Nino Cold Spring. It is a water park fit for those traveling with their families. Its pool can go up to about twenty degrees Celcius of cold water perfect for relaxation under the hot sun.
This magnificent place is located in Catarman and has very well-maintained pools of two. One of which has a depth of around two meters that has a sandy bottom while the other one is for the kids. During the summer season and weekends of any week, it could get a bit crowded here as the waters in the pool best compliment the tropical weather here in the Philippines.
The restroom fee would cost about a quarter of a dollar, the entrance fee at another quarter of a dollar per head, the morning picnic tables or sheds at $1 with an additional penny per hour if you stay longer than four hours while the afternoon picnic sheds and tables are at a higher rate but not exceeding two dollars with an additional rate of a penny more for an excess stay more than four hours. There is also a function hall available for the guests that may be rented for about $10 that would charge $2 for every hour exceeding in four hours rent.
There are also available souvenir stores outside of the premises and restaurants and stalls that serve Filipino food and delicacies such as fresh buko.
In order to reach the Sto. Nino Cold Spring, you will have to leave the main ring road within Looc that’s near Catarman through the South-West side of the island. From the main road, it would be about two kilometers away from the forest before you will arrive at the resort.
J & A Fishpen
Felling kind of hungry? Travel on down to the J & A Fishpen located within the municipality of Mahinog. It is not your usual type of restaurant because this one actually floats on water! It is located within Taguines Lagoon and was originally the area utilized for fish ponds but was then eventually fused up to becoming a floating restaurant. What makes this restaurant appealing is, when you order your food, it will be served to you fresh out from the waters itself. You may even catch you own fish by the fish pens and have it cooked in any way you like! Now that’s just fun dining right there!
Apart from the dining experience, you will most definitely love it here because you will get to see magnificent views of the Taguines Lagoon, be able to avail of a two-way zipline in the area, interesting facts as the lagoon was actually made out from the crater of an extinct volcano and you will actually get to see the fish swimming beneath you!
In getting to this unique restaurant, you will have to come aboard a fast craft going to Benoni Port. The fare for such would be at least $9. From there, you may either choose to rent a motorcycle, motorela or mulitcab for a cost of $9, $18, and $46 respectively.
With tons of natural wonders that surround the island of Camiguin, Katibawasan Falls is not one you’d want to miss visiting! Located about five kilometers away from central Mambajao at the foot of Mt. Timpoong, this majestic waterfalls soars up to about two hundred and fifty feet high and has a charming and relaxing clear stream with cool waters rushing down to a green rock pool surrounded by wild ferns, orchids, boulders and green trees. There is no better word to describe how magnificent this area is but one that’s from heaven. If you want to take a refreshing swim through its ice-cold waters, it would be the perfect activity to help you relax, unwind and just succumb to the benefits of spending time in paradise.
The location was preserved and maintained by the provincial government of Camiguin, thus, entrance frees here is just for a cheap buck. The guests will be given the pleasure of renting picnic tables, cookout facilities and seats to stay at while you’re planning to take a dip at its beautiful waters. There are also clean bathrooms available within the vicinity.
The waterfalls is easily accessible through Mambajao through a six hundred meter concrete, gravel and
mud road and could take about an hour’s travel.
Hibok-Hibok Ardent SpringIf you still want to take a swim but not for the cold waters, then come on down to the Hibok-Hibok Ardent Spring. It is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the province. It is also easily accessible for a ten minute ride by motor bike from Agoho and Yumbing.
The waters within the hot spring emanates from the Hibok-Hibok Volcano itself and its temperature could go up to about forty degrees Celsius. If it could get too hot, don’t worry. The facilities add cold water to tone down the hotness for that relaxing and breathtaking dip that will make you feel like you were somewhere around the Bahamas taking that luxury treatment.
There are about four pools in the establishment. The highest among them is the one that could reach up to a temperature of forty degrees Celsius, the second and largest pool could go up to about thirty-five degrees, while the other too pools are perfect for refreshment after a hot dip from the other two.
During the weekends and public holidays, the hot spring could attract many visitors so it would be best to visit the area during the weekdays where you can enjoy alone time within its magnificent pools.
Right next to the spring is a restaurant and a small resort where you can choose to stay the night or grab a bite. Most tourists would choose to stay at the resort because you’d really want to take a long rest after a relaxing dip at its pools. The entrance to the pool would cost you only about half a dollar! Imagine? That cheap for paradise! This is definitely the perfect venue for the budget traveler.
Camiguin White Island
Last but not the least and the most prominent Camiguin Island tourist destination is the Camiguin White Island. This beautiful isolated island is situated just about one kilometer away from the front of Camiguin’s one and only tourist beach. It is shaped like a C that has a hug sand bar that changes its dimensions catering to the seasons. The island is free of trees so it would be best to bring along a sunshade or parasol with you if it could get too hot. The short boat trip to the island is the favorite trip among the visitors of the province that leaves as early as five in the morning and would go back ashore at eight in the morning to refrain from spending too much time under the scorching sun.
Most tourists would experience diving in this part of town due to the beautiful sand bar surrounded by various coral reefs of different shades, shapes and sized along with a huge forest of “Black Coral” on the other side. Be mindful though. The currents around here could get a little strong.
To reach this magnificent place, you may rent fishing boats from anywhere in the beach. Tons of them are available at your service so it really won’t be much of a hassle to visit this awesome place. You may negotiate with the locals to travel with you or ask them to come back at a specific time for when you’ll want to come back ashore. Some resorts also offer inclusive tours to White Island so it would be a good idea as well to check with your accommodation choice if they have such available services.
A trip to White Island is extremely cheap costing only about $11 dollars per boat, not per head! Come on! I’m sure that by now, you’ve realized that Camiguin Island is the cheapest and the most beautiful tropical paradise to visit and you’re just yearning to come here and spend some quality time away from all the stresses of the city and enjoy the gift of the wonders of the world here at these small town of Camiguin.