Camiguin Island is known as The Island of Seven Volcanoes. It is the second smallest province in the Philippines in both population and land area. Its capital is Mambajao, where we stayed for 2 fantastic days. The island of Camiguin is about an hour away from Balingoan Port in Cagayan de Oro. →Here’s how you can get to Camiguin Island from Cebu City and a recommended guest house for you and your company.←
There are a lot of must-see places in Camiguin as it is rich in both hot and cold springs, caves, craters, waterfalls and white sand beaches waiting to be explored. Since Camiguin is a volcanic island with four stratovolcanoes, it is expected that there are a couple of springs spread all over the island. Hot springs are located on the east side of Camiguin and in the west end of the island is where cold springs are. Forget your jeans, that baggy jacket, cotton shirts, and sneakers. When you’re in Camiguin, you can live with just your swimmers and flops. Whether you want to meet locals and learn their culture, meditate, do food trips, or simply laze around and relax by a picturesque beach, Camiguin Island has got you covered.
Here are 10 notable destinations to explore when in Camiguin Island and why it’s the perfect place for your dream vacation getaway.
I. Sto. Nino Cold Spring
Sagay Town, Catarman
The natural springs in Camiguin are the result of an underground source of pressure in the earth’s core, in the form of volcanic activity. The result can be either be flowing water at an elevated temperature such as a hot spring or cold water coming from underground like a cold spring. Sto. Nino Cold Spring is one of the many springs in the island. It has a man-made pool created from the river with a beautiful view of the nearby hillside swarmed with greeneries and trees. Sto. Nino Spring has clear icy waters with small fishes in it. It is by far the coldest spring water I have ever experienced! I was literally freezing my butt while still enjoying the water. Cold beer and icy water make a perfect match – definitely no hangover for you and your peers. This is a great place to hang out, chill and just have a good time.
II. Ardent Hot Spring
Esperanza, Tagdo, Mambajao
Located near the mountainside of Mt. Hibok-Hibok lies the mineral pools of Ardent Hot Springs. This is our first stop as it is the closest from our vacation house. I felt relaxed while soaking in the warm pool which I needed most after the long travel we had. Hot steam can be seen rising from the running waters of Ardent which is therapeutic. It is a nice place to clear the mind and relax the heart from the busy city life. Best suited for family picnics and get-togethers, you feel one with nature alongside large trees from the cliff of the mountains surrounding the park. It tends to get crowded on weekends. Shower rooms are also provided.
Hot springs have health benefits. Ardent Hot Spring may well be considered as a nature-given place by mother Earth, a gift from one of the more popular volcanoes in the country. Can you guess which one?
III. Bura Soda Water Swimming Pool
Compol-NIA-Mainit Road, Catarman
This is first and only in the country where you can swim in a pool of pure soda water! According to the residents, it used to taste like soda with bubbles sparkle visibly. Out of curiosity, I did try to drink the flowing water, and it honestly tasted a bit funny. It’s like a bland version of Sprite. Although it’s really not that sweet, you can taste the difference from the regular tap water.
With the seemingly endless supply of fresh and cold waters, Bura Soda Water has been one of the most visited spots in the Camiguin. Visitors commend the refreshing soda-like taste of the waters, which make it distinct from other cold springs. The volcanic springs of Bura fill two pools of fresh water. There are cottages around the resort and we took our lunch in one of them. We ordered several food from their menu but brought our own rice. The food was good. The staff were friendly and accommodating to our requests as well.
IV. White Island
White Island is an uninhabited white sandbar located about a mile off the northern shore of Mambajao. You have to take a bumpy and winding 20-minute boat ride from Brgy. Yumbing to get to the this vast sandbar. Here’s a video of that bumpy boat ride to the white island. Trust me, it was nerve-racking and super fun at the same time! →Check this out ←
There are no trees of any kind on the island, only pure white powdery sands and the sun. It’s a relatively small islet dotting its coastline of pristine waters adjacent to the scenic view of Mt. Hibok-Hibok and what was left of Mt. Vulcan. It’s like a 3D postcard when you look at it.
V. Katibawasan Falls
Tucked 5 km southeast of Mambajao, the majestic Katibawasan falls cascades beautifully 250 ft (76 m) down in a basin-like pool surrounded by orchids and ferns with very cold water. They said it is also the favorite jump-off point for trekkers and mountaineers in search of adventure on the slopes of Mt. Timpoong. Entrance to the premise is P30.00/adult and P15.00/children 12 years old and below.
VI. View of Mt. Hibok-Hibok
A stop-over at the stunning view of Mt. Hibok-Hibok is a must. Our guide gave us a few minutes to have our photographs taken with the scenic sights of blue and green, including an obligatory group shot for every tourist. This stop happened on our way to the Sunken Cemetery.
VII. Sunken Cemetery
During the volcanic uproar of Mt. Vulcan that lasted from 1871 to about 1875, some areas in the town of Bonbon subsided, sinking the cemetery of the town to below sea level. The place is commemorated by a huge cross erected in 1982. I have written a separate article about the Sunken Cemetery. →Here’s more of the escapade we had at and the tragic history behind the mysterious place.←
VIII. GASA, Pasalubong Store in Camiguin
Gasa is a local term for gifts. The store depicts the island’s “gift” to its tourists and visitors. It is a one-stop pasalubong shop selling the famous pastel – a bun stuffed with yema or caramel cream – and other pastries and goodies made by Vjandep. There are other parts of the country who sells pastel but it is in Camiguin where you can find the softest and creamiest pastel in the planet, and I couldn’t agree more.
Address: E. Neri St (Rizal St), 9100 Mambajao, Camiguin
Contact: (088) 387 0443
IX: Walkway to the Old Volcano and Station of the Cross
We did not explore Walkway to the Old Volcano and Station of the Cross because as per our tour guide, this requires about an hour walk to finish the human-sized station of the cross. And if one likes to reach the peak of Mt. Vulcan (old volcano), you’re up for some conditioning since it’s an 8-km hike to the summit. According to stories, it was Mt. Vulcan’s explosion that caused the Sunken Cemetery to what it is now. →More about Sunken Island in this article←.
X. Old Gui-ob Church Ruins
National Highway, Catarman
Also known as Old Catarman Church Ruins, it is a 16th century Church destroyed and partly submerged by volcanic debris during the 4-year havoc of Mt. Vulcan. The ruins display the remains of the Church and bell tower. During our trip, we missed this stop because we were a bit tied up with our schedule. After learning the history behind the place, I vow to make Gui-ob Ruins my first stop the next time I visit Camiguin.
Camiguin Island has so much mystery caused by its violent past at the same time has a rich history behind it. This is one of the places I look forward to revisiting soon.