This year, I was finally able to visit Camiguin Island. I have long been putting off traveling to this sleepy island, for the sole reason that riding a barge or a fast craft has never been my idea of fun. I always get sea sick every time I travel by boat; even more so on days when the weather is none too placid. But anything that concerns travel always excites me, and exploring this beautiful island is just the perfect thing to do on the first day of the last month of the summer season. After shopping for a new tankini and charging the cam, I packed my things and woke up the following morning ready to explore Camiguin.
After boarding the air conditioned bus from Cagayan de Oro to Balingoan port, we finally boarded the barge at around 9:45 am. The ride was uneventful the entire time; I was sea sick and dizzy of course, trying hard not to puke all over the place. Luckily, I was able to hold off the contents of my breakfast, and we finally arrived on the island at past 12 noon, famished for lunch.
We stayed at the family ancestral home of Ate Candy, one of my brother’s bank mates. The place was beautiful – a wide balcony overlooks a well tended garden and a hammock sways under a vine of tropical flowers. Ate Candy’s ancestors established Turrones de Mani, a local peanut-based delicacy, famous not only in Camiguin but all over Mindanao too. The property also housed the Turrones headquarters, a huge kitchen that always smelled of peanuts and caramel.
The lunch waiting for us at the house was yummy, and I especially enjoyed the pako salad greens (topped with sliced hard boiled eggs), the calamansi-ridden beef steak, and the Dalagang Bukid fish fried to crisp perfection. For dessert we had the crispy and sweet Turrones. After resting a bit after lunch, the first stop for us that afternoon was the divine Katibawasan Falls. The place was beautiful: a 250 m water fall cascaded into a cold pool of clear waters. I couldn’t resist stripping down to my suit and wading through the clear waters less than five minutes after having trekked down the stone steps ! Everyone did the same, and we enjoyed taking photos of the place and feasting on Pringles, chicharon, fish crackers, and sandwiches.
After enjoying Katibawasan, the gang proceeded to dinner at Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin, a beach-front resort lined with beautiful cabanas. The resort also had an expansive swimming pool, its waters warmed by the late afternoon Camiguin sun. So before our dinner of chicken tinola, eggplant salad, lechon kawali, and stewed vegetables, we indulged ourselves in the sun-warmed swimming pool and forgot about all the cares in the world. 🙂
The next day, we headed to Paras Beach Resort for breakfast, and to board the ferry boat that would whisk us away to White Island, an uninhabited sandbar that offers a fabulous view of Mt. Hibok-Hibok and its surrounding foliage. I took pictures all over the place, in between swimming and walking on the fine pebbled sands to take in the beautiful views.
We resumed our tour of the island after swimming and lounging on the white sandbar. After shopping for souvenirs at the Walkway, a popular place for tourists, we stopped by the huge cross over at the Sunken Cemetery. Then we headed to the Guiob Church ruins, the remnants of a 16th-century church constructed from coral stones. The area was breathtaking, affording us a view of the cerulean Camiguin sea. For lunch we had country style steaks, grilled fish, and fragrant rice at the Sto. Nino Cold Springs. The weather was hot and humid and the cold springs gave us just what we needed for that day, after hours of sand bar explorations, shopping, and sight seeing.
Our last stop was the Hibok-Hibok Ardent Hot Springs. These springs are an unspoiled, natural hot tub, which offered the perfect conclusion to a day of swimming, feasting, and happy carousing. I rested my back on a mini water fall, the cascading water a delicious treat to my tired shoulders and back. I almost did not want to leave! Dinner was at Luna restaurant, where they served us fresh salad greens with olives and tuna and authentic Italian pizzas, brick oven grilled to gooey mozzarella perfection.
At early dawn the following day we left the island, groggy and sleepy, yet wanting to stay for one day more. Just one day more.
Perhaps next summer. 😉