Out of my 12 remaining "must visit" local places on my list, Camiguin is definitely on the top three. This small island province is blessed with many natural attractions, historical sites, good food, and warm people. Its a complete tourist destination by itself. So let me narrate in detail why I would love to visit Camiguin.
White Sand Beaches
I'm a sucker for white sand beaches. I could stay in a beach the whole day, just admiring the cyan blue water splashing gentle waves on the white sand shore, inviting me for a refreshing dip, or lulling me to sleep on a hammock shaded by a tree. A relaxing massage on the beach, a cold beer in hand with freshly-cooked seafoods, or just chatting with friends, are also good ideas to pass away the time on the beach. Camiguin has Mantigue and White islands to satisfy that beach bumming urge.
Another activity aside from beach bumming is to see the hidden but fascinating life beneath the waves. Camiguin is one of the country's top diving destinations with about 20 dive sites, rich with diverse marine life that are scattered around the island province. There are also many dive shops around, so diving supplies would not be a problem. As for my 2 boys and myself, fish-feeding thru snorkeling would be enough for us.
Hiking on Volcanic Mountains
The island province is known as the "island born of fire". Why? There are 7 volcanoes in the island with several volcanic craters and peaks, including the mounts Vulcan and Hibok-Hibok. This volcanic system have created a fertile land to nurture a thick forest cover that supports various forms of wildlife.
I don't know if the local government would alow hiking up to the volcanoes' peaks, but hikers could surely see their gas fumes escaping the volcanic cone from afar. If they are lucky, they could spot a flying lemur or a deer on the forest.
To cool down the tired muscles after long walks, a dip on the natural pools created by waterfalls is very refreshing. The sound of cascading water is enough to provide excitement to an urban mortal like me. Camiguin has Katibawasan and 2 other waterfalls to invigorate our senses.
Since this island province hosts many volcanoes, you can expect the presence of too many natural springs. And Camiguin does not disappoint, not only with 5 choices of hot and cold springs, but also of a natural soda water pool in Bura, Catarman town.
I think its the only natural soda water pool in the country. Just imagine a perpetually bubbling water that soothes your nerves, the same carbonated water that produce bubbles on your softdrink and champagne. Should we bring alcoholic spirits to mix with the natural soda water?
Camiguin has Tanguines man-made lagoon in the town of Mahinog, surrounded by cliffs and rolling hills. If you want a serene place and some fishing as well, this is the place to relax your soul.
In 1871, Mt. Vulcan had its 3rd recorded violent eruption, which submerged the original capital of Camiguin -- Barrio Bonbon in Catarman. The whole barangay including the cemetery was covered with lava, and had sunk due to the movement of island's plate caused by the volcanic eruption.
In 1982, a large cross was built on top of the solidified lava, to mark the spot of the sunken cemetery. This is our country's historical version of the mythical Atlantis. At 20 ft. under the sea, its a favorite spot of divers, due to its unique coral encrusted tombstones.
Old Church Ruins
If Albay has their famous Cagsawa Ruins, Camiguin has its old Gui-Ob church ruins, also in Catarman town. Built in 1697, it was also covered by lava flows during Mt. Vulcan's eruption in 1871.
With rich marine life around the island, one can expect the bounty harvest from their seas, so seafood overdose may be hard to resist. The island province is also famous for its Vjandep pastel, a soft roll with sweet cream filling inside.
Whenever I have a craving of this pastel, I drive to Market Market in Fort Bonifacio, just to buy the pastel from the mall's Camiguin stall. If given the chance to visit Camiguin, I would have to watch my sugar level from consuming the pastel, which is a welcome pasalubong (take home gift).
Camiguingons (Camiguin people) are known to be fun-loving, religious, hardworking, hospitable, and friendly people. Whenever I visit a new place, I try to take their public utility vehicles, dine at their popular food joints, and buy food or pasalubong on their wet market 90% of the time. I think this kind of "immersion" allows me to really feel their hospitality and local culture.
Lanzones is one of my favorite local fruits. I remember my college days in UPLB, when my dormmates and I will climb the lanzones trees at the back of our Makiling Dormitory, just to get free lanzones fruits. Camiguin has its unique Lanzones Festival, usually being held during October, their harvest season of this sweet and juicy fruit. Now why would I be desperate to experience and join the Lanzones Festival?
First, the festival happens only once a year. Its only 1 or 2 days of the year when Camiguingnons dress us in colorful costumes and perform street dances. It is during these festivities that the town gets very lively, and people that you meet (local or foreign) are most friendly, like they all know each other.
I just hope that Air Philippines come up with promo fares soon for travel in October, that will include Camiguin on their promo destinations. Thanks to Air Philippines, our family's 5 domestic travels this year became possible because of their promo fares. Its our favorite local carrier, as its easier to book with them during low fares promo, more available seats, and their website is more stable on my experience.
Plus, I could check in a glance the available low fares in a week, no need to click the "next day" or "previous day" buttons. The best and unmatched advantage with Air Philippines is the automatic free 15 kg baggage allowance, that comes with the promo fares. So we don't need to worry about bringing more lanzones and pastels back home, hehe.
Experience MassKara Festival, Hermosa Festival and Lanzones Festival this October. Airphil Express flies daily to BACOLOD, ZAMBOANGA and CAGAYAN DE ORO from Cebu and Manila. Visit www.airphilexpress.com to book!
The map was taken from parasbeachresort.com, while all above photos were taken from Camiguin local government's website. I hope to replace them with my own photos, if we're given the chance to visit Camiguin this October. :)