People around the region, all over the Philippines and the world pull in to this wonderfully created Paradise Island by the volcano – the Camiguin Island; hence, it is called the “Island Born of Fire”. Since 1995, I’ve been always revisiting this place every year, not just for the Holy Week season, but also to visit our relatives because Camiguin Island is my mom’s birth place. It is a 2-hour fast craft ride (Paras Sea Cat) from Cagayan de Oro port to Benoni port in Camiguin for 400 pesos (Holy week promo rate), but you can also reach the island by travelling more than an hour bus ride from Cagayan de Oro bus terminal in Agora to Balingoan port in Misamis Oriental and then right there you can hop aboard on a Ferry boat for a 45 minutes to 1 hour trip to Benoni or Guinsiliban ports.
Last Thursday, April 9, 2009. The CDOBloggers went to Camiguin as planned few months ago, alas only 8 members made it. (ChiQ, Meyang, Elva, Ding, Lawrence, Pangitster and Olga together with their 2 sons Ken and Kukuk, and yours truly. But that didn’t impede us to have fun on every tourist spots we were into. We took the Paras Sea Cat route for a more relaxing travel to the island. My brothers – Robert and Ronald and my nephew Ibrahim are with us too on the fast craft, but they didn’t go with us on our itineraries in Camiguin because they also have to accompany Robert’s officemates on a different excursion.
Following our arrival at the Benoni port, we hop in on a van and travel to Yumbing area where we have somewhere to stay. Most resorts, hotels, Inns and cottages were fully booked on this Holy week season that is why Elva made sure to book us earlier on a cottage room worth 1500 per day at Yumbing area.
We headed directly to Camiguin Highland Resort and stayed for few hours there roaming around, checking the place, taking pictures, eating and drinking some refreshments and diving into their swimming pool. It is a splendid place to stay for family relaxing vacation because it is away from the public, so all you can see are just nature. Highlands is an overlooking to the Mambajao area and you can see the Bohol Island’s silhouette from afar when you are on the third floor of their three-story building made of solid structure with Mediterranean designs on their every room. We also check-out their Presidential Suite, truly a luxurious one because the Suite offers television set, complete (High-tech) bathroom amenities, and a personal telephone set. It has also its own roof deck lounge that holds a stunning view of Camiguin where one can relax in the privacy of their own personal space and unwind the comfort of nature. The resort also offers horseback riding, outdoor camping around their 700 lanzones trees, Hiking to the nearby mountain, snorkelling, mountain biking, island picnic and scuba diving with their partner diving agency – Johnny’s Dive ‘N’ Fun who have three shops at Paras Beach Resort located at Yumbing, Mambajao, Caves Dive Resort located at Agoho, Mambajao and Secret Cove Beach Resort also located at Yumbing, Mambajao in Camiguin. You should try Johnny’s Dive N’ Fun to complete your Camiguin Island tour.
Katibawasan falls was our next spot, surrounded with green vegetation of orchids, trees, grasses, wild ferns, and other plants, with boulders on the grounds, the 250 feet high waterfall is a wonderful site to have picnic and go for a swim at the very cold water on the rock pool. A cool wind keeps on blowing around the water fall area because of the power generated by the fall. It will surely make you chill for few minutes of swimming, so we didn’t stop for longer time and we headed to Ardent Hot Spring resort as our last destination for the first day.
On this holyweek season, you cannot really appreciate the warm water of the spring because too many people dip into the lagoon and the temperature was disturbed, worst is you can smell a urine like odor or it must be really a urine smell from those kids who are lazy to go out and go to the bathroom. But when you really want to experience the Ardent hot spring on it’s perfect state, come visit the site after the holy week or any other months and make sure to visit in the morning because you can really see the smoke coming out of the water in the lagoon on that time of the day and when you dip your body on the water, wow… the luke warm water truly makes you relax by dilating your blood vessels that helps circulations and relieves your body aches and pains that leads to a very therapeutic feeling.
The next day, we tried hiking early in the morning from Yumbing to Bonbon where the Walkway to the Old Volcano situated. But I got tired when we arrived at the location because of my hyper acidity since I drank few glass of beer the night before. So, ChiQ, Lawrence and I just stayed at the road below and joined eating breakfast with me to alleviate my hyper acidity and then wait for others to go down.
Later, the others arrived and rested for awhile at the van we rented, we headed afterward to Catarman where the Sto. Niño Cold Spring situated. It was overly crowded when we arrived at the location and the pool was jam-packed with people who crave for a cold dip in the water just like us and you can hardly get a place to stay for your things and foods, because the cottages around the pool are fully occupied. We just ate for lunch on the side and I plunged on the cold water minutes before we went to our next destination, the rest of us are not in good mood for a swim because of the crowded place.
Traveling 15 to 20 minutes from Sto. Niño Cold Spring, along the winding roads and passing thru rice fields and banana fields, we arrived at Soda Water Pool. The rest of us are having relief when we saw that only few people were there. So, we somehow find appease that here we can stay comfortably and can rent a cottage without haggling with other groups. According to wiki – “Soda water, also known as seltzer in the US and Canada, is water which is carbonated and thus made effervescent by the addition of carbon dioxide gas under pressure.” and here this soda water pool is a natural effervescence in spring water, it is not artificial. We dive and have fun at the soda water to let us all feel cool and relax from the scourging heat of the sun.
Soon after, we dressed-up and carry on to our next itineraries at the Catarman Gui-ob Old Church ruins. The dreadful volcanic eruption sometime in 1871 obliterated the Spanish settlement of Catarman. The ruins of this Old Spanish Gui-ob church, the belfry and convent were all made of adobe walls. Very thick that even the volcanic wrath cannot tear down the walls but only sank it with the lava. Few meters away is the Sunken Cemetery, it sunk because of the four times eruptions of the Mount Vulcan that leads to hiding under water of the graves of the ancestors of the Camiguin people. A large cross on the water was built to mark the location of the sunken cemetery. It is also one of the world’s most unique diving sites.
We ended our 2nd day (Good Friday) Camiguin Trip at the Mambajao market to buy us foods to cook for our White Island quest the next morning.
Saturday, April 11, 4 A.M, our mobile phones alarmed, despite of the need to sleep more; we forced ourselves to wake up to prepare foods but I continued with my sleep and the girls go on. 6 A.M. we headed to the shore and traverse 3 minutes pump boat ride to the white island for only 300 pesos round trip.
White Island is really a sand bar, but it was called island as a cliché term for any land mass appear on the water. Absolutely, no vegetation so you will surely expose to the sun, but that is not a problem if you have sun block lotions ready to protect you from getting sunburned. The sand is purely white enough to contend the Boracay’s white sand beach. But the most rewarding view is it faces towards the Mount Hibok-hibok and the old volcano on the far right that awes you with amazement and when you go there on late afternoon, the sunset is more than rewarding because the horizon is such a perfect spot for sunset watching.
There you go, the Camiguin trip together with some CDOBloggers members was fun and most of all it made us all closer as friends. After our White Island experience around 9 A.M., the rest packed-up to catch the 10 A.M. Paras Sea Cat (Fast Craft) trip to Cagayan de Oro as ChiQ and Pangitster needs to be home for work and Meyang got to catch a flight back to Manila the next morning. I stayed to join my Brothers on their Camiguin trip until Sunday Morning and visited my relatives in Catarman where they (my brothers Robert and Ronald) stayed.