ultimate guide to camiguin

Travel to the small island of Camiguin and find out why it's one of the top destinations in Mindanao and in the Philippines. What are the top attractions and activities in Camiguin? Where can you stay in Camiguin? What are the must-eat foods in Camiguin? Read on to find out what you need to know when traveling to the Island Born of Fire. 

Camiguin is a small and peaceful island province in the Philippines located in the Bohol Sea off the northern coast of Mindanao. Camiguin may be the smallest island in Mindanao and the second smallest province in the Philippines, but it has surprisingly a lot of tourist spots to offer.

Dubbed the “Island Born of Fire,” Camiguin is home to seven volcanoes that continue to shape and reshape its unique landscape. The interior forest reserves known as Mount Hibok-Hibok Protected Landscape have been declared an ASEAN Heritage Park. But for beach lovers, it’s the water-based attractions that make Camiguin special. 

This compact island also hides numerous waterfalls, natural springs, unspoiled beaches and diving spots that will please adventurous travelers. Camiguin is home to a mysterious Sunken Cemetery which continues to fascinate travelers from all over the world.

Your Ultimate Camiguin Island Travel Guide 2019

For history buffs, there are interesting Camiguin tourist spots you can visit including several well-preserved ancestral houses, Spanish-era churches and heritage sites scattered around the island. 

Camiguin is also famous for its sweet lanzones fruits for which an annual festival is dedicated. 

Geographically part of Region 10 or Northern Mindanao, Camiguin was formerly a part of the Misamis Oriental. This province is tiny compared to neighboring provinces in the mainland region and it maintains the same laidback beach vibe similar to top island-hopping destinations in the Philippines such as Bohol and Siquijor.

It may not have the vibrant party scene and nightlife found in other bigger island destinations like Boracay and Siargao, but Camiguin offers a very safe and peaceful getaway. It’s still a bit off-the-beaten-path for travelers, but first-time travelers will enjoy the unspoiled sights and local hospitality.

While traveling around Mindanao, be sure to include a Camiguin tour in your itinerary. Here are just some of the best tourist spots in the province you can visit.

CONTENTS

Things to do in Camiguin       

Some resorts offer half-day or whole day tours to the top tourist spots around Camiguin inclusive of van rental, transportation, and guides. However, solo travelers can easily just hire a motorcycle or tricycle for the day to visit the top spots. 

Visit the Sunken Cemetery       

camiguin sunken cemetery

Much of the island province of Camiguin was formed through earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Camiguin’s most iconic landmark is the Sunken Cemetery, a graveyard under the sea marked by a huge cross. This fascinating site was formed in the 1870s when Mt. Vulcan erupted causing the cemetery along with the capital city and old town of Catarman to sink below sea level. 

The looming cross that stands today serves as a commemorative marker for those who lost their lives. Though the cross is visible from a platform on the main coastal road, tourists can take a short boat ride to step onto the platform and cross itself. 

Those who want a unique experience can also go snorkeling and scuba diving to see the cemetery which was driven underwater when the volcano erupted. According to locals, tombstones encrusted by corals beneath the cross can still be seen by snorkelers and scuba divers.

The eruption of Mt. Vulcan also left behind the ruins of a church and bell tower, known as the Old Church Ruins. Be sure to visit this peaceful and serene site during your Camiguin tour.

Bask on White Island’s Beautiful Sandbar       

Your Ultimate Camiguin Island Travel Guide 2019

The Philippines has its share of beautiful beaches and Camiguin has one of the best. White Island is a scenic white sandbar with powdery fine sand located just 1.4 km off the northern shore of Mambajao that offers a picturesque spot for swimming and picnics. 

Small boats can be hired from any of the beachfront resorts that face the island to get here. The best time to enjoy the beach here in the morning. Since there are no trees or shelter of any kind on the island, it can get very hot at noon and early afternoon. Look out for the sea urchins being sold by local vendors as snacks to visiting tourists. 

Visit Mantigue Island Nature Park       

Another top tourist draws in Camiguin is Mantigue Island Nature Park. This protected marine sanctuary with 4 hectares of evergreen forest fringed with white sandy beaches is ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

A fishing village is located on the northern side of the island, while on the other side is a white sand beach with powdery coral sand and corals offshore. This small island is located about 3.5 kilometers or a 25-30 minute boat ride off the coast of  Brgy. San Roque in the town of Mahinog. 

Those who want a workout can rent a stand-up paddleboard and paddle around the island’s pristine waters near the shores. The Marine Sanctuary here is one of the diving spots in the Philippines.

Take a Dip in Ardent Hibok-Hibok Hot Spring       

ardent hibok hibok hot spring

As a volcanic island, Camiguin has numerous hot and cold volcanic springs, popular with locals and tourists. One of the most popular is Ardent Hot Springs, which has several pools with fresh and hot sulfuric waters heated by Hibok-Hibok Volcano ranging from 33°C to 40°C. The water comes right out of the forest and gets mixed with colder water into the separate pools arranged in cascades.

Chill out in Sto. Nino Cold Springs       

Those who want to cool down can head to the Sto. Nino Cold Spring, a large pool with a refreshingly chill 20°C temperature. This natural cold spring flows down from Mt. Mambajao and is filtered by layers of minerals from the mountain, making it is naturally clean and crystal clear.

The main pool is quite large and deep, ranging from 4 ft to 8 ft. The water here flows into a smaller pool built for children. Locals believe that bathing in this spring for an hour or more has beneficial effects on the skin, saying it makes the skin feel smoother and look younger.

Fizz out in a Soda Water Park       

soda water park in camiguin

One of the more unique natural springs in Camiguin is a Soda Pool known for having natural streaming soda water, which locals claim has a fizzy taste. Visitors can try drinking soda water directly from a drinking fountain nearby. While time has degraded the natural soda underwater and changed the taste of the soda water to freshwater, this is a scenic and refreshing place to take a dip. The Soda Swimming Pool is surrounded by lush greenery of trees and flowering bushes, making it a pleasant stop for picnics.

Visit Waterfalls       

Your Ultimate Camiguin Island Travel Guide 2019

Camiguin has its share of waterfalls, though only a few of them are relatively accessible and have developed for tourists. The most popular and one of the tallest is Katibawasan Falls, which stands 76 meters high and streams down from the mountainside located in the middle of the forest. You can take a dip in the small basin at the base of the falls.

Tuawasan Falls is a bit smaller and more set apart from the tourist resorts in Agoho and Yumbing. Getting here involves a plesant30 minute hike following the river bed.



What to Eat in Camiguin     

camiguin lanzonesCamiguin is well-known for having the sweetest lanzones, a sweet tropical fruit that grows abundantly on the island. 

The province celebrates the Lanzones Festival every 3rd week of October, as a way to give thanks for the bountiful harvest. Another local specialty is Pastel de Camiguin, a dessert bun filled with yema, purple yam or macapuno, which is a popular souvenir item that tourists like to take home for friends and family.

Camiguin also has its share of unique snacks made with local ingredients. Kiping is a thin, crispy wafer shaped like a plate that’s made from dried sweet potatoes, mixed with water then fried and drizzled with latik, a sweet caramelized coconut sauce. Sinaging is a mixture of banana (saba), sugar, ground mixed rice, condensed milk, and coconut wrapped in puso, packets made of woven coconut leaves. Koter is coconut wine mixed with ground cacao, evaporated milk and beaten chicken eggs.

Meat eaters will want to sample the Lechon de Camiguin, a local version of the much-beloved roasted suckling pig found everywhere in the country. Their lechon has perfectly crispy skin, soft tender meat with just the right amount of fat that has soaked up the flavors of the herbs and secret spices.

For a unique local meal, head to J & A Fishpen Resort and Restaurant, which offers seafood and Filipino specialties like grilled tuna, crabs, pancit, squid adobo and sinigang with a refreshing view of the sea. Formerly a fishpond, J & A Fishpen was eventually converted to a floating restaurant for tourists. What's nice about the place is that you know the fish you eat is fresh. You can even go fishing in the fishpens nearby and have your catch cooked any way you want.

Where to Stay in Camiguin   

camiguin resortsThere are numerous beach resorts, cottages and homestays available throughout the island of Camiguin. Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin is reputed to be the best resort on the island, with charming nature-inspired interiors, nipa hut style villas, a swimming pool and its own oceanside bar and grill that serves buffet breakfast.

More humble options and dormitory rooms for groups are available in resorts like Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring and Resort and J & A Fishpen Resort and Apartelle. For those who prefer artistic accommodations, check out Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge Art Camp, an environment-friendly homestay-style accommodation on the island.

Suggested Itinerary in Camiguin       

Because of its compact size, Camiguin and many of its most popular attractions excluding the dive sites can easily be visited in a day or two. For travelers coming from Manila, getting to Camiguin requires a bit of extra effort because of the connecting flights and sea travel.

For those traveling by air, Camiguin is ideal for a weekend getaway. Your Camiguin tour can also be combined with a longer trip to Bukidnon or Cagayan de Oro, where it’s accessible from by sea travel. Camiguin is also accessible by sea travel from Bohol.

Day 1: Getting to Camiguin and Island Tour

Morning: Flight from Manila to Cagayan de Oro or Cebu 
Connecting flight from Cebu to Camiguin or Travel by Sea from Cagayan de Oro to Camiguin
Noon: Check-in at Hotel/Resort & lunch
Afternoon: Island Tour (Ardent Hot Springs, Katibawasan Falls, Sunken Cemetery, Old Catarman Church Ruins, etc).
Evening: Relax at resort

Day 2: White Island/Swimming

Morning: White Island / Swimming
Afternoon: Buy souvenirs and check out local restaurants
Evening: Dinner and relax at resort

Day 3: Departure

Morning: Ferry to Cagayan de Oro or Flight from Camiguin to Cebu + Cebu to Manila

Explore Camiguin Island soon! Check out Camiguin tours and activities that you can book and add to your itinerary for a hassle-free island getaway.