Things to see in Camiguin island, Philippines (Part 1)

Camiguin Day 1

Camiguin island is such a small island that one full day is enough to see it all. But of course if you have the luxury of time, it’s always good to take it slow and bask in the island’s natural beauty in a slower pace. I would have loved to stay longer (we were there for only 2 nights) but had other things to do so only limited our stay. Because of that we missed some places to go but oh well, that only meant we need to go back.

I am sure there will be another trip to Camiguin in store for us.

The small island of Camiguin is known for its natural wonders, beautiful rural spots, historical events, festivals and unique delicacies, Camiguin is an island bursting with adventure.

This is the list of the places we visited in Camiguin that’s pretty much what you can see when you search Google. However, our taste of the wonderful island life didn’t really start at number 1 on this list, it started with the drives from Benoni port to our accommodation in Mambajao.

roadside camiguin

The (only) main road circles around the island so it’s sea view all throughout. I highly recommend you open the door of your car and let the wind kiss your face. There is very little pollution in the island unlike in the big city where there are plenty of cars.

Here are two places we went to on our first day in Camiguin.

1. KATIBAWASAN FALLS

katibawasan 1

A friend who was kind enough to spare his time to pick us up at the port was only about to take us to our hotel in Mambajao from the port but when we reached, he asked “so what’s the plan?”. We looked at each other with blank expressions on our faces (I told you in my travel guide to Camiguin, this was an impromptu trip although we know the staple must-see places to go…). My brothers and I planned to hire a van to take us to some of the tourist spots of the island but Chris, my friend who is from the island said, I’m off for the whole afternoon, I will take you to two places, at least!

on the way to Katibawasan

We couldn’t pass up on that opportunity. Our local guide was very enthusiastic to show us around and mighty proud of it – I would be too if I am from here. The island is beautiful. First up was Katibawasan falls located at the foot of Mt. Timpoong, Barangay Upper Pandan, approximately five kilometers southeast of the Municipality of Mambajao.Katibawasan Falls can be easily reached from Mambajao towards the southern portion, passing through a 600m- concrete road after which you start to negotiate gravel- and- mud road.

katibawasan 2

Katibawasan falls as seen by a local, my friend Chris and by tourists, my two children! Chris might have seen this a thousand times already.

katibawasan 3

We were ready for swimming but surprisingly (for us, not for the locals I am sure), the water was freezing. There’s a part of the waterfall, just directly where it drops that’s prohibited for swimming. There’s a rope (or net?) separating that deeper part of the pool, follow the rules and don’t go there. We’ve heard from our guide that many people have drowned there.

katibawasan testing the waters

Nevertheless, my trip companions braved the freezing waters and dived in. “Come on, it’s only tough during the first few seconds!” Don’t wonder if I am not in the pics – I do not do well with ice cold waters! But better that way because if I had been swimming, no one wold take pictures, right? By the way, we had the place all to ourselves since we were there on a weekday. That made the swim more enjoyable.

katibawasan exclusive for us

Not bad for the first leg of our tour of Camiguin, huh? It’s not everyday you get the have the waterfall all to yourself!

Outside Katibawasan falls, going back to the main road, there are vendors selling different foodstuffs. It’s a small village and the sight reminded me of the 1980’s. The whole scenery has that vintage feel to it.

katibawasan vendors

TIP: While there, don’t miss to try out the local delicacy called “kiping” – made from dried cassava (tapioca) , grounded, mixed with water then fried. This thin, crispy, cheap street food can be a desert or a snack during your tour around the island. It is big as a medium-size plate drizzled with with “latik”, a sweet caramelized coconut sauce.

kiping2

Photo credit Traveling Morion

katibawasan kiping

Photo credit Lonely Travelogue

Additional information: (As of this writing, Sept 2015) There’s a PHP30 per person to enter Katibawasan falls.

2. HIBOK HIBOK VOLCANO OBSERVATORY

hibok2 observatory

We were ready to call it a day when Chris said, “I want to take you up there where you can have one of the best vantage points to see the island and the sea beyond!” We had no idea where it was but we happily said, yes please!

Camiguin is home to seven volcanoes, and the most popular in the list is the Hibok-Hibok. For sure, you have encountered this in many travel websites or books. Hibok Hibok last erupted in 1951 and is still considered an active volcano. Chris’ trusty and burly 4 wheel drive car climbed up the mountain and we pulled over to a small building just beside the hill.

hibok2 view 3

This view was what greeted us. The Observatory is not one of the staple tourist spots in the guidebooks and among people who has been to Camiguin but don’t you think this is worth visiting?

hibok2 view 1

hibok2 view 2

hibok2 view 4

We arrived in Camiguin island just past noon time, traveled from the port to our accommodation, had lunch and when we got out for our first island adventure, it was already past 2 pm so we only ventured out to these two attractions and called it a day.

hibok2 observatory going down

It was monsoon season in the Philippines the time we were there and it would rain almost every afternoon in Cagayan de Oro City, where we were based. We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to see these beautiful blue skies in Camiguin. The rain clouds did start to gather when we descended down Mt. Hibok Hibok. We rested (took a long nap) as soon as we reached our accommodation in Mambajao and went out to the town center to find a place to eat dinner. Villa Paraiso was ok but there were no pedicabs going to the uphill location so we had to walk up to the main road. I can’t help but think of the energy we need to reserve to be able to walk up after dinner. We brought an umbrella just in case it rains and it did rain after we had our dinner!

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR TRAVELERS:
Public transport in Camiguin island is very limited. There are pedicabs, multicabs (more like open type vans) but we did not see any taxis for hire. And…the operating hours could throw you off. It becomes difficult to catch any form of public transport from the only main road after 8pm…and earlier when it is raining!

So it’s either you have your own car when you tour the island or hire any form of transport to follow you around. Otherwise, don’t venture out after 8pm!

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