The small and unspoiled island province of Camiguin in Northern Mindanao boasts white beaches, diving spots, mountain trekking, volcano tours and a few waterfalls. Camiguin is a paradise for both tourists looking for tranquility or thrill-seekers hungry for adventure. Perhaps one of the most photographed destinations in the region, this island off the northern tip of the province is the must-visit place when in Camiguin.
via Cagayan de Oro
- Book a flight to Laguindingan Airport. This is the main city airport of CDO located between the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have direct flights to Laguindingan from Manila and Cebu.
- From the airport, take a shuttle to CDO City Proper. We took the LAX Shuttle which has stops at Centrio Ayala Mall and Agora Integrated Bus Terminal. Drop off at Agora Eastbound Integrated Bus Terminal. Travel time is 1 hr.
- From Agora Bus Terminal, ride a bus bound to Butuan. Drop off at Balingoan Port, an hour or two from CDO.
- Walk from Balingoan Bus Terminal to Balingoan Port. The port is just 2-3 minute walk from the bus terminal.
- Ride a ferry going to Benoni Port. Travel time takes a maximum of 2 hours.
- From Benoni Port, ride a jeep or shuttle van outside the port going to Mambajao. Travel time is around 30-45 minutes.
- Once in Mambajao, you may ride a rela (a local and bigger tricycle) or habal-habal going to Paras Beach Resort. Tell the driver you’re off to White Island and he’ll drop you off exactly at the docking area going to the island.
We entered Mindanao via CDO as part of our 9-day Mindanao adventure to Davao Oriental, Surigao del Sur, Butuan, CDO, Iligan and Camiguin. CDO is the nearest entry point coming from Manila. However, there are direct once-a-day Cebu-Camiguin flights via Cebu Pacific. We read that there’s a direct ferry from CDO to Camiguin but as of January 2016, Paras Sea Cat from Macabalan Port in CDO to Camiguin has been discontinued.
WHERE TO STAY
There’s a variety of resorts and inns in Camiguin, most of which are located in the northern tip of the island facing the picturesque White Island. We stayed at Paguia’s Cottages where we got a spacious cottage for 4 for only P800/night (which we had to bargain). Paguia’s Cottage is in front of the more popular Paras Beach Resort. Here’s an extensive list of hotels in Camiguin.
There are also restaurants along Camiguin Circumferential Road near Paguia’s Cottages. Our favorite is the cozy Italian restaurant Luna, which serves brick-oven pizza and a whole range of flavorful pasta.
White Island is on top of our list in Camiguin. We’d skip the hot and cold springs, the falls and even Mantigue Island; White Island is our foremost destination in Camiguin.
We decided to go to the island at 3PM. 1) To avoid the scorching afternoon sun and 2) so we’ll have enough time to spend in the island and go back by sunset. The island is right in front of Paras Beach Resort, which is beside the terminal for ferry boats. One can underestimate the distance from the shore but it’s farther than you think. The boats are small and waves can get rough. The boatride lasts for 20-30 minutes.
The glistening blue water make the literally white island standout. As you get nearer, the water gets clearer and the shades of blue are more apparent. There’s a sari-sari store in deserted island which also serves as a landmark. The boat dock near the sari-sari store, where you can buy food, chips and drinks. You can also rent umbrellas here. We’ve read that during peak season, more stores set-up in the island.
The island stretches for about 80-100 meters depending on the tide, with the picture-perfect Mt. Hibok-hibok and Old Vulcan serving as its background. The water around the island is shallow, perfect for swimming and wading. The sand is a mixture of fine crushed corals and dead white corals washed to the shore.
- Aircon bus to Balingoan Port from Agora Bus Terminal in CDO – P148
- Ferry from Balingoan Port to Benoni Port in Camiguin – P170
- Terminal fee P15 and environmental fee P2
- Jeepney from Benoni Port to Mambajao – P30
- Rela from Mambajao to the docking area to White Island – P15
- Pump boat to White Island – P450, good for 1-6 passengers
- Entrance fee – P20
- Go to the island from 6-10AM or 4-6PM. Avoid the afternoon sun at all costs. Best to watch the sunrise and sunset in the island.
- Check the weather before going to White Island. Our boatman had a hard time navigating our way back because of the rough waves. It’s probably worse during rainy season.
- The small island get crowded during summer.
- If you’re going to swim or snorkel, best to use sunscreen that is ‘reef safe’. There’s an abundant and diverse marine life around White Island that we should protect from bleaching.