The Sole Sisters' Guide to Camiguin Island

Friday, June 21, 2013

Would you like to go on a tour of Camiguin island?

The was the question posed to me on a phone call one morning. Dare I say yes? Of course! Only catch is, I was leaving in a few days! But the adventurer in me said- what are you waiting for?

The last time I set foot on this gorgeous, little island, I was only a gawky teenager on vacation with my family. I enjoyed the trip immensely within the constraints of a holiday. Little did I know that I would get another chance to visit, 15 years later and would explore this gem of a place and fall deeper in love with it!

The best part was that I got to share this amazing experience with 10 other rowdy Pinoy Travel Bloggers and I knew most of them. Our first stop from the airport was Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin. And the resort name was apt- it was definitely a place of vacation, luxury and relaxation- albeit for 3 days.

Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin2

Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin4

Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin5

Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin1

This place spoiled us with the food, massage, breakfast buffets and fast internet speed! And the amenities? They had a pool, massage hut, game room and even a gym! But who wants to work out with a view like this?

Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin3

Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin6
Photo Credit: Juan Manila Express

Katibawasan Falls 

We knew our stay here would be jam packed with activities. There was no rest for the adventurous and this small island was big on adventure! Even before lunch, we were already in a van headed to Katibawasan Falls. This place drops a beautiful clear stream of water more than 70m into a plunge pool. The water was clear, cool and definitely inviting. But I couldn't be bothered to get wet and have to change into fresh clothes in just 30 minutes.

Katibawasan Falls Camiguin

I was content to have photos taken with the group and enjoy the falls and the surrounding greenery from the viewing deck. I was pretty sure I would have another chance to go swimming that day.

Sole Sisters Tip: Make sure you bring swimwear if you want to dive into the cool waters of this falls. Rent a van or jeep from Mambajao- its only a quick 10 minute drive away.

White Island Camiguin4
Photo Credit: Ferdz Decena

White Island

And I didn't have to wait that long. After a quick lunch, we were already on a small boat to White Island. I remember going to this place over a decade ago and marveling at the shape of the sand bar, lack of any structures and the cool, azure waters.

White Island Camiguin3
Photo Credit: Juan Manila Express

Very little has changed since then- but the stalls that sold food and refreshments definitely caught my eye. "They're only here for the summer.", the boatman assured me. They let a few vendors sell goods while there were a lot of tourists visiting the island during the summertime. Which was actually pretty convenient because we had snacks of camote and boiled bananas after we went snorkeling. I was surprised that there was hardly any sign of marine life a few meters from the sand bar. I was told we had to take another boat to get to the reef.

Sea Urchins on White Island Camiguin

But before we could ask to be taken there, a guy selling sea urchins caught our eye. We instantly egged each other on to try this unique delicacy. The Japanese calls it uni, Davaoeños call them swaki and Filipinos generally refer to it as salungo. But in the end, it was the same. It was a small, black, round, spiky creature that the vendor cracked open in half and showed us this sticky pinkish brown substance inside. He sprinkled it with some native vinegar, and voila- it was ready to eat!

I dared take the first slurp and it was- uhm interesting. The strong, fishy taste in contrast to the sourness of the vinegar gave this sea urchin a really unique flavor!

Sea Urchins on White Island Camiguin3
Photo Credit: Juan Manila Express

Sea Urchins on White Island Camiguin2
Photo Credit: Juan Manila Express

Sole Sisters Tip: Bring your own snorkeling gear but there will be masks and snorkels for rent on the mainland as well. You may want to take some snacks with you to the island. Be open to try new experiences and strange food like sea urchins. And don't  forget to take a group photo from the white island with a view of the mountains behind you. Check out Lloyds' pictures and narrative from the White Island.

Camiguin Sunken Cemetery
Photo Credit: Juan Manila Express

Sunken Cemetery

Our last stop before sunset was definitely dramatic. By the time we got to the pier where we could see the large outline of a lone cross, the suns rays were already turning amber in the horizon. What makes this place so fascinating and eerie at the same time, is that it's an actual grave site that had sunk under the sea after Mount Vulcan erupted in 1948. As a kid, my parents didn't dare allow us to venture into sea. We only saw the grave site from afar, during low tide, with some gravestones barely visible. But this time we not only took a boat to the cemetery, which was now turned into a marine sanctuary, we took out some snorkeling gear and swam in to explore the colorful ocean life just a few meters below the surface.

Camiguin Sunken Cemetery4
Photo Credit: Ferdz Decena
Camiguin Sunken Cemetery5
Photo Credit: Ferdz Decena
You can't tell this used to be a place for the dead. The reef and corals have almost completely covered the sea bottom. You can see a variety of fish, sea creature and even giant clams! I was so grateful that I didn't pass up on this opportunity to see such magnificent marine wildlife just because I was creeped out!

Camiguin Sunken Cemetery
Photo Credit: Ferdz Decena

Sole Sisters Tip: Don't just take photos from the viewing deck. Make sure you take the small boat and explore the marine sanctuary in the former cemetery. I know, the idea is eerie at first, but you will be rewarded with the sight of so many colorful fish, marine wildlife and just a great, wet bonding session with friends! Check out Marky's more detailed Sunken Cemetery account.

It would also be smart if you took some booties and a rash guard to protect you from the corals. And please ask your boatman to make sure the water level is high enough to avoid hitting the reef or damaging any corals while you explore this sanctuary.

Mantigue Island

And would have been happy just to swim with the fish at the Sunken Cemetery. But the next day, we get an even closer encounter with the sea creatures. We took another small boat to Mantigue Island which is tiny at about 4 hectares- but we explored a small forest, powdery sand coast and a marine protected area teeming with sea creatures!

Mantigue Forest Camiguin
Photo Credit: Ferdz Decena

I was eager to explore the waters as soon as we got there. But our friendly guide Ikoi asked if we can join him for a tour of forest trail first. It was amazing to go through huge trees and green foliage in what seemed like a pocket sized forest in the middle of the island. Can anyone tell me how these species are able to grow on a small island?

I found Ikoi thoroughly amusing as well- he always had a smile on his face and comment right after he took our group photo. His left arm was deformed and smaller than the other. But you can't see a happier, more enthusiastic guide around! And it gets even better when we got in the water. Ikoi was such a great swimmer that we all felt secure even when we reached deep waters.

He took us to a what looked like an ocean shelf- a place where the sea just kind of drops into a deep blue void. The fish in this area were definitely bigger and less scared of our presence. I couldn't resist swimming with them. But the main attraction of this snorkeling trip was spotting a mature hawksbill sea turtle right below where I was swimming!

Mantigue Island
Photo Credit: Ferdz Decena

I swam towards it slowly and it started to move away. But it was very curious as it would rise to the surface towards us and then submerge- repeatedly. I was grateful for the turtle's presence and stoked to swim with one for the first time! We had been swimming with him for a few minutes when I heard Ikoi call out to us. He told us we needed to swim back as the current was getting stronger. I reluctantly turned back after saying goodbye to our new friend. 

Sole Sisters Tip: Wear a life vest for the snorkeling trip even if you're an experienced swimmer. Also stay with your group and follow your guide's instructions. Make sure you have a waterproof camera while exploring the ocean. These creatures are so photogenic- you will regret it if you don't. 

The roundtrip boat fee to Mantigue costs 550PHP (about 12.5 USD) and you will need to pay 80 PHP (about 2 USD) for the environmental fee. Check out Ferdz's Mantigue post for the complete rates and some breathtaking photos.

How to Make this Trip Happen: 

The Philippines’ largest national flag carrier, Cebu Pacific Air is the only airline offering direct flights to Camiguin. For the latest seat sales and promos, go to, call (02)7020-888 or check Cebu Pacific Air’s official Facebook and Twitter pages.


I was invited to be part of this trip for the mini Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge (Bloggers Edition).

Cebu Pacific Air is looking for five teams of three university students each, who are raring to go on the 2013 Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge. Video entries may be sent from June 14 to July 29, 2013, and the top five teams will get to go on a week-long all expenses paid trip to six Philippine destinations. Visit for more challenge details. This challenge is co-presented by the Department of Tourism, and supported by Canon and Wenger.

This trip was also supported by the Camiguin Provincial Tourism Office and Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin Resort.

Cheers to more awesome nature adventures,
Sole Sister Lois

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2 sole trails

  1. travel guide pls!

  2. That's most of the guide already. Any piece of information you were looking for? Would love to hear it!


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