Pristine beaches, waterfalls, volcanoes, friendly locals, now why wouldn’t you want to come again to Camiguin?
POSTED BY JENNIE CELDRAN
Well because it’s not the easiest place to get to. If you’re coming from Manila and you take Philippine Airlines it’s likely you’ll be travelling the whole day. That’s 1 1/2 hours from Manila to Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro. From the airport you take a shuttle to the city, that’s about an hour and a half. From the city, it’s another 2 hours by bus or van to reach Balingoan Port. Finally, an hour by Ro-Ro is Benoni Port on Camiguin Island. From Benoni Port you can take a multi cab to your resort or hotel. Our airbnb was another 45 minutes away, so all in all it took us all of 7 hours to get to Camiguin. What??
Now don’t be discouraged, there is an easier way! It’s our fault for not doing our research. Cebu Pacific flies to Cebu and then to Camiguin. So that’s 3 hours tops. Now why didn’t we do that to begin with??? It’s because we took advantage of PAL promo fairs, so what we saved in money we wasted in time!!
But the island more than made up for it. We woke up to a bright and cloudless day and we got to take a good look at our gorgeous airbnb rental. Owned by a Spanish expat, the Volcano House sits between the mountains and the sea. Its bright, open plan architecture allows light to enter and illuminates all corners of the house. The rental comes with a caretaker/ driver/ guide, the wonderful Ado who took care of us for the duration of our stay. It also comes with 3 dogs that lounge around the house the whole day.
Camiguin is only 240 square kilometres in size and you can tour the entire island in a day. We stayed in Mambajao where most of the action is. When I say action, I mean chilling by the beach and nursing a beer, that kind of thing. If you like uni, you can head down to White Island early in the morning and have freshly harvested uni still in its shell. Locals call uni “tuyom” and have it with vinegar. It’s really quite delicious and bursting with umami flavour and it comes cheap too at P50 for 3 pieces.
Most tourists we saw were riding rented scooters shirtless and shoeless through the island. They sure looked like they were having a good time zooming through rice paddies. Most of the good restaurants are owned by expats who chose to stay and make a home in Camiguin. For some really great Southeast Asian flavours there’s Guerrera a two story orange house in the middle of a rice field. They grow most of their own ingredients themselves and when I checked their website, I found out they now have rooms for rent.
For honey and honey products, there’s The Beehive owned by a Belgian gentleman. If he’s there he’ll gladly show you his honeycombs. He has a roaster and roasts coffee beans on site. He also makes his own dragon fruit and honey ice cream. A little sweet for my liking but still a welcome treat on a hot day.
If we didn’t book ourselves an airbnb, the best resort in town would have to be Balai sa Baibai. This beach front property is what comes to mind when you say beach vacation. Inspired by Camiguin’s ancestral houses, it is a sprawling and well maintained resort. If you’re not a guest in Balai sa Babai, come for the food and cocktails. They offer Arnis lessons as well.
What to bring home from Camiguin? Pastel de Camiguin is the most popular. These are brioche rolls with yema filling. Not to my liking, sorry. I would take home La Salud Turrones de Mani. The recipe for this peanut treat has been passed down through many decades and I hope they never lose the recipe.
Our time in Camiguin was short but sweet. The long trip back to Manila was not!