Camiguin, the island that has been tagged as the Hawaii of the Philippines and also The Island Born of Fire. It’s located southern in the country, part of the northern Mindanao territory and it’s very famous for many things such as Lanzones (super yummy), hot and cold springs and as well as their nearby sandbar that has an amazing view of the entire island.
From the moment of touchdown on the island up to the take-off: what I took away from this escape is that this island is not just about beautiful scenery and the food/delicacy, but also on how to live like the locals and be educated with the total mystery behind the devastating history of the island.
Unfortunately, our budget was very limited to P10,000.00 only and we have to maximize what we have in a steep priced island. So, booking flights and resorts as well as searching for places to eat plus bargaining to the lowest prices and also be there like one of the locals are most of the talents you need to have if you are with us on this budget for two, and you really need an escapade.
No matter, I’ll give you tips on how to survive on a very tight budget.
And there’s no better way for a vacation like this in Camiguin than to prepare, book ahead and anticipate adventure coming your way.
PREPARATION (BOOKINGS AND ALL)
Preparation is the key. I’ve learned a lot about preparation from my partner and how important it is especially in going on to an important escapade.
Although we’ve planned this entire tour for months and months ago, it keeps on getting pushed due to financial circumstances. I’ve made all the research I can have and Google is just your friend and everything is there. All you have to do is search. And I made some rough estimate for about P10, 400.00 for both of us and that’s for the entire tour (via Ship).
First and foremost you have to book for your trip; sea or air. For our case, we chose to wait for piso fare promo of Cebu Pacific because… everyone knows why. And we got our ticket for P3, 880.48, good for both 3 days, 2 nights, roundtrip, via Cebu to Camiguin and vice versa.
TIP #1: For those people who would go via sea, here’s the information you needed (VIA CEBU)
Super Shuttle Ferry travels weekly basis according to parasbeachresort.com and cebuboattrips.com
- Costs about P800.00 – P1,000.00
- Port 1/8
- FRIDAYS: 8:00PM – 8:00AM
- SUNDAYS: 8:00PM – 8:00AM
- Contact : (032) 232 3150
*No fast-track available
Second, after booking the transportation, you have to book to where you’ll be staying. There are lots of hotels and resorts in Camiguin and all you’ve got to do is Google it. I really do believe in staying in a high class hotel or resort, but it’s nonsensical when I go to a place for an escapade and choose an expensive stay; that’s why I’d rather have the cheaper one. I mean, all I need is a place to rest my head after every exhausting day and that’s it (except I need an air-conditioned room hehe).
Anyhow, we’ve tried Paguia’s Cottage (contact 09276527621) before and I have to say I’ve got a bad experience with them while over the phone, even when some bloggers say that the place is good and cheap (probably the cheapest price in all Camiguin) but the owner was not friendly at all. She sounds skeptic rather welcoming, and I hated it. We tried to contact them again months later, but then they did not answer their cellphone, so it’s their loss.
And we tried to contact Agohay which the owner sounds really warm and welcoming, and she speaks straight English and Japanese as well, very impressive. The rooms in Agohay starts at :
TIP #2: We got to bargain at their Superior room and got it for P1,800.00 instead. So, we booked it for 2 days and down-payed in their BDO account.
TIP #3: Usually, plane and ship arrives very early on the time of the day, and check in at Agohay is at 2:00PM; it actually depends on the room if it still has guests or not… if not, then Agohay allows you to have the room earlier, if not (like us) we have to wait up until 2:00PM. If this is the case, your itinerary should be changed. Also, you could get the chance to discover Camiguin as a local.
Third, our itinerary. Yes, you’ve got to do an in depth research about this one because this can save you time. Although usually, almost all of the resorts offer the entire itinerary package for THE SAME GOVERNMENT REGULATED PRICE (good), you can just avail to it.
TIP #4: Create some PLAN B and C if in case PLAN A doesn’t work.
There are a lot of blogs who has specific itinerary in Camiguin, and ours was not far away from theirs. Below WAS our planned itinerary (based on the blogs I’ve read):
DAY 1 – Friday
8:00AM – Airport-Resort
2:00PM – Check in
3:00PM – 5:00 – White Sandbar
6:00PM – DINNER
DAY 2 – Saturday
7:00AM – Call time
8:00AM – Old Volcano Station of the Cross
9:00AM – Sunken Cemetery
10:00AM – Gui-ob Church Ruins
11:00AM – LUNCH
12:30NN – Sto. Nino Cold Springs
2:00PM – Katibawasan Falls
3:00PM – Ardent Hot Springs
4:00PM – Go back to resort
5:00PM – Dinner
DAY 3 – Sunday
6:00AM – wake up and Airport
But then our itinerary has been changed due to some circumstances, and it became this:
DAY 1: Friday
6:45AM – Arrive in Camiguin
7:00AM – Arrive in resort
7:00AM-11:00AM – Wandering Mambajao Market/Uploading pictures on Facebook/Surfing the net
11:00AM-12:00 – Lunch (at Mambajao Market)
12:00PM – Check in (Thank God)
And due to heavy winds and treacherous weather, our White Island tour was cancelled for the next day 6:00 in the morning.
12:00-5:00PM – Wandering Mambajao Market yet again/Swimming Pool time
DAY 2: Saturday
6:00AM – Wake up call/Going to White Island
7:00AM – Back to resort
9:00AM – Call time for Island tour
9:00-10:00AM – Soda Cold Spring
10:00-11:00AM – Sto. Nino Cold Spring
11:00-12:00NN – LUNCH (at Catarman Market)
12:00-1:30PM – Old Church Ruins/Sunken Cemetary/Walkway to Old Volcano
1:30-2:30PM – Katibawasan Falls
2:30-3:30PM – Ardent Hot Springs
3:30-4:00PM – Back to resort
4:00-6:00PM – Dinner/Buy Pastel (at Mambajao Market)
6:00PM – back to resort
Fourth and lastly, pack up your bags with complete stuff, and never ever, ever forget your camera SD Card (just what I always do and did).
My partner and I woke up 4:00 in the morning because our flight was 6:00AM and flights to and from Camiguin usually starts on that time range. Although exhausting, I was still excited.
When we finished checking in and waiting for us to go to the plane, I was reminiscing to some stories about how small the aircraft would be going to provinces like Camiguin, and it was a little bit daunting to me.
When we got to the service bus and onto the airplane; the stories were right, it was indeed very tiny compared to the towering Cebu Pacific international airplane, more so to the PAL one. Claustrophobia is one of my fears yet still I’m up to the challenge.
And we went inside the aircraft and the flight wasn’t that smooth because of the typhoon that just got out from the Philippine area of responsibility, and some treacherous dark clouds were still present up in the air. It was a tumultuous ride and I was never scared my entire life. I didn’t have fears before when I was flying, but the aircraft seems so fragile that it could go down anytime now.
Miraculously, the flight didn’t take an hour, it was more like 35 minutes, and thank the heavens it was that short! Because it was really, really scary.
Also for a fact that it was my first time to have a woman captain on-board did a little sexist thought in my subconscious which my partner and I realized after. We’re all sexist in a way, but the landing was very, very smooth and it was impressive. Who run the world? Hehe
Camiguin Airport was very small and simple, and we were greeted by Manong with a card-board with my partner’s name on it and he drove us to the hotel (and that’s for P250.00 not including the hotel stay… don’t ask).
TIP #5: VERY IMPORTANT TIP, we realized that if we knew we could just ride a local tricycle going to the resort, we wouldn’t have spent P250.00 going to it. If you want to take this advice; go out of the airport and there are 2 kinds of tricycle there: Green Tricycle that’s bound east (and never ever ride this one if you’re going to resorts on the Western side of the island) and the Orange Tricycle that’s bound west. Ride an Orange one and tell the driver you’re going to your resort. For Agohay, the rate is P10.00. See, it’s a lot cheaper compared to having a service.
TIP #6: But when you’re going home and your flight is early like ours which was 6:10AM, I think it’s wise to have a service from the resort because there are no early tricycles around the island at that time.
The resort was good. The walkway towards it looks really expensive and the cottages looked amazing. They had a pool and also, but most important, they have WIFI in their restaurant area.
We arrived soon and told us that the check in was 2:00PM like they told us we could check in earlier if it’s already available and since there are still people in the cottage; they let us wait for 12:00NN. But it was fine, we were too early though.
I was about to grab my camera and take a picture of the entire villa; but then an error message popped up: NO SD CARD DETECTED. The horrors run through my senses and I know my partner would get pissed off me because it has always been my problem. I told him and he was cool with it (outside) and so we asked if there are SD cards available in town, and Manong told us that there’s FUJI in their market. And it was fine.
Also, we were hungry and the food prices in the resort were a bit high though so we looked for ways on how to have lunch.
TIP #7: If there’s a market, there’s food –Chef Andrew Zimmern
We bought a 2GB SD card in their market only for P300.00 who sells camera, cellphone and those kinds of stuff, but not in FUJI FILM because I knew it would be very expensive there, and again we’re limited.
We also had lunch inside their market but away from the smelly fish stands of course, but it was hard to look for the cafeterias, but thankfully, we were persistent in finding food. Chef Andrew Zimmern’s quote is the key to survive a budgeted trip.
After, we went back to the resort and they already let us in our cottage at 12:00NN not 2:00PM THANK GOODNESS! And both of us were amazed by our room. It was the superior cottage and it was huge. I could get a pom-pom and start my own dance routine there without damaging stuffs because it was really big. It also has cable TV and a couch. Yes, a couch.
But what impressed us the most is the outdoor shower. It was so sexy and sophisticated. It did feel like international.
Although the air conditioning did not suffice the entire place, there is still an electric fan that could pump up the coolness of it, so it’s just fair. And we got that room for P1, 800.00 only. So impressed.
We were about to be ready for our white island tour, but then they have to cancel it due to the weather that’s not friendly at all, and have to rebook it on the next day, 6:00AM.
TIP #8: All tours are regulated by the government. For the island tour, it’s for P1, 700.00 with driver and car good for 8-12 people. White island tour is P450.00 for the boat ride, still good for 8 pax. And you could drive your own motor bike or scooter and mountain bike, good for P500.00 and P400.00 respectively.
And since we were just two, we don’t plan to take the P1, 700.00 package for 8, because it would be impractical. What we did was to ask the front desk if they know someone who could offer us a cheap price for two using motorcycle. The price started P1, 200.00, but we said no and told them we’ll just be the one who’ll look for someone else outside the resort. Then the price lowered to P1, 000.00 down to P800.00 as the last price.
TIP #9: Play hard to get when you don’t like the price. *wink *wink
And since we will not be doing anything in that day, we just relaxed in our cottage, dip in the resort pool, took a bath in our sophisticated outdoor shower and have our dinner at Mambajao market again to save a lot of money.
White Island (Entrance is P40.00 which you will pay in the resort)
We woke up 6 in the morning and the banka was ready to go, and we were excited. Across our resort, we could already see the White Island but there were a lot of movement happening there, only to find out that those were people… I mean fifty plus people. It was a shock to me because I wasn’t prepared for a crowd in a tiny developing island, but anyhow, the more the merrier.
The sea wasn’t that much friendly but it was tolerable.
And when we arrived on White Island, and jump in on the smooth sand; we looked up seeing the breathtaking view of the entire Camiguin Island.
The beauty was surreal; it was more like you would see in a film. We have to stop on the edge of the shore to take in the beauty in front of us while the water splashed to our feet wet.
And it was selfie time.
We also got the chance to sit down and buy some treats from Manang who sells junk foods, ready to eat boiled eggs and boiled bananas. And then, the guy who sells raw sea urchins went near and we get to try some of it, 3pcs. for P50.00 (expensive), but it was heavenly. The taste was what I really loved about sea foods. It was delicious and perfect.
I also took a dip in the very cold water and got back home right after.
TIP: You can’t put bags anywhere because the waves will get all your stuff wet (or worse will carry your stuff in the ocean). Especially on a high tide where waters are rough. It’s best to bring small bags or a mobile table, and go there by 10:00AM (not advisable due to heat) or 3:00PM.
SODA COLD SPRING (P30.00 for Entrance Fee)
By 9:00, our island tour started. Our manong driver for the motorcycle suggested that it would be best if we go to the farthest destination and back to the nearest so it wouldn’t be that much inconvenient in going home, and we agreed.
First we went to Soda Cold Spring.
The pool was clean and huge because of the flowing waters and there are a lot of people diving in it too. I was impressed by how clear the water is when I dive in, and I have to use my GoPro with it to capture my underwater moments, and it was awesome.
TIP: Buy GoPro, the best thing you’ll ever buy… you won’t regret.
Most of the underwater shots in my video are shot in pool because it was just fantastic there.
STO. NINO COLD SPRING (P30.00 for Entrance Fee)
It’s the farthest location in the tour, and when we got there and have a glimpse inside and… we just did not like it because it was more like Soda Cold Spring but with more people, so we decided not to try it there not to waste even more money, and Soda Pools are way better than in Sto. Nino Cold Spring.
Again, we were on the budget so we ate at the nearest market in Catarman, and Andrew Zimmern’s quote didn’t fail us.
OLD CHURCH RUINS (Donations)
Manong also educated us about the old volcano that erupted and is now inactive, and the active one, Hibok-Hibok.
Aside from the tour guide services our manong offered to us, this is one of my favorite places in Camiguin because it’s where I learned the catastrophic history of the island. There’s a plaque there narrating about the old volcano named Vulcan that destroyed the land and lives of the people living in 1871 and how the old church remained up to this day even when we could only see the topmost part of it, as well as the convent and bell-tower.
SUNKEN CEMETARY and WALKWAY TO OLD VOLCANO
Just very near the Old Church Ruins is the Sunken Cemetary. I learned that the huge cross that we are now seeing is just a monument built for the cemetery itself. The real cross is meters away from where it is which you can see by the waves it creates afar.
And we also noticed that there are waves created in a semicircular sense around the monument, and a local told us that that was the border of the cemetery and it was the road going to the Old Church before it sunk.
It was really amazing knowing the place’s history.
Also, we bought some of the souvenirs there in Sunken Cemetary for the lowest price of P5.00 and it was all good.
For the Walkway to Old Volcano, we didn’t went up because first, manong told us that it’s very high and you’ll have to spend an hour to get on top, second, there’s really nothing much going on the mountain, and third, my partner remembered that one of the bloggers said that they’ve climbed but didn’t reached the top because it was exhausting and went back down instead.
Across the walkway, you can buy souvenirs and shirts in a higher and reasonable price.
KATIBAWASAN FALLS (P30.00 for the Entrance Fee)
The falls was really good and the water was so cold, even colder than in the cold springs that it felt like we were on the ice bucket challenge. And to be honest after dipping in once, I did not went back to dip because it was ice cold water.
But we did spend time there because there were less people around and the falls was relaxing.
ARDENT HOT SPRING (P30.00 for the Entrance Fee + Cottage Fee)
I think Ardent Hot Spring is the famous and most visited in all of Camiguin (besides White Island) because there are rooms to stay in and also it’s one of the flagship of the island for the tourist to come. It’s located near the active volcano, Hibok-Hibok and the water is warm and relaxing. There are nets above to hold the falling leaves to stay the waters clean.
A part of being one of the locals is to get a taste of the island’s delicacies. One of it is the Lanzones fruit which is so much good, another is their Kiping which is made from coconut, I guess due to its taste that I don’t like much, and the very famous Pastel by Vjandep (pronounced as Vandep). Lanzones and Pastel are meant to be pasalubong (souvenir/gift).
For us on a really tight budget for an escapade, there’s really no better way than to live like the locals. Find the cheapest ways in order for you to survive and as well as enjoy all the rides even if it means inconvenience. The island gives me a glimpse of Hawaii-like features especially when we pass by the edges and see the beautiful view ahead.
Camiguin is an island rich in history sense which creates a mystery for travelers out there. I love the fact that the prices are regulated by the government and I also appreciate the fact that using and throwing plastic is strictly prohibited in the island.
There still are places in Camiguin that I haven’t been like the Mantigue Island, and there are a lot of things that I haven’t done like snorkeling. But then those days when I was there gave me a lot of lessons in travelling and budgeting, also learning the ways of the locals and discovering new things that I surely will remember my entire life.
Also, when we got back to the resort, I can’t shake the fact that there are a lot of dead bodies in the island, and maybe, just maybe they’re still haunting the roads, confused. LOL
Anyhow, thanks Camiguin!
BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES
Here are our expenses (good for two):
|EXPENSE (in Peso)|
|Plane Ticket (roundtrip):||P3, 880.48|
|Service (from and to Airport/Resort):||P500.00|
|Resort:||P1, 800.00 x 2 Days= P3, 600.00|
|Boat to White Island:||P450.00|
|Island Tour Motorcycle:||P800.00|
|Ardent Hot Spring||P60.00|
|Souvenirs and Pastel||P90.00+P180 =P270.00|