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Camiguin, the volcanic island

Camiguin, the volcanic island

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Camiguin island is small, located in the northern Mindanao. The only departure point from Bohol is : Jagna’s harbor, east, and just one daily ferry at 1 p:m .

In Bohol, immediately after visiting the Tarsiers’ sanctuary, i ask a tricycle to drop me at Jagna, no time to wait for the bus since there is only one ferry a day. Two hours for the crossing, we dock at Benoni’s harbor, east of the island. I get on a motorcycle-taxi, and here i am, in a small simple resort, the Sabacajan, held by a friendly family of the same name.

The smashed gate opens onto a black sand beach, Camiguin is indeed a volcanic island, a dozen volcanos and three main ones. Sunsets, even though not as beautiful as in Siquijor, are always intense.

Right in front of my room i can see the “White Island” a white sandbank sparkling in the multiple blue colors of the sea. It’s a popular swimming spot, in the morning and late in the day, a simple Bangka allows to reach it in a few minutes. From the sandbank we can see the beauty of Camiguin and it’s mountainous side.

Going back towards Mambajao, a road leads to the largest waterfall on the island, the Katibawasan.

It is December 31st ….. which is the last hours for the pigs ! The “Lechon” is a tradition in Philippines, they roast the whole animal after having sprayed coconut milk all over it, it is a real treat, a luxury dish, and few families can afford it.

I shall forget about New Year’s eve, which in such a rural place is just a night for bangers explosions and Filipino families drinking and playing in the streets. Mambajao town, located about 10 km from here would have been more appropriate to celebrate the new year, but i ended up staying with a friendly family , drinking beers until no time, on the roadside, in the damp, very damp indeed night, must recall it, now suffering with bad bronchitis after that night . So, i thought the hot volcanic spring water of Hibok-Hibok might help me to an accelerated recovery, but these proved just warm, even in the hottest pool, not so effective as those of Hindad, in Thailand, tested last July.

I would like to advice solo travelers to always settle in the main city of the sparsely populated islands, they will gain in ambiance, comfort, information, transport, choice of restaurants and it is much better than any isolated seaside resort, knowing that a lot of activities start there. Renting a bike is easy, but also requires daily journeys to the animated scenes.

The Casa Roca  is a stunning property overlooking the sea. The boss Jim is Canadian, a man who has traveled a lot, a hearty generous person. His wife Evelyn, is from Philippines, she is a fabulous cook. The rooms are spacious. It’s a great place to stay, but … you must like to be isolated ! Jim lent me an old bike, ideal for me to go to the sunken cemetery and to the old volcano, a few km far, but the road is very hilly !

The cemetery was engulfed in a severe earthquake in the 1870’s, today it is one of the main attraction of the island, and also a place for snorkeling (not tested, because i did not bring the gear) i went there at dusk

A few days later, i returned to the scene to climb up the volcano. It is a pilgrimage ‘s route, Way of the Cross, represented by painted sculptures (of doubtful taste), they punctuate the walk. The trip starts with stairs in a light forest, followed by a dirt track with no shade, it’s very hot just after 9 a:m, 2 liters of water won’t be too many ! From the top, you can see very well the engulfed cemetery, the road and the forest, again consisting mainly of coconut plantations, nature is devastated, traces of jungle or biotope are approximate.

Mantigue island

In Western Camiguin, a small island named Mantigue is a Robinson Crusoe’s destination. Only fishermen and seaweed farmers stay there all year round. It is best to go there in the morning, from a small harbor above Benini you can get there for 500 pesos aboard a Bangka.

The West coast of the island is lined with an original marine sanctuary, consisting of a vast expanse of grass Posidonia genus, isolated corals dot the white sand. A few meters away, a falling-rich coral and fish allow hours of exploration. The water was not very clear on that day, the rain that plague daily and the wind did not let the dirt and sand at rest.

We can get around this island in a few minutes, a small forest prevails in its middle, a path allows to browse through it.

I get back on the Bangka towards Camiguin, the island is now sunny and i can see very well the forest along the coast, we see in this picture the huge amount of coconut trees which take over the secondary forest into the hills.

To get to the secondary forest, i would have had to hike on Mount Hibok-Hibok, this was not possible due to the thick fog and daily rains in altitude. It is advisable to come in March/April, now it is the real dry season in the Philippines.

We leave Camiguin with the smiles of the children, behind the wall of the school.



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Camiguin, the volcanic island

par Stéphane Bidouze time to read: 6 min