From white beaches to jungle clad volcanoes – Camiguin has it all.

Camiguin-4705Coming back from beautiful Siquijor, our plan was to head straight to the island of Camiguin. It is part of the region of Mindanao and supposedly the island with the most volcanoes per square kilometer. Camiguin would be our last stop before going to Palawan which would also be our last leg of our shared journey through the Philippines. We hence planned to spend a few quality days with a mix of relaxation and adventure.

Once again we traveled by ferry including yet another stopover in Bohol. The ride on an old and rusty ship but over-friendly crew took about 4 hours. The weather was fine which made the ride enjoyable and diverting. We were even able to spot some dolphins and lots of flying fish accompanying our boat for a bit.

We safely made it to Camiguin by early evening and had a tricycle driver take us to a resort he recommended. Usually being a bit suspicious about recommendations like that, we got lucky yet once more and found a place nested in a lush and spacious garden right by the water and with a little private beach. The room was cosy and airy, the price was right, the ambiance was quiet and relaxed and the view from our little porch was unbeatable. Without hassle we found our hideaway for the upcoming days. With a smile on our faces we enjoyed the beautiful sunset that evening and were glad to have made it to this tropical paradise.

The next day Chris and I rented motorbikes to tour the island. I have to say those were the best and most fun bikes we rode so far. 125cc Hondas with a sort of motocross body including high suspensions and my bike even featuring some fresh Monster Energy decal. Just the right rides to tour the island of volcanoes.
Our first stop was Katibawasan Falls, one of the bigger waterfalls we saw so far with the water dropping by about 70 meters. We cooled off in the comparably chilly water and snacked on some local food before we got back on the road again. Until noon we just rode around, explored the back roads and beautiful scenery with views of the surrounding volcanoes. It was a great morning and we took our time snapping nice pictures while stopping here and there.

Back at our place we checked for Dolf who had a bad night being afflicted by awful nightmares and hence had decided to skip the tour in order to catch up on some sleep. Me being tired as well, we spent the remainder of the day lazing in our hammocks to the sound of the gentle waves breaking at our beach and watching the clouds pass by. In the evening I felt fit again and decided to hit up the local gym which Chris and I had discovered earlier that day. It was basically just a big garage with some basic equipment in it but enough to have a proper workout. The guys there gave me a very warm welcome, the workout felt great and I was sure to return the following days.

White Island and meeting new friends
The next morning we boarded a little banka boat to White Island which is actually a big white sandbar just off coast Camiguin. We got there at about 8 in the morning and it was super hot already. The island seems to be a popular spot for Filipino tourists and a lot of them were having fun on the beach and in the water. The sand there was as white as it gets and the ocean around it a mix of turquoise and blue waters. The sun was blazing merciless but snapping some nice pictures of the people and the surrounding scenery made up for it. We also got a nice and very different view of Camiguin.

Our next stop was the islands giant clam sanctuary. It is a local tourism project where giant clams are being hatched and put into a sanctuary close to shore. The place was interesting with a lot of clams, shells and other marine life on display. You could also go snorkel around the sanctuary and check out the clams themselves but we skipped on that.
We wanted to reach another waterfall after lunch but got surprised by a hefty downpour. After having taken shelter for a while, we decided to drive back to or resort and spend the rest of the day there.

Impressions from the clam sanctuary.

Impressions from the clam sanctuary.

I went to the gym again that night and took off late at around 6. The workout did me well again and I wanted to get some proper food afterwards. I went to a chicka loca, the best chicken place in town, to have a half chicken with rice for take away. Just as I received my order, it started pouring again. I was basically stuck there since the way back was long, it was dark out and too slippery to ride. What to do? Waiting for the rain to stop, I met Gels, Harlene and Ayan who worked at the chicken place. The two girls, friends of Ayan, were working at the warehouse next door and just hung around. We all got to talk and had a great time getting to know each other. I got invited for some tasty pork liempo and I bought a round of beers to go with it for everyone. It was a fun night and after about three hours I left the place (it was still raining) having made some new friends. Only in the Philippines.

For the next morning Ayan and Gelz had invited me to come with them to church. I haven’t been to church during my entire trip and experiencing a local mass seemed appealing. The church was Inglesia ni Christo, the church of Christ – so something very different from my own confession. Although I didn’t understand anything, it was very interesting to follow the mass, observe the people and see how the liturgy was set up.
After a good hour the mass was over and Ayan, Gels and I took a stroll through town. We stopped at one of the town’s many bakeries and had some sweet stuff for breakfast. Just before we were about to leave, Gels impressed me a lot with a remarkable gesture. Without much of a fuss, she handed a cute, little beggar kid some money with the simple remark that it is just some coins. Seeing that and knowing that these guys probably don’t have too much money to spare was yet another eye opener and made me think about ourselves and our relation to money. The contrast is striking and the generosity of the people here is unbelievable.

Ayan and Gels before going to church.

Ayan and Gels before going to church.

The after church snack. Sweet and tasty fresh from the bakery.

The after church snack. Sweet and tasty fresh from the bakery.

After spending the remainder of the morning walking around town and by the shoreline close by, I again got invited for food. This time Harlene volunteered to cook for all of us and prepared a delicious fish dish. Again, the offer came totally unexpected and I felt more than grateful to have met these people and experience their hospitality. We had a great time together enjoying the food, joking around and getting to know each other even better.

Having lunch with my new friends. Thanks again for the good times.

Having lunch with my new friends. Thanks again for the good times.

The bunch told me, that there would be a little party that night. It sounded good and the guys were of course down for it. So we all met in the evening to have a few drinks together before leaving for the so called disco. When we arrived, there wasn’t much going on but we had fun with our little group and after a while the party started to kick off. We had a great time with the dj playing some of our favorite tunes and some easy drinking going on. It was a fun end to a memorable day.

Little too much an Mig and Red Horse.

Little too much an Mig and Red Horse.

Our last day we wanted to spend on Matigue Island, a short banka ride off Camiguin. After a late breakfast, the night out took its toll on us, we drove to the jump off point to Matigue. The banka ride was smooth and we soon approached a small, lush paradise in a turquoise blue sea. The island is very small and our goal was to explore the underwater world which was supposed to be amazing. After having landed on the beach, we headed straight to the snorkeling area, prepared our gear and got into the blue. I have to say it was our best snorkeling up to this point. Heaps of fish, shoals of jacks, lots of coral and many other interesting stuff to spot. The reef also featured a steep wall and at the bottom we saw some divers enabling us to snorkel in their air bubbles. Pretty funny.


The rest of the day we spent relaxing at the beach and reminiscing about the time we have had and the last weeks to come. We brought a cooler with some cold ones and snacks with made the whole stay even more enjoyable. It was a great day out and a good last day on Camiguin.

Last thoughts …
Camiguin was another great surprise. A beautiful island, quiet, relaxed and without too many tourists. On top of all, it featured a lot of things to do – we ourselves didn’t even see half of all the attractions the island offers. We could have easily stayed longer there without getting bored.
But it is not only about attractions but about the atmosphere that can make or break a stay. And here it was perfect with a huge part of that being due to the hospitality, friendliness and generosity of the people we have met. It sometimes leaves me in wonder how good the people can be here and Camiguin was another great example for just that. Life is not easy for people here. They are probably concerned about how to get by, make a living and how to improve their lives while living with way less amenities than we do. But still they are happy and willing to share  it with others. It made me feel welcome and blessed and at the same time a little sad thinking about myself, where I have come from and how big the difference is. It is hard to find the right words for it and hard to comprehend. Maybe some of you guys out there can understand what I want to say ……

Goodbye Camiguin ...

Goodbye Camiguin …

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Categories: Diving, Motorbike, The Philippines | Tags: , , , | 43 Comments

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43 thoughts on “From white beaches to jungle clad volcanoes – Camiguin has it all.

  1. Beautiful pictures. Camiguin has always been a favorite destination for the local. It was ages ago but I can still remember the beauty of the island even though we barely seen what the island could offer. I think we went to the white island, sunken cemetery and hot spring and had those very delicious pastries.

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hi Mikaela, Camiguin was definitely one of my highlights. So relaxed, so nice and such nice people. And I haven’t even seen the sunken cemetery. My plan was to go there for sunset and take a nice picture of the cross. But I have never found the time since there were a lot of other things going on. I easily could have a stayed a week longer. Do you have any other tips for me. Places that you enjoyed while travelling here?

      • Unfortunately though I just started exploring other island. I do like Camotes Island but I don’t think there is much to do there except to relax and get away from the crowded city.
        Sad to say I think I have explored Japan more than my own country.

      • Philipp Dukatz

        Hi Mikaela, but that’s noral I think. For some reason we saw other countries first before exploring our own. I myself haven’t seen too much of Germany either given the fact that I have spent all my life there. I definitely want to catch up on that sometime. Over here though, I have met a lot of Filipinos who travel their country.

      • You have a point there. I guess with arrival of cheap airlines, lots of Filipinos have access to cheap travel. Before it was so expensive to travel and time consuming.

        Greetings from Bantayan Island 🙂

  2. peter montgomery

    camiguin has some of the most friendly people in the philippines and great lanzones . close to mindanao phil , are you crossing over ?

    • Hi Peter, it seems like it. The people were amazingly friendly… I loved it there. We were close but didn’t have the time to cross over. Do you think we missed out? We are in Coron now. Coron town is a dirty shithole I have to say. Not liking it. Went around the island by bike today which was nice. Tomorrow exploring some of the islands around….. Missing Biri though. Still one of my favorites in the Phils.

  3. I understand what you mean, Phil. I think it comes from two general equations:
    1) The less you have, the easier it is to give of and part with what little you have. The more you have, the more comfortable life is and the harder it is to give up all these comforts; and
    2) The less you have, the lesser are your wants. Just having food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof above your head, the bare necessities is enough for you to be grateful and feel blessed. The more you have, the more you see things you want to have, the more power you have of acquiring them, and the sadder you become if you don’t get them.

    Happiness comes not from having everything but from the freedom to receive everything given to you (including nature). From there, I guess, is where the Filipino generosity comes.

    • Very wise words Anika and very true. I think your comment sums it up pretty well. My experiences here in the Philippines kind of show me how sick our western societies have turned already. I mean there are very many nice people, a lot of good things about our system and society. But still, I get the impression that something has gone wrong at one point. I hope the people here in the Phils can avoid the same mistake but I reckon it is inevitable once a society reaches a certain standard. Difficult topic..glad you can relate to what I wanted to say. Thanks a lot for your feedback!

  4. Lovely photos, especially the underwater ones!

    • Thanks for the feedback, really appreciate that. The underwater shots were done with a Go Pro – shoots some nice pictures and footage. Wish I had one of those….

      • I hear you. I really wanted one too for my Galapagos trip, but I settled for the Olympus TG-1, which actually performed really well. I’d say it’s the next best thing to a Go Pro in the compact waterproof camera – bright lens. It’s bigger than the Go Pro but more affordable.

      • Philipp Dukatz

        I might have to check that out. The first things on my list however are new lenses for my DSLR. A proper wide angle lens or a fish eye. The fish eye of my travel mate here takes amazing shots. Makes me wanna buy one…

  5. autumn leaves

    Camiguin is my most favorite place on earth. It’s my secret haven …. I guess you know the reason why. ^_^

    • Hi Mimi,
      thanks for stopping by my blog and your feedback. I really appreciate it. Camiguin is great, no doubt about it. I have just recommended it to more travelers I have met here. They wanna go as well. When was the last time you were there? It’s beautiful there.

      • autumn leaves

        I agree, Camiguin is truly a very beautiful place. I just shared this place to my diver friend and he really fell in love with it. And yes, it’s quite a hassle to reach the island, but it’s all worth it, right?

        Hope that our paths will cross anywhere in the world. Until then …

  6. autumn leaves

    And yes, I feel the same way about the place (what you have written on your last thoughts …).

    • Thanks again….. Are you from the Philippines or have you been traveling here as well?

      • autumn leaves

        Hi Phil! Well, you just added me on Facebook. Thanks! I just came back from Camiguin last May 7. I guess we just missed each other there. I am a Filipina who loves to travel and meet people. (I also do that virtually, thus I found you here!) My next target place is Batanes after the typhoon season …I dunno … Plan according to the weather! ^_^ But wherever my feet would lead me, that “somewhere” would surely be very exciting … So nice to meet you virtually, Philipp. Hope that I can have the chance to explore people & places with you someday.

      • Philipp Dukatz

        Hey Mimi, nice to meet you too! Batanes would be nice, for sure. We did not go since it is quiet out of the way and supposedly the flights are expensive as well. It sure must be a magical place. Maybe someday I will make it there. Whereabouts in the Philippines do you live then? Who knows, maybe we can meet up sometime. Greetings, Philipp

      • autumn leaves

        If you will have the chance to stay around Manila or Tagaytay City, that would be nice. ^_^

      • Philipp Dukatz

        Hey Mimi, I was in Tagay Tay already. It was really nice there. I like the area and the climate is so much better. You live around there? I will be back in Manila once I will fly out. Not sure when that is going to be. Let’s meet up 😉

      • autumn leaves

        Yep, I live around Tagaytay. Meeting you face to face would be great! Looking forward to it. In the meantime, please enjoy every moment that you spend on the islands. ^_^

      • Philipp Dukatz

        I will and I do. Swam with a 7m Whaleshark today. So lucky. Tomorrow I am going to dive Manta Bowl. If I make back to Manila, I will let you know and we can try to work something out….

      • autumn leaves

        Wow! Manta Bowl! Enjoy!

      • Philipp Dukatz

        It was great! Saw two Mantas!

      • autumn leaves

        Sorry, not sure if you were able to receive my previous message. Anyway, I do hope we can get the chance to meet. Enjoy Bicol!

  7. Camiguin is a wonderful island! I had a great time as well when I visited the island with my friends last year. Too bad it was storming when we attempted to visit the sandbar. Good to know that you are enjoying your stay in the Philippines.

    JDE
    http://domi-quell.livejournal.com

  8. this is one of the most touching ‘last thoughts’ ive ever read on your blog. we often miss out on little but significant things on our lives because we are too focused on bigger yet immaterial things. getting immersed with an entirely new culture will make us think again what it is that we really want to prioritize in life. yes, i totally understand what you meant phil 🙂

    • Hi Rj, thanks for your kind comment. The things you said are very true. Especially here in Western societies people tend to focus so much on material things, security and career advancementsm that they miss out on the important things in life. Going abroad and immersing in different cultures definitely broadens ones horizon and tnde to set priorities straight again. At the least it is good for an eye opener. The problem with all of this however is, that once you have done and experienced it, it is very hard to fit in the old schemes. Something I am still coping with …. Cheers again RJ!

  9. I totally agree, people in Camiguin are amazing. They were super nice and hospitable even to local tourists like me Had the best stay here

    • Hi sherrie, glad you also enjoyed your stay on the island born of fire. It was one of my fav places I have to say. Would go back anytime ….. All the best and thanks a lot for stopping by!!!

  10. kris

    hi phil try to visit the island of siargao the surfing capital of the country.,
    also try to go for a dive in punta pilar in surigao city.,

  11. Camiguin my home. I’m glad you enjoyed your stay. Come again(comiguin).

  12. Hi Phil! I’m glad you liked my hometown! 🙂
    The next time you visit Camiguin, let me know and I’ll surely invite you over for lunch/dinner and tour you around the spots in the island where you haven’t been to.

  13. “Life is not easy for people here. They are probably concerned about how to get by, make a living and how to improve their lives while living with way less amenities than we do. It made me feel welcome and blessed and at the same time a little sad thinking about myself, where I have come from and how big the difference is.” Great one Pipoy! Guess that’s why we travel. To understand two worlds: the external and the one within ourselves. You can actually write a book, ever crossed your mind?

  14. Haven’t traveled outside Asia, but I remember my student’s observation bet living in Australia and Phils. Living in high standards made her more materialistic, while settling here geared her focus towards relationships. Of course aside from socio-economic background there’s a long list of other factors, race, gender, temperament hehe.

    P.S. I’m also a member of the Church of Christ, so cool you got a glimpse of the worship service!

    • Hi Bianca, yeah it seems like materialism is like forced upon you in these societies and if you go against it, it is very difficult. Not so good in my opinion ….. But yeah, was great to see the service and be there among locals. Very unique experience. …

      • Yeah tell me about it. Good thing we can decide who to surround ourselves with.. adds the fun even when it gets difficult. Well generally! Anyway. I am amazed how open minded you are. Cheers Phil!

    • I just learnt that the most important trait of a traveler and travel photographer is acceptance. I found that very true..if you accept people and their unique culture and way of life, then they will let you in and allow for a great experience. Thanks Bianca..I hope you are doing good!!

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