June 15, 2018 – A Brief Escapade
Alas, our last day in the enchanting paradise of Camiguin has arrived. It was too quick but there was no time to contemplate as we had to wake up early during our second day. We had an early wake up call because we were planning to witness the sunrise at the famed White Island. The White Island is one of the must-see spots in Camiguin. Thankfully, it is located just off the coast of where we were staying; it was one of the reasons why we chose to stay there even though it was a long way from the town center.
From our accommodation, we walked for about 10 minutes on the shore to the registration area. It was already teeming with activity as fellow travelers had the same idea. You see, the white island is not really an island in the strict sense of the word. It is a sandbar that appears and disappears depending on whether it is low tide or high tide. The best time to visit it is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Registration fee is about PHP 500, which also covers the 10-minute boat ride from the shore to the island.
We weren’t the first to land on the sandbar but it had enough space to accommodate us. The vast stretch of powdery white sand tickled our feet as we walked across it. The morning vision was simply breathtaking. We can also see the mountains looming above the main island. Beyond majestic, the place was idyllic, surreal, otherworldly. I know our fellow travelers shared the same awe we felt. With the early sunrise, the sand was effervescent, like treasures locked for years.
Joy and I have a long day ahead so after briefly enjoying the early morning escapade, we hopped back to the main island. After having our breakfast, we picked up where we left off. Our multicab was waiting to pick us up so that we can resume our adventure around the island. From our accommodation, we proceeded to Ardent Hot Spring, one of many government-owned resorts jotting the slopes of Camiguin’s towering mountains, obscured by the thick verdure.
After settling the entrance fee, we proceeded into the hot spring. Perhaps tracing the path of a natural spring, the pool was designed in four tiers of varying depths and warmth. With the water emanating from Mt. Hibok-Hibok, it is believed that the springs are medicinal. We enjoyed the privacy afforded to us by the early morning escapade, relaxing and dipping in the therapeutic pools.
From the springs, we proceeded to Katibawasan Falls, one of the popular tourist spots in the island. Again, the trip took us deeper into the interior of the island, higher into the mountains. When we reached the end of the paved road, we were greeted by an assortment of stores which sells local products. It also meant that we have reached our stop.
Tucked at the foot of Mt. Timpoong, Katibawasan Falls is the most visited waterfall in Camiguin and it was easy to see why. Going down the step, the sight of the 250-meter high waterfall was enough arrest our attention, taking our collective breath away. Just like Tuasan Falls, it cascades from a cliff covered with lush wild ferns. At its base is a waist-deep pool where travelers can take a dip. If there is one thing that Camiguin never runs out of are pools and springs; you can take your pick!
As Joy and I are travelling back to Cagayan de Oro later in the day, we picked our things up first before going to our next stop. We then proceeded to another highlight of any Camiguin trip – Mantigue Island. One must pay for the environmental fee of P30 before being allowed entry to the island. To get there, one must rent a boat for P600; a boat can accommodate a maximum of six people. For those who want to snorkel, one must pay a snorkeling fee of P50, and, if without snorkeling gears, a snorkeling gear rental of P100.
Thankfully, we met a Spanish couple who were also looking for fellow travelers they can split the boat cost with. When everyone is prepared, we hopped into the boat and in about 30 minutes, we reached the island. Also known as Magsaysay Island, it covers about four hectares of lush greenery fringed with powdery white sand beach. Glimmering under the morning sun, it was a great vision. It was further enhanced by the turquoise waters that surrounded the island.
However, there was something that dampened my mood. During our stay in Camiguin, the tides have been rough, as I have shared during our experience at the Sunken Cemetery. This was brought about by the season. As a result, the shore was jotted with garbage thrown into the sea. It was unfortunate to witness the island in such a state and my friend was even admonishing the locals about it. But it can’t be helped; nature finds a way to get back at us for our irresponsible ways. Exhausted after a day of snorkeling and swimming, I passed on the opportunity of yet another snorkeling adventure. Joy and our companions, however, enjoyed it.
Back at the main island, we proceeded to Kaliba Beach, home to the Kaliba Beach Giant Clam Conservation and Ocean Nursery. Giant clams, once abundant, have earned a “vulnerable” conservation status, hence, the presence of giant clam sanctuaries like Kaliba Beach. The P25 entrance fee is fully utilized for this conservation efforts. The sanctuary currently houses over 2,600 giant clams from seven different species.
One of the features of the facility is the breeding center and education facility where visitors can see fishing pens filled living giant clams. Visitors are oriented on how the sanctuary conducts its conservation efforts. Up close, visitors can observe the natural behavior of giant clams, including how they breathe. Before giant clams are transferred to the open seas, they are nurtured in the breeding center. One can see varying sizes, from baby clams to young adult clams.
There is one major activity in the area. Yes, snorkeling! One of the reasons why I didn’t snorkel at Mantigue Island is because I wanted to conserve my energy for our last snorkeling adventure. But before that, we must eat lunch. The facility has a restaurant that serve freshly cooked meals; it is a haven for seafood lovers, and a torture for me. HAHA!
With lunch done, we proceeded to the last stretch of our adventure. Since we didn’t have gears, we again rented. Shepherded by a local guide, we went to the edge of the beach; another snorkeling adventure is about to start! This part is shallower but lined up with giant clams. Be very cautious as you don’t to be sucked by or into these giant mollusks. Overall, the entire experience was fascinating. Simply floating by and witnessing the marvelous creatures of the deep, especially the giant clams, was marvelous. There were also schools of colorful fishes.
It was a very memorable moment, and, despite my exhaustion, I felt healing and inner peace. It was just unfortunate that I can’t capture what I saw and share it to everyone. Given the opportunity, I won’t hesitate in going back to this place and capture its serenity, its otherworldly quality. Actually, the entire Camiguin escapade felt surreal. Camiguin is simply majestic and I’ve seen just about half of it but I am sold. I badly want to go back and perhaps spend a longer time to do things I haven’t done the first time.
But as this cloud of reflections start to settle, Joy and I were onboard a ferry going back to mainland Mindanao. Those three days were too brief. But maybe it is also a sign for me to go back and relive these moments. Daghang salamat Island Born of Fire. I will be back someday and hoping that I can document more of those moments. Until next time I guess!