Saturday, January 05, 2008

Camiguin in December

Camiguin is an island province of the Philippines in the Mindanao area famous for its dive spots. While most foreigners (even locals) would cringe at the thought of being in Mindanao (think Abu Sayyaf), it is actually a relatively safe place (compared to Cubao's pickpocketing and being held up at gun point).

I was in Camiguin for 4 days with my bf. Unfortunately, despite the number of days that we stayed in Camiguin, we were only able to visit 2 tourist spots: White Island and Ardent Hot Spring. Now I won't go into all the details about Camiguin since there are already a lot of good sites out there that provide information on the island one of which is Camiguin Information from philippine-vacations.hypermart.net (I personally used it as a guide). Instead, from the information provided from the guide (refer to link), I'll just provide a personal review of each category as enumerated below and then some:

From the Guide:

  • Where to stay
  • Where to eat
  • Getting Around
And then some:
  • Camiguin weather in December
  • What to bring
  • Ardent Hot Spring
  • White Island

Where to Stay
The guide provides a pretty comprehensive list of places to stay in Camiguin. I don't know when this was written but it is still pretty much accurate. The best deal from the list, I'd have to say would be Paradiso Hillside Cottages which includes the use of motorcycle during the length of the stay. You'd just have to pay for the gas and voila!, you can now tour the island of Camiguin at no extra cost. The only setback to it is that it isn't along the beach.

For us, we have a family friend who graciously offered us to stay at her sister's empty house. Only, it also wasn't along the beach and when my bf complained the he didn't feel like he was in Camiguin, I contacted Diggi of Camiguin Action who magnanimously offered to halve the rate. To get to see pictures of the Camiguin Action and their rates, click here. They also have a restaurant and bar. (Shameless plug: I created the website so if you want a website to be set up, contact me)

If you like the beach, then the best place to stay would be among the resorts in Agoho. They also provide you with a view of White Island.


Where to Eat
There aren't much options when in Camiguin. You do have Paradiso Bar & Restaurant, Jasmin by the Sea, and Camiguin Action (wasn't able to try Secret Cove) but what these places offer are for the foreign tastebuds (and foreign pockets!). If you ask me, they are also a bit overpriced in comparison to eating here in, let's say Makati, specially when ordering pasta and pizza. I could get better value for my money at Amici's Don Bosco. You'd have to fork PhP300++ for every meal, and the pizza is priced at that range compared to Amici's PhP 250.00 pizza.

I had this tiramisu at Paradiso Bar & Restaurant (I forgot how much it cost. Around PhP70.00 up). I have a thing for tiramisu (will even do a comparison on it in a later post).

If you want value for your money, better to go simple. Eat seafood! First, it doesn't cost much since it is sourced from the island itself. Secondly, for as low as PhP150.00, you could get this much fish and fresh off the island too! I don't know what this fish is but this is pure-unadulterated-grade A fish. They just grilled it on White Island and put nothing on the fish. Yet it tasted sweet and when dipped in soy sauce with calamansi... I could only wish I could get this in Makati.


Or you could also go to the market and try chicken in Coron-Coron (I like it). Or buy one of those barbecued chicken sold on the side with puso. ;) One of the recommended seafood places is the Lagoon near Benoni Port. Unfortunately for us, we weren't able to check it out.


Getting Around
There are 3 ways to go about the island: walk, ride a motorcyle/motorbike/bike, or ride a van. Unfortunately for me, we rode a motorbike and I ended up with this ugly burn on my leg. :( So beware! Always get off on the left side of the bike!


Camiguin weather in December
Camiguin weather during December isn't predictable. It would be cloudy in the early morning, sun shining brightly at 9 am, and downpour at 5 pm which makes it hard to plan one's day ahead.

What to bring
When in Camiguin in December, best to bring an umbrella as well on top of the following:
  • swimwear
  • sunblock!
  • slippers/crocs/flip-flops
  • ziplock bag so that cameras, cellphones, iPods won't get wet
  • hat/cap

Ardent Hot Spring
Ardent's temperature, according to a local, is no longer as hot as it used to be. I would have to agree with him. The water in the bigger pool area with depths of 6 feet is tepid. You'd have to go to the smaller pool, pool so small only toddlers can wade in it to experience the 38 degreees water temperature. To gain entrance and use its facilities, one would only have to pay PhP 25.00. They also provide stalls type bathrooms (which also work as changing rooms) separate for men and women. Below are some pics of Ardent.

A net is placed over the pool area to trap the falling leaves.

A close up of Ardent's flowing water.

White Island
To get to White Island, it isn't as cheap as Ardent. You'd have to rent a bangka to get you there and back to Camiguin for PhP 500.00. Bangka operators will give you their cellphone numbers so that you can just call them when you'd want to be fetched. To get to White Island from the beaches of Agoho would only take about 5 minutes (well that was how it felt like). You could feel the wind against your face, see the bluegreen-ness of the sea (as well as get spatters at times), and look up to a clear blue sky.

On the island, there are make-shift shelters set-up from trapal, bamboo, and monobloc tables and chairs. Locals would tell you that to sit on them is free but would later charge you after eating your meal. Of course this means that on White Island, you could also have your meal cooked (err.. grilled). They also offer kinilaw which we weren't able to try since my bf didn't trust how they made them. But for everything else, like the grilled fish (which was caught just that day), it was exquisite. Nothing beats eating au naturelle! Below are some pics of White Island.


These souvenirs can be had for as low as PhP 10.00. The necklaces are priced at PhP 10.00 while the shells with enscription costs at 3 for a hundred. They have thoughtfully engraved some of them as 2008 in anticipation of the new year! Hehe.


Other sites on Camiguin to check out:


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