The airport of Cagayan de Oro is called Laguindingan airport, which is located some 35 km from de city of Cagayan de Oro (CDO). It’s the gateway to cities as Marawi, Illigan and CDO and provinces like Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. It is the second busiest airport of Mindanao after that of Davao City. The airport is a bit bigger than the one in Dipolog for example but is still a small building despite the gangway they have by getting out of the plane instead of taking a bus. The airport has two baggage carousel’s and trolley’s in case you have a lot of luggage. It’s supposedly an international airport although it doesn’t look like that.
From the baggage claim area you walk within meters out of the building where you encounter a number of boots. People are screaming for your attention. In case you have booked a hotel beforehand it would be good to ask the hotel which shuttle passes or brings you there. For example the Odysee shuttle brings you to House of Java or the more luxurious Pearlmont hotel in Cagayan city for 200 peso ($4).
Departure is unfortunately not as easy as arrival. The departure hall is way too small and doesn’t have enough seats for all the waiting people. With flights of Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia all around the same time early afternoon. It’s overcrowded and there isn’t a proper air con system working. It’s too hot in the hall.
There are two food places and several small local shops. The number of seats at the two food places is way too little and here too it’s really hot to sit and eat. There is a lot to improve for this airport and expansion seems the only way to solve things. It seems that no shuttle brings you to the airport. A taxi by meter cost around 500 peso ($10). Grab charges pick up cost and meter price. It won’t make sense to order Grab in comparison with other normal taxi’s.
Cagayan de Oro city
From the airport to Cagayan de Oro city you pass places like Salvador city and Opol beach. CDO is an urban city in Northern Mindanao. In 2015 it had a population of about 676.000. The city was founded in 1871 and became an urbanized city in late 1983. With places like Limketkai Mall and the even bigger Centrio Mall you can visit cinemas and restaurants or do shopping at convenience stores, bakery, food stalls, clothes stores and even a stage where often a sing contest for kids is happening. It can be a quite noisy shopping experience at Limketkai. Beware that even in Centrio the K9 dogs are walking around.
With the well-known fastfood brands like McDonalds and Jolliebee and Chowkein for the more Chinese kind of food and a Thai food restaurant, there is plenty to choose from. A visit to one of the cinemas cost 200 peso per ticket. If that’s all not enough then there is the famous sky bar in CDO. Don’t let your expectations run high. The sky bar is just on the second floor surrounded by higher buildings which makes it look like a basement bar instead. There is hardly anything special in Cagayan de Oro that differs from any other urban city except for beaches you might think.
There are many beaches around Cagayan de Oro when you look on Maps or internet, but that can become a disappointing experience. Beach resorts are in most cases nothing else than local beach huts with a name beach resort on it. They call it restaurants but are just local drink places with karaoke and a lot of noise too. The word beach or beach resort has a different definition from that of yours as a westerner. It’s not even close to the one in Dakak of which we have a post on this site. Beaches around Cagayan are either dirty, made of stones instead of sand or dead ends of a 100 meter length. Not worth the name beach.
It has to be mentioned that Coconut Bay Resort is a great place to have a lunch right in front of the sea. Divided by barbwire which makes it impossible to get to the small piece of beach with low tide. There is a small pool though. The place in itself is one of great view and sphere in case you have some nice company or a date. Don’t go for the swimming.
Try a few
To try a few; Opol beach is the only beach with length. It’s dirty and doesn’t have many clear entrances. Neither does it have many proper places for a westerner to sit, eat and drink. Actually there is only one resort of acceptable standard which is therefore expensive. The name is Apple Resort but has no entrance when you walk on the beach passing it. The security sends you to somewhere that you don’t find because you need to buy a ticket to eat or drink in this place.
Then you have Ragaas beach which is a 100 meter dead-end strip on either side of small, dirty sand beach with locals and even real pigs on it. Go see Uy-Uy beach which turns out not to be a beach. Then you have Chali beach resort but that turns out not to have a beach where you can hang out with a beer, according to their security. Then you have Coconut bay which is a bay and not a beach. At last you visit Acuna beach resort which again, doesn’t have a beach. In case it does have, it doesn’t have clear gateways or entrances to beaches, no clear signs, no explaining security, no car parking etc.
Some beaches are just a small dead-end strip made out of stones. Many smell bad, a lot of trash in the sea. Fishing villages that probably have their toilets ending up in the sea. Oil tankers and ships for anchor near the shore.
Gaston Park & Museums
Alright. The beaches possibly couldn’t excite you much so why not go to the city center. Gaston park and some museums are there. When sky bars aren’t in a sky and beaches can’t be called beaches then a park shouldn’t have the name park in CDO. Gaston park is such a park. It has the shape of a circle which you can walk around in less than a few minutes. In the middle of the park is a fountain which can look nice when you’re lucky enough to see it switched on. The most impressive might be the memorial wall with all the names from people who died or got missing during typhoon Sendong in the past. Opposite of that is the church that has some significance.
Museums must be you’re last possibility of satisfaction in CDO. You look for the city museum of Cagayan de Oro. While busy with Maps on your phone you see that it must be at the park. You walk and passed it. Then you walk back and passed it again but you don’t see anything that looks like a museum. You get confused and ask some parking lot guy about the museum and he tells you that you’re standing in front of it. An old 1921 water tower is the museum. Gate closed, no signs whatsoever of a museum and you wonder what they can put in such a small tower to display. You look for another museum nearby and walk there. Lourdes College Museum is next and on walking distance. Unfortunately this doesn’t look like a museum but as the name indicates, a school and of course, closed too. The museums are closed in weekends, the days that people have time to visit you would think.
Nothing or Everything
The difference between nothing or everything lies between coming for a vacation or for living in Cagayan. In case you choose this destination for a living then you have probably everything you’re looking for or need. With movie theatres, shopping malls and anything a big city offers but if that’s what you need, you can choose any big city in the Philippines or Asia that offers that. When you choose a vacation then there is only one suggestion and that is forget about CDO. Cagayan has nothing to offer when you’re in for a beach holiday or cultural relaxation time.
Let alone the habit of Philippino’s to keep staring at you at any place all the time by everyone and you think for yourself if this is the holiday you’re looking for. Unless you’ll be satisfied with a week only in a hotel pool. Then there might be a few options for you.
Places to stay
Plenty of places to stay. We give you three here. The House of Java is located opposite Pearlmont and around the corner of Limketkai mall. The place has only twin beds and doesn’t allow visitors with their guests and it has a curfew time. They do mention this on sites. It’s not a very quiet place too with the speakers of the nearby church sending messages at some times. The owners are Danish/Philippina with big hospitality and helpful.
Country Village Hotel charges the same at some periods as House of Java but has a nice pool and is a big compound with restaurants. This according to the pictures and info on sites like Agoda and Booking.com. Here too counts the disappointing factor like with all other things mentioned in this post. The pool is under renovation from Aug 16, 2019. Per Oct 4 it seems far from ready to get operational. This isn’t mentioned on booking sites and they won’t refund you for cheating in case you booked mostly for the pool (after all the disappointing beaches). The location is more outside but you can get a taxi for 100 peso to Centrio Mall.
They don’t have an elevator for their 2 floors. A sign about how good exercise for you is by walking stairs seems harsh to people in wheel chairs. The air con is like most air con’s in the Philippines very noisy. The two restaurants at the pool side are both closed. One is used for the complementary breakfast but the food is rather limited and disappointing. No Toast available but that’s in many Philippines hotels. You better not choose breakfasts included as there is a big chance that it’s only rice, fish or tapsalog (Pinoy food). The one restaurant that is open is rather expensive and don’t order room service from them. They charge more for the service than that the beer or food cost.