Founded in 1565 and an official province from 1966, Camiguin Island has a size of some 240 m2 (92 sq ml). The highest point on the island is Mt. Mambajao with 1713 m and a population of around 89.000 which is a density of around 370 per m2. The island has a history that goes back to (before) the Spanish colonial era and the American colonial era. Then the Japanese during WWII before reaching independence in 1946.
The population exist of 95% Catholics, the remaining 5% are Protestant or Muslim. With 56 elementary schools, 13 secondary schools and 3 colleges, there is no shortage in education possibilities. Neither is there a shortage in natural resources and beauty.
Mount Hibok Hibok is the only volcano that erupted. The last time that happened was in 1953. Mount Timpoong is the highest mountain with over 1600 meter altitude. Mount Butay and Mount Guinsiliban are two other mountains on the island. Together with Katibawasan falls and Tuasan falls or Tangub hot spring, Ardent Hibok – Hibok hot spring and Bura natural soda water pool, plus the sunken cemetery, there is plenty of nature to enjoy on the island.
It is possible to rent motorbikes on the island for a price of in between 350 – 500 peso per day ($7-10). You can rent through your hotel or at the Benoni ferry port arrival where guys will approach you. The island has many petrol stations and a circle tour around the island will takes you between 3 – 6 hours. Depending on how many stops you make for enjoying the sea view, take a lunch, visit falls or springs on the way, etc. A driving license is a must in order to rent a motorbike. For experienced travelers throughout Asia this is a weird experience.
The locals seem scared to death for rules and the so called many check posts, as they say. Reality proves different though. On both ways from and to the Benoni ferry port to the upper point of the Camiguin island is not one single cop or police station spotted and the people who toured the island around did not see one single cop or checkpost. There is definitely a strong conditioning of fear in locals minds going on in the Philippines.
The option left is to rent a tricycle or motorbike driver to bring you to falls or springs. This can cost you a lot though. Roughly a 400 peso ($8) to bring you from a certain resort in Mambajao to just one fall. A local library card from your native country might be enough to convince them that it’s your license, or bring a real one or copy the least.
How to get to/from Camiguin Island
Camiguin Island has an airport with flights from both Cebu Pacific as well as Philippine airlines. The most used option is by ferry from Balingoan port in northern Mindanao to Benoni port of Camiguin island. You can fly to Cagayan de Oro and get a shuttle from there all the way to Camiguin. This will take you around 2 to 3 hrs. to get to Balingoan port. The price will be around 200 peso ($4). When you take a bus from Villanueva or Jasaan to Balingoan, you pay 82 peso and the ride takes you a bit over an hour.
The ferry takes passengers and about 6 vans or cars. It leaves the port about every 90 minutes. The ferry ticket counter is at the bus terminal and charges 205 peso for a passenger ticket. You can walk the 3 minutes from there to the ferry port or take a tricycle for 10 peso. Beware that K9 dogs sniff around at Balingoan port and X-ray and metal detectors are to be passed too. Back from Benoni port to Balingoan cost you the same 205 peso for the ferry but you need to pay an additional 50 peso terminal fee there.
There are ferries coming and going to Cebu too.
White island sounds interesting but is nothing more than a small piece of white sand near the coast of Camiguin. With small we mean around 30 meters length with a nearly connected smaller piece to it. On White Island you won’t find anything to serve your needs except for the eye. You can’t buy food or drinks and there are three big umbrella’s available for the many visitors to create some shade. In other words, bring plenty of sunscreen with you and water and snacks in case you’re planning to stay a few hours.
The sea surrounding this small piece of sand is of absolute beauty. The water is stunning clear. The green color that you see on pics of brochures about the Maldives or so. It is simply a stunning place to be regarding the sea or water and the view that you have on the volcanoes or mountains of Camiguin. This alone makes it worth to visit White Island.
How to get to White Island
The boats to White Island leave from the White Island port which is hardly anything that looks like a port. A small road leading to it has many shops of which most are closed. The ones that are open sell swim pants or bikini’s. Snorkels and other water necessities can be bought to. The price for a boat is 450 peso ($9) for up to 4 people. When you’re alone, you can wait for others and ask them to share a boat to make it cheaper.
In case you want to leave White island before the others, you’ll be charged 200 peso. In total this can still be cheaper than taking a boat alone to get there. On top of the boat price you need to pay 50 peso for entrance ticket. You don’t get any ticket at all as prove or souvenir. To get to the port by tricycle from a Mambajao resort cost you around 20 peso.