Camiguin is a complete tourism package. No other tourist destination in the country can equal Camiguin’s diverse natural attractions. It is a small island that can be explored in a day on a well paved circumferential high way from Benoni port southeast of the province going northward towards the capital Mambajao, continuously westward passing the municipalities of Catarman and Sagay all the way to the southernmost town of Guinsiliban then back to Mahinog. The beauty and charm of Camiguin lies in its diminutive size which was made bigger by the number of tourist attractions available. In great contrast with Palawan where it could take 5-6 hours from Puerto Princesa to El Nido by van or more than an hour’s drive from the city to the underground river, in Camiguin it would only take minutes from one destination to another making it possible to see many attractions as possible in a day’s tour. While one can drive around the island in less than a day, a three-day stay in Camiguin would make one still feel wanting; looking to see more what this beautiful island can offer. There are about twenty (20) tourist attractions around Camiguin starting with the Ostrich Farm near Benoni, the Macao Cold Spring in Mahinog-Mambajao boundary which is only 0.5 KM from the main road, Katibawasan Falls in Mambajao which is 4.5 KM from the high way, Phivocs Viewing deck, Ardent Hibok-Hibok Hot Spring is only 3 Km inward from the high-way. Walkway to the Old Volcano, Sunken Cemetery, and Old Church Ruins are just few KM apart along the boundary of Mambajao and Catarman. Next are Soda Water Swimming Pool and Sto Nino Cold Spring. Tuasan Falls which is accessible by trekking is about 6 KM from the main road. Holy Rosary Church is in the Municipality of Sagay. Binangawan Falls and Pamunglo Springs are both accessible by trekking. Kebila Clam Sanctuary can be found in Guinsiliban together with the Moro-Moro Watch Tower while Taguines Lagoon is just some distance away from Benoni Port. White Island and Mantigue Island are both accessible by boats - the former near Yumbing in Mambajao (450 pesos for 6 pax 2-way in a boat) the latter near Mahinog (550 pesos for 6 pax 2-way in a boat) – are two must see attractions in Camiguin. White Island is a strip of pure fine white sand (sand bar) forming an islet about 20 minutes by boat from the shoreline. It has no vegetation or any form of shelter against the heat of the sun. The best time to go there is very early in the morning before sun rises or late in the afternoon when the sun is about to set. Mantigue Island is best for picnic, swimming, boating and snorkelling. It offers boat rentals, cottages and tables. Sometimes, fresh fish catch of the day can be ordered grilled or fried. Worth exploring also is its small forest. For the more adventurous who wanted to see more of Camiguin, climbing up to see the Majestic Volcanoes is an experience of a lifetime.
Aside from beautiful sceneries and natural attractions of Camiguin, the island prides itself of its people who are generally friendly and hospitable. One feels safe and welcome even in home stay with locals or in more expensive hotels and resorts. Camiguinons who are used to influx of tourists year in and out and whose income depends largely on tourism industry learned to entertain and value visitors, extend due courtesy and show affection to every guests, local or otherwise. A far cry from touts of Tagaytay and Talisay in Batangas where boat ride to Taal pegs as much as 1600 pesos or more (which is more expensive compared with a whole-day island hopping off Alaminos’ Hundred Islands) and a short-course horse-back ride costs 950 pesos per person, people of Camiguin charges only 550 pesos for a 2-way boat ride to Mantigue Island and a 500-peso motorcycle rentals for 24 hour. A motorcycle carries as much as three persons. Tourists riding tricycles, multicabs, or vans in and out of towns are charged the same way locals are being charged. Tricycle ride from Yumbing six (6) KM to town proper of Mambajao is charged 7 pesos per person in Camiguin compared with 100 peso tricycle ride covering almost identical distance from White Beach to town proper of Puerto Galera. Much worst was a 9 Km motorcycle (habal-habal) ride in Lake Balinsasayao Negros Oriental where opportunist drivers charge for 300 pesos per person. Young Coconut fruits (Buko) costs 100 pesos in Taal; the same is worth 20 pesos in Camiguin. ‘Helping Hands’ offering foot bridges when you get off a boat costs 50 pesos in Taal; it is free in Camiguin. People of Camiguin do make this island paradise a lot more different and uniquely enjoyable.
More importantly, the government took aggressive role in tourism development, promotion of the province and protection of its guests. Road networks are well-paved leading to almost every tourist attractions making every inch of Camiguin accessible to tourists. Warning signs, railings, safety markers, distances are well placed along the roads. Signage and directions are adequately posted in almost every turns leading even a newcomer exactly to where he is going. There’s no way you get lost in Camiguin. The government directly manages almost every tourist attraction with control and regulations obviously in-placed. Boat rides to White Island and Mantigue Island are well managed unlike in Alaminos’ Hundred islands, Pagsanjan and Taal wherein touts abound and dominate. Greedy opportunists seem to dictate the order of tourism business in other places while the local government looks helpless. In Camiguin, it is exactly the opposite. There’s more real fun here than anywhere else in the Philippines.
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