There’s nothing more fun than having an amazing adventure in the Philippines with friends!
Ever since we pursued our MBA degree here in Taiwan, we don't see our friends nearly enough anymore. Good thing, we were still able to catch things up through video calls, chats, and emails. It was just one random day that we all agreed to go on a trip to Cagayan De Oro | Bukidnon | Camiguin. And luckily, during that time, Philippine Airlines was on promo. So our most generous friend, Aen, booked us all a roundtrip ticket from Cebu to CDO for Php748.00 ONLY with free snacks and a 10-kilo check-in baggage. It was really an AMAZIIIINNNGGG deal!
After booking, we started researching for the CHEAPEST tour packages. Most of the rates for the 4D/3N ranges from Php 7,000 – 10,000 excluding food and other activities which were too expensive for us. We owe our thanks to our resourceful friend, Ebib, who created our DIY itinerary that would only cost us less than Php 10,000 each. It is already inclusive of the van rental, accommodation, food, entrances, and major activities.
DAY 1: Cebu to CDO to Camiguin
At Laguindingan Airport (CDO), Kuya Tots (our driver) was already waiting for us. Our destination was the Balingoan Port, one of the most common means in reaching Camiguin. We were so noisy inside the van. Well, that was already expected when you are travelling with crazy friends. After 3 hours on the road, we finally reached the port. We then immediately travelled to Camiguin for approximately 1.5 hours.
Upon reaching the beautiful island of Camiguin, our tour guide, Kuya Carlo (who I would highly recommend) picked us up and since we arrived at noon, we ate our lunch first to gain energy for our tour.
Our first stop was their famous floating restaurant, just around 10-15 minutes away from the Port. Their native Filipino foods were extremely delicious and were served with plates made out of leaves. This is the best place to experience Filipino food and dining culture.
After our lunch, we proceeded with our Camiguin Tour which includes the following:
- Walkway to the Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross: Around 81% of the population in the Philippines are Roman Catholics, that is why this place is so popular with the locals especially during Lenten Season as part of their penitence and sacrifice. This was also one of the most exhausting parts of the trip. You need to hike for more than an hour to reach the top and along the way, human sized figures of the 14 Stations of the Cross can be seen. Personally, I would not recommend going to the top as it will consume your time, except of course if you love hiking and still have a lot of time to spend in Camiguin.
- Sunken Cemetery: The Sunken Cemetery is a large cross located at the middle of the sea. Its history can be traced back during the 1871 volcanic eruption of the Old Volcano accompanied by the earthquake which destroyed the entire capital of Camiguin Island. Today, the Sunken Cemetery is also considered a diving spot with its uniqueness. Unfortunately, when we went here, there were no more boats available that could take us there. No one is allowed to enter after 4:00PM so all we can do is just to appreciate its beauty from afar during the sunset.
- Old Guiob Church Ruins: This is one of the structures that remain sturdy after the disastrous eruption. The locals continue to maintain the beauty of the church to attract more tourists. The area is surrounded by tall trees, old brick walls, and carpeted with green grass. The locals here were very accommodating. They even volunteered to take pictures for us. The entrance fee is free but donations are highly encouraged so as to maintain the area.
- Bura Soda Cold Spring: To freshen us up after an exhausting tour, we’re excited to dip into this cold spring which is located in Bura, Catarman, Camiguin. They have two big swimming pools for kids and adults which were filled with clear and fresh soda water from Bura volcanic springs. The entrance fee is only 30.00PHP and you can already use their amenities.
- Ardent Hot Spring: It is a really good idea to capped up the night with this crystal clear hot water from the mountainside of the famous Hibok-Hibok Volcano. There are 4 separate pools of different sizes and temperatures. A quick dip in the hot springs is a good way to relax the muscles after hours of travelling.
And finally, after a very long day, we went back to Pabua’s Cottage. We stayed there for a night and we got a room for all of us (8 people). The room has 3 double beds and one single bed with a small terrace outside the room. At the middle of the night, there was an electric interruption that made us very uncomfortable sleeping. There were no lights and air-condition. But for location and budget-wise, Pabua’s cottage is already good as it is just in front of the famous White Island.
Below is our Day 1 Itinerary from Cebu to Camiguin Tour.
DAY 2: White Island, Camiguin
Though we didn't have enough sleep from the previous night, we woke up early to prepare for our departure to White Island. From Pabua’s Cottage, it is just a 5-minute walk going to the dock where the boats for the White Island are available. A boat can be rented for 450PHP roundtrip and can accommodate up to 4 persons. It takes 15 minutes going to the island. An environmental fee of 20.00 is also charged for the preservation and maintenance of this stunning island.
White Island is famous for its pure white sand and clear waters. Its shape depends on the mood of the waves that struck it. Once you get into the island, you will be tempted to dive in immediately due to the stunning view of clear waters. There were no solid structures in the island except for the tent and big umbrellas that you can rent. You will definitely get tanned but this place is certainly worth every tan lines. From the island, you can also see the stunning view of Mt. Hibok-Hibok and Mt. Vulcan. We just stayed there for about 3 hours since we still need to visit some of the tourist spots in Camiguin we missed during our Day 1 tour.
Before continuing our trip, we first checked-out in Pabua's Cottage as most of our destinations are quite far from that place.
- Tuasan Falls: Actually, this was not part of our itinerary but Kuya Carlo introduced this hidden gem which was really worth visiting. The water from the falls was so cold and the current was so strong that you need to hang on to your feet tightly so that you will not be carried away by the flowing water. Souvenir shops are also available upon entering the area.
- Sto. Nino Cold Spring: The fresh clean water that flows down in this spring is from Mt. Mambajao which is filtered by its layers of minerals. They have two pools for the adults and the kids. In the adult pool, you can let the fishes exfoliate and clean the skin of your feet. Souvenirs like shirts, shorts, bags, and keychains can all be seen outside the resort.
After we had our lunch at Sto. Niño Cold Spring Resort, we headed to Benoni Port to catch the 3:30PM ferry boat back to Cagayan de Oro. Just in time when we arrived in CDO, Kuya Tots was already there waiting for us an hour before our scheduled arrival. He dropped us off at New Dawn Pensionne House. The hotel staffs were very welcoming and though this is a budget hotel, its service quality and rooms are highly recommended!
Here is our Day 2 itinerary:
DAY 3: Dahilayan Trip
Heavy rain welcomed our Day 3 but it did not stop us from going on our trip to Dahilayan Adventure Park. To save time, we ordered food in Jollibee's drive-thru counter and ate our breakfast while we're on our way to Bukidnon. It would take an hour and a half going to Bukidnon so we just slept all through out our trip (we're sleepy-heads after all).
Dahilayan Adventure Park is the home of the longest zipline in Asia. The park has several thrilling and exciting rides though some are quite pricey but the experience that you will have can’t be replaced by any monetary value. And also, you already come this far, to Bukidnon, so why not give it a shot!
Luckily, the park’s operation was not suspended although it was still raining. The first ride we had was their all-zip package (150m + 320m + 840m). From the main entrance, a cab took us to the starting point of the 840m zip line then when everything’s checked, they pulled the trigger and then bang! We were already through the rainforest canopy at a speed of about 60-80kph that took around 3-4 minutes. After this, we then proceeded to the 150m and 320m zip line which are less exciting compared to the first one.
We also tried their 120-ft free fall (drop-zone tandem). We were still having second thoughts of trying this since it looks really scary. After thorough decision making, I decided to try on this activity but Kevin decided not to pursue so I asked one of our brave friends, Neda, to go with me. When it was already our turn, we were shaking and a lot of bad thoughts were running through our minds, like what if in the middle of the swing I will faint or something. Neda was told to pull the rope once we reach the top. We tried a couple of times in pulling the rope but we always fail. Our friends were already shouting “Pull! Pull! Pull!” Until eventually, we succeeded. As we fall down, it feels like our souls were still at the top. It was one heck of a ride!
In the afternoon, we went to Dahilayan Forest Park. Don't confuse it with Dahilayan Adventure Park as it offers its tourists a different selection of activities and its available for all ages. The Park is designed with various photo spots, playground, and full of greenery views that will make you feel at peace and one with the nature.
Although it was raining, we still tried their Luge package which already includes the hanging bridge as it serves as a shortcut in going to the starting point of the track. It was a fun-filled activity that lets you roll down the track with thrilling twist and turns. You don’t need to be a pro in driving, driving the luge is just so simple, pull up for drive and down for stop.
Both the Dahilayan’s Adventure and Forest Parks are a must-needed destressing place to be with your family and friends.
DAY 4: Water Rafting
Of course, we will not leave CDO without trying its famous white water rafting adventure. There were only 5 of us who were up to the challenge of facing the strength of the rivers. The day before our water rafting activity, we were actually worried that it might be cancelled due to the heavy rain.
Good thing that the heavens were with us that day as we woke up with the shining light of the sun. We were picked up by the Great White Water Tours’ Staff around 6:00 in the morning and brought us to their office to register and sign the waivers, as well as to give us a quick orientation on water rafting. It doesn't matter if it’s your first time or not, because you have the freedom to choose on which course you’ll take: beginner, advance, or expert. In our case, we chose the beginner's course.
When we arrived in the rafting area, we were accompanied by 3 tour guides through-out the activity. There were only 4 things to remember during the activity: paddle forward, paddle backward, stop, and high five. This is a teamwork activity and working together is essential for us to avoid unfortunate circumstances.
From the moment we boarded the raft, mix emotions were felt – excited and scary but guides were really encouraging and never failed to assure us that if we just work together, nothing bad will happen. They were so entertaining and were always cracking jokes through out the journey.
The 4-hour activity didn't even feel like 4 hours at all. It was so satisfying that when the activity was finished, we were so disappointed as we still wanted more. If we only have more time in Cagayan de Oro, we would have chosen the advance course.
TOP TIPS BEFORE GOING WATER RAFTING:
- Wear rash guard and leggings since you will be bathing under the sun for more than 4 hours.
- Do not forget to put on sunblock or sunscreen to avoid sun burns.
- If you have things that you don’t want to get wet, better put it inside your dry bag.
- You can bring your camera since there will be someone who will take photos for you.
- Do some stretching beforehand as you will be paddling a lot throughout the course.
Below is our itinerary for the 4th day.
Check out our video below!