4 days in Camiguin

4 days in Camiguin

Half-Filipina, half-Aussie travel influencer Zowie Palliaer shows us how to navigate the Island Born of Fire, her style

Camiguin, nicknamed the Island Born of Fire, is one of the few places in the country where you can experience all that the Philippines offers without having to leave the municipality. It has challenging mountain trails, powdery white-sand beaches, colorful underwater scenes, delicious food, and amazing people—all within an island that’s smaller than Malta.

Camiguin-based model and travel influencer, Zowie Palliaer, tells us the best route to take to fully experience the adventure-packed island. Here’s her take on spending four days and three nights in this gem North of Mindanao.

Day 1: Explore nearby sights

Her favourite resort in Camiguin: Bintana sa Paraiso. Photo from Zowie Palliaer

Flying into Camiguin, you’ll get in around lunch time. First thing’s first, food! Straight across from the airport is La Dolce Vita, so grab a delicious wood fire pizza before the adventure starts. From there, check into Bintana sa Paraiso Naasag and then continue a few kilometres down the road to the Old Volcano. Transformed into the stations of the cross, it’s about 30 minutes of easy walk to the summit where you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the island.

Or you can swing by the Sunken Cemetery later in the day and get the same colors as this photo. Photo by Carson Moody

Next up, the Sunken Cemetery. Here, you can either take photos from the view deck, ride a boat to the Cross platform for a closer look, or the adventurous type can even snorkel among the marine life and coral that have now taken over the cemetery. Past the Sunken Cemetery lies the Old Spanish Church Ruins. Aside from the cross, this historical site is one of the last standing reminders of the destructive volcanic eruption in 1871, making it an integral part of Camiguin’s history.

Finish the day off at Ardent Hot Springs. These cascading springs are flowing with warm water from the active Mt. Hibok Hibok volcano, so it’s a perfect spot to settle in and relax during the early evening.

Day 2: Swimsuit day!

Zowie’s advice for White Island: GET. HERE. EARLY. Photo from Zowie Palliaer

The early bird catches the worm, or in this case, less brutal sun rays on White Island. Arguably the most visited destination in Camiguin, Zowie recommends heading out there early as the only shade on offer are beach umbrellas for hire. Swim, relax and enjoy the view looking back at Camiguin from this ever-changing sandbar.

Katibawasan Falls. It’s not that far from the White Island boat terminal. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Since you started early, there’s plenty of time left for adventure, so make your way to Katibawasan Falls. Found in the middle of dense jungle, the 250-foot waterfall is a sight to behold, and the pool surrounding it provides a refreshing place to swim and take photos.

We can confirm that it is, indeed, close to freezing cold water. Photo by Daniel Soriano

Last stop on the day’s agenda is Sto. Niño Cold Springs. Take a winding road up the mountain in Catarman and you’ll find yourself at the biggest natural spring on the island. The water here verges on freezing, so Zowie suggests jumping in without hesitation. There are picnic sheds around the edge of the pool for you to hang out in when you’re not swimming. Complete the chill time and have fish spa.

Day 3: Adventure time

Switch it up and head to Sagay and Guinsiliban on the other side of the island on day three. Put on your hiking shoes for a trek to the lesser known Binangawan Falls in Sagay. An intermediate climb, the jungle covered path leading to the falls is steep but rewarding once you reach the oasis at the bottom. You’re almost guaranteed to have the place to yourself, so it’s a perfect place to swim and explore this untouched area.

Head back on the road and keep making your way around the island to the Moro Watchtower in Guinsiliban. Located behind the elementary school, this centuries-old tower was used in the Spanish era to guard against Moro attacks from mainland Mindanao.

Travel a further 10 minutes to the Kibila Giant Clam Sanctuary in Cantaan, Guinsiliban. This small stretch of white sand is home to hundreds of giant clams just off shore, part of a breeding program. Snorkel among incredible coral formations, plentiful marine life and get up close and personal with the clams.

Day 4: Bittersweet last day in Camiguin

Here’s a piece of the action beneath the waves off of Mantigue Island. Photo by Daniel Soriano

Cap your Camiguin trip with some of my personal favorite destinations, starting with the gem of Mahinog—Mantigue Island. Accessible by a 10 minute pump boat ride, Mantigue is a marine sanctuary absolutely teeming with underwater life, and you might even spot a turtle or two. The island is shaded by a thick canopy of trees and is home to a small fishing community so be sure to walk around the island and meet the locals. There’splenty of picnic sheds and tables, and there’s a small restaurant where you can order grilled meat and seafood.

One of the many delicacies you can get at J&R Fishpen: local clams raised right at the fishpen. Photo by Daniel Soriano

J&R Fishpen at the lagoon is Zowie’s favorite place to enjoy freshly caught and cooked seafood as well as classic Filipino dishes. With a full belly, you’re ready to make the drive to Tuasan Falls about 45 minutes away in Catarman. Aside from the road leading in, this area has remained practically untouched making it the perfect place to swim and take photos of the beautiful surroundings.

Last but not least is the popular Bura Soda Swimming Pool, a natural spring with carbonated water located down the road from Tuasan Falls. If you’re game to give it a taste, there are taps where you can try this entirely natural, slightly fizzy water.

Get there. SkyJet Airlines flies to Camiguin four times weekly. Island transportation includes motorbikes, multicabs, and motorelas.

Words: Zowie Palliaer

5 must-see sea creatures

5 must-see sea creatures

Marine biologist Miguel Azcuna curates of underwater species in the Philippines you should see at least once in your life.

The Philippines is an archipelago. This means it’s made up of groups of islands surrounded by a vast expanse of water, ergo, a rich diversity of marine life. Diving is the best way to see the beauty that our water holds.

We spoke to a marine biologist, Dr. Miguel Azcuna from Batangas State University, to know which marine species in the Philippines you should see at least once in your life.

Nudibranchs

Photo by Lisbeth Jensen

Where to find them: Anilao, Batangas

The name rolls off the tongue, right? These are the cute, colorful, shell-less mollusks (scallops, clams, snails, cuttlefish) you see in those island hopping package pamphlets that offer snorkeling. They love seawater and some have been referred to as sea slugs.

Thresher sharks

Thresher
A thresher shark at Monad Shoal near Malapascua Island. Photo by Klaus Stiefel

Where to find them: Malapascua Island, Cebu

“Thresher sharks are unique in that they use their unusually long tails to catch their prey,” says Dr. Azcuna. This particular species have found a home in the waters off of Malapascua Island in Cebu, known for its magnificent and quiet beaches. They are often found in Monad Shoal and pose no threat to humans. Be at the site early, like around 4am to 5am, for better chances of sighting.

Orcas

Where to find them: Tañon Strait, between the islands of Cebu and Negros

Dr. Azcuna says they rarely pass by the Philippines but they do swim from time to time. “These apex predators prefer cooler tropical waters and can (in very rare cases) be seen in Tañon Strait between June and October.” The last time orcas were seen in Philippines waters, it was 2018.

Sea Turtles

Photo from Inaladelan Island

Where to find them: Apo Island, Negros Oriental

Yes, there’s more than one place to find the humble pawikan. They can usually be found nesting in the waters of Palawan (for instance, just offshore of Club Paradise), but for a better chance of spotting one, Dr. Azcuna recommends Apo Island. You’ll usually see them grazing on seagrass.

Freshwater Jellyfish

Where to find them: Sohoton Cove, Siargao

You may be asking yourself this: “Why would you recommend seeing jellyfish as a once-in-a-lifetime activity?” Well, these jellyfish are ones you can actually swim with and not be extremely worried. Dr. Azcuna says the jellyfish that swim in Sohoton’s jellyfish pond are stingless “because they have no need for stings in freshwater.” Go early in the day to avoid the crowd.

Who is Dr. Miguel Azcuna?

Miguel Azcuna is a marine biologist who specializes in Bioprospecting for New Medicine, particularly from marine sponges. He holds a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, where he majored in Marine Biotechnology.

He was a part of the team from UP MSI’s Bolinao Marine Laboratory that donated giant clams to Camiguin’s Giant Clam Sanctuary.

He is currently an associate professor at the Batangas State University – ARASOF Nasugbu Campus and a member of the research staff at the Verde Island Passage Center for Oceanographic Research and Aquatic Life Sciences (VIP CORALS).

Where in the world is San Vicente?

Where in the world is San Vicente?

You can say San Vicente is the Philippines’ last frontier’s last frontier. If this doesn’t sound right, this report will.

Palawan’s open secret might probably be the best thing to ever happen to local tourism, and it’s not hard to see why: sustainable tourism practices are at the heart of what drives the once sleepy fishing town of San Vicente.

The teeny spotlight lit on San Vicente’s two attractions: Long Beach and Port Barton. But the fact is there are more to the town than lounging around these breathtaking shores.

Cove hop on Boayan Island

Boayan Island, the largest island off the coast of San Vicente, boasts some of the most pristine beaches in the province. Most of the beaches on Boayan are within private property, but island hoppers can stop by it. Coves like Kalipay, Evergreen, and Kambingan are great if you want a beach to yourself.

Daplac Cove is for those who want to be away from the crowd. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Ask your boatman to bring you to Daplac Cove, one of the more pristine beaches on Boayan Island. It’s a 300-meter cove with powdery white sand that’s a host to a few sea turtles and if the conditions are right you may spot them in your visit.
Boayan Island is about 30 minutes by boat from the San Vicente Port. St. Vincent Travel and Tours has this in their tours.

Photo Op at Bato ni Ningning

Introducing Bato ni Ningning. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Bato ni Ningning, named after a drama series that aired on local TV in 2015, gives you a view of Erawan Beach as well as a near-360-degree view of the surrounding area.

Stand atop the rock and bust out your selfie stick to get Erawan Beach in the photo, or go down a bit from the top of the hill and have a cleaner shot of the beach.
Bato ni Ningning is a 45-minute drive from the airport, and best reached on a motorbike. Bike rental is around Php600 (USD12) per bike. Entrance to Bato ni Ningning is Php20 per person.

Bar hop in Port Barton

The crowd in San Vicente will always gravitate towards Port Barton. It’s the first area of San Vicente to be explored by tourists and a welcome alternative to those who have been to El Nido.

Two of the top bars in Port Barton are Moon Bar and Mojitos Restobar. Mojitos was once named as Palawan’s best resto-bar on TripAdvisor and is known for its nine variations on the classic mojito. Moon Bar alternately is a beachfront bar that serves smoothies, beer, wines, and cocktails with a view of San Vicente’s cotton candy-colored sunset. It’s hard to miss since it looks like a gigantic two-storey beach hut.
Drinks at Moon Bar start at Php200. Moon Bar is a five-minute walk from the center of Port Barton.

Chase waterfalls

It’s not as tall as other waterfalls in the country, but Pamoayan Falls is quite scenic. Photo by Harvey Tapan

To date, there are only two waterfalls known to people who have been to San Vicente: Bigaho and Pamoayan. Bigaho Falls, a 10-minute walk from the beach where your boat will dock, is pretty accessible and often the final stop on your Port Barton Island Hopping tour. It has a small pool at the bottom of the falls for taking a leisurely dip.

Pamoayan Falls, 10 minutes by motorbike on paved and dirt roads from Port Barton beach, calls the adventurous. From the entrance, it’s a five-minute trek including wading on a creek to get to the waterfall. Compared to Bigaho, Pamoayan is more majestic in terms of size and features. Its dipping pool is larger than Bigaho too.
Bigaho and Pamoayan both have a sari-sari store where you can buy snacks and drinks, and where there’s a donation box for those who wish to donate cash.

Spend the afternoon (or the night) at Inaladelan Island

It’s quite the experience staying at an island for a night. Photo by Harvey Tapan

It’s a tongue-twister of a name, but Inaladelan Island (or German Island) is one of the best islands to spend a night on in San Vicente. It has tents, a 300-meter white-sand beach on one side, a small bar that serves cocktails, and a small pavilion where you can have your lunch. You’ll love the trees giving you shelter when it’s a tad too sunny. Inaladelan is often a lunch stop for island hopping tours, but we recommend actually spending a night here for you to enjoy some peace and quiet.

Less than a kilometer from its shore is where you’ll find what people visit San Vicente for: sea turtles. There’s a huge patch of seagrass below the waves that sea turtles love to graze in, and they’re more than happy to let people snorkel or swim with them while they feed. Note: This phenomenon is year-round.
Overnight stays at Inaladelan are at Php2,500 per person (minimum of two) with roundtrip transfers from either Port Barton or San Vicente, a camping tent with foam bed and pillows, dinner, and breakfast. Book at Inaladelanisland.com

Explore Port Barton’s reefs

Port Barton is home to some of the more thriving coral reefs in Palawan. The islands in Port Barton Bay like Inaladelan and Exotic have some of the clearest waters, making them a playground for snorkelers.

Some of the more popular reefs are Twin Reef and Wide Reef. Twin Reef is a shallow dive (less than 15 feet) and home to large table corals and schools of fish. It’s a small area that’s easily explored even by those who don’t dare dive beneath the waves. Wide Reef is a wider reef area, hence the name, and deeper than Twin Reef, with similar coral formations and species of fish. If you’re looking for larger schools of fish, have your boatman take you to Small Lagoon Reef, located close to Exotic Island; for and to Fantastic Reef, close to Double Island, for a look-see of green corals.
Snorkeling in Port Barton Bay is a part of the tours provided by St. Vincent Travel and Tours.

Laze on Long Beach and forget time exists

This one you can do at any of the beaches you’ll visit, but Long Beach gives you the best opportunity to enjoy a legitimately long walk on the beach or do nothing at all.

This is only halfway. Let that sink in for a second. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Long Beach is a 14.7-kilometer, cream-colored sandy beach that has got one of the most colorful sunsets you’d evert see. There aren’t many establishments on Long Beach yet, which means a visit this early will give you a good chance of taking those beach photos without people and manmade structures in the background.
Put on loads of insect repellent before you and within your visit to keep you from being bit by sand flies.

Watch sea turtle hatchlings go to the sea

Another unique way of enjoying a stay in San Vicente joining the locals and taking part in releasing sea turtle hatchlings on Long Beach.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime shot. Photo from Club Agutaya/Dixie Mariñas

Backed by a municipal ordinance, the residents (especially school kids) and officials of the three barangays that share Long Beach walk on their portion of the beach either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to look for sea turtle nests. Tourists can join in on the fun by simply walking with them or visiting Club Agutaya, where they release hatchlings within 24 hours of finding them. Turtle hatching season is from October to April.
Register for free at Club Agutaya’s front desk when you visit San Vicente to join locals in looking for sea turtle nests.

Visit Dumaran Island

It’s not exactly on every tour operator’s itinerary and it’s not exactly in San Vicente, but Dumaran Island is the definition of an unknown tourist destination in Palawan. The island is three hours away from San Vicente and will have you take dirt roads and a boat ride to get to it. It’s not a touristy place, with no proper resorts, restaurants, and other tourist establishments but it does have spots you can check out like Isla Pugon, Encantasia Island, Renambacan Island, Maruyug-ruyog Island, Calampuan Island, and the Dumaran Spanish Fort.
Tours at Dumaran Island can be arranged with either the local tourism office or Isla Pugod Eco Resort (@DumaranPalawanDiscoveryOfficialPage on Facebook).

The basics
Get there: SkyJet Airlines flies direct from Manila to San Vicente four times weekly. Motorbikes are the preferred way of getting around San Vicente, with rentals priced around Php600 (USD12) per bike.

Up a mountain and back: celebrities who hike

Up a mountain and back: celebrities who hike

The ever-unpredictable Philippine weather does not stop the brave of heart. And this is true even to celebrities whose IG feeds prove their love for the uplands.

Angel Locsin

View this post on Instagram

⛰👀

A post shared by Angel Locsin (@therealangellocsin) on

Here’s one lady who’s not afraid of heights. The star of ABS-CBN’s recently-concluded teleserye The General’s Daughter is a fan of adventure, and mountains are no exception.

Bubbles Paraiso

She swims, she bikes, she runs. And she also goes up a mountain every now and then. Bubbles Paraiso, everyone.

Erwan Heussaff

Bit of a cheat, this one (as an entry, not the actual person), but Erwan’s content on his IG and YouTube are filled with nearly every activity you could think of… including hikes.

Chrystalle Omaga

Yes, it’s her. She’s one of the country’s top female OCR athletes, and she’s just at home at the summit of a mountain as she is on a Spartan course.

Gideon Lasco

This man doesn’t have as big of a following as the artistas on this list, but he is one of the biggest names in the local mountaineering scene. Aftersll, Gideon Lasco is the dude that started pinoymountaineer.com.

If these people aren’t enough to convince you to hike up a mountain, then I don’t know what will.

Did we miss anyone? Hit us up in the comments below and we’ll expand this list!

Featured Photo by Nina Uhlíková from Pexels

The story of the most popular boulder in San Vicente, Palawan

The story of the most popular boulder in San Vicente, Palawan

What was once a hangout of a child is now the most famous view deck in Palawan’s growing hotspot, frequented by tourists

Whenever you search for photos of San Vicente, Palawan, chances are you’ll find this photo:

The photo that pops up the most when you search for San Vicente, Palawan on Google. Photo from SkyJet Airlines

It’s often mistaken for Long Beach, but it’s actually called Irawan Beach. The place where this quintessential San Vicente photo is taken from? It’s on top of a boulder that’s up a short hill… and it’s called Bato ni Ningning.

This is the view from Bato ni Ningning. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Named after a television show it was in, Bato ni Ningning is perched on top of a hill in Brgy. Alimanguan, the northernmost barangay of San Vicente.

Getting to Bato ni Ning is a 47-minute drive from the airport or a 22-kilometer drive through paved and dirt roads. It’s best to take a guide with you and rent a motorbike to get to the hotspot.

Introducing Bato ni Ningning. Photo by Harvey Tapan
Irawan Beach from the air. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Once there, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Brgy. Alimanguan, with Irawan Beach right in the middle. Simply pay the Php20 entrance fee, stand atop the boulder, whip out your camera, and either take a selfie or replicate that photo of San Vicente you always see online.

Get there
SkyJet Airlines (Flyskyjetair.com) flies direct from Manila to San Vicente four times weekly. Flights are to increase to six times weekly beginning October 27, 2019.

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