There’s more to Camiguin than its famous sandbar. Case in point: Mantigue Island.
When people hear Camiguin, the image that first pops out is usually that of White Island. The popular sandbar has always been one of its major tourist draws, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one.
In fact, there’s this four-hectare island off the coast of Mahinog that gives you the same white sand beach experience coupled with more things to do: Mantigue Island.
Mantigue has a bit more cover than White Island—thanks to the small beach huts on the southern part of the island. There’s coverage in the form of mangroves along its shores as well as vegetation in the middle part of the island, where you can find a restaurant, which doubles as the island’s tourism office. The waters surrounding Mantigue has been declared a marine sanctuary, making it perfect for snorkeling or diving. There’s also a small fishing community on the northern part of the island.
How to get there
SkyJet Airlines offers direct flights to Camiguin five times weekly. We suggest renting a motorbike (Php500 or about USD10 per day) and driving to get to Brgy. San Roque in Mahinog, which should take around 30 minutes. In San Roque, board a motorboat (Php600/boat, maximum of six people) to the island, where you can stay for four hours maximum. If you stay longer will set you back Php75 per hour per boat.
Things to do
There are a couple of things you can do in Mantigue Island, even if you’re only limited to for-hour stays.
Stand-up paddle board
Glass boat rides
Beach bumming for the Gram
Talk to the island locals, and (maybe) buy fish from them (fresh or sundried)
Heading to this Mindanaoan island province and exploring it stat is now possible with SkyJet’s direct Manila to Camiguin flights.
The buzz is true. If before you spend a whole day to get to Camiguin off Mindanao, blessed with white sandy beaches and marvelous diving, now it’s a mere over-an-hour’s flight—made possible with SkyJet Airlines’ launch of direct Manila to Camiguin flights on May 6, 2019.
And so we’ve surmised we’ve found for you your new Tagaytay, where you can escape the urban jungle on a Saturday, and be back the next day in time for you to get your @$s ready for work on Monday. Not that you cannot stay for three or so days.
Here’s a guide to enjoying the “Island Borne Off Fire” in 24
Day 1, 9:40am
Fly SkyJet Airlines from Manila to Camiguin. Take off from the Manila International Airport Terminal 4 at 9:40am. You’ll touch down at Camiguin Airport at about 11am. SkyJet flies directly from Manila to Camiguin five times daily except on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Grab lunch at the institution located right across the airport: La Dolce Vita, an authentic Italian restaurant, which has been around for over a decade. Its brick oven churns out delectable pizzas; and here you can have wonderful traditional carbonara. After lunch, linger for a cup of cappuccino.
Check-in at your hotel of choice. If you’re a group of friends or a small family with kids in tow looking for for-sharing villas or an apartment-style place for the night, you won’t go wrong with Paraiso Resort & Apartelle. It checks all the basics. Clean; with kitchen where you can shop and cook and dine in if you feel like staying in; has a waterpark for some night swimming; and features an open air restaurant-bar open until 11pm—handy to those who come looking for a night cap. Best of all, it’s centrally located—five minutes’ ride from the airport, and it’s jump off point to Camiguin’s many unique attractions. Top tier option, fronting White Island: Paras Beach Resort.
Smother your skin with sunblock and get things rolling. First stop is White Island, a pristine permanently-exposed sandbar that’s as gorgeous in person as it is on anyone’s IG feed. It’s serpentine shape changes depending on the tide, but this is not why it’s amazing. Its claim to fame are its shallow waters that are so clear they glisten in the sunlight, and the picturesque Mt Hibok-Hibok as its backdrop. I say make this your first stop because once you wade into the water, you’d surely stay for a while. Get there. A 10-minute habal-halab (local motorcycle) ride from the airport to Yumbing jetty where there are boats that will take you across to the sandbar in less than five minutes.
Eleven minutes’ ride and you’re at the view deck of the Old Volcano, officially, Mt. Vulcan. The massive land form’s nickname does not literally translate for it’s more like an offspring of Mt Hibok-Hibok, says our tour guide. There’s probably nothing significant in the stop—but I had my photo taken anyhow—until you actually hike up the steps of the walkway. As your heart pound, and your knees weaken, you get awestruck by white life-size figures depicting the Stations of the Cross.
After a few snaps, a short ride will lead you to the Old Spanish ChurchRuins. What’s left of the church is nothing but walls enveloping the ground, and old trees creating a canopy. The Guiob Church was built in the 16th century and over a hundred years later a massive earthquake cueing Mt. Vulcan’s eruption shook the island and knocked the sanctuary down. It makes for a pleasant stop for Catholic devotees who can light a candle and say a prayer.
The Sunken Cemetery is another casualty of Mt. Vulcan’s eruption in the 1870s but it has ironically turned into a remarkable Camiguin landmark, luring travelers from all over the globe to catch sight of it. It’s best viewed at sunset—and while there’s that feeling of loneliness crossing over eeriness when you visit especially at this time of the day—it will be a shame to leave the island without having set foot at the place. Small boats can take you to the giant cross and hang out for a while at its deck. The more adventurous take the plunge to see the gravestones underwater up close.
Ardent Hot Springs’ warm waters are the perfect ender to a long day out in the sun what with its tiers of 35- and 40-degree Celcius waters. The four cascades filled with naturally heated waters are a balm to sore muscles, and a calming way to cap your active day.
Day 2, 8am
Breakfasts are simple a la carte meals at Paraiso Resort. A must are local fruits for they’re typically sweet, and if the ber months have commenced, never miss out on the lanzones, cluster of small yellow fruits with juicy translucent meat on the inside. The best kind of lanzones grows in Camiguin. In October, the streets of the main highway get filled with peddlers selling the tropical fruit.
Once your bags are packed and you’re ready to go, stop by Vjandep Bakeshop on Plaridel Street en route to the airport to buy Camiguin’s coveted pasalubong: Vjandep’s Pastel, a brand of locally made buns filled with yema (sweet soft custard). Any which way you eat it—as a snack or dessert—will make you forget you have a plane to catch. If you miss the stopover, the airport has a stall selling these goodies. Only the bakery though sells different flavored Pastels.
Check-in at Camiguin Airport, in time for SkyJet’s 11am flight bound for Manila.
Book direct flights between Manila and Camiguin five times weekly with Skyjet Airlines (SkyJetAirlines.com).
If you think you’ve seen the whitest of sands a Philippine beach has to ofer, wait until you set foot on Medan Island, more popularly known as White Island in Camiguin.
White Island, a 10-minute motorbike ride from the northern coast of the island province, is postcard perfect— with blindingly white sand that strikes a stark contrast against crystal clear waters that reflect the blueness of the skies. It will be hard not to be taken aback by Mt. Hibok-Hibok’s commanding presence in its backdrop.
But the main charm of White Island is its changing shape, which depends on the tide. So sometimes you see a serpentine shape, other times, the crescent of a usual beach, and who knows what else at another time.
Magical, isn’t it?
SkyJet Airlines launches its direct Manila to Camiguin flights on May 6, 2019. Tickets are now on sale. Flights are on daily except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.