A long weekend is coming up. For those planning to take a 4-day vacation to Cagayan de Oro — Bukidnon — Camiguin, allow us to share our itinerary. We’ve gone this route as part of our VisitPinas advocacy and, incidentally, to experience first-hand the route. This way, we’d better assist travelers over at GoTravelBliss Tours (see disclosure).
We prefer the early morning flights. The first flight, if possible, because there’s less chances of delay. This is a tried and tested rule we have. There’s no airport congestion, which means that the plane can take-off on time, and there’s no delay in the turn-around flight.
Look at it this way. Let’s assume a 30-minute delay in each flight. Let’s also assume that the same plane has 4 turn-around flights before your scheduled flight. That’s automatically a 2-hour delay.
The earliest flight also means that we make the most of the day. Hotel check-in is 2:00 p.m. This means that there’s a full morning for preliminary tours, lunch then check-in.
On Time, Groups
Movement is quicker when you travel alone or in pairs. Travel gets slower for every person, especially kids, added to the group. So when traveling as a group, it is absolutely important for each member to respect the agreed time markers. If breakfast is set at 7:00 a.m., it is 7:00. There should be no need for the rest of the group, sitting at the breakfast table, to call the room to check on the others. If the agreed time to meet at the lobby is 8:00 a.m., it’s 8. Being on time, even in travel, means giving respect to others. Also, because we always pack each moment of our day with activities, being on time allows us to maximize the trip. We suggest that this rule must be made clear to everyone when traveling as a group.
Manila to Cagayan de Oro
We took the 4:40 a.m. flight from Manila NAIA Terminal 3 and arrived 6:00 a.m. at Laguindingan International Airport, located at the neighboring town of Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental. This new airport opened in 2013, taking the place of the old Cagayan de Oro airport.
The good thing about the Laguindingan Airport, other than it’s spanking new condition, is the presence of establishments like Seattle’s Best and Kenny Rogers. Standard fares in cities, but a nice surprise in an airport they carved outside the city. Nothing to worry about airline not serving food.
From the Laguindinga Airport, we reached Cagayan De Oro City (CDO) after 45 minutes, dropping by a fastfood restaurant for a drive-through breakfast. We had to eat breakfast in the van to save time and, at the same time, spend out the 1 hour and 30 minutes trip to Dahilayan Eco Park in Bukidnon. While we were booked at CDO’s Seda Centrio Hotel for the night, check-in is 2:00 p.m. so we have the entire morning to enjoy.
Cagayan de Oro to Dahilayan
First stop, the ziplines and drop zone of Dahilayan Eco Adventure Park. We figured there’s less traffic going out of CDO after the morning rush hour and the temperature will be colder once we get to the mini-Baguio of the south, the Dahilayan Eco Adventure Park. Spent the entire morning enjoying mountain-fresh air with a tinge of pine tree scent. There’s the 840-meter zipline and the 320+150 meters zipline. The heart-stopping Drop Zone. Horse ride and ATV ride. And, of course, the beautiful pine trees.
Dahilayan to White Water Rafting
We would have wanted to again have lunch at the Del Monte Clubhouse. However, it takes some time for steak to be prepared at the clubhouse. Getting delayed at the Bukidnon-CDO route means that our lunch, and eventually the white water rafting, will be pushed into the late afternoon. We didn’t want to end the rafting after sunset, so we decided to forgo the steak of the Del Monte Clubhouse. Lunch in the city as we transferred to the jeepney — with rubber rafts on top — of Kagay Journey. Time to take the one-hour drive up to the starting point of the white water rafting.
CDO River to Seda Centrio Hotel
The beauty of the Seda Centrio Hotel, aside from the nice room and good service, is the fact that it’s integrated into Ayala’s Centrio Mall. Go down to the lobby, step into the mall and choose from the endless rows of restaurants (or you can stay with the hotel’s buffet at the 4th floor). Just a place to sleep because, in the words of a wise man, adventure is out there.
It’s probably a good idea to explore CDO at night. The tour guide suggested it, but we’d never know. Too tired. The bed beckons.
CDO to Camiguin
We left the hotel after breakfast, which is part of the package. Time of departure was 8:00 a.m., with spare time to drop by Kagay Journey to get the CD of photos and videos of the previous day’s white water rafting adventure.
Off to the port of Balingoan, one hour and 30 minutes from CDO. The trip is fun because of the company and the smooth roads. RORO at Balingoan port leaves every hour. Our target ship departure was 11:00 a.m. Total RORO travel time from the town of Balingoan to Camiguin’s Benoni Port is around 1 hour and 15 minutes. Took the cab. After 20 minutes trip on smooth roads, we were at the Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin. Seafood lunch at the resort tasted great.
Magsaysay Island (Mantigue Island)
Lunch ended at 3 pm. Quick change and out of the resort by 3:30 pm, going back to the area near the Benoni Port, the jump-off point to Magsaysay Island (Mantigue Island). White sand, nice beach. A fish sanctuary perfect for snorkeling. It made perfect sense to visit Magsaysay Island (Mantigue Island), beautiful as it is, ahead of the White Island.
Back at the Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin a little past 6 pm. Time for dinner. Stories and laughter. Sleep.
Full Day Tour
Different bird calls woke everyone the next day. Left the resort, the Bahay Bakasyunan, at 8:00 am. Started the day at Katibawasan Falls. We would have wanted to stay longer at this magnificent waterfalls, but the extremely cold water, plus the windchill created by the force of water hitting the ground, made it impossible to stay submerged for more than 5 minutes. We had to leave pronto.
There’s a facility at the waterfalls to allow guests to change clothes. With the White Island as the next stop, however, it didn’t make sense to change clothes. We simply allowed our swimming gear to dry off a bit by spending time, at the waterfalls’ entrance, scouring for souvenirs and tasting Camiguin’s version of the kiping, which happens to be the star of Lucban’s Pahiyas Festival.
Off to Mambajao, Camiguin’s capital, before 10 in the morning, dropping by the old Guiob Church ruins for some lanzones. Another stop at the town center to pick up Vjandep Pastel as pasalubong. Stashed the pastel in the van and, after a 2-minute drive, we arrived at the jump-off point for White Island. An hour at White Island seemed like 5 minutes. Time flies so fast when you’re having fun.
But we had to go. Too much of everything is not good. Too much beach means sunburn. And we’re hungry. It was lunch time.
We took a final dip at the Sto. Nino Cold Spring. Before jumping into the communal pool and enjoying the spring water, we ordered lunch so food can be served after spending more energy while chilling in cold spring water. The way they do it here: there’s someone roaming with menu on hand. Check the menu, place your order, get a cottage beside the pool, swim, enjoy, and before you’ll know it, lunch is served. Payment comes after. Everybody happy.
Too exhausted after the Cold Spring, we decided to skip the Ardent Hot Spring Resort, the Soda Water Spring, and the Tuasan Falls. Last stop: the Sunken Cemetery, on the way back to the resort.
Back to Manila
The last day of the trip was entirely devoted to traveling back to Manila, retracing all our steps — a total of 12 hours, starting with 7:00 am RORO departure at Camiguin’s Benoni Port. Worth every single hard-earned centavo.