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Small but perfectly formed

Volcanoes, waterfalls and the best beach

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Still a little bleary eyed from our sort of restful night aboard the ferry we managed to find our way on to a jeepney, then a bus and finally at around 8am we were making the crossing between the Mindanao mainland and Camiguin. This island is about 300 s/km and is home to five volcanoes, only one of which is still considered to be active and hasn't erupted in a few decades. So we were quite confident we weren't heading straight into the clutches of a natural disaster.
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Our guide book only had a couple of paragraphs about the island but it did mention a place to stay which was something. First we made our way by jeepney to Mambajao which is the largest town and then we got a minicab, which is basically an enclosed trailer attached to a motorbike, to takes us a little further North to the Caves Dive Resort. The main building of the hotel sat right at the edge of the beach and provided a very beautiful setting for the lovely meals we were to enjoy.
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As this a volcanic island the sand here is a chocolate brown colour, which gives the place a different feeling to the pristine white beaches we have visited. There is something more wild and undiscovered about it, this feeling may have been slightly aided by the fact that we seemed to be the only people staying.
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The bungalow style accommodation was set back amongst the palm tree groves and it was just overwhelmingly peaceful. We immediately felt an affinity with our new surroundings and in the end we would have stayed longer if time had permitted.
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Once settled we set about making the best of the time that we did have here and organised a boat to take us out to the sunken island/s. As we stood on the beach we could see two little slithers of white sitting on the glistening horizon and we knew it was worth a closer look.
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After the usual back and forth of price negotiation we were bobbing along atop the miniature waves, the island had been broken in two by the tide and we headed for the patch of sand that was completely deserted.

Once ashore we organised for a pick up in a couple of hours and we were then left alone to marvel at how amazingly gorgeous this spot was. I am not going to do it justice when I try to explain because it was not only the shallow turquoise water which surrounded the island or the unblemished white sand beneath our feet.
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Or even the view back at the volcanic island that loomed over us from this low vantage point, looking like the perfect setting for Jurassic Park or some other movie depicting prehistoric life. It was more than that, it was ours to enjoy alone, our own little slice of paradise.
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We had our own desert island and were safe in the knowledge that someone was coming to get us before we starved to death or had to make an attempt at constructing a fishing rod!
It was the first time on this trip that we haven't had to share an experience, which these days unless you charter your own jet is fairly rare. Even those who make it to the summit of Everest have to enjoy their time at the top of the world with a steady flow of other climbers. Anyway maybe you get the picture that we were happy to be alone!

We spent the next couple of hours snorkelling around in the shallow water, searching out the best shells we could find.
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We continued the hunt on land and Adam made friends with a fish.
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As our time came to an end we pooled our loot and set about a ruthless review of each specimen, discarding any which didn't make the grade until we were happy that we had a good selection. It was a very simple afternoon but it was great and when the vessel arrived to take us back we didn't really want to go.

Once back on the main island Adam did a bit more snorkelling and I sat in the sun for a little while longer. Then we quickly went to get cleaned up so we could be back in time for the sunset. It was a pretty one and we were also entertained by a few of the local men playing beach volley ball.
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Despite it appearing to be a light hearted bit of fun I could see it getting quite competitive at points and there was quite a few people who had gathered round to watch. The spectators included a couple of young girls who must have waved and said hello to us fifty plus times, they were so cute and I wanted to take a picture but felt too embarrassed to ask their mum.

When the sun had set we went and had a lovely dinner, it was the best food that I had had in the Philippines and rounded off the day perfectly. We discussed with the manageress the possibility of renting a motorbike the next day as it seemed the best way to see the island and arranged for it to be ready at 8am.

The next morning we were up bright and early, eager to get on with exploring the interior of the island. Once we had eaten breakfast, acquired two helmets instead of the one they had provided and Adam had refreshed his memory in relation to controlling the bike, we were off!
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First stop on the tour was the Walkway to The Old Volcano and The Stations of Christ. This really was just a walk which slowly climbed up the side of the volcano and at intervals along the way there were statues depicting times in the life of Christ, for example when he carried the cross. It didn't really grasp our attention, although we were a little taken aback when we reached one set of statues which had been decimated by falling rocks and now Jesus lay broken on the floor.
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We decided we weren't going to make it to the top and in any event it would take too long and there were other things we wanted to see. The next stops were firstly the soda pool, which was a public outdoor swimming pool full of natural soda water. We momentarily considered going in but in the end decided it didn't really appeal and so we headed on to the cold springs. Again this had really been made in to more of swimming pool and lacked some of the natural charm we were hoping for. There was a bit of a chill in the air as by now we were higher up and surrounded by the cover of trees so we declined a dip in the cold water and instead opted for a wander around the stalls close by.

Back on the bike once again we were looking out for a giant clam farm but there didn't seem to be any signs for it and by the time we made it back to Mambajao we had to presume we'd missed it somewhere. Although the bike was great and it gave us so much more freedom, as we didn't have to continually negotiate for people to drive us places and so on, it wasn't half hurting our rear ends! We parked up and eagerly climbed off for a walk round and a spot of lunch. Whilst stuffing our faces with another good meal we decided to go to Katibawasan Falls next and then go hunt down the giant clams.

We found the waterfall no problem and despite expecting a bit of a walk from where we paid the entrance fee, it was in fact just round the corner. It wasn't exactly a torrent of water which plummeted to the pool below but it was impressive none the less.
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The steady stream of water fell straight down 50m and the force of it was visible when it impacted with the still pool. We sat transfixed and watched it for a while, and then gazed around at the setting. Again it looked like a Pterodactyl could have swooped down or a Diplodocus could have broken through the trees in search of a drink.
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Our time at the waterfall having come to an end we went to find those giant clams. As we drove along Adam went with his gut and turned down a side road, it turned out to be a good call and soon enough we were parked up by a small white beach. We were greeted by a group of young girls who guided us toward a large wooden shack, just outside of it on a table were some very large shells. Including the largest clam shell I have ever seen.
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We had a bit more of a look round the small set up that they had and in some ways thought they could do more to lure the tourists down here, as it is an interesting natural wonder that they have to offer.

We were then offered the opportunity to go out and see the giant clams as they grow in the sea just off shore. It was a little more than maybe we were hoping to pay but we got a guide and they threw in the snorkel equipment for free. As we swam out with our guide he began to explain the names of the different clams (which I can't remember) and he also said a lot of other things which I'm afraid I can't remember. It was quite hard to view the clams and concentrate on understanding what he was saying but he was very cheery and clearly enthusiastic about the work they were doing here. It is really a conservation area and a nursery where they create the best environment possible to grow these silent giants. The biggest clams they have here grow to a massive 36 inches in diameter and they are really quite majestic as they sat nestled into the sea bed. My snorkel pipe had a hole in it so there was a continual flow of sea water filling my mouth. Our guide told me to just keep blowing it out and so as long as I kept up a Darth Vader impression it was just about bearable!

We had forgotten to bring a towel so we were a bit wet when we climbed back on the bike, soon enough though the wind would blow us dry. Our final stop was the Ardent Hot Springs and we were hoping for something a little more than the pools we'd visited earlier. The area around the springs has been made into a resort with a hotel but the springs themselves still had a rustic feel to them as they are divided up and still completely housed within the rock. It was only a quick dip as it was beginning to get dark but it was a relaxing way to end the day and eased some of our tired muscles and soothed our sore bums!

Once back at the hotel I had a quick go on the motorbike in the car park which was quite fun, although I'm not sure I want to be out on the open road! In the end we were too tired to go out for dinner and the food here was good so it wasn't a difficult decision. It turned out to be a wise choice because the heavens opened and we were hit by quite a thunderstorm. We watched the lightening brighten the sky above the sea as we ate and then we borrowed an umbrella to make the dash back to our room.

We'd had such a great time here that we were both a little sad at the thought of moving on again but we had to get to Zamboanga to catch our ferry to Borneo in just a few days.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 00:43 Archived in Philippines Tagged round_the_world

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