Monday, June 30

Awe-filling Northern Mindanao

The "City of Golden Friendship" as it is described by many. Home of the friendliest locals, who without a doubt embodies their city's brand. Cagayan de Oro is one of the provinces of Misamis Oriental in Mindanao and it is one of the highly urbanized cities there is located down the archipelago. It serves as a regional center and business hubs for Northern Mindanao. The place is most famous for their whitewater rafting as well as kayaking adventures along the Cagayan de Oro river. Apart from this, it can also be a gateway to one of the heavenliest places there is in the Philippines - Camiguin! Goodness cow, these two places when combined can give you a hell of a good time! It's surely one of my trips to remember!

Good news is I have planned this with my friends beforehand! Which means... there will be an itinerary waiting for you at the end of this lol and a budget! I hate to call it budget since I'm not a heavy budget person but it is what it is. Or maybe I should call it out-of-the-ordinary expenses list. Hmm hmm, let's see! 

I have also decided that to shorten my entries (ahem* since most of my readers are working or studying) I will be blogging about places one day at a time! Should I explain this further? Day 1, Day 2, etc, etc... Going back! We arrived at Laguindingan International Airport at around 6 or past six in the morning. Yes because we took the earliest flight at around 4:40 or 5am, I think. It's a breeze when you arrive earlier honestly, since you have the luxury to walk in pace, especially if you were like us who dedicated half of their day on the way to an island 5 hours away from the airport. You might be thinking right now 'WHY THE HECK DID SHE SPEND HER TIME DESCRIBING CAGAYAN DE ORO WHEN SHE ACTUALLY WENT TO CAMIGUIN FIRST' lol pretty much because it's were we landed! Hashtag writer problems, sorry

Anyway, so we rode a cab to Agora Market where the bus going to Balingoan were all located. Travel time takes approximately an hour, rate ranges from P180-P200. From there, you ride a bus going to Balingoan Port (P130). Be sure to pick a comfy place for you to sit on since it'll take more than 2 hours - almost 3 if I remember it correctly. From the drop-off point of the bus, you can either walk going to the terminal which will take about 5-10 minutes or take a tric (like all of us lazy people) for P10 per person. From there you'll see a ferry which leaves every hour, earliest from Balingoan Port (CDO) to Benoni Port (Camiguin) is at 4:30am and the latest is at 2:45pm and fare is at P130/person. IMPORTANT REMINDER: Be there an hour before - you'd be asked to pay some stuff and have your baggage checked so no last minute wrap ups! Ferry ride takes an hour even if you can already see Camiguin from a distance lol something I would never understand.

We have made prior arrangements with Paguia's Cottages Camiguin for the tours. One reason we picked them is because you can customize the whole thing from deciding what will be the places for day 1/day 2 and they have affordable rates, a decent place to stay in, and your private multicab with the most upbeat songs! We basically forgot about our phones and just went through their music lol

See? Camiguin from a distance!
© Marianne Matic

Shall we begin with Day 1? After that long and tiring introduction lol we started off with lunch before we head on to our first destination which is Katibawasan Falls. Just a little bit of segway, food is cheap in Camiguin you can actually eat with P50 on your wallet depending on how #baboy you are. In my case, I prefer it within the P100 range.

Katibawasan Falls

The falls, even in its simplest form, is a sight. The green trees surrounding the cold water, the sound of the birds that go perfect with your ears, and the serenity that would make you want to stay for hours either swimming or just sitting there thinking nothing more than how some places can be this amazing - no matter how simple and plain it is. Too bad, we left our swimsuits inside our bags but we had a dip if that changes anything lol

Shortly after Katibawasan, we headed to Sto. Nino Cold Spring. But we made a quick stop as we passed by the landmark of Camiguin's Old Volcano. You'll know why when you finally get there! The view is gorgeous, as usual. I bet it's a natural thing for Camiguin having all these gorgeous places.

Camiguin's Old Volcano

The way the sun beams and reflects on the water is such a magnificent view. I actually like how Camiguin is surrounded everywhere with water. There's a sea on the side for every road you pass on. It glistens along with the radiating sun. Ugh I love this place I can be here for weeks!

Anyhow going back... So we went to Sto. Nino Cold Spring which is by the way as natural as the beauty of Camiguin. Everything here is effortless and pretty natural lol it's a great place to relax and chill from the long day that you just had. Pair it up with a buko juice and you're good to go!

Sto Nino Cold Spring

After our relaxing swim at the cold spring, we hurriedly proceeded to the Sunken Cemetery before Mr. Sun totally says goodbye. I don't know why but the huge marker cross on its own is already a sight to see. We weren't able to ride the small paddle boats anymore to go to the cross but we surely had magnificent pictures stored in our minds. I am in awe of how Camiguin was built into this really amazing location with nothing but breathtaking scenery.

Sunken Cemetery

We spent around 5-10 minutes just looking at the view and taking pictures. After that, we passed by at the restaurant where we'll have dinner before going to another relaxing swim at Ardent Hot Spring. The first step we had at the water, it was so relaxing we forgot to take pictures lol missed on the food for dinner too! But we ordered mostly grilled stuff like chicken and pork, it's actually good. However, the one thing that disappointed us the most is when we asked for another cup of rice their reply surprised us with rage. "Naubusan po kami ng kanin" and we were all like WHO DOES THAT? SERIOUSLY! lol you don't mess with hungry people in all ways more than one. We waited for a good 30 minutes because they said they would try to look for rice but ended up cancelling the order since they obviously didn't address the problem at all.

Anyway, we had beer night to cap off our first day! That is to celebrate on how amazing the place is ..and to lament on how the eatery we'd gone for dinner didn't have an extra serving of rice lol


  • 06:45am - Arrival at Laguindingan International Airport
  • 07:45am - Agora Market - board the bus going to Balingoan Port
  • 07:45am to 08:30am - Waiting time for bus to board passengers
  • 08:30am - Departure from Agora Market Bus Terminal
  • 11:30am - ETA Balingoan Port - ride ferry going to Benoni Port
  • 12:30pm - ETA at Benoni Port
  • 12:30pm to 1:30pm - Lunch
  • 1:30pm to 8:00pm - Camiguin Tour: Katibawasan Falls, Sto Nino Cold Spring, Old Volcano, Sunken Cemetery, Ardent Hot Spring
  • 08:30pm - Dinner
  • 09:00pm - Socials/Beer Night

(Please note that this is individually quoted and based on the number of persons who traveled which is on our case, 4)
  • Cab from Laguindingan International Airport to Camiguin - P50
  • Bus from Agora Market to Balingoan Port - P130
  • Ferry from Balingoan Port to Camiguin - P130
  • Half Day Tour from Paguia's Cottages (an estimate only since we had a customized tour on our whole stay; includes a multicab rental, going around the city and entrance fees that you'd have to pay) - P600
  • Lunch - P100
  • Dinner - P100
  • Beer for socials (2 bottles) - P60
  • Accommodation (1 night) - P375
I repeat these are rough estimates and based on how I budget my money when traveling which is not high maintenance but not strict either. If you're just like me, this is good to go.

Happy travels!


Sunday, June 29

And I'm back!

I am very sorry for not updating my blog for the past 4 weeks as my laptop went through a hell of a time but I'm back now with a new posting device which is apparently my phone! But it's a long story so... we better change the topic.

Anyway, this will be more of a warm up since I don't think I already have the right words for my next entry yet which will be about Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin. It's a really great place to write about so it better be close to perfect! Some of the readers were asking for a few changes on the posts, say including a budget or providing them with a sample itinerary, which of course I will be glad to write about. The previous trips were all non-itinerary based aka more of yolo decisions which my friends and I are very good about (Cebu) and some of it I'm with my Mom and friends so I pretty much go by as to what they deem fit (Anawangin and Palawan). I should prolly sort my trips to those categories - yolo, planned, and hmm... oldies? Lol but kidding aside, don't you worry, I'll have the entries sort out nice and quick so you'll get to browse easier and will provide more of itineraries and budget estimates! You should know prior though that I'm not exactly the super 'backpacker' type but not one of a high maintenance traveler too. Somewhere in the middle should be great!

Here are a few eye candy pictures from CDO and Camiguin to keep you company while I prepare my next entry.

Katibawasan Falls

Sto. Nino Cold Spring

Sunken Cemetery

White Sandbar

Mantigue Island

Camiguin: View from the ferry

White Water Rafting

Pineapple Fields, Bukidnon

Cagayan de Oro City

It's a gorgeous place and the locals are one of the friendliest I've met! Will get back to you once I have redeemed (?) my words.

Happy travels!


Wednesday, June 4

Puerto Princesa City: Underground River & Island Hopping at Honda Bay

There are still a lot more reasons why you should see Puerto Princesa and I do hope that with my Day 2 & 3 insights today, you'll be more eager to visit this great city.

Our service picked us up the next day at 8 in the morning to have our Underground River tour. The port was about 2 hours ride away from the city center. From there, you'll be riding an outrigger boat to Sabang beach where you will have a 10 minutes walk to the paddle boats. There is usually a line to follow as to make the process more smooth and organized. There are seats on one side of the place and your tour guide will usually call you for your turn. The whole underground river tour will last for about 30 minutes, maximum of 45. You'll see a lot of different formations inside and the guides are really funny you'll find yourself a captive of their humor and the magnificent natural creations you'll see.

On the way to Sabang beach

Monkeys lurking around while walking to the paddle boats

The small opening of the Underground River

Inside the cave

It was just in time for lunch when we got back from Sabang and before going to our next destination, we had our buffet lunch first by the beach. It was just a small eatery and it didn't have that much food to choose from but it's enough to satisfy. Anyway, after that we went to Ugong Rock Adventures where spelunking and zipline is available.

I was feeling a bit sick that day so I opted not to try the activities. Also, this part of the tour is optional so it mostly depends on you and your group if you would be participating or would rather go back home. It was already 4pm and we had reservations at Ka Lui for dinner so I kind of influenced mother and boyfriend to go home already so we'd have the time to freshen up and get a little bit of rest.

Ka Lui is a beautiful restaurant located just 10-15 minutes away from our inn and it's definitely a MUST, I repeat... a MUST to go to this restaurant when you're in Palawan. They have really good food and it's pretty artistic inside. You'll know why when you get there! The feel is so cozy and relaxing, you can even rest inside the comfort room and take decent pictures. I swear. Please, please, don't miss this. They are open daily except Sundays and most of the time full so be sure to make reservations. It's simple. Just tell your front desk your desired time and they'll be the one to make the arrangements for you.

One more thing, please make sure your feet don't smell bad
You'd have to walk barefoot inside the restaurant :D

Our table for the night

Buttered shrimp

I forgot the exact name of this one but it certainly is some kind of ginataang isda
Get this! This is really delicious! :)

Sinigang na isda

Grilled tuna

Steamed shrimps

The food is good, not just generally good but very good. So, make sure to try this out when you're in Palawan. After dinner, I tried going out independently for coffee but mother and boyfriend insisted on coming with me and I think it would also be a nice bonding time so we all went to Itoy's Coffee Haus to chill before we sleep and close Day 2.

Generally, the sansrival was good, and the drink as well. Although it felt as if something was out of place but it was generally good. Sorry, it's really hard for me to criticize food they're just all too good for me lol and I order my usual favorites so I hardly find anything wrong with them.

We went back to the inn at around 10 in the evening and front desk informed us that we will be picked up at 7am the next day for our Hunda Bay island hopping tour. I didn't expect much out of the islands since we all know that the beach highlights of Palawan are located in El Nido and Coron but trust me, Puerto Princesa also has a beauty of its own. We were scheduled to go to three islands, Luli, Cowry, and Pandan.

Luli is just a small sandbar that significantly submerges during high tide. By the time we went there, only a small part of it is seen and most of the members of the group decided not to swim anymore. So technically, we just dropped by. 

Just 10-15 minutes away from there is Pandan Island where we stayed until after lunch. You'll know why it's called Pandan when you get there. It has plenty of marine life going on and you don't have to go to the deep parts to be with the fishes. Once you step foot in the water, you better get ready to swim along with them. I saw a clown fish once but it was long gone after.

Sea urchins

Pandan Island

Half of the pictures were taken from my Canon 600D and half of it were from the underwater camera I borrowed. I loved this island, really. I couldn't help but compare; although Cebu still won in terms of the abundant and wide variety of marine life, this one is still worthy of a visit because you don't have to know how to swim to see the fishes, they are within reach swimming side by side even in the shallow parts of the sea.

After our lunch at Pandan, we went to Cowrie or Starfish Island. Guess I don't have to explain where the name came from anymore it's self-explanatory already. And obviously, you'll find a lot of starfishes in here!

Like I said... You'll find a lot of them :)

Cowrie Island

Cowrie was a good place to chill and give yourself a break from snorkeling. Sit under one of the trees you can find along the beach, breathe the air in, feel the fine cream sand on your toes, and drink buko juice or eat anything while taking in the beautiful scenery in front of you.

At around 3:30pm we were already getting ready for departure at 4. Overall, our Hunda Bay island hopping tour was fun and even if it wasn't as good or great as El Nido or Coron (of course, hello) it's still worth it to see and spend your time in here.

If you are also interested in getting the packaged tour that we had, Ysabelle Mansion's contact number is on my previous Palawan write-up. Feel free to check it out.

Happy travels!