Camiguin, born of fire

The island of Camiguin is the second smallest in the Philippines, both in population and land area, but with over 20 cinder cones, and four stratovolcanoes, Camiguin has more volcanoes per square kilometer than any other place on Earth. Much of the island was formed by earthquakes and volcanic activity, earning itself the nickname “island born of fire”.

Today, only there are only two active volcanic vents, and the last eruption was in 1951, by Mt. Hibok-Hibok, which killed over 3,000 islanders. Though there hasn’t been any volcanic activity as of late, the volcanoes remain prominent figures on the island of Camiguin.

It’s hard to ignore how they tower over the island, controlling cloud formations, and it can be mighty tempting to sign up for a trek up to one of the several volcanoes. Volcanic rocks line large parts of the island, and the volcanic soil has made Camiguin incredibly fertile and lush. There are several springs (hot, cold and even one soda spring) that pop up throughout the island, and a few now-popular spots that feature the destructive power of a volcano.

Camiguin offers plenty of activities and destinations: diving and snorkeling, jungle trekking and volcano climbing, mountain biking and horse riding, beaches and waterfalls and hot/cold/soda springs— I’m pretty sure I’m missing some stuff but you get the idea.

The relatively isolated location of the island means it is often crossed off the traveler’s list… Well, woe betide those who skipped it, because Camiguin is worth every peso and second.

the front yard of our hotel
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the beach in front of the yard
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gassing up
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typical scenery
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also typical scenery!
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you can see the cross of the sunken cemetery
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our buddies, we saw em pretty often on our daily rides!
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saw many lovely colonial houses, and many were converted into stores or cafes
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park at the edge of Mambajao
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Hibok Hibok not-so-hot Springs
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Katibawasan Falls (250 feet/76m)
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Romantic but less impressive Tuawasan Falls
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construction project right next to Tuawasan Falls, so forget about peace and quiet around there
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In 1871, after months of volcanic activity, there was a massive eruption, which saw the birth of Mt. Vulcan. Unfortunately, the eruption devastated the town of Catarman, which was established in 1697 by the Spanish, and portions of it sank into the sea.

There was a town cemetery, which was first only partly submerged, but after more volcanic activity, the cemetery was eventually swallowed by the sea. When Mt. Hibok-Hibok erupted in 1951, the cemetery further sank to 20 feet below, and then in 1982 a large cross was erected to commemorate the sacred spot of the dearly departed. Snorkeling around this area is a popular tourist activity, and I was constantly looking around for waterlogged zombies.

Still visible aboveground today is the remains of the Guiob Church, known as the Old Church Ruins, which had massive walls made of coral stones. Only small parts of the belfry and parts of the convent’s buttresses still stand, so it’s a better story than a stop, though.

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burnt shell of a church
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the walls were massively thick
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