I’ve seen the best beaches of South East Asia, some of the beaches in Sri Lanka, Mexico, Florida, Bermuda and the Caribbean but whenever I travel around the Philippines, the beaches here never fail to surprise me. First because they are incredibly beautiful and second is that most of the time, the beaches are not too crowded with tourists. It’s almost like having the whole island to yourself. I find it quite funny whenever I hear travelers that the Philippines is a dangerous country. Apparently, Camiguin is in Mindanao, which has the reputation of being the "most dangerous" region in the Philippines. Well, it didn’t stop me from traveling this island… Alone.
(The “dangerous people” with Mount Hibok Hibok in the background)
The island has been on my travel list for as long as I can remember. I was so ecstatic to find out that the pier of the ferries that go to Camiguin is just a 5 minute walk from my cousin’s home in Jagna, Bohol! So I didn’t miss the chance of visiting the island. After all, who wouldn’t want to visit the only island in South East Asia with 7 active volcanoes?
The moment I stepped into the port of Benoni, I could feel the very nice breeze and the very relaxing island atmosphere. I also noticed its mountainous island. It is also a home to the white island- a gorgeous fine white sand beach with zero trees, seven volcanoes and the world’s giant clams, which makes the island very exotic and special. The island is special for me because it is the place where I first traveled solo in my home country where I know no one and with no guidebook and the first place where I saw double rainbows at the same time.
(Rainbow shot on White Island from my iPhone)
In the Philippines, traveling alone as a woman is not the norm. So it was funny seeing local people’s shocking reactions that I was traveling alone in this island, carrying a backpack and was comfortable riding motorcycles all around. As a seasoned flashpacker, I have learned not to book my guesthouses in advance as I get the best places to stay just by walking around or showing up. Here, I found a lovely cottage near the port going to the white island beach that I was able to haggle for $10 a night.
(my cottage + a bonus ref outside )
The people here are so incredibly friendly and the owner of the guesthouse where I stayed gave excellent recommendations to maximize my time to visit all the best places to see in the island. So the next day, I booked an early morning trip to see the gorgeous white sand island. It is recommended to visit this island early morning from 6 am to 9 am since there are no trees and could get extremely hot during mid day. The round trip transfers cost P400 ($10) per boat and each boat could handle up to six people. After visiting the white island I met up with my motorcycle driver and plot my itinerary. Since I only had a day to explore, I asked to got the must visit sites in the island.
Below are my recommended must sees of the island:
Visit the World’s Giant Clams
And the main attraction- The White Island
And as always, what makes my trip extra special are the new friends- local people and fellow travelers I meet along the way.
A nice couple from Manila:
And a cute new friend from the island
(Wearing a helmet while having your picture taken with a calf is the thing nowadays)
Camiguin is meant to be discovered. On my last day in this island, I almost didn’t make it to the pier as I stayed too long in the white island with the new friends I met. But the best thing in Asia is just being able to walk up to any motorbike driver with some cash and they’re sure to drive you as fast as you need to get to wherever. Well, it sure was the most electrifying ride of my life. I ended up in the port literally unable to comb my hair and could very much qualify for a “before” in a before and after hair commercial. But like the locals love to say, Camiguin is for come again and it sure is.
In summary don’t be put off with notions that a place is dangerous so it should be avoided. As a woman who has traveled solo in many third world countries, I could say that with proper research, common sense and vigilance one can be just fine visiting a place. Geographically speaking, the Philippines as an archipelago is not that accessible compared to other South East Asian countries. But as the lonely planet describes: those who take the time to visit and explore the Philippines will be rewarded. It is really worth it and it will surely be one adventure you won’t forget.