The trip to Camiguin was one of the highlights of our Northern Mindanao adventure. Camiguin is also called as the “Island Born of Fire” as it is believed to have been created from volcanic eruptions. It is the second smallest province in the country yet it boasts plenty of natural attractions and historical sights.
After coming back from the night market in CDO, my friend and I ditched the idea of spending two days in Camiguin. Things didn't turn out as planned so instead of an overnight trip to the island, it became a day tour only on our third day. We were firmed about pushing through with the side trips (Iligan City and whitewater rafting) that didn't materialize in our first two days so we had to compromise on this. However, most of the research I did says that the ideal days to tour around Camiguin is at least two days. So that made me niggle that we won't be able to cover all the attractions Camiguin has to offer in just one day. But with adventure in mind, we resolved to do it ala-Amazing Race. :)
Getting to Camiguin from CDO is actually quite easy. But I just had to share our experience for you to learn from--because it didn't turn out smooth as we expected. There are two options in getting to Camiguin Island from Cagayan de Oro City. We took the popular and longer option via Balingoan Port (about 2-3 hours by bus) where we can take the ferry to the island (another 1 hour). In order for us to tour Camiguin in one day, we had to start very early by catching the first trip of boat in Balingoan so we can visit as many spots as we could. So with only less than four hours of sleep, we left Budgetel and arrived at Agora Bus Terminal at about 2:45 AM. Agora Bus Terminal is where the buses bound for Balingoan are located. From Budgetel, it took us about 10 minutes to get to the bus terminal by riding the motorela (since we couldn't find any taxi at that wee hours of the morning).
Our arrival at Agora Bus Terminal was just perfect as the only bus at that time was about to leave the station. We didn't even have a time to have a nice cup of hot coffee which we desperately needed. The bus that we took was actually bound for Butuan which will pass by the municipality of Balingoan first. We paid P143 per person for the fare. We expected to doze off during the trip as we needed some rest for the all-day Camiguin Island tour but we stayed wide awake due to excitement.
After an hour and a half, we reached the Balingoan Bus Terminal for a quick stopover. I did not know about the stopover as I was expecting to see a port. We didn't see any port around the area so after the stopover, we hopped on the bus again and left the terminal. UNFORTUNATELY, the bus conductor forgot to inform us that we should be getting off RIGHT THERE at Balingoan Bus Terminal! We had no idea that Balingoan Ferry Port is just a short tricycle ride or can even be walked from the bus terminal.
Just a flashback: Before boarding the bus from Agora bus terminal in CDO, we made sure that we're taking the right bus by informing the driver and the conductor of our destination. Also, during the course of the trip, I reminded the conductor TWICE that we needed to be dropped off at a port in Balingoan where we can take a ferry to Camiguin. I did very little research so we solely relied on the instructions of the driver or conductor.
It baffled me because during the stopover I actually crossed path with the conductor on the way to the restroom. I smiled at him, a gesture reminding him of our presence and as if telling him, "hello, are we there yet?" He just smiled back at me. Later, I also learned that my friend asked the driver if we're already somewhere near the port during the stopover. He just gave a nod as an answer. Nobody informed us that we had actually reached our destination! Besides, we reached the terminal quicker as compared to 2-3 hours as mentioned in blogs so we thought the port is probably 30 minutes drive or more from where we were.
One thing I realized about this trip is that language differences could become a challenge. We had quite a hard time communicating with the driver or conductor as they didn't speak in Tagalog at all. So that made us wonder if they really understood us or not. The good part was that, it has been only five minutes since we left the terminal when the conductor realized that we shouldn't be anymore on that bus. The driver decided to continue on driving, instead of dropping us at the side of the road, which was a good thing because we could hardly see any vehicles passing by in the middle of the pitch-dark highway! Thankfully, a bus approaching from the opposite direction appeared. He stopped it for us to get a ride back to the terminal. At first we're sort of mad of what happened but we just laughed it off. With all the misadventures that we had been having since day one, we couldn't afford to be complaining anymore! We were looking for adventure, so this trip gave us some. :)
We took a tricycle (P8 per person) as soon as we arrived at the terminal to Balingoan Ferry Port. Despite the hassle, we were still very early for the first trip of RORO boat which was at 5:20 AM. We paid a regular fare of P170 per person for an hour boat ride from Balingoan Ferry Port to Benoni Port, an entry point to the island of Camiguin.
How to Get to Camiguin from Cagayan de Oro (CDO)
Cheapest option but longer way. From CDO Airport, take a taxi or van to Agora Bus Terminal. Fare should be around P200 per person. From your hotel within the city center, you can take a taxi or motorela to Agora Bus Terminal. Take a Butuan-bound bus (P143) or van from Agora Bus Terminal to Balingoan Port. Travel time is about 2-3 hours. If you're taking the bus, get off at Balingoan Bus Terminal and rent a tricycle or motorela (P8) to the Balingoan Ferry Port. Alternatively, you can just walk towards the port. For vans, you can ask to be dropped off at Balingoan Port. RORO and ferry boats (P170) leave hourly from Balingoan Port to Benoni Port (Camiguin). Early trip is 5:00 AM (but ours was 5:20 AM). Travel time takes about 1 hour.
Via Fastcraft in Macabalan Port
This is the expensive option but fastest way. From CDO Airport, take a taxi or van to Macabalan Port in Cagayan de Oro City. From your hotel within the city center, you can rent a motorela or take a jeepney (with "Pier" sign) to Macabalan Port. Take the Ocean Jet ferry from Macabalan Port to Benoni Port (Camiguin). Fare is P550 per person and travel time is about 2 hours. Take note that Ocean Jet has only one trip per day (8:30 AM). We took this option from Camiguin to CDO (4:00 PM).
Read more about my Northern Mindanao trip:
- Part 1 - First Time and (Mis)adventures in Mindanao
- Part 2 - Braving Asia's Longest Dual Zipline at Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon
- Part 3 - Divisoria Night Market: Food Trip and Ukay-ukay in Cagayan de Oro City
- Part 4 - Getting from CDO to Camiguin via Balingoan Port