Getting to bask in the glory of our country’s natural wonders has been a travel treat that has been kept from us because of the pandemic. But with restrictions being lifted, exploring our great outdoors is high up on many people’s to-do list.
Tourism in Northern Mindanao hopes to address that need with the development of its Green Adventure Loop. Biodiversity conservation is highlighted in this new tourism offering, which focuses on the exploration of natural attractions in Misamis Oriental and Camiguin.
Imposing mountains, lush jungles and slopes, and palm-tree-fringed beaches characterize the largely coastal province of Misamis Oriental. On the other hand, natural wonders such as majestic volcanoes, lagoons, lakes, and hot and cold springs as well as pristine waterfalls and white-sand shores, abound on the volcanic island of Camiguin.
Visitors to these destinations may also engage in local conservation initiatives organized by the local government entities in these areas while they tour the places.
Jasaan, Misamis Oriental
Here, the Philippine sailfin lizards, or ibid, is a particular point of interest. The Philippine Sailfin Lizard Sanctuary is the only spot in the world where scientists may study the lizard at various phases of its life.
These reptiles are officially declared as vulnerable due to its dwindling population. However, it does not seem to be the case at this sanctuary where hundreds of the sailfin lizards are usually seen lounging along the estuary.
The sanctuary offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for tourists to get up close and personal with these incredible reptiles.
The Immaculate Conception Church in Poblacion, Upper Jasaan is also a must-see when visiting the town.
The National Museum has designated this Baroque-style cathedral in Northern Mindanao as a National Cultural Treasure. They built the chapel with the intention of mimicking the historic San Ignacio Church in Manila, which is said to have been built by Jesuit brothers Francisco Rivera and Juan Cuesta.
Jasaan is located 40 kilometers east of Cagayan de Oro. To get to the municipality, you may take a jeep, bus, or van from the Agora terminal.
Sugbongcogon, Misamis Oriental
About an hour’s drive from Jasaan, Sugbongcogon has lush surroundings and an abundance of wildlife.
The three-hectare rescue complex Mantianak Botanical Garden and Zoological Park in Barangay Poblacion is well-known for its ecotour experience, which allows visitors to get up close and personal with the local fauna and their natural habitat. (Be careful not to disturb them!) The facility, which is the first of its kind in the province, houses 178 different kinds of animals, including monkeys, tigers, wild boars, deer, and crocodiles.
And, just a few minutes away, you can dine al fresco at Halseyle Hill in Tiningalan. There you can take in the views of Camiguin Island and Mt. Balatukan while feasting on Cafe Maria’s classic American diner favorites and Mong’s Grill’s Filipino barbecue choices. Sugbongcogon can be seen as a sweeping panorama from the view deck, which is situated in Barangay Poblacion’s highest point.
Sugbongcogon is 78 kilometers northeast of Cagayan de Oro (about two hours by road). Take a bus or van to Butuan or Gingoog from the Agora Terminal, and ask to be dropped off at Sugbongcogon. The fare is around PHP 145.
With its diversified topography, Camiguin provides kilometers of unspoiled white beaches and other natural treasures including towering waterfalls and calming hot springs.
Explore White Island, an isolated white sandbar set against the background of mounts Hibok-Hibok and Vulcan.
Swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, and watching the sunrise and sunset are all popular activities on the island. It is situated two kilometers between Agoho and Yumbing and imposes a PHP 20 environmental fee on its guests. Taking a boat trip to get there costs Php 420.
Another island excursion is a visit to Mantigue Island. Four hectares of evergreen woods and white granule sand beaches can be seen here, while the north of the island is home to a fishing community.
You’ll also find white sand beaches on one side of the island, and steep drop-offs for snorkeling and diving on the other side. It’s a 25-30-minute boat ride from San Roque, Mahinog.
If you are in the mood for more water adventures, head to Tuasan Falls, which is six kilometers northeast of Catarman. The hike to the wild and spectacular falls winds through the scenic Barangay Mainit, Catarman as well as along the rocky river bank. The pool under the waterfalls is deep and pristine while the areas surrounding it make for a great picnic location.
At Esperanza Ardent Hot Spring, the water temperature hovers about 40 degrees Celsius. Hibok-hibok’s volcanic vents occasionally spew off steam, which rises from the bubbling hot water. Bathing in the spring at night contrasts well with the cold mountain air. The property has a small eatery with picnic tables and tents provided on the nicely designed grounds.
One of Camiguin Island’s most popular tourist attractions, Catarman’s Sunken Cemetery reveals the remains of an old local burial site. The eruption of Mt. Vulcan or Daang Bulkan thousands of years ago devastated most of Catarman and the local cemetery sank into the ocean to a depth near the surface.
Farm and Aqua Tourism Loop
The Farm and Aqua Tourism Loop in Northern Mindanao is one way to explore the region. This adventure loop takes you on a magnificent journey through the scenic mountain views of the Gingoog-Claveria-Villanueva Road, ending in a visit to the mysterious Camiguin Island.
At the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) in Kalingagan, Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, you may witness cocoon production, training and extension services, and technical supervision for commercial-scale silk.
About a 30-minute drive away, stop at Don Narciso Café in Claveria and enjoy a cup of coffee with a view of the landscape and a breath of fresh air. Visitors may also enjoy a 360-degree mountain panorama of Mt. Balatukan, Mt. Sumagaya, and Mt. Mangabon while traversing Route 955. Oolong Tea in Barangay Kalagonoy, Ginoog, a 20-minute drive away, would be a treat after a long road journey.
Enjoy the sunrise or sunset from the comfort of your villa or while kayaking at the Duka Bay Resort located along the Butuan-Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Road. Scuba divers or glass-bottom boats may also explore Gingoog Bay and its fascinating underwater scenery.
All tourist destinations in Northern Mindanao (Region 10) have health and safety regulations in place to protect locals and visitors. Everyone is encouraged to wear face masks, wash their hands often, and maintain proper physical distance.
Visit www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app on app.philippines.travel or on Google Playstore for the most up-to-date information about re-opened local destinations as well as the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location.