As I’ve documented many times before, the Philippines has about 7,500 islands, making it a seemingly-endless playground for nature lovers, beach goers, and travelers. However, while that 7,500 number jumps right out at you, the possible tourist destinations can actually shrink to 20 or so viable choices pretty quickly.
For instance, if you don’t want to risk being kidnapped and having your head cut off, you have to limit your roamings in the southern island grouping of Mindanao, which automatically excludes some of those islands.
Furthermore, many of them are too hard to get to, don’t have any infrastructure for tourists (like lodging, restaurants, etc.) or are out of WiFi range and without electricity.
These days, some of the remaining hot spots are also TOO hot and become so inundated with other tourists, both Filipinos and foreigners (especially Chinese and Koreans), that they get ruined pretty quickly. For instance, the once paradise-like island of Boracay just got completely shut down for six months because of the environmental impact of 2 million visitors every year, and El Nido, Cebu, and even Siargao are borderline overcrowded or that’s on the horizon.
So where else can you go? One alternative that’s not a hot spot yet but still a great option is the island of Camiguin.
Located in northern Mindanao (but exceedingly safe), Camiguin is just big enough to be easily accessible and offer plenty of comfort and amenities, and just small enough to be called “charming” at only about 23 by 14 kilometers. It also holds the rare distinction of being the only island in the world with more volcanos (7) than towns (5). In fact, they name Camiguin means “Born of fire,” and its frequent eruptions have completely ruined some of its towns and buried others at sea during the centuries.
But today, you’ll find a lush, green, tropical, and wild island with very chill and friendly inhabitants. It’s also super easy to get to, since you can fly directly there from Manila or Cebu. For budget travelers, there are plenty of local guest houses and hostels that will only cost about $10 or less per night. Or, there are a few higher-end and very nice resorts, but you should book those well in advance because of the demand.
Once you’re there, rent a motoriboke or hire a trike to take you sightseeing for the day, which will include impressive church ruins, the sunken cememtery from WWII, the majestic and powerful Katibawasan Falls, the Ardent Hot Spring Resort (skip it- the water is only air temperature and hasn’t been connected to its geothermal warming sourec for years!), a fun but ardous short hike up Mount Hibok-Hibok, and may more.
You also definitely don’t want to miss renting a small boat and heading out to White Island, especially if the wheather is clear, where you can relax on its white sand beach and play arounf for a few hours or the whole day.
Exhaust yourself during the day and have a few drinks while taking in the sunset, because there is very little (if nothing) to do at night on Camigiun. There is one ntable Italian restaurant on the main highway where expats and travelers meet and a few other hotel watering holes, but don’t expect a big party – at least until Camigiun gets “discovered” and overcrowded with tourists!