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Day4P8: CDO-Bukidnon-Iligan-Camiguin – Giant Clam Sanctuary

Camiguin is a pear-shaped island in the northern tip of Mindanao.  It is the smallest province in northern Mindanao but it is the home for almost all things a nature-seeker could ask for – volcanoes, waterfalls, white sand beaches, diverse marine life, and hot and cold springs.  It is, in short, the perfect place to be one with nature.

My friend and I left our hotel in Cagayan de Oro at 4:30 AM.  We hired a tricycle that took us to Agora Bus Terminal.  From there, we boarded a bus to Balingoan Terminal.  In Balingoan bus terminal, we first caught glimpse of  Camiguin and from there, it is easy to understand why the province was known as The Island Born of Fire.  In fact, it looked liked a volcano in the middle of the ocean.

Camiguin from Balingoan Port
Camiguin from Balingoan Port

From Balingoan Port, we hopped on a fast craft to Benoni Port and after a total of four hours of travel, we finally arrived in Camiguin!  While in Manila, I searched the net for recommended habal-habal drivers and found Kuya Frank.  He was quick to respond with my queries so I hired him before I even left Manila.  Kuya Frank fetched us in Benoni Port and we proceeded to Giant Clam Sanctuary.  His contact number is 0920-540-5582.

Giant Clam Sanctuary is an NGO devoted for the propagation of giant clams.  Kuya Frank told us that the government used to subsidize its needs but withdrew its support a couple of years ago.  The people taking care of the sanctuary are working there for free and are relying from tourist to maintain the sanctuary.  Rates are as follows (As of July, 2012):

  • Entrance Fee:  25.00 Php (includes picture taking, area tour with clams lab, information and education campaign)
  • Table:  100 Php and 50 Php for big and small tables, respectively.
  • Clams Viewing Fee (with Guide):  150.00 Php
  • Mask and Snorkel:  100.00
  • Goggles:  50.00
  • Life Vest:  50.00
  • Flippers:  100.00

Flipppers were optional so we only have to pay 375.00 Php each but the receptionist striked out other fees, making it only 300.00 Php/pax!!  Before we headed to the beach, we had a learning session and a tour of the nursery and other artifacts.  From there, we learned that we should not go anywhere near the clams because they are sensitive to movements.  One should not touch or step on the clams because when they closed their shells, you have no other way to get your fingers or feet but to chop them off.  Yikes!

Giant Clams in the nursery tank
Giant Clams in the nursery tank

When it was time to head the ocean, we kept telling the guides that both of us are non-swimmers and it was our first time to snorkel.  They told us that they do not allow tourists to go to the ocean without tour guides because of risks of steping into giant clams.  So with our life vests on and our tour guides pulling us through a buoy, we enjoyed the beautiful sight the sanctuary has offerred.

Giant Clams in its natural habitat
Giant Clams in its natural habitat

Its name fits the clams.  They were really huge.  I was entranced to see rows of beautifully colored clams that closed as we passed by.  They were like dancing on our lead.  I was glad I first tried snorkeling in Camiguin.  It was a totally different experience for me.  :D

Giant Clam up close
Giant Clam up close

Our trip was not limited to seeing giant clams alone.  We also got to see the corals and the fishes that feeds and live on them.  An unexpected treat I was more than willing to take.

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We enjoyed the place so much that we lost track of time.  We were surprised that the guides were pulling and leading us back to the shore.

Corals
Corals

It was a very satisfying one hour in the giant clam sanctuary.  We gave our tour guides 100 Php tip each for their very kind assistance and went back to Kuya Frank who was there waiting and looking for our bags.  As I walked the beach back to our table, I hoped more tourists include Giant Clams Sanctuary in their itinerary.  It was an educational and enjoyable experience.

Kabila White Beach
Kabila White Beach

HOW TO GO TO CAMIGUIN:

  • From your hotel in Plaza Divisoria, Cagayan de Oro, ride tricycle that will transfer you to Agora bus terminal.  Your fare depends on your haggling skills.  We had ours at 30.00 Php for the two of us.  Taxi is another option to Agora bus terminal.
  • When in Agora terminal, board a Butuan-bound rural bus and disembark on Balingoan Port.  Fare is 143.00 Php/pax.
  • From Balingoan Port, cross the highway towards Balingoan Port.  You may also ride a tricycle and pay 7.00 Php/pax.
  • Balingoan Port imposes a 2.00Php/pax entrance fee and 2.25Php/pax terminal fee.  Pay them together with your ferry ticket costing 170.00 Php/pax.  This ferry will transfer you from Balingoan Port to Benoni Port, Camiguin.

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