Plan A Tropical Escape At This Hidden Gem Philippines Island Off Tourists' Radar

The Philippines is a paradise for travelers seeking a sultry escape. In the heart of the tropics, the Philippines' 7,000 islands offer thriving cities, lush jungles, and pristine beaches. It's no wonder that 5 million people visited its shores in 2023 alone, per Statista. Visitors looking for crystal-clear waters and white-sand beaches often make a beeline for Boracay and El Nido, two of the country's most famous areas. While gorgeous, they're also often crowded, especially in the high season.   

If you want to escape the crowds, consider setting your sights on Camiguin. Tucked away in the Bohol Sea, Camiguin is often called the most beautiful island in the Philippines. The island is home to almost every natural wonder you could ask for in the tropics, including towering volcanoes, shimmering lagoons, sandy beaches, gushing waterfalls, and refreshing cold springs. Despite all this, Camiguin is still a hidden gem in terms of tourist numbers, making it the perfect destination for an authentic and tranquil tropical experience

Keeping busy on Camiguin

Though it may be small, Camiguin packs a mighty punch in terms of attractions. For many, the first stop is at White Island, a sandbar just over a mile offshore. On this deserted island, you can laze on the beach, swim and snorkel in the clear waters, and enjoy the views of Mount Hibok-Hibok. The Sunken Cemetery is another top attraction. Divers and snorkelers can explore the cemetery that fell below the waves during a volcanic eruption in 1871. 

That brings us to the volcanoes. Camiguin is nicknamed "The Island Born of Fire"; it's home to seven volcanoes. The most famous is Mount Hibok-Hibok, and you can take a guided trek through the jungle to reach the summit. Trekkers on Tripadvisor call the hike "demanding" and "exhausting" but totally worth it. You'll need to cool off after your trek, so seek out some of Camiguin's waterfalls. 

Katibawasan Falls is the best known on the island, with a long, slender stream of water plunging into a chilly pool below. You could also dip in one of the cold springs that dot the island. St. Nino gets stellar reviews from travelers on Google, who say the water is clean and fresh. There are hot springs in Camiguin, too. The most notable is Ardent Hot Spring, but visitors on Google say that the water isn't hot anymore, so the springs have lost their appeal.

Tips for visiting Camiguin

Camiguin remained off the radar for so long because it was relatively difficult to reach. However, Cebu Pacific's introduction of direct flights to the island's capital, Mambajao, ended the overland slog through mainland Mindanao. Flights from Cebu City to tiny Mambajao are reasonably priced, too. That means you need to get there now and beat the crowds. 

But when exactly should you plan a trip? You'll find the best weather from November to April when the days are sunny and dry. However, to experience one of the island's best festivals, you'll want to go in October. The Lanzones Festival celebrates the island's most famous fruit — a delicious combination of lychee and potato — in a carnival atmosphere. 

Lanzones are one of the must-eats on Camiguin — harvested between August and December on the island — but there are many other things to try. The Philippines is famous for roasted suckling pig, and the version from Camiguin has some of the crispiest skin and most tender meat. To satisfy a sweet tooth, try Pastel de Camiguin, a custard-filled bun, or kiping — sweet wafers with coconut sauce delicately poured over the top.