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CAMIGUIN DE BABUYANES ISLAND

Entry by Saniboy Pacursa

Calayan, Philippines

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About CAMIGUIN DE BABUYANES ISLAND
PARADISE BARELY ATTAINABLE In contrast to the fast-paced and stressful routines in the ever-crowded cities, let's shift and focus our getaway to the north of mainland Luzon, the Camiguin de Babuyanes Island. Even though the Babuyanes is still aloof to the outside world, fairly oblivious to the human presence, it remains special, beckoning every traveler with the enchantment of the remote, the isolated and the barely attainable. Camiguin de Babuyanes Island, under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Calayan, Cagayan, lies north of Aparri in Babuyan Channel, south of Batanes in Balintang Channel, between the immense Pacific Ocean on the east and the tensioned South China Sea, westward. The perpetual barrage of waves between these massive bodies of water provides perfect breeding grounds for the multi-ton humpback whales, dolphins, porpoises and other big games. And so dubbed as "the playground of the giants", the Camiguin de Babuyanes, its nearby islands and islets are blessed with a wealth of marine biodiversity, pristine and crystalline white beaches, swimming pool-clear shallows and reefs still away from the immediate reach of the modern world of today. Camiguin de Babuyanes Island is a remote realm of a tropical paradise: picturesque volcanoes, teeming marine sanctuaries, rugged and idyll coasts, dense forests, dominating wilderness, bewitching waterfalls- all in one place. Such a spectrum of environment holds a matching wealth of natural treasures. After seeing such wonders, you'll understand why the people of Camiguin assure departing visitors that they will return. With that, "Camiguin" has been derived from the English phrase, "come again".
You can stop the time in this island and you'll never run out of it in this seemingly bleak and volcanic Camiguin de Babuyanes. The Mt. Camiguin volcano that serves as the island's gargantuan centerpiece is clearly visible from Luzon landmass. Witnessing a world of wonder over the 712-meter high summit, a climber can gaze the sunrise and get the panorama of the island's entirety. The numerous craters on the volcano's slope provide the intrepid an experience of close up view of boiling chambers, misting fumaroles and spewing vents. Another volcano nearby, the Smith volcano is as equally intriguing to trek as the Mt. Camiguin volcano. West of the Camiguin Island is the uninhabited tiny island of Pamoctan where campers come to learn the act of survival of the fittest. Featuring a central, freshwater lake surrounded by tussocks and green pastures for grazing cattle, the tranquility of its waters will enwrap strollers to circumnavigate the island's white beach and rocky, bouldered shores and cliffs. Not far from the Pamoctan Island is the drop-dead rock island of Pinon, an elongated, wedge-shaped islet crowned by huge boulders and scree, sashed with an expanse of green rolling pastures with thickets of bushes. Atop of its largest boulder offers the limpid perspective of the Mt. Camiguin volcano, sometimes its lofty peak being drenched with the bands of immaculate clouds. The pellucid waters of Sapio beach embodies the richness of the Babuyanes marine life as urchins, shellfish, starfish, crustaceans and other extraordinary marine invertebrates seek refuge on its shallows and reefs. Morning-stroll along its white beach southward and you'll find yourself awed in Naguilian beach whose snorkeling paradise is just a few meters away from the shore. Brain corals and giant clams abound unperturbed as colorful gobies and parrotfish graze among the corals. Navigating eastward facing the Pacific Ocean, the outline of another volcano, the rocky Didicas, is clearly apparent as you visit the ravishing Nagparakapak Falls. This multicolored waterfalls got its name from the local, Ilocano word "parakapak", which means the sound of water produced as it strikes the rocky ground. The different hues are due to the volcanic minerals and lichens deposited on the surrounding areas and embedded among the rocks and cliffside. Volcanic as it is, a stretch of its beach contains fumaroles and vents that are constantly emitting plumes and sulfuric vapors making it the most peculiar beach and could be the only one of its kind in the country. When reaching the Half-Sunken Donut Rock Formation, you may happen to race and play with pods of dolphins or witness the breaching of whales on the waters off Camiguin de Babuyanes. The rock formation is colossal in an almost perfectly arch shape resembling a chocolate donut sprinkled with crushed almonds, dipped halfway unto the water. Above a littoral hill nearby commands the vastness of this giant donut rock formation with the backdrop of the immeasurable horizon of the Pacific. A rigger boat would be a gnat-size compared to the rock as seen from above the hill.
In addition to the portfolios presented, as alluring as such adventures may be, are still countless beauties uncharted, unpublished and barely reached from this remote, isolated island of Camiguin de Babuyanes. You will never regret choosing the Babuyanes. My own travels have touched on just a few of Philippine island treasures but enjoying and experiencing the "cast-away" of Robinson Crusoe is a dream itinerary for me in this one of the most, if not the most scenic and most peaceful locale I visited in the country yet so far. This is Camiguin de Babuyanes Island, an embodiment of a true excursion to enchantment.
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