Guest blog by: Hanna Sobczuk
Cagayan de Oro (CDO) is a city located on the north central coast of Mindanao, the second largest island of the Philippines. When I said I’m going to Mindanao all my Filipino friends where worried about my safety. But when I mentioned that I’m going to CDO they breathed a sigh of relief as Cagayan de Oro is a safe place to visit.
‘Cagayan de Oro’ literally means River of Gold in Spanish. The name during Spanish period was only Cagayan or Cagayan de Misamis to tell the difference from other cities or towns called ‘Cagayan’ in the Philippines. ‘De Oro’ was added in 20th century because it was known for gold deposits. Today however it relates to golden friendship and lovely people who live in Cagayan and makes it one of the nicest places in Mindanao.
Mindanao is the best place for real adventurers, those professional as well as beginners, because of the number of activities to do in the island. But if you don’t have enough time, you can focus only on CDO area and still have lots of fun!
So, what you can do around Cagayan de Oro?
- Eat, eat, eat! Sea food and local food
As everywhere in the Philippines, you should try some sea food, like for example pusit (squid), crabs, shrimps, fish and other.
Let’s not forget about local food and snacks like chicken sarol – chicken soup with coconut milk and vegetables. And if you like some sweet snack to your cup of coffee, try pastel – a sweet soft bun with sweet filling. Delicious!
And when you come to Mindanao around October look up earlier when exactly is the Lanzones Festival! Lanzones are common fruits from southern Philippines. Delicious and very sweet but also very healthy. During the season they cost only as much as 20 pesos per kilo! Do you know how to tell that someone just had a lot of lanzones? Shake hands. His fingers will be very sticky!
- Visit Camiguin and the White Island
Camiguin is a volcanic island just north from Cagayan de Oro. Not far from Camiguin’s north shore there is a unhabited White Island. It’s a horseshoe shaped bar of white sand, with no trees, bushes or even grass. To get there you have to hire a local boat!
It’s a lovely place to spend the morning – turquoise water surround the islet and a Hibok-Hibok volcano just across the bay makes the scenery even more astonishing.
When you are in the White Island look for local sellers with baskets – they sell sea urchin, that you can eat. Watch out at the stings – they are poisonous. But urchin with vinegar is interesting to taste!
- Sunken Cemetery
The volcano of Hibok-Hibok erupted in 1871 causing huge damages in the surrounding area. One of the places destroyed by volcano was an old cemetery. The eruption moved the ground and the cemetery was flooded by ocean, that’s why it’s called Sunken Cemetery.
Over 140 years coral reef has grown in the cemetery and it’s a nice spot for snorkeling novadays. You can’t see any tombstones there, as that time they were made out of wood and didn’t survive until our times. However, if you look closely in some places you can see parts of sunken sculptures. Creepy and fascinating!
- Whitewater rafting on Cagayan de Oro river
If you are an adventure lover you must try whitewater rafting on Cagayan de Oro River – one of the best places in the Philippines to do rafting! The CDO river is just amazing for that – during 3 hours of rafting you pass about 14 rapids, you can swim in calmer parts of the river and admire beautiful scenery with green bushes and high cliffs.
The river is not difficult as it’s scored on level 3+ so you don’t have to be advanced in rafting to take part. However, as every extreme sport, it may be dangerous so make sure you always listen to your guide!
But Mindanao is not only Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin. It’s Davao, white beaches, canyoning, kayaking, swimming in the waterfalls and the island of Siargao, the paradise for surfers! That’s why Mindanao is called the land of promise. It just promises a lot to every visitor and you cannot be disappointed!
How to get to Mindanao from Manila?
Take a flight from Manila to Laguindingan Internation Airport (CGY) with Cebu Pacific. The transfer to Cagayan de Oro city from the airport takes about 1 hour.
To get to Camiguin you have to take a ferry from Bayan ng Balingoan (around 2 hours from Cagayan de Oro).
Check out more of Hanna’s travel experiences at http://hannatravels.com