Camiguin: Mantigue Island Nature Park

It was a calm and uneventful boat ride from San Roque, Mahinog, so unlike what I've heard from previous experiences which made me skeptical to visit this place despite the few times I've been to Camiguin before. After 20 minutes or so, Mantigue Island finally came into view with its white sands shimmering despite the somewhat gloomy skies. The mirror-clear water looked so inviting while on a patch of greenery smacked in the middle of the island, small cottages stood and red, touristy flags flapped along with the wind. As we disembarked from the boat and stepped on the soft and powdery sands, I discovered right there and then that Mantigue, without a doubt, is Camiguin's best beach destination.

Mantigue Island Nature Park provides an oasis of sort in the center of the island. A tree-shaded area, it has picnic tables and chairs and hut cottages for tourists' convenience. There is also a canteen selling light snacks and drinks (yes, ice-cold beers are available!) while meals can be cooked upon order. After settling down our belongings in the rented table, we then decided to first explore the island's vicinity.

Also known as Magsaysay Island, Mantigue has a relatively small land area of about 4 hectares. It can be explored by foot in no time. A coral sanctuary lies a few meters from its shores so marine life is naturally abundant here. While walking on the beach, we passed along some dried seaweeds, locally known as "guso", sun-dried on the shore.

On one side lives the island's inhabitants of about 20 houses. Since Mantigue is already a marine protected area, efforts have been made to relocate these people to the mainland. With their means of living literally just right outside their door steps, they insisted to stay. According to our boat man, these islanders are now permitted to live in Mantigue provided that they cooperate in the protection of its marine life. No additional settlers are also allowed to stay.

It rained on-and-off while we're in Mantigue. Thick white clouds hovered over mainland Camiguin most of the time.We have to hide our cameras every now and then in my dry pack to protect it from the rain. Nevertheless, we really had a great time beach bumming, swimming, snorkeling and eating the freshest "sutokil" ever.

Mantigue, surprisingly, has less visitors compared to the more famous White Island in Mambajao. Being uncrowded, however, made it more charming than Camiguin's popular (and touristy!) white sandbar.

If only visitors are allowed to stay, camping overnight in Mantigue Island Nature Park would have been awesome. But then it is prohibited so we have to leave the island at around 1 PM. It was still raining and the waves started to get rough. But with our two boat men's navigational expertise, we managed to reach the shores of Barangay San Roque in one piece.

✍️ Earl E. Bolivar
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