Have you ever marveled at the breathtaking beauty of an elegant ring, earring, or pendant? You would probably realize that it’s not the shiny setting or the intricate design that mainly draws your attention to it. It’s the gem, the heart of the ring—be it a ruby, diamond, emerald, or pearl—that makes the jewelry come to life. In the beautiful island of Camiguin, that gem is the idyllic White Island.
Sweetie and I definitely included visiting White Island in our Camiguin adventure itinerary. So, after eating a delicious and satisfying breakfast, we headed to Barangay Yumbing in Mambajao where we can rent a boat to take us to White Island.
The road to the pier is lined up with souvenir shops, stores, inns, and carenderias, all catering to local and foreign tourists who wish to have a great time at an affordable price.
This police outpost also serves as the cashier where tourists pay P480 to rent a boat. After you register, the attendants here will reserve a boat for you. This frees you from the hassle of finding a boatman who can be difficult to find during peak season.
That’s our boat! These outriggers can carry a maximum of 7 people, including the driver. With the provincial seal painted on the hulls and laminated Green Fin placards pinned on the tarp supports, these boats are officially registered to ferry people to White Island.
While the boatman prepared our boat, we took the opportunity to head out into a rocky embankment to take a photo of the sapphire waters of Bohol Sea. Can you see White Island from here?
Sir Jo and the driver signaled to us that the boat was ready for boarding. Be careful when boarding the outrigger as the wooden planks can be slippery. Don’t hesitate to ask for a helping hand.
Casting off! Sweetie and I together with our rafting partner Sir Marc were pretty excited to set foot on the acclaimed White Island.
See that tiny strip of white? That’s where we were going. As you can see, White Island is a pretty small place, but don’t let its size deceive you in thinking it’s less of a paradise than first-class beach resorts. White Island is 1.4 kilometers off Mindanao’s northern shore.
As we approached nearer to White Island, we can see where it got its name. Even at a considerable distance, the pure white sand stands out from the aquamarine water. Also, there were already a quite a number of boats even though it was still around 8AM.
We finally arrived at White Island and excitedly jumped off the boat to squiggle our toes in the warm sand.
Look at all that gorgeous white sand and that beautiful lagoon! Of all the islands we’ve visited, we conclude that White Island is the epitome of a postcard-perfect tropical paradise. And it doesn’t cost you millions to get here!
At the break of dawn, vendors from the mainland sail to White Island and set up these stalls where visitors can buy meals, snacks, and drinks. Just like in any other touristy place, the merchandise here costs considerably more than in the mainland. Thus, we recommend buying your food and beverages from the mainland.
Visitors may also rent tables from these vendors for P50 if they do not wish to eat or sit on the sand, which can get uncomfortably hot as the day progresses.
Often, fishermen come by and invite guests to sample their catch. As we changed to our swim suits, a fisherman came by and offered us these spiny urchins as a meal.
White Island does not have natural shelter of any kind. As the day wears on, the place becomes uncomfortably hotter. In fact, guides usually advise visitors to go to the island early in the morning, from 6 AM to 10 AM when the sun isn’t at its hottest, or in the late afternoon.
To combat the heat and glare, visitors may rent these colorful beach umbrellas for a minimal fee.
Sweetie and I could not resist the water anymore, so we walked down the sandbar and had a refreshing dip in the lagoon. A lovely view of Camiguin Island and its verdant mountains served as a beautiful background as we frolicked in the water.
That’s a magnificent sandbar, don’t you think? White Island is shaped like a horseshoe or a letter C, with a large lagoon in the middle. The tides constantly resize and reshape the sandbar’s form. It’s a perfect place to shoot sunrises and sunsets.
As mentioned earlier, the sandbar is in the form of a letter C, and at the center of that C is a glowing, azure lagoon that is filled with a liquid so clear and pure that it is almost impossible to think that it’s just mere water. This was Sweetie’s favorite part of White Island; the white edge is shallow enough so that she can walk on the sand without having to swim. The darker part is around 7 to 15 feet deep.
Just look how clear the water is. It was almost like swimming in a sand-bottomed swimming pool!
Now let’s check out that lagoon, which is a perfect place for snorkeling. As a natural garden of sea grass, corals, rocks, and sand, White Island’s lagoon teems with life.
Fan-shaped corals like these are plentiful in the lagoon.
Protect the corals. They are homes to innumerable species of fish.
The corals are pretty to look at and seem to make good decors at home. However, never take them away from the sea floor. Taking out corals, fish, and other marine organisms in the lagoon is prohibited by environmental law.
That’s Nemo, a typical clownfish! Nemo wasn’t shy. When I dove down to get a shot of him, he didn’t swim away. Instead, he actually swam up to me as if to say, “Hello, there!”
Marked by the presence of wrasses (the little blue fish), this is a cleaning station, an important part of a healthy reef system. It is here where the symbiosis of mutualism is at its finest. A cleaning station is a section of a reef or lagoon where fish congregate to be cleaned. You see, at night, when fish hide deep in the cracks to sleep, tiny ectoparasites climb over them, usually on their scale, fins, gill slits, and mouth. Since they don’t have fingers to pluck the parasites off, they go to a cleaning station to get rid of parasites.
At a cleaning station, the fish that needs to be cleaned positions its body in such a way to signal to the wrasses that it needs cleaning. The wrasses then eat parasites, dead skin, and dead scales from the fish, often swimming inside the mouth and gill cavities of the fish being cleaned.
At some point during the day, all fish in the reef are cleaned. These stripped fish are probably waiting for their turn to get cleaned.
After more than an hour in White Island, we were ready to go back to the mainland to continue our Camiguin tour.
During peak season, hardworking fishermen such as our cool guide act as boatmen and tour guides for visitors to earn additional income.
Sweetie did her share of protecting the environment.
After our visit in this seemingly ordinary sandbar, we can confidently say that White Island is undoubtedly Camiguin’s elegant gem.
1. To go to White Island, take a habal-habal or motorela to Barangay Yumbing in Mambajao. Just tell the driver to drop you off the pier for White Island. The fare depends on where you are.
2. The boat fare is P480 per boat, which you can pay at the wharf’s police outpost (price can change without prior notice). They’ll be the ones to assign you a boatman, which saves you the hassle of searching for one. The fare also covers the return trip, which means that the boatman will wait for you at White Island. The boatman can watch over your things as you frolic in the water.
3. You can rent life vests and snorkeling equipment at the pier for a minimum price. We brought our own, so we don’t know how much the rental is. We’re pretty sure it won’t go above P50.
4. White Island does not have any natural shelter of any sort. Thus, the sandbar can get really hot as the day wears on. We recommend going to White Island early morning (around 5 to 6 AM) or late afternoon (4 to 5PM) if you wish to avoid the hot sun. As a bonus, you can take great shots of sunrises and sunsets.
5. As mentioned above, there is no natural shelter in White Island. Protect yourself from the sun by:
- renting a beach umbrella (rental is P50)
- bringing your own beach umbrella
- renting a table under the shade of a makeshift stall (rental is P50 a table)
6. To save money, bring your own meals, snacks, and beverages to White Island. Remember that just like in all other tourist spots, products sold in White Island are considerably more expensive than those sold on the mainland.
7. The local government is working hard to maintain the cleanliness of the island. Do not litter; take your trash with you and dispose of it properly when you return to the mainland.
8. White Island is a protected marine sanctuary. Taking corals, fishes, and other marine organisms is strictly prohibited. Check the Green Fins card on your boat and in Yumbing Wharf for more details on do’s and don’ts.
9. Pack light but bring the following:
- water (at least two liters)
- sandals or booties
- umbrella, hat, or sarong
- snacks and soft drinks
- bathing suit or swimming attire
- a small bottle of vinegar (for jellyfish stings)
- extra clothes
- extra money for emergencies
10. Be sure to waterproof your stuff that are vulnerable to damage when wet. An easy way to do this is to place them inside Zip-lock plastic bags or dry bags.