Now serviced by twice-weekly flights from Manila and Cebu on Cebu Pacific Air, the picturesque island of Camiguin has reopened to fully-vaccinated domestic tourists since October 25. Aside from revisiting its volcanic peaks, white-sand islands and historic ruins, one must check out the newest restaurants, too. Several dining establishments are centered around Barangay Yumbing in Mambajao, where most of the tourist-oriented accommodations are located.
But if you venture off the beaten track, you’ll find some memorable eats like fern-topped pizza, Italian-made pasta, and the most mouthwatering tuna belly on the island! Here are some of the newest places to eat and drink — both brand-new and revamped — that you should check out when you revisit the island.
(Reminder: for contact tracing purposes, tourists are required to always bring their Clean Camiguin QR ID, which are scanned upon arriving and leaving establishments. Please also be advised that any quarantine changes may affect business hours, so it’s best to call these restaurants beforehand or consult their latest updates on Facebook before dropping by. Visit the up-to-date Facebook page of Camiguin Tourism Office for the latest travel information.)
This establishment near Old Parola Park in Mambajao’s poblacion has been around for 15 years as a restobar offering catering services, but only renovated into a Filipino-themed restaurant in 2020. The interiors are inspired by the Spanish-period heritage houses one can find throughout the town centers of the province with walls brightened by colorful paintings depicting local culture and sceneries.
Pedro’s specializes in Filipino fare served in generous portions ideal for families or groups of friends. We ordered Pedro’s bistek (beef sirloin stew, PHP 290), sizzling sisig (minced pork jowl, PHP 240) and sinigang na hipon (sour prawn soup), which were all delicious. My favorite culinary find here, however, were the masa podrida (shortbread cookies) with fillings of ube (purple yam) and macapuno coconut given to us while waiting for our food to arrive. I really wanted to bring home boxes of these made-to-order goodies for pasalubong, but sadly the restaurant was unable to fulfill my order even if it was made days in advance.
Address: Parola Rd (Rizal St), Poblacion, Mambajao
Mobile Number: +63 9351648097 or +63 9051473587
Open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
On an island where every other eatery seems to be serving pizza, it was refreshing to find an authentic Italian restaurant that was serving anything but. Formerly only catering to their check-in guests, Sapore – meaning “flavor” in Italian – has long been the restaurant of Nypa Style Resort. Recently, however, they have opened their doors to walk-in customers by appointment only. Tucked away from the main highway, the native-style establishment makes for an ideal setting for a romantic candle-lit dinner.
The boutique accommodation is run by an intrepid Italian couple, who are pretty hands-on with preparing their homemade dishes. And when I say “homemade”, I mean even their pasta and sauces are made from scratch. Absolutely no canned tomato sauce or grocery-bought noodles here! We had their Amatriciana (PHP 380) and Tuna Steak alla Medditereana (PHP 380). The latter came with side of green salad. Both dishes were excellent: the pasta was al dente, and the smothered hunk of fish well-seasoned. Complimentary focaccia bread and herbed crackers accompanied our meal. For dessert, we had homemade ice cream (PHP 60 per scoop) and complimentary slices of panetonne, a traditional Italian Christmas cake, which was like a fluffier version of fruitcake.
Address: Nypa Style Resort, Purok 4, Barangay Bug-ong, Mambajao
Mobile Number: +63 9954587655
Dining by walk-in guests by appointment only. Please call in advance.
Shriner’s Sports Pub
This roadside eatery may be halfway around the island from Mambajao but it’s definitely worth a stop on any circumnavigational road trip. Shriner’s Sports Pub is a roadside restobar located in Sagay, the quietest town on the island that sees the least tourists. Nonetheless, it’s worth the hour-long scooter drive to get here just for their specialty tuna dishes like sisig, kinilaw, and lumpia. Their irresistible best-seller, however, is the garlic butter tuna belly (PHP 230), which we enjoyed with pancit guisado (PHP 180). Served wrapped in aluminum foil and swimming in melted butter, it’s not a particularly photogenic dish but more than makes up for it with its mouthwatering flavor!
Overlooking the sea, the second-floor open-air establishment serves its food with relaxing views that, we were told, were best enjoyed at sunset. There’s al fresco seating on the patio overlooking the beach across the highway, equipped with telescopes for sightseeing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hang out too long as we had to drop by the town’s heritage church, the Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, before continuing our scooter tour of the island.
Address: Circumferential Rd, Barangay Alangilan, Sagay
Mobile Number: +63 995 874 6133
Open Daily, 11:00 am to 8:00 pm
The highland village of Binunsaran, en route to the shoulder of Mt. Hibok-Hibok, has seen a few accommodations pop up in recent years, offering a change of scenery in contrast to coastal vistas. Cozy places to eat and drink like Nanaw Cafe, which opened in early 2020, have followed suit. Popular with locals and tourists alike, patrons troop up to this establishment with stone-walled cottages and al fresco seating in the late afternoon to enjoy the cool weather and overlooking views of Camiguin Airport and the rest of Mambajao town proper (hence the cafe’s Kinamiguin name, which means “to look over”).
Among the merienda favorites are their delicious native snacks: puto maya (glutinous rice cake, PHP 150) topped with slivers of sweet, ripe mango and ubeko (purple yam cake, PHP 150). These are best accompanied with hot cups of sikwate (native hot chocolate, PHP 70), made from locally grown cacao. If you end up staying until dinner, don’t miss their house specials, especially the surol (PHP 350), a Camiguin specialty of native chicken in a spicy coconut milk-based broth!
Address: Barangay Binunsaran, Mambajao
Mobile Number: +63 9513926828
Tuesdays and Sundays, 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
If you continue driving higher up from Binunsuran, you’ll reach Sitio Itum in Barangay Baylao – the newest jumping off point for Mt. Hibok-Hibok hikes via the challenging Itum Trail. Blackmountain Cafe is the perfect spot to unwind after trekking the mountain or birdwatching near the protected area’s Visitors Center. The modest garden cafe has al fresco seating with majestic views of Mt. Hibok-Hibok on a clear day. Often times, thick fog rolls in, lending a mysterious atmosphere to the locality.
They have an extensive menu with meat options but since Elal Lasola and I were dining with vegetarian friend Pot Pot of Travel Trilogy, we opted for vegetable-based fare like four seasons veggies (PHP 205) and camote (sweet potato) fries (PHP 85). The most unique dishes we had were the fern salad (PHP 115) and Mount Uhay Pizza (PHP 285), which were made from pejáy (vegetable fern, more commonly known as pakô) freshly picked from the cafe’s backyard!
Address: Sitio Itum, Barangay Baylao, Mambajao
Mobile Number: +63 9261784700
Operating hours are dependent on weather conditions. Please call in advance.