As I start to write this blog, I am waiting for my flight back to Manila at Laguindingan Airport. This was my third trip in Cagayan de Oro in 2 months.
Cagayan de Oro is my happy place and, ever since I was a young kid, I always looked forward to vacations to the city. The city has grown leaps and bounds through the years. This city has embraced developments that has made the city one of the most progressive cities in Mindanao.
The city has definitely evolved from a quaint city to a tourism destination with adrenaline-pumping activities that people from all-ages can enjoy. The rough terrain and the great weather makes the city an amazing choice for travelers who wish to try activities that will make them face their fears. Others can also opt to just chill down by the beach while enjoying their favorite drink. I guess, the city has everything to offer for any kind of traveler.
If the city gave you a glimpse of its rich history, let us now try to catch exciting activities that will keep you pumped up or chilled down when you find yourself in Cagayan de Oro City.
Dahilayan, Bukidnon: Where Height Does NOT Matter
Nestled along the foot of Mount Kitanglad, Dahilayan in Manolo Fortich is one destination close to the city that is taking a lot of traction in the tourism front. Dahilayan is a great escape from the heat of the city as it has a very cool weather that is quite similar to that of Tagaytay City. The place has two park destinations, Dahilayan Adventure Park and the Dahilayan Forest Park, that both offers exciting activities that can be enjoyed by both adults and kids.
The one and a half hour trip to Dahilayan from Cagayan de Oro will give you a glimpse on the rural communities of Mindanao. You will pass by Camp Philips Pineapple Plantation where you get to see the community where their main livelihood revolves around the pineapple plantations of Del Monte. These plants are planted into large parcels of land as far as the eyes can see.
Our first stop was the Dahilayan Forest Park – it is park that offers and amazing view of the mountain ranges and the forest covers of Mount Kitanglad. The general theme of the park is farmland with its Indian themed statues, complete with playgrounds, farm animals, and teepees. The park also has family friendly activities and rides. But for me the biggest pull of the park was Forest Café – a café that offers really good food.
But for those searching a more adrenaline-pumping activity, you can head off to Dahilayan Adventure Park. Its main attraction is Asia’s Longest Dual Zip Line with the length of 840 meters. The experience starts with a scenic uphill drive to the launch point. You are then launched from a height of 4500 feet above sea level and you zoom through Dahilayan’s forest cover at a speed of 60-80 kph. It is definitely a thrilling experience high above the forest covers of the park. I conquered the zip on a fair weather at a temperature of 23 degrees Celsius with a 3 kph windspeed.
There are other ziplines in the park that people from all ages can enjoy like the training ziplines. My kid and I enjoyed the Python Roller Zip Ride that had us zipping through pine trees of the park in a roller coaster kind of way. Of course, the more adventurous ones can try the Drop Zone for a more heart wrenching drop.
Getting there: There are regular van transport to Dahilayan that leaves Cagayan de Oro at 8.30am. The van returns to Cagayan de Oro at 4.30pm. You better make sure that you allot the whole day when you plan to commute to Dahilayan.
Initao: Chilling By The Beach
Cagayan de Oro is a coastal city and has quite a number of beachfronts to explore. Some of these beach areas are in Opol and Cugman. These areas are the closest to the city where you can enjoy the sun and the sands of the city.
One great thing about the recent developments in Cagayan de Oro City is that it led to the discovery of new tourist destinations in the region and that includes Initao. The municipality lies west of the city of Cagayan de Oro and it will take you about an hour and a half to get there. Initao is fast becoming popular because of its white sand beaches that is now starting to become a point of interest for both locals and visitors.
The white sand beach cove was definitely a break from the usual gray sand beaches of Cagayan de Oro. The sand was powdery that walking barefoot along the shores under the heat of the sun was not uncomfortable. There were parts of the beach that was sandy while on one side was a dead coral reef. The resorts that lined the shores offered different activities that can keep the whole family entertained.
I preferred just sitting down by the sand and watching the day pass by.
Getting there: One can take the bus heading to Iligan City from Cagayan de Oro. Just ask the driver to drop you off at Blu Sands Beach Resort in Initao. The resort have a swimming pool and cottages or rooms for rent.
Cagayan de Oro River Rafting: The Heart of Cagayan de Oro's Tourism
At the forefront of Cagayan de Oro’s tourism front is the adrenaline-pumping white water rafting along the Cagayan River, the longest river in Mindanao. Spring water drains from the Kalatungan and Kitanglad mountain ranges through this river, travels a 90-kilometer course, and finally empties into the Macajalar Bay in this city. The river also serves as a natural boundary between Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon. It is THE heart of the city’s tourism with its whitewater rafting activity.
Those interested to do whitewater rafting have two options – the Beginner Course and the Advance Course. The Beginner Course is a 2-3 hour rafting activity that covers 14 rapids while the Advance course is a 3-4 hour activity of 21 rapids. In our case, we opted for the Beginner course because of Asher.
This was the not the first time that Ashe and I tried our hands in whitewater rafting as we tried it before when Asher was still 1 year and 4 months old. But I guess she does not remember the experience. This time around she simply enjoyed the experience.
The two-hour rafting activity had us paddling through the river, getting knocked off our seats, and getting whirled around gushing waters like we were inside a washing machine. We enjoyed the surprise drops and splashes along the course. But the whole activity is not just about splashes and drops, it also has spots where you can relax from the rush by taking a quick dip in the river and just let the current drag you along the route. It did help though that we had a great guide, Kuya Popoy, who filled us with his jokes throughout the experience.
It was definitely a great activity that gave us that adrenaline-rush kind of excitement, one that we will surely remember for a very long time.
Getting there: You can book your white water rafting tours through Great White Water Tours at (0917) 7060677.
Post Travel Notes
Cagayan de Oro has given itself a 360-degree turn in the tourism front when it focused its energies on discovering activities that is uniquely its own, in this case, whitewater rafting. The development and the promotion of whitewater rafting placed Cagayan de Oro in the tourist map of adventours. It carved its own niche in the industry.
As a result, it also gave way to the development of other adventure activities in its surrounding regions making Northern Mindanao a prime destination for adrenaline junkies.
Getting there: Cagayan de Oro can be accessed by land, sea, and air. The fastest is by taking a one hour and a half flight from Manila directly to Laguindingan Airport. Major cities in the country also has direct flight to Laguindingan Airport. You can then take a van going to the city for Php199 per head. The trip takes about 45 minutes from the airport. You can contact Jess of LAX Transport for van arrangements at (0917) 7101529.
There are a lot accommodations in Cagayan de Oro. I suggest Marianne Suites located in downtown Cagayan de Oro because of its accessibility, great service, and affordable rates. You may reach Marianne Suites at (0917) 5776194.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.