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Misamis & Iligan in Three Days DIY

Updated on April 10, 2012

Misamis Occidental, Philippines

Misamis Occidental is located at Northern Mindanao. It can be reached from Manila by a 1.5 hour flight. Ozamiz is one of the cities in Misamis Occidental and is the start of our adventure.

For my birthday this year we planned a trip to Ozamiz for one purpose - which is to visit the Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park (MOAP) to swim with the dolphins.But since Ozamiz is strategically located in such a way that one could take a bus or a ferry to different provinces, we later on had a bright idea to get a ferry from Ozamiz to Iligan which was just a short ride away. We were equally excited to go to Iligan since it is known as the 'City of Majestic Waterfalls'.

Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park

Swimming with the dolphins at MOAP
Swimming with the dolphins at MOAP | Source
The rice fields that surround the runway
The rice fields that surround the runway | Source

Day 1: MOAP & Jimenez Church

Touchdown at Ozamiz Airport was something new as there were rice fields and even carabaos by the runway. Upon arrival, there were no cabs waiting outside, instead there was a line of tricycles. We asked the driver to bring us to his recommended hotel. After the typhoon last December 2012 we were no longer sure if our reservations were still OK. He only recommended two places which we were also able to research on the net - Royal Garden Hotel and Plaza Beatriz. Since we wanted the hotel nearest to the port, we opted for Plaza Beatriz.

Plaza Beatriz had nice staff. Price was cheap, it was on promo rate until further notice - 450P instead of 700P. The room had the necessities like hot shower and simple double bed, nothing fancy. It is a short walk away from Gaisano Mall, food establishments, Catholic Church, and the Port.

The first thing we did was to buy tickets for our Iligan trip the next day. Then a simple breakfast at ChowKing by Gaisano Mall across Plaza Beatriz then we were off to MOAP!

MOAP Dolphin Island

About to board our boat to Dolphin Island
About to board our boat to Dolphin Island | Source
Dolphin Island boat rates
Dolphin Island boat rates | Source
Dolphin Island swimming with the dolphin rates
Dolphin Island swimming with the dolphin rates | Source
dolphin pen
dolphin pen | Source

My hubby and I, his brother and bro-in-law's girlfriend were the only tourists at MOAP when we arrived. The reception lady was already telling us that we had to pay extra since the minimum number of guests for the boat going to dolphin island was 10 people. However, while we were registering a family of seven arrived. Voila! No extra payment!

MOAP is supposedly a rescue center for dolphins who were either caught by fishermen's net or got wounded. However, since it has also become a tourist center, they still keep a couple of dolphins even if they are already well enough to go out the makeshift net pen. The last that I read from blog entries there were around 9-12 dolphins at the place and a sea turtle. When we were there three dolphins were remaining and the sea turtle was also already released. There was also no more scuba diving being offered.

Despite these, we still enjoyed MOAP's Dolphin Island. The family that was with us had children and opted to feed the dolphins by the platform. For us, we really swam with them at 15 feet of water. Actually, the dolphins already approach at lesser depth since we had fish but it was recommended to us by our guide to go deeper to actually hear the dolphins making their sounds - it was such an exhilarating experience! The maximum 20 minutes swim with the dolphins was also no longer followed since we were the only ones swimming with the dolphins.

After our fill of feeding, picture and video taking with the dolphins, we were brought by our guide to snorkel outside the dolphin pen. In a video I saw there were still big groupers (local name: lapu-lapu) and snapper fish (local name: maya-maya). What was left were the snapper fish and they were humongous! I also saw an angel fish and ocellaris clown fish (aka Nemo) by healthy hard corals.

Breakdown of Expenses - MOAP:

Park Entrance: 10P

MOAP Dolphins Entrance & Boat Fare: 300P (minimum of 10 people)

Swim with the Dolphins: 300P (Includes fish to feed)

Snorkel Set: 100P (optional - you may bring your own set)

Traveling from Ozamiz Port to MOAP:

Tricycle to bus stop 15P

Van ride to Oroquieta 30P

MOAP Dolphin Island & Snorkeling

fish feeding the dolphins
fish feeding the dolphins | Source
snorkeling with the big snapper fish
snorkeling with the big snapper fish | Source
big clams at MOAP snorkeling
big clams at MOAP snorkeling | Source
ocellaris clownfish or 'Nemo'
ocellaris clownfish or 'Nemo' | Source
one of the MOAP zoo monkeys chained up by the mangrove forest
one of the MOAP zoo monkeys chained up by the mangrove forest | Source
Jimenez Church
Jimenez Church | Source

We passed by the MOAP zoo before leaving and it was a disappointment. Uncared for animals in unkempt cages and several tied up monkeys. It was a sad sight and was a bad ending for an already wonderful day with the dolphins.

We left MOAP at around 5:15pm and made another bad decision as we set off to visit the Jimenez Church or the Church of Saint John the Baptist of Misamis Occidental, which unfortunately was closed by 5:30pm. The estimate 15 minutes to get there via a tricycle ride turned out to be approximately 30 minutes. We only saw the locked door. Jimenez Church was built during the Spanish Era.

Traveling from Jimenez Church to Ozamiz Port:

Tricycle to main road 8P

Ordinary Bus to Ozamiz Bus Stop 30P

Tricycle to Dinner Place (Chicken Ati-atihan) 8P

Tinago Waterfalls

our ferry from Ozamiz to Iligan
our ferry from Ozamiz to Iligan | Source
raft under the gushing Tinago Waterfalls
raft under the gushing Tinago Waterfalls | Source

Day 2: Iligan

We were up early the next day for our ferry to Iligan City which was at Lanao del Norte and two hours away via ferry from Ozamiz City. The Cokaliong Ferry ride is 150P for an economy fare with a small bed, restroom and food store. The ticket booth was located near the Ozamiz port.

Our first destination was the Tinago Waterfalls. To go there, from the Iligan Port, we had to take a jeepney with the 'Buru-un' signage. We told the driver to drop us off at the Buru-un Market. The fare was 14P for what seems like eternity - around 20 minutes without heavy traffic. We were dropped off at a waiting shed where we had to take a habal-habal (motorcycle) to Tinago Falls. The fare was 30P each and travel time around 10 minutes.

We signed up at a small nipa hut and paid for table rent to leave our bags. After that we had to hike for approximately another 10 minutes before arriving at the waterfalls. Tinago waterfalls was beautiful and we enjoyed swimming around the waterfalls. Available life vests await for those who are unsure to swim in the 50 feet water. There is also an option to ride a raft for only 10P to be able to have a 'waterfall massage' or letting the waterfall water rush all over your body. After about an hour of swimming and picture taking, we hiked back up to the start point. A fresh coconut awaits us for only 20P. It was the best tasting coconut I had ever had! The juice was sweet and the coconut meat had jelly-like soft texture.

the beautiful Tinago falls with turquoise colored water
the beautiful Tinago falls with turquoise colored water | Source

NPC Park & Maria Cristina Falls

the welcome party at NPC Park
the welcome party at NPC Park | Source
Maria Cristina Falls and the NPC Plant
Maria Cristina Falls and the NPC Plant | Source

The same driver that brought us to the Tinago falls picked us up for our next destination - the Maria Cristina Waterfalls which is the third highest waterfalls in the Philippines.

The Maria Cristina falls was inside the National Power Corporation (NPC). We registered outside NPC and waited for our shuttle ride to their park which was within the Agus 6 and 7 Hydroelectric Power Plant Complex. A couple of ostriches welcomed us at the flower filled park. We stopped by quickly at the koi pond and butterfly garden then waited for our ride to the waterfalls. It took some time before the shuttle picked us up. We immediately viewed the Maria Cristina falls.

There are times when the huge twin falls rush together, but we were not lucky enough to see that, nevertheless the lone huge waterfalls was still majestic. There are other things to do in the NPC Park such as the zipline and hanging bridge, but we no longer had time to do so and rushed to the ferry back to Ozamiz

the majestic Maria Cristina Waterfalls
the majestic Maria Cristina Waterfalls | Source
Immaculate Conception Pipe Organ
Immaculate Conception Pipe Organ | Source
zipping gear at Hoyohoy Highland Park
zipping gear at Hoyohoy Highland Park | Source

Day 3: Immaculate Conception, Hoyohoy, & Cotta Fort

The Hoyohoy Highland Park has one of the longest ziplines in the Philippines at 1250m long and 500m high. It is located at Tangub City which is approximately 30 minutes from the main city of Ozamiz. The price for zipping back and forth is 600P with a free ride at a horse or a 4x4 to bring you back to the waiting area.

We still enjoyed the zip despite its still being slower than Xcelerator in Davao. Another thing we enjoyed in the Hoyohoy Highland Park trip was the beautiful scenery including the stone chapel.

Trip Tip - Traveling to Hoyohoy Highland Park:

The van to Hoyohoy would only cost 50P per person but once again there is a minimum number of 10 people. For us, we had to pay for the entire van. Also, it is better to contact the van driver ahead of time since we had to wait for about two hours before he arrived. Another option was to ride a bus going to Tangub City then a habal-habal/motorcycle. Although it is not much cheaper and more stressful.

stone chapel and the beautiful garden
stone chapel and the beautiful garden | Source

Cotta Fort & the Virgin of Cotta

The carved image of the Virgin of Cotta is believed to be miraculous
The carved image of the Virgin of Cotta is believed to be miraculous | Source
The small and antique canon facing the Ozamiz Bay
The small and antique canon facing the Ozamiz Bay | Source

After the trip to Hoyohoy, we quickly passed by the Cotta Fort along Panguil Bay or the port area of Ozamiz. It is a 17th century structure which served as a military stronghold during the Spanish Era. Other Spanish Forts in the country include the Fort San Pedro in Cebu and Fort Santiago in Manila.

Before entering the Cotta Fort, we first walked outside the walls and saw a long line towards the Virgin of Cotta. Same as the Cotta Fort, the image has also been around since the 17th century. Further to the bay area are locals enjoying their stroll and vendors selling toys and street food.

It started to drizzle as we entered the Cotta Fort. We almost did not pay the entrance of 5P per person as we rushed towards the museum for cover. There was not that much stuff inside the small museum except for a few paintings and a handful of artifacts. Thank goodness the rain did not push through. We climbed up the walls to take a picture of the lighthouse and the small canon under it. The Arsenal was also still intact but when we took a look inside it just contained musical instruments, most likely of the students practicing a dance on the stage near the arsenal.

description of the Cotta Fort
description of the Cotta Fort | Source
Our dinner at Chicken Ati-atihan
Our dinner at Chicken Ati-atihan | Source
A different type of Chicken 'Adobo' than we are used to
A different type of Chicken 'Adobo' than we are used to | Source
We liked this Pork 'Humba' at Chiki Goldie Haus
We liked this Pork 'Humba' at Chiki Goldie Haus | Source
Fresh fish in vinegar called 'Kinilaw' at Hoyohoy Highland Park's Restuarant
Fresh fish in vinegar called 'Kinilaw' at Hoyohoy Highland Park's Restuarant | Source

Dining Options & Souvenirs

Dining Options:

There is not that much unique dining places in both Misamis and Iligan. There are however the usual fast food chains like Jollibee and ChowKing. We ate at four places during our stayin Misamis - 1) Chicken Ati-Atihan, 2) Restaurant at MOAP, 3) Chiki Goldie Haus, and 4) Restaurant at Hoyohoy. Of course we ate several times at ChowKing which was just across Plaza Beatriz.

Chicken Ati-Atihan is well known in the Visayas area. We were supposed to eat there during our stay in Bohol. Turns out the restaurant serves Chicken Inasal or grilled chicken in different blends of spices. Food was just fine. The price not bad: Chicken Inasal with RIce: 79P, Fresh Coconut: 45P, 1 Platter Chopsuey: 83P

The Restaurant at MOAP also served unexceptional food and quite expensive as well for the province. Shrimp 350P; Adobong Chicken 350P; Rice 50P for a platter good for 3. Unfortunately, if you bring a food at MOAP one would have to pay for the corkage.

Considering its simplicity, we enjoyed Chiki Goldie Haus the most among the restaurants we dined in. It was just a couple of steps away from Plaza Beatriz and had a simple ambiance of plastic chairs, tables, and a television in front of the diners but the food was good. We liked their version of pork humba which was only 35P for one small plate. Their Goldie Fried Chicken with rice was 90P and Pork Dinuguan (Pork in Pork Blood) was 35P for one small plate.

As for the ambiance, the best one was at the Hoyohoy Restaurant. We sat at the terrace portion of the dining area with the fresh air of Hoyohoy and the view of the entire area. Same with the MOAP restaurant, the food was just fine, but it did have a big serving. Fried Chicken good for the four of us was 280P, Fish Kinilaw (fresh fish in vinegar) was 200P, Fried Rice Platter good for four as well was 100P, Coke per bottle 30, and their own brew of Ice Tea was 50P

Take Home Gifts/ Pasalubong:
For the first time we were not able to shop for souvenirs or take home's that much since there weren't any. No shirts that says 'I love Ozamiz' or something to that effect. Although the locals say that every Christmas there are shirts for sale at Tangub City which is the 'Christmas Capital of Mindanao'. All the houses and the entire plaza are filled with Christmas decors and lights.

As for the take home food from Misamis Occidental we were able to buy the last two stocks of Galletas de Patatas/ egg crackers which was the only one that came from Ozamiz at the Gaisano Mall. From Iligan we were able to buy cheese sticks which actually tasted like butterscotch.

Suggested Itinerary Misamis & Iligan

Day 1
Flight from Manila
16P Cebu Pacific Sale
Arrival at Ozamiz Airport
Tricycle at 60P from airport.
CheckIn Beatriz Plaza Hotel
Contact: (063) 5643209
Buy Ferry Tickets for Iligan Cokaliong
Economy Fare
Travel to MOAP
Swim with the Dolphins at MOAP
Contact: (088)5860157/ 09169978484
Lunch at MOAP
Zoo at MOAP
Can be skipped if plan to go to Jimenez Church
Visit Jimenez Church
30P/Pax Tricycle to Jimenez
Go Home from Jimenez Church
Dinner at Chicken Ati-Atihan
Tricycle to Beatriz
Day 2
2nd Day at Beatriz
Be at the Ferry
Walked from Beatriz to Port
Cokaliong Ferry to Iligan
Arrive at Iligan
Tinago Waterfalls
Swim at Tinago Falls
Table Rent: 20P, Raft to Waterfalls: 10P
Habal Habal to NPC Nature Park
Contact: Mac 09058126339
NPC Nature Park
Adults Entrance - 35P, Shuttle Ride - 10P
Viewing of Maria Crisitina Falls
Be at the Ferry
Cokaliong Ferry back to Ozamiz
Arrive back at Ozamiz
Dinner at Chiki Goldie Haus
Day 3
3rd Day at Beatriz
Immaculate Conception
Sunday English Mass Schedule: 8:45AM
Go to Gee Gee Mall Hoyohoy Van Terminal
GeeGee Mall Van - 09173267878/ 088-536-0142
Off to Hoyohoy Highland Park
Hoyohoy Highland Park
600P Zipline with horse ride
Lunch/Dinner at Hoyohoy Restaurant
Cotta/ Fort Santiago
Entrance fee
Day 4
Checkout Beatriz
Tricycle to Airport
Contact Elmer: 09478236747
Ozamiz Flight to Manila
Arrival Manila
Total Cost

Google Tour Map

Ozamis Tour Google map by munchwaffle
Ozamis Tour Google map by munchwaffle | Source


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    • munchwaffle profile image

      munchwaffle 5 years ago from Philippines

      wow... thanks jpcmc :D

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Btw, this hub is so cool I shared it on FB and with other hubbers. I hope you don't mind. :)

    • munchwaffle profile image

      munchwaffle 5 years ago from Philippines

      yeah, Nemo(s) are always cute no matter where I see them :D

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Great you found nemo!