The marvelous Misamis Occidental

Gael Hilotin, Contributor
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

What seduced me to visit Misamis Occidental is its promise of an exciting travel experience: swimming with the dolphins and riding the longest and the highest zip-line in Asia. Located in northern Mindanao, this province is composed of 3 cities:  Ozamiz, Tangub and its capital, Oroquieta city, and 14 other municipalities.

Ozamiz may not be the bustling capital of Misamis Occidental but it is good base for travelers due to its proximity to major tourist attractions.  It is as well only three hours away by bus to Pagadian in Zamboanga del Sur and you can cross to Iligan (Lanao del Norte) and Cagayan de Oro (Misamis Oriental) via ferry. Ozamiz abound with budget accommodations and since the city center is quite small, it is pretty easy to navigate by foot.  Several padjak and tricycles can get you to your destinations too. Just be wary of tricycle drivers ripping off tourists.

Not to miss in the city center is the beautiful old Spanish fort (COTTA) dating back to 1707 which was constructed to protect the region from pirates. It is just a stone’s throw away from the wharf where ferries transports passengers to Mukas port in Lanao del Norte.  Ozamiz also houses the second largest pipe organ in the Philippines which is  found in the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

If you are looking for a unique travel experience, visit the Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park (MOAP) also known as the Dolphin Island in Sinacaban town.  They take care of rescued dolphins in their sanctuary. “Do you ever free them?’ I asked the staff. “Yes, we freed a couple of dolphins already, they are sent back to the open sea once they are fit for release to the wild”, he assured me.

I suggest going there on a weekend or a holiday if you are alone or in a small group so you can join other tourists.  They need 10 people per boat to take visitors to the Dolphin Island. Prepare at least  Php 1,000 per person for this adventure. Entrance fee is Php 10 and the boat fare is Php 300 per person.  Once you reach the island, swimming with the dolphins is optional.  There is an additional fee of Php 300 for this activity plus Php 100 for the rent of snorkeling gears.  Otherwise, you can just watch the gracious creatures play around the waters and feed them. There is also a restaurant that serves seafood, their meals start at Php 200 with large servings.

Another attraction in Misamis Occidental is Hoyohoy Highland Stone Chapel Adventure Park with an elevation of 2,788ft (850m) above sea level. It is located in Tangub city which is touted as the “City of Fish Traps”, famous for the tiger shrimps found on its bay.  It also earned the moniker “Christmas Capital of Mindanao” due to its display of decorations during the yuletide season. This place claims to have the longest (1,500 m and 1, 1000 m) and the highest (500m) zip-line in Asia. 

There is an entrance fee of Php 30 and bringing of food and drinks is prohibited and zip-line ride is optional. I paid Php 650 for this adventure inclusive of 2 zip-line rides and 1 horseback or 4x4 ride back to the main station. They also offer family and barkadahan package.  There is a charming stone chapel that sits on its verdant rocky hill. Hoyohoy Highland’s cold climate and relaxing mountainside view is an idyllic respite from the city life.

Gael Hilotin is currently traveling around the Philippines. She blogs here: Pinay Solo Backpacker