Coming to Cagayan de Oro City or staying here? It doesn’t matter because when in Cagayan de Oro you need to experience what has made CDO famous for and virtually put the city on the tourism map (well, the night café did that first until some brainless mayor took that tourist and local attraction away). Literally everyone from the edge of Luzon to the outer rims of Tawi-Tawi who have experienced the whitewater rafting on the Cagayan River has given very positive comments and reviews about it. From the city proper it is only around a 30 to 45 minute drive to the launching point at Mambuaya. There are package tours available for every conceivable grouping. Participants in the past have commented on the highly safety conscious nature of the rafting guides who give a full briefing before starting out. It is notable to pay particular attention especially in the use of the life vest and helmet. Courses may last up to 2 hours depending on the river’s condition.
There are actually two rafting tour options. One is called the “short course” in which you need to pass through 14 rapids, costing around P900 for each person. The “long course” passes through 21 rapids and costs P1,000 per person. Each package is allowed a minimum of five persons per group. Even rafting experts now consider Cagayan de Oro as the whitewater rafting capital of the world. Some outfits now even offer what they call “beginner’s courses” and “kid’s courses” that go through 2 to 4 rapids only.
Makahambus Nature Park
This is a 30 to 40 minute drive outside the city just beyond the city’s former Lumbia Airport, now converted into a Philippine Air Force station. The best thing to try in this park is the skybridge if you really want adventure. And be sure to ask your guide about the Battle of Makahambus that took place right there. If he doesn’t know it, he isn’t fit to be a tourist guide. The park is actually a series of underground caves with a 150-foot circular gorge. However, should you have a fear of heights, we don’t advise the skybridge or other height-based adventures. The skybridge is actually three hanging bridges that are tied to three very tall trees. There is also a zip line and rappelling. The only part of Makahambus cave allowed to be entered into starts at the cave’s large opening, but upon entry into the cave it is so dark that you will need flashlights to navigate the cave path until it terminates out onto a promontory with a great view of the Cagayan River.
Malasag Eco-Tourism Village
Located some 12 kilometers from the city proper in Cugman, around a 15 to 20 minute drive, the unique theme park features the many facets of Northern Mindanao’s culture and indigenous groups. It houses a mini-museum, a tribal house, and a potpourri of flora and fauna and animals. It also houses a restaurant and hotel with great views at night overlooking the city and Macajalar Bay. The rooms are available at P1,850 per night for two with free breakfast. There are also grounds for camping or family picnics.
Tsada Kagay-an City Tour
The local government has seen fit to organize a city tour that started back in 2012. The tour is meant to be informative and professional since the guides are all well trained by the Department of Tourism. The tour covers mostly historical sites, facts, and events in and around the city as well as prominent buildings and areas like the Cogon market, the San Agustin Cathedral, Museo de Oro at Xavier University, the Museum of Three Cultures at the Capitol University, and the Tower Museum beside the cathedral. The tour lasts four hours and costs P599 per person.
Buying Famous Food Products
For the food connoisseur and probably to take back with you when you depart the city, Cagayan de Oro is famous for three major food products: ham, nuts, and pineapples. Some argue that there is a fourth with the introduction to the city of the Vjandep sweet pastry products from Camiguin. But while this is a Camiguin province product, pineapple products in the city actually come from Bukidnon province, mostly from the Del Monte plantation, though the canning plant is situated in Bugo on the outskirts of the city. Cashew nuts and other peanut products are locally produced and are a favorite pasalubong of travelers returning home after vacationing in Cagayan de Oro. SLERS and Oroham are two of the earliest and most popular makers of high quality ham products in the city since around 1969. Their famous meat products are sold almost everywhere in the city.
Historical and Other Markers
For the history buffs, the newest historical site marker in the city is the General Douglas McArthur Memorial Marker at the edge of the Cagayan de Oro port area. It commemorates March 13, 1942 when Gen. McArthur with his family came to the port after escaping from Corregidor Island. Four days later they went to the Del Monte Airfield and boarded a B-17 bomber en route to escaping to Australia. Another historical marker just after SM City Mall in upper Carmen going to the old Lumbia Airport commemorates all the Filipino soldiers who died at the Battle of Agusan Hill and the Battle of Makahambus. The historical marker lists down the names of the soldiers and the battalions they served in. Just behind the San Agustin Cathedral in the city’s Gaston Park area is the recent Sendong Memorial. It is dedicated to all the 1,500 who died and 1,900 who are still missing after Typhoon Sendong sent flashfloods that cascaded down from the mountains onto the Cagayan River. Most of those killed or missing lived in communities or barangays along the river’s shores. The memorial lists down those who were killed.
Where to Eat
One only needs to go to the Divisoria area in the city’s center to find countless small, medium, to fine dining restaurants that will fit every choice possible. The wide array of choices ensures everything from the most affordable grill-style foods to even fast food chains.