History & Adventure: 10 Things To Do In Cagayan De Oro, Philippines - Updated 2021

things to do in cagayan de oro philippines
Liezl
Liezl  
Updated

Cagayan de Oro is not called the city of golden friendship, by chance. When you come and visit, try these top 10 best things to do, in and around the city. Get to know why it is known for having the friendliest citizens in the country. You will also be pleasantly surprised at the balance of history and adventure activities the city has to offer.

1. Take a peek at local history: Huluga Caves

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Huluga Caves are a testament to the city’s prehistoric past. The caves are composed of two caverns - the Open Site where the artifacts were found and another cave that is mostly unexplored. As an archaeological site, located within the city, the Open Site is where skeletal remains of a woman and a child were found, dating back to 377 A.D. Aside from the remains, other artifacts such as glass beads, bracelets, pendants, spoons, stone tools and pieces of iron, were also found. While these discoveries were taken to a local museum, the site itself has not been fully explored and most experts say that there may still be artifacts, waiting to be unearthed.

The caves are said to have been inhabited by early settlers from the Neolithic to the Iron Age, but further archaeological digs must be done. Located just 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the city center, the caves are a short ride from town. These are usually part of a local tour package that takes you the caves, as well as the museum, where the artifacts are kept.

Huluga Caves

Address: Taguanao and Indahag Villages, Cagayan de Oro City

Website: Huluga Caves

2. Take a peek at local history: Museo de Oro, Xavier University

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

After the visit to the Huluga Caves, a trip to the Museu de Oro, housed inside the local university’s Xavier Museum, is appropriate. The museum houses the artifacts that were discovered in the caves, as well as other exhibits on Mindanao’s prehistoric past and its diverse local cultures. One exhibit is the Ethnohistory of Mindanao, which includes the Huluga Caves’ discoveries, as well as Stegodon fossils from Misamis Oriental and artifacts from other caves in the island. Artifacts from the Spanish period are also part of this exhibit.

The second exhibit features the Ethnology of Mindanao, which showcases the local culture of the different indigenous groups, on the islands. The third exhibit is named after the museum’s founder, Fr. Francisco Demetrio SJ and it houses a mix of contemporary art by local artists, as well as memorabilia of Fr. Demetrio.

Museo de Oro

Address: Xavier University, Corrales Avenue, Cagayan de Oro City

Operating Hours: 8am - 12pm & 1pm - 5pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays, closed on Mondays

Admission Fee: about 2 USD per person

Access: From anywhere in the city, take a taxi to Xavier University. Most taxi drivers are familiar with this university.

3. Take a peek at local culture: The Museum of Three Cultures, Capitol University

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The museum boasts three galleries, which give visitors a glimpse of Cagayan de Oro’s history. Notable among these exhibits are the collection of Maranao arts and crafts. The Maranaos are an Islamized indigenous people, of Mindanao and they are known for their brass work. Among the displays are various Maranao brass works, including a collection of impressive ceremonial swords. There is also a huge four-poster bed called the pangao, which is said to be used by Maranao sultans and their families. An exhibit of cultural artifacts and traditional attire of a local non-Islamized indigenous group, called the Lumad, can also be found in the museum.

Museum of Three Cultures

Address: Capitol University, Corrales Avenue Extensio, Cagayan de Oro City

Operating Hours: 9am - 5pm, Mondays to Fridays; 9am - 12pm Saturdays

Admission Fee: about 1 USD per person

Access: From anywhere in the city, take a taxi to Capitol University. Most taxi drivers are familiar with this university.

Facebook: Museum of Three Cultures

4. Celebrate with the locals: Higalaay Festival on August 28

Higalaay Kagayan Festival
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mark Gio Amoguis used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Come and join in the city’s annual festival to celebrate its patron saint, St. Augustine. Held every 28th of August, the Higalaay Festival not only celebrates the feast day but is also meant to celebrate friendship. Higala, the root word of Higalaay, means “friend” in the local dialect. The festivities start in early August, as the festival brings together the local government, local businesses and communities, in various events.

Among the regular events that mark the festival are the Kumbira Culinary Show, the Cagayan de Oro Carnival Parade which features a colorful street dancing competition, the Higalas Parade of Floats and Icon, the Fluvial Procession and the Higalaay Pyrolympics. This is a month-long festival which brings many visitors to the city, so if you want to join, it’s best if you book your flights and accommodation, in advance.

Higalaay Festival

Address: Cagayan de Oro City

Duration: August 28th, every year - Feast Day, but festival activities may start as early as the first week of August

Contact Information: Cagayan de Oro City Facebook Page

5. Nature trip: Macahambus Cave and Nature Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Macahambus Cave is another historical site in the city, having been the site of the Battle of Macahambus, in 1900, during the Philippine-American war. It was one of the sites where the Filipinos won, against the occupying Americans, right after the country was colonized. It is now a popular tourist destination. Aside from the cave, which is said to house a colony of bats, there are also a lot of adventure activities within the nature park. The cave itself has a path that on one end can take you to a viewpoint, where you can see the Cagayan River.

If you are looking for more adrenaline pumping activities, try the Skybridge, which is a hanging rope bridge that takes you across Macahambus Gorge. Safety harnesses are provided, as crossing the bridge may be quite a wobbly experience. There is also a bouncing zipline and rappelling more than 30 meters or 100 feet, down the gorge.

Macahambus Cave and Adventure Park

Address: Macahambus, Barangays Lumbia and Bayanga, Cagayan de Oro City

Access: From the city, hire a taxi to take you to Macahambus Park for approximately 10 USD, including waiting time and trip back to the city. It is about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the city center.

Admission Fees: No admission fee for the cave; Skybridge and Zipline fee - about 8 USD; Rappelling fee - about 8 USD

Contact Information: +63-88-856-3972 / 310-8226; +63-91-771-21990

Facebook: Macahambus Adventure Park

6. Nature trip: whitewater rafting on the Cagayan de Oro river (from USD 26.0)

Adrenaline junkies will love this adventure activity, that takes you whitewater rafting down the rapids of the Cagayan River. Several whitewater rafting groups operate in the city, offering competitive packages that usually include round trip transportation from the city, the services of a certified river guide and safety equipment. Some tour packages have optional inclusions, such as meals and snacks, during the tour. From the city, visitors will be transported to the jump-off point, via jeepney, which is about 1 hour away from the city center. From here, visitors are given a basic orientation about the activity, including the commands that the guides will be giving in the course of the ride.

Guests can choose from different packages: the basic course, advanced and extreme, which will dictate the types of rapids you will take and how long it will be. Basic or beginner runs usually take about 2 to 3 hours, while the more advanced runs last up to 5 hours. Those who wish to take on this adventure must be ready with a rashguard, sunblock, an energy bar and drinking water. A waterproof camera is ideal but the tour agency may also offer digital copies of your photos during the trip, for an extra fee.

Cagayan River Whitewater Rafting

Address: Cagayan River, Cagayan de Oro City

Access: Book a tour from any of several whitewater rafting operators: Great White Rafting CDO or Eco Extreme Rafting Adventure

Admission Fees: Basic or Beginner Courses start at about 14 to 18 USD per person; a minimum of six persons is needed, per course; Advanced courses - 20 USD per person; Extreme courses - 40 USD per person.

Website: Whitewater Rafting

Great White Water Rafting in Cagayan de Oro

Duration: 5 Hrs Duration

3 reviews

7. Nature trip: Mapawa Nature Park

Mapawa Nature Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 影丸 used under CC BY 3.0

Mapawa Nature Park is another adventure park, in Cagayan de Oro. Who would think that an area so lush with trees and vegetation would exist within a city? You will need a day to take part in the park’s unique canyoneering package, which includes sliding down a waterfall, body rappelling, jumping off a 7 meter (25-foot) cliff, and rappelling down for about 20 meters (65 feet).

Aside from the canyoneering, visitors can also explore the park with its ziplines, campsites and even playgrounds for the kids. The park also offers team building activities for groups, which includes accommodation and food, during their stay. Located in the village of Cugman, it is only a 30-minute ride via private car.

Mapawa Nature Park

Address: Malasag, Barangay Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City

Contact Information:+63-88-858-4402; Mobile: +63-917-706-7206

Facebook: Mapawa Nature Park

8. Nature and culture trip: Malasag Eco-tourism Village and Gardens

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Malasag Eco-Tourism Village is another unique destination in the city. Located in the same village as Mapawa Nature Park, this place boasts beautiful gardens among the rolling hills of the Cugman watershed. What makes this place unique, however, is its tribute to the indigenous cultural practices of several ethnic groups, in Mindanao. Here, you can learn more about the life of the Higaunon, Bukidnon, Subanon, Talaandig, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon tribes. You can witness some of their dances and see them make their local crafts. The souvenir shop also allows you to buy and bring home some of their ethnic crafts.

Aside from these cultural heritage displays, you can also choose to stay the night in one of the cottages and enjoy waking up to the cool mountain air of the village.

Malasag Eco-Tourism Village and Gardens

Address: Malasag, Barangay Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City

Access: From the city, you can take a taxi to the site, which is about 20 minutes from the city.

Admission Fee: about 1 USD per person for a day tour; overnight stays depend on the type of accommodation

Facebook: Malasag Eco-Tourism Village

9. Food trip: try the pastel, a local delicacy

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

When it comes to local delicacies, Cagayan de Oro is also famous for a baked soft bread with a creamy custard filling. Called pastel, it actually originated in Camiguin island. The bakeshop that invented the pastel however has several branches in the city and from the original custard variant, it now offers 15 variants or flavors to choose from. The original custard variant however remains to be the most popular among tourists and visitors. Visit any of the bakeshop’s branches in the city for a taste of pastel.

VjANDEP Pastel

Address: 078 Tiano Street, Cagayan de Oro City

Contact Information: +63 88 858-4027; Mobile +63 923 250-0387

Website: VjANDEP Bakeshop

10. Mingle with the locals: Plaza Divisoria

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

This destination will not require you to travel far, as it is located right in the city center. Like most towns in the Philippines, the main converging point for locals is the plaza and in the case of Cagayan de Oro, it is Plaza Divisoria. The plaza has a monument to commemorate the lives of the local soldiers who gave their lives, fighting for the country. While it offers a reminder of the city’s history, the plaza transforms into something else during Friday and Saturday nights. It becomes alive as it transforms into a night market for food and shopping, as well as live entertainment. Most locals choose to come to Plaza Divisoria to unwind, after a week’s work. A variety of street food and local delicacies are on offer, so you won’t go hungry. To get to Plaza Divisoria, you can take any of the tricycles, locally called motorela, to the plaza.

Plaza Divisoria

Address: RN Abejuela Street, Tirso Neri St, Cagayan de Oro City

Operating Hours: Night market: Friday and Saturday nights only

Before you go - travel tips to Cagayan de Oro

Skyline of Cagayan de Oro
Source: Photo by user Nice Stranger5810 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

There are daily flights from Manila to Cagayan de Oro, through Laguindingan International Airport. Take note that this airport is located 36.9 kilometers (22.9 miles) from the city, so you need to take a shuttle or bus, from the airport. The ride is approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. The City of Golden Friendship awaits you, as you embark on your next adventure.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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I am a freelance writer living in the summer capital of the Philippines, Baguio City. I am passionate about writing and living and anything in between.

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