Surfing in Siargao and more

 

There is more to Siargao than surfing. But who can resist its fabled waves? So we do island hopping, swimming with jellyfish, spelunking, kayaking, cliff diving and surfing when we visit Siargao islands.

Siargao is the ultimate place to be for surfers visiting the Philippines. It’s extremely good waves can get any enthusiast stoked.

Beyond its surfing spots, more natural wonders await for visitors to discover and enjoy – from secret coves and lagoons to still lakes and natural pools to pristine white sand beaches that are never crowded. These hidden gems make non-surfers enjoy the Siargao islands, too.

 

Enjoy Siargao islands!

Photos courtesy of my travel buddies (Ely, Gin, Joann).

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Siargao Sunset

 

No sun outlasts its sunset but will rise again and bring the dawn. – Maya Angelou

 

 

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Photos courtesy of my travel buddies.

Bucas Grande Island – Siargao Itineraries

sohoton cove national park

Below are itineraries for Bucas Grande Island and Siargao trips.

 

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Screengrab from thepinaysolobackpacker.com

 

Day 1 – Morning

09:35 AM– Surigao Airport, Arrival

09:40 AM–Depart for Hayanggabon Port (Van/Bus Terminal)

10:20 AM–Arrival at Hayanggabon Port, Socorro

10:30 AM–Meet with boatman; depart for Bucas Grande

10:45 AM–Arrival at Sohoton Cove Tourism Center

10:50 AM–Registration

11:00 AM–Sail to Sohoton Cove

11:45 AM- Back to the Center

Day 1 – Afternoon

12:00 PM–Lunch12:30 PM–Jellyfish sanctuary
1:10  PM–  Mark-A beach, Snorkeling in nearby beach
2:00 PM–   Depart for Soccoro
3:30 PM –  Arrival at Socorro
4:00 PM – mini inland tour
5:00 PM – back in Island Vacations Country Inn, take a shower
6:00 PM – dinner
7:00 PM – return to hotel, pack up PM – lights out, sleep

Points to Remember 

  • You have to reach Hayangabon port before 11 in the morning and before 4 in the afternoon because the scheduled daily trips will depart between 10 am to 11 am (for morning) and between 3 pm to 4 pm (for afternoon) if you’ll be staying overnight in Socorro town proper.
  • Note that locals also refer to Bucas Grande Island as Socorro, the lone municipality in these group of islands. You may contact Bucas Grande Island Travel and Tours if you are coming from Surigao through these mobile numbers: +63 09122485976 +63 09363345901.
  • Once in Hayanggabon Port, look for a boat rental for your Bucas Grande Island Tour. Rates range from P2,500-P3,000.
  • You can stay in the town of Socorro after your Bucas Grande Island adventure and depart for Siargao in the morning. When you reach Dapa Port in Siargao, look for public vehicles to take you to your accommodation site. Travel time from Socorro town pier to Dapa port is 3 hours.
  • Sohoton also has accommodations to offer such as that in Cinnamon Island. Three native cottages with fan/air-condition and breakfast for P2,500-P3,000 respectively. Contact operations manager Roldan Dizon at +63 9488205835. For further details visit The Pinay Solobackpacker website.

 

Hayanggabon port. One of the jump-off sites for Bucas Grande island tour.
Hayanggabon port. One of the jump-off sites for Bucas Grande island tour.

Daily budget, per person

Transportation:

Van ride Php 120 per head

Pumpboat fee starts at Php 100 per head

P 2,500 –Pump boat rental and guide fee

P 20 –      Lake Tiktikan entrance fee

Sohoton Cove National Park Fees:

P 50–   Entrance fee

P 50–   Environment fee

P 100– Docking fee

P 80–   Life vest and helmet rental

P 500– Pump boat to go inside Sohoton Cove

P 333– Guide fee (165 per guide, 2 guides per boat)

P 100 –Paddler to go to Jellyfish Sanctuary

Contact persons:

  • Mr. Aga Ver D.Galanida II (Socorro Tourism Officer) – 0909-3661517 E-mail: aga.galanida@gmail.com
  • Island Vacations Country Inn – 0919-9897331
  • Vincent Tamayo (boatman and guide) – 0930-8028704
  • Print or record correspondence with hotel/inn owners.

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Day 2 – Off to Siargao (from Socorro Pier to Dapa Port)

5:00 AM –  pack up, depart for Siargao

8:00 AM –  arrival at Siargao

8:30 AM –  breakfast

8:45 AM –  depart for General Luna

9:30 AM –  arrive at General Luna

9:50 AM –  arrival at Cloud 9

10:15 AM– Check in

10:30-11:45 – Surfing orientation

12:00 Lunch

1:00-5:00 PM – island hopping

Note:

  • There is a passenger boat from Siargao Pier bound for Butuan.

Budget per person

  • P 100 – ferry from Socorro, Bucas Grande to Dapa, Siargao
  • P 30 – tricycle fare from Dapa to General Luna
  • P 30 – habal-habal fare from General Luna to Cloud 9
  • P 500 – one-hour surfing including board rental (P 200) and instructor fee (P 300)
  • P 500 – per night rate, non-aircon room at the Ocean Pacific Inn (good for 2 pax, no free breakfast)

General Rates You Might Want to Know

  • P 300 – half-day motorcycle rental
  • P 500 – whole-day motorcycle rental
  • P 500 – whole-day surfboard rental
  • P 500 – one-hour instructor fee with surfboard rental

Contact Joel at 0908-7437709 if you need a surfing instructor.

Boatman: Francis 09487522877

Day 3 – Siargao – Surigao City (if you booked a flight to Manila in Surigao)

5:00 AM – wake up, freshen up, pack up
5:30 AM – breakfast

6:00 AM – depart for dapa

6:30 AM – arrive at dapa

7:00 AM head to pier, board boat for Surigao (Socorro)
9:00 AM – arrive at Socorro port
10:00 AM – Surigao city proper
10:30 AM –    city tour

11:30AM–      lunch

12:00 PM –     Airport check in

Other Routes

 

other routes
Screengrab from thepinaysolobackpacker.com

 

 

other routes2
Screengrab from thepinaysolobackpacker.com

 

Post References:

Adrenaline Romance

Weng Weng Wanders

Bucasgrandeisland.com

If you are interested to know about our experience, kindly check this story.

Siargao Seascapes: General Luna

In a popular island destination like Siargao, it’s a wonderful thing to know that locals still have their space for recreations. That is the island community in General Luna, the gateway to several tourist sites in Surigao del Norte such as Cloud 9.

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Other  nearby destinations that can be accessed through General Luna are Bucas Grande Island in Socorro, and the trio islands – Naked, Guyam, and Dako – in Siargao as well as Magpupungko  tide pools and a secluded lagoon. Tourists also stop here to eat, sing, or rent a motorcycle or a bicycle.

Once those necessities have been fulfilled, tourists moved on with their itineraries and leave the island community which to the delight of locals, I believe.

Folks living on this remote island are lucky to have a pristine island for their home, recreations and training sites for surfing, and a good place for sunset watching. Not to mention that business is thriving here, giving locals income opportunities other than fishing.

 

photo credits to travel buddies Gin Riobuya and Ely Cuela.

The hidden world of Bucas Grande Island

 

bucas grande island

To visit Bucas Grande Island in Surigao del Norte is to discover a world hidden in a labyrinthine terrain.  A world where hilly and rounded islets, each covered in thick evergreen, dominate the landscape.

Please read full story here.

How to get there:

Bucas Grande Island is located in Socorro, Surigao del Norte. It is usually accessed via Hayanggabon Port, though some take an approximately three-hour boat ride from Genenral Luna in Siargao to get there. Visiting the island gives non-surfers other ways of experiencing Siargao than surfing.

 Photo credits to my travel buddies Ely, Joann, and Ginny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accessible island getaways in the Philippines

accessible islands in ph

Exotic islands are almost perfect getaways, if not for the often excruciating travel they require in order to get there. Thankfully, there are white sandy beaches that are so accessible that you could reach them in less than 20 minutes via boat ride. And if you’re lucky you could find one along a major road, or just in front of your hotel room. Yay!

In the Philippines here are some of the most accessible island getaways I’ve had been to and would like to share with you.

  • Cowrie Island and Luli Island in Puerto Princesa. These islands are part of the Honday Bay Island Tours that the city government offers to tourists. Normally, visitors can choose three islands for a one-day island hopping adventure. Pambato Reef and Starfish Island are two other island destinations that tourists can choose, together with Cowrie or Luli.

Private resorts and islands like Pandan Beach and Dos Palmas are also part of Honda Bay. These require higher fees though for a one-day tour around the island resort.

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Cowrie Island

How to get there: Rent a van or a tricycle from the city proper to the Honda Bay wharf. There tourists would be asked to register. DIY tourists would choose a tour for the day and pay the corresponding fee. Travel time from the town proper to the wharf could take 45 minutes.

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Luli Island could get a little crowded because it is the nearest island among all the island destinations in Honda Bay.
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This island disappears during high-tide and re-appears during low-tide. Thus the name Luli, or Lulubog-Lilitaw.

For entrance fee to these islands, please refer to the table at the end of this blog post.

  • Kurangon Islet in Tiwi, Albay. Albay’s two most beautiful mountains are an ubiquitous sight in this small coral-island in Tiwi. That’s not to mention that it is a marine sanctuary where different marine species can be seen and encountered when one chooses to swim in the area.
Kurangon islet in tiwi albay
Mt. Mayon and Mt. Malinao in the background.

It can be reached in less than 15 minutes via boat ride from Baybay, Tiwi, Albay.

How to get there: Look for PUVs (either van or bus) bound to Tiwi at Legaspi terminal. Travel time is around 45 minutes.

Note: As a marine sanctuary, the local government of Tiwi requires securing a permit before visiting the area. The permit can be obtained from the municipal office of Tiwi, Burueau of Fisheries and Agrarian Resources.

There’s no entrance fee, but a boat ride fee would start from Php 1,00-1,500 ++.

  • Dancalan Beach in Donsol, Sorsogon. This beach is along a main road in Sorsogon, so there’s no need for you to ride a boat to get there. Even if it tends to attract local visitors for its accessibility, your group can still have a “private” space as it has a wide and long stretch of shoreline. Besides, tourists that stay in its cottages would not return until afternoon from their Butanding encounter in Donsol.

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It can be an ideal side trip from Bulusan Lake, or a place to stay overnight for those who intend to swim with whale sharks. Either way, it’s a good place to spend the rest of the afternoon for sunset watching, swimming, or chilling out with friends.

Entrance fee is 10 pesos only.

  • Subic Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon. This secluded beach with pinkish sand is the main island destination for tourists seeking a pristine beach to swim and snorkel in Matnog, Sorsogon. Even if it is already getting known to tourists, the chance to have this island all to yourself is still high, especially if you would camp in the area for an overnight visit.

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There are other pristine beaches in nearby areas, and those too won’t disappoint. Among them is Tikling beach.

Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary is also a must-visit for an encounter with aquatic species that “grow and spawn in a protected habitat”.

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Tikling Beach

Entrance fee to Subic beach is 50 pesos, plus 20 pesos for environmental fee.

  • Cloud 9 in Siargao. Yes,  tourists flock to this part of Siargao for its magnificent waves which makes it the ultimate surfing destination in the Philippines. But no one says that you can’t take things slow here by just dipping in the water or basking in the sun. The beach, after all, is just a walking distance from most of the lodging houses in the area.

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And did I mention that Cloud 9 has the perfect setting for sunset watching, with two very spacious two-story viewing decks built near the shoreline?

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Then, there is also General Luna in Siargao. It is a small island village with two (and probably more) pristine white sandy beaches that locals frequented to swim, play, and practice surfing. Sunset here is also breathtaking.

The pier in General Luna serves as the jump-off sites for island hopping in the surrounding islands, or for visiting Bucas Grande Island in Socorro, Surigao del Norte.

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The beach facing the market

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  • Naked Island in Siargao. More secluded islands can be found in Siargao through island hopping, and it includes Naked Island. Like Kurangong Islet, it is bare with no vegetation thriving in the area. Rock formations are also nowhere to be seen in this island. Thus, the name naked.

Its endless expanse of clean, turquoise water matches the infinite look and feel of the sky.

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Guyam Island and Daku Island are the two other unspoiled islands that tourists can include in their island hopping adventure in Siargao, along with Naked Island.

Entrance fee to Daku Island is 50 pesos and 10 pesos for Guyam Island.

  • Atulayan Island in Camarines, Sur, Bicol. It is a favorite island getaway for locals that want a quiet weekend by the beach. It is secluded, far from the crowd, and not to mention, scenic.

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Fee for boat ride starts at Php1,500. It can be reached in 25-30 minutes from Sugod, Tiwi, Albay. It can also be accessed via Nato Port in Sangay, Camarines Sur.

Travel Note: Most of the islands mentioned in this post are considered secondary destinations, not because they are inferior in terms of travel standards, but because they happen to be near to already very famous destinations.

Rates/Islands Cowrie Island Luli Island Pambato Reef Starfish Island Pandan Island
Entrance Fee Php 75.00 Php 50.00 (Cottage fee not included) Php 50.00 Php 50.00(Cottage fee not included) Php 100.00(Cottage fee not included)
Island hopping  for 6 pax (3 cylinder engine) Php 600.00 Php 700.00 Php 700.00 Php 1,200.00 Php 1,200.00
More than 6 pax (additional rate) Php 100.00 Php 116.67 Php 116.67 Php 200.00 Php 200.00
Island hopping  for 6 pax (4 cylinder engine) Php 116.67 Php 133.33 Php 133.33 Php 233.33 Php 233.33
Rates 3 Cylinder Engine (6 pax) Additional person(s) 4 Cylinder Engine (6 pax) Additonal person(s)
Island Hopping- Short Distance (Cowrie, Luli, Pambato) Php 800.00 Php 133.33 Php 900.00 Php 150.00
Any 3 Islands Php 1,300.00 Php 216.67 Php 1,500.00 Php 250.00

Photo credits to my travel buddies Ely, Joann, Gin, Cath, and Avi.