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).

Advertisements

Siargao Sunset

 

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

 

 

WP_007823

IMG_20150705_100233

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of my travel buddies.

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.

10982390_10206014471338517_4243706736147766298_n
10481471_10206014515379618_8546742125907027119_n

551537_10206014472938557_1904610036424216570_n

10696335_10202484016856225_5782419335130660866_n

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Taking the plunge” challenge in Sohoton Cove

The sole opening to Sohoton Cove National Park.
The sole opening to and from Sohoton Cove National Park.

Cliff divers make a visually striking spectacle through their acrobatic feats. Their stunts display a breathtaking choreograph, leaving watchers in awe at how they can carry out such a sequence of rhythmic motions while defying gravity.

Although the sight I saw at Magkukuob Cave in Sohoton Cove was not that intense, there was something that captivated me in the way H  – one of my companions – jumped into the water from a makeshift diving platform 12-feet above sea level.

He wasn’t a professional cliff diver, neither was he a good swimmer. But his body was completely relaxed when he took the plunge challenge. His stance emanates sheer calmness like those of professionals.

10906150_10205632551470759_6050236606528252901_n

His right hand was stretched upward; his right foot pointing downward, so it can pierce through the water without incurring injury from the impact. It didn’t take long for him to touch the water, but the sight of his body so slowly and gracefully falling down the water had made him look infinite. I was so transfixed at the sight that I felt it too that very moment in time.

10898068_10205632532830293_398833097049418416_n
DRY RUN. Practice water jumping at Tiktikan Lake in Bucas Grande Island.

I knew he did that to do the challenge properly, not to show off, or inspire anyone -as was the effect to me. But it did motivate me.

To cut it short, my hesitance was replaced with a resolve. A resolve to jump into the water without wearing a life vest. A resolve to do the challenge properly. So that I too can experience not only the invigorating rush but also the infinite feeling of being suspended in the air which very briefly takes place in between taking off and plunging into the water.

Tour guides discouraged us to wear life vest when jumping into the water because according to them it is dangerous.
Tour guides discouraged wearing a life vest when jumping into the water because, according to them, it is dangerous.

At Magkukuob Cave – one of the main attractions in Sohoton Cove – spelunking ends with a cliff diving challenge. That is, for good swimmers. But for recreational swimmers, calling it “take the plunge” challenge would be more appropriate.

10801873_10205632586111625_5979655688654731098_n

Whether it’s one or the other, one will have to do the challenge because it is the fastest way to get back to the water, where the boat is waiting nearby. The other way to exit the cave is to go back to the entrance of the cave.

In the end, it’s not about how experienced (or inexperienced) a person is that counts. It’s about managing the crazy feeling that a scary stunt like cliff diving gives that matters.

Being able to do that rewards one of an invigorating rush, a quasi-euphoria kind of feeling, telling oneself that it’s worth taking the plunge no matter how risky it sounds.

10929088_10205632529590212_7325095904064648250_n
Cliff diving practice at Tiktikan Lake

A basic but very helpful piece of advice that experts and first-timers can use is to not overthink things.

For a first-timer like me, jumping off a platform that is suspended from a cliff, 12-feet above the water, is a memorable feat.

Note: Sohoton Cove National Park is part of Bucas Grande Island in Surigao del Norte. The park, together with the rest of Bucas Grande, forms a maze of natural wonder that can only be seen (or access) in certain conditions.

10500325_10205632582071524_3656840575341771179_n

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

In photos: The sail to the Jellyfish Sanctuary

TUJUMAN LAGOON
Into the hidden world of Bucas Grande

Muffin-shaped mountains are scattered all over the island of Bucas Grande, providing a beautiful background against the paddle boats sailing to their first destination: the Jellyfish Sanctuary.

collage 1

Sailing forward, more details of this part of the island are revealed. The mountains are limestone formations abundantly covered in untrimmed and thick vegetation.

10420214_10202483427121482_4672007681273455881_n

In between mountains are tunnel-like passageways covered in canopies of protruding branches of wild plants and trees.

vlcsnap-2014-11-15-13h38m11s127

10922545_10205632545910620_3238589285757461000_n

At the entrance the water is clear and shallow, making some marine species visible from the bottom such as “tajum” (sea urchin) that used to dominate the area when it was not yet known as the Jellyfish Sanctuary.

10610883_10202483429201534_5944922919621777866_n

With only the sound of the flowing water and the rowing boat can be heard in the area, one could easily tell where this is heading to – a lagoon that is set in blissful seclusion.

10422955_10205632585351606_2301455194336149947_n

TUJUMAN

vlcsnap-2014-11-15-13h32m34s119

Indeed, the lagoon is a wide expanse of flat turquoise calm, making the tableau of corals visible underneath. Seeing the corals from the bottom makes one feel like being able to touch them without having to dive down.

It’s amazing how everything remains unspoiled and the tranquility that envelops the area undisturbed. It is as if a thin sheet of blanket is blocking the outside noise, allowing only the chorus of various chirping birds to penetrate the invisible shield.

IMG_3105

During off seasons, the different species of non-stinging jellyfish are nowhere to be seen. That was exactly the scenario when we visited Bucas Grande last November.

150144_10202483435841700_1543862398904315225_n
Mother Jellyfish. The only jellyfish we saw at the sanctuary during when we visited it in November.

I admit it was a little disappointing. Thankfully, the lagoon is itself a thrill to see. Not to mention that passing through the maze-like waterways make the journey to the sanctuary quite like otherworldly.

For me, that part of Tojoman Lagoon, now called the Jellyfish Sanctuary, makes it an entirely unique natural gem in Surigao del Norte.

1509118_10202483439121782_8535025608179502265_n

10438612_10202483439681796_6116181344173266776_n10352733_10202483440321812_4729995892319541843_n

*The local government of Socorro – one of the 9 municipalities of Siargao – and the DENR must have done a good job in keeping the islands of Bucas Grande in Surigao del Norte well preserved and protected.

*According to tour guides swimming with millions of jellyfish can be experienced in the months of March until May, where they start to spring, and in the months of July until August, where they bloom into full grandeur.

photo credit: travel buddies Joann, Gin and Ely