The province of Surigao del Norte is located in the Caraga region of Mindanao. Its capital is Surigao city known as the “Gateway to Mindanao”. The province have two major islands – Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands known for their long stretch of sugar-fine beaches, vast mangrove forest, and deep waters teeming with marine life .
Bucas grande island is situated on the far eastern part of the province of Surigao del Norte. The lone-island municipality of the island is Socorro. (source wikipedia).
You can find Sohoton cove and Tojoman lagoon home of the stingless jellyfish in Bucas Grande.
How to get there:
From Siargao, you could rent boats that could take you to Bucas Grande. For boat rental, you can contact Kuya Loyding (09056054600). We agreed to rent the boat for P4,500 that would cover a trip to Bucas Grande and then island hopping to Naked, Dako and Guyam islands. The entire tour would take the whole day so i suggest you start very early in the morning.
Where to eat:
In Bucas Grande, there is a lone restaurant called Cafe Grande. I suggest you buy food at the market before you leave Siargao and let your boatman bring the food to the Cafe for them to cook. Just let them know how you want your food to be cooked. We brought blue marlin and yellowfin tuna only for P120 per kilo at the market and asked the Cafe to grill it. You can buy rice at the cafe so no need to bring one.
What to do:
Our actual itinerary for this tour is as follows:
5:00 Woke up to prep for our Island hopping trip
6:00 Met kuya Loyding Dole (0916-2452713) and his son James. Paid P4500
6:10 Quick trip to market to buy fish for lunch. Bought blue marlin and Tuna.
8:30 Arrived at Sohoton Cove tourism office. Paid total of P1,540 for entrance fees and guide fees for Tojoman Lagoon and Sohoton Cove (didnt manage to get further breakdown of fees)
9:00 Met kuya Eduardo my boatman and tour Guide to Tojoman Lagoon and saw a few stingless jellyfish. Diasppointed we didn’t get to swim with them.
9:40 Met Tour guides Raymond and Jonathan and boatman Junior for our Sohoton cove adventure. Went to Hagukan cove and Magkukuob Cove.
11:00 Lunch at Cafe Grande where we had our fish grilled
12:00 Left Sohoton cove and quick stop to Club Tara before heading to Naked Island
2:00 Naked island
3:30 Dako island. Entrance fees P20
4:30 Guyam island. Entrance fees P20
5:30 Back at Patrick’s
Tojoman Lagoon is home to species of stingless jellyfish. It got its name from “tajum” or sea urchin in the local dialect which used to dominate the area. The best time to see them according to Kuya Eduardo are from July to August. From the Sohoton cove tourism office, you will be asked to ride a very small paddle boat that could accommodate only 2 people (you and your guide). After paddling the boat for about 10 minutes, we reached the lagoon. It was around 9AM and we were the only tourists in the lagoon. I was expecting that we would be seeing hundreds of jellyfish and would be able to swim with them. However, I was told that they no longer allow people to swim with the jellyfish because of the chemicals that we might bring in the water from the shampoo, sunblock, lotion that we use that may be harmful to the jellyfish. It was also quite disappointing to see only less than 10 jellyfish but we were still fortunate to see 2 kinds of jellyfish – the brown spotted specie with tentacles and the one that is transparent and more like clear gelatin. We were able to interact with these creatures touching them in the water and playing with them but it would have been great if we were able to swim with these creatures. After the quick interaction, we sadly paddled our way back to the tourism office.
Suhot is a waray word for “to enter”. This is precisely what we did when we reached the small entrance to the cove. Aboard a much bigger motorized outrigger boat, we passed thru a tunnel cave that could only be accessed when the tide is low. We had to watch our heads as we coast through the tunnel cave with very low ceiling and very sharp edges. Our guide Raymond provided some information on the cove after passing thru the cave. He pointed to a horse tail like rock formation which the tour guides use as landmark or marker when going in and out of Sohoton. According to our guide, the cove is home to 7 unnamed islets and the main attractions are the Hagukan cave and Magkukuob cave.
Hagukan cave is a concealed cave where you literally illuminate inside. It got its name from the sound that the cave makes when the tide is low and the mouth of the cove is exposed. When we arrived the tide is still a bit high so we had to dive to enter and exit the cave. With the help of our guides, we safely entered the cave and was immidiately amazed of how we glow in the dark cove. We also saw another transparent stingless jellyfish inside the cave.
Magkukuob cave had a wider entrance but we still had to swim to enter. We had to take a brief climb up a very steep path up to a platform where the brave ones jump about 12 feet. For the faint-hearted, you can exit by making your way back to the entrance of the cave. Good thing we all overcame our fear of heights. Some of us just took more time before letting go and jumping to take a plunge at the warm water below.
We made our way back to the cafe. After lunch, we left Bucas grande but had to quickly pass by Club tara to take some pictures.
On our way back to Siargao island, we had to pass by 3 uniquely beautiful and pristine islands. Our first stop is the powdery white sand bar aptly named Naked island.
Most often mistaken as a naked beach where people could just roam around in their birthday suit. The island used to be bare, no vegetation and no structures at all thus the name. Just pure white sand and crystal clear water. However, i was surprised to see a metal structure, seats and a few plants that can now be seen in the island. I think they diminished the charm that the island had. Some of the guides actually caught a small octopus which i also got to touch. My first time to see and interact with such magnificent creature. It actually shot black ink as it swam further.
Dako island can be seen from Naked island. After a quick boat ride, we reached the largest island of the 3 thus the name Dako. Dako island is home to a small community so there are cottages and a small store within the island. We also had to pay entrance fees after setting foot on the powdery white sand beach. You could buy buko and enjoy it in the beach.
The most tropical looking island of the 3. It is very picturesque as you can see white sand surrounding the coconut trees in the middle. We also had to pay entrance fees as this island is privately owned. There are also wooden cottages if you want to rent one. Guyam is the closest island to the main island of Siargao and can be seen from the beach at Patricks.