Siargao, Surigao del Norte, Caraga

Hooray for long Holidays! Upon knowing that there’s a long weekend ahead last October 2017, we thought of spending it in Siargao Islands. We stayed for 2 nights and 3 days in Siargao, but we still can’t get enough of the place, as the locals say “Once you’ve spent just a day, you really want to stay there and never leave”. Siargao is known for its captivating waves that most foreign and local surfers attempt to ride on. It is also a serene space to unwind and explore the sprawling sparkling seas around the island, which is why this is tagged by most tourists as a laid-back place.

Most of our trips are DIY, we prefer it that way so we can have the privilege of deciding what to do with our time. Sometimes we read blogs, search in the internet and ask friends what to ride and places to go in Siargao, as our guide and later plan our itinerary very well. So here it goes.

HOW TO GET TO SIARGAO

By Air

There are only three direct flights going to Siargao, it’s only from Davao, Cebu and Manila where you can fly through Sky Jet Airlines, PAL (Philippine Airlines) and CebPac (Cebu Pacific Airlines).

Option 2: You can fly also to Butuan City, then head on to Surigao City via bus and from there, take the ferry going to Dapa (Siargao).

By Land from Mindanao

From Davao

By Air

Philippine Airlines has a Direct flight to Siargao from Davao City

Flight Schedules are: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday

DVO to IAO – 7:00AM – 8:15AM
IAO to DVO – 8:45AM – 10:00AM

You can ride a bus from Davao to Butuan or directly to Surigao City at Ecoland Terminal in Davao City. There are many buses you can board for the Davao-Butuan route such as the Bachelor Express or Metro Shuttle, but only few going directly up to Surigao City. In going to Butuan, be sure to drop off at their terminal then ride a bus again going to Surigao City and take the ferry to Dapa (Siargao)

WHERE TO STAY

We recommend to check these places out, price ranges from P1,500.00 to P3,000.00:

OCEAN 101 CLOUD 9 SURF RESORT

Contact: +639108480893 | +639198268837 http://www.ocean101cloud9.com/accomodation.html

LA LUNA ISLAND RESORT

Contact No. +639107521262 | +639278245581 http://lalunaislandresort.com

KERMIT SURF RESORT

Contact No. +639176550548 https://www.kermitsiargao.com

ARKA HAYAHAY

Contact No. +639183312008 http://arkahayahaysiargao.com

Other Option is AirBnb! On our stay, we booked at the PAYAG SUITES located at the Municipality of General Luna, specifically in Tourism Road. Please check it out: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19398820 We highly recommend this place, it’s safe and the location is very convenient. You can also cook and eat meals inside your room since they have installed a cooking stove and kitchen utensils inside.

 

WHERE TO EAT

  1. MAMA’S GRILL. If you have a thing for BBQ, this place will answer your cravings and satisfy your taste buds, did I just say it’s cheap? Yes! It won’t cost you too much for a good meal. They only grill at night so be sure to be early or the place will be swarming with guests and tourists. I recommend for a take-out and eat it in your place over-viewing the sounding waves.

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  2. ARKA HAYAHAY. If you’re trying to fill your tummy for a heavy meal, you might wanna check this place out. Though it’s a bit expensive but you won’t be disappointed by the food. Try their wraps and burger, they have fries on the sides which is very good!
  3. KERMIT. This place has the best pizza on town! Please don’t miss out this place, you can make your own pizza too. They also offer buy-one-take-one cocktails.
  4. BRAVO. If you’re a Vegan, their menu packs a very good vegetarian dishes. The place is also ideal for your Instagram for an IG-rific posts and its homey and cozy ambiance.
  5. HARANA. If you have a palate for locale Filipino dishes, their menu will please your taste buds.

WHERE TO GO

  1. MAPUPUNGKO BEACH. You can get here by land, it takes more or less 40 mins form Dapa. It has a lot of rock pools filled with clear waters when its low tide. It’s best if you go in the early morning and/or afternoon. We weren’t able to witness it at its grandest beauty since we arrive there at dusk already.
  2. ISLAND HOPPING. (GUYAM, DAKU AND NAKED ISLAND) The locals can arrange an island hopping tour for you, you can ask assistance for your hotel hosts and they can willingly help you with it. The usual destinations would be these three majestic islands which could be toured half-day. These islands are perfect for taking pictures and videos.
  3. BUCAS GRANDE TOUR. (SOHOTON COVE) If you avail an island hopping tour, this is mostly part of the package. However, you will have to pay other (entrance and environmental) fees once you drop off at the Bucas Grande. This Bucas Grande/Sohoton Cove is situated in the Municipality of Socorro, still a part of the Siargao Islands. Fees are only minimal since it is handled by their LGU (Local Government Unit), meaning that it is only for the maintenance of the area and as well as for the mobilization of its LGU Tourism staff. There is a small restaurant at the docking/registration area where you can buy fresh sea foods for your lunch before or after the tour. On the tour, you can do boating on a jellyfish sanctuary, and you will be entering a group of islets forming a circle where there is only a sole entrance and exit point, inside it were underground caves and diving spots you can try on.

 

COST BREAKDOWN:

TRANSPORTATION

Bus Fare

  • Bus (AC) Tagum City – Butuan City = P250.00/Pax
  • Bus (AC) Butuan City – Surigao City = P150.00/Pax

Ferry Fare:

  • Economy (Non-Air) = P250.00/pax
  • Business (Aircon) = P300.00/pax
  • Executive (Aircon) = P325.00/pax

Siargao Proper

  • Tricycle – P150.00 (to General Luna from Dapa Port)
  • Motorcycle (rent) – P250/day

FOOD

  • (1st day) Lunch at ARKA HAYAHAY – Chicken Wraps and Chicken Curry
  • (1st day) Dinner at MAMA’S GRILL – Chicken (pecho), Pork bbq (3pcs), Isaw (2pcs) and a hotdog.
  • (2nd day) Brunch – Hot & Spicy Shrimp, Pancit Canton and 3 cups of rice. =
  • (2nd day) Dinner at ARKA HAYAHAY – Chicken Wraps & Burger with Potato Fries
  • (3rd day) Breakfast at MAMA’S GRILL – Chicken (pecho), Isaw (2pcs) and Hotdog

TOTAL COST = 2, 500.00 (For the love of food)

ACCOMMODATION

  • Payag Suites, General Luna Municipality

Beachfront Level 2 – Php. 1, 686.50 / day (including service fee and cleaning fee)
You can also contact the Host directly – Atty. John – 0917-703-7001

TOUR FEES

  • Island Hopping (Guyam, Daku and Naked Islands) – Php 1, 500.00 For two pax
  • Bucas Grande – Sohoton Cove – Php 2, 000.00

We managed to haggle for both tours for P2, 500.00 that took only one-day, we jumped off at 4am in the morning.

 

TIPS

  1. Be beach ready! Make your skin and eyes are protected with sunscreen and sunglasses, to get that light sun-kissed skin tone.
  2. Ready, Set, Pic! Bring the right tools such as action cameras and dry-packs, to have no worries in taking perfect shots during the tour.
  3. Thrift trip! Be sure to be thrifty, book your tour ahead of your trip to avoid overpriced offers and hassle free. Hotels have their own packages for the island tours. These are the local contacts during our stay.
    Kuya Jun – 0947-222-2304 for transportation from Dapa or Airport, you can also rent a scooter for Php500/day and book an island tour from him.
  4. Be green minded! Let’s be responsible tourist and help Mother Nature’s wonder creations be protected and preserved. Throw your trash properly, definitely not on the shore, for the place to be a clean and eco-friendly one. Just a green reminder guys! 🙂
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Enchanted River, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur

We have been seeing a lot of photos and articles featuring the aquamarine waters of Enchanted River at the Hinatuan Municipality in Surigao del Sur. So here goes our DIY trip to Enchanted River departing from our hometown.

We boarded a Bachelor bus from Tagum City bound for Barangay Mangagoy, Bislig City and it was a four-hour ride since we boarded a non-air bus and it keeps on haggling for passengers in every stop it could stop which makes it too long to arrive in its destination. It could only take three hours if you take an air conditioned one. Upon arriving at the Mangagoy Terminal, we rode a tricycle going to our booked accommodation, Paper Country Inn, the fare was supposed to be 7php each but the vehicle we rode that night charged us a 10-peso fare each upon sensing that we are not locals in the place. It is somehow disappointing to know how some fellow Filipinos would deceive you instead of helping you out. :-/

We booked a standard room for two at Paper Country Inn, their advertising photos online are somehow different from what we expected. It is a bit old than it actually looked and the hot shower is not functioning and their water flow is too slow. Though, the room is spacious and the air con is okay. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay the price well.

We chose to stay in Bislig City since it is the nearest place coming from our hometown and it is only an hour or less going to Enchanted River at Hinatuan Municipality. Bislig City has a lot of places to stay in for a night or so, though most accommodations around the town is not that luxurious or updated but they are moderately priced, which is really good for backpacker tourists. The bus fare costs 60php going to the terminal of Hinatuan where “habal-habal” motorcycles can be arranged going to the Enchanted River for only 300php back and forth.

From Hinatuan Terminal we rode the habal-habal to Enchanted River, it took us 20 minutes and costs 55php each.

Fees to pay in Enchanted:

  1. Entrance/Environmental Fee: 40php each
  2. Life Vest and goggles: 15php/hour per pax
  3. Island Hopping: 500php/three hours (maximum of 5 pax per boat)

After paying the entrance fee, there’s an orientation for first-time tourists for security protocols. After the orientation, a coaster will take you to the enchanted river. We have manage to witness the 12nn feeding time, where school of fish in the river magically appear and music will be played while feeding them. They have a “No life vest No swimming” policy, one of the enchanting things of the river is the warm and cold therapeutic mixture of the water and it’s aquamarine color.

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After the feeding presentation, we took a dip on the crystal waters. It is so relaxing that it makes you never wanna leave and swim all day. Haha. We also tried the Island Hopping, we minimized the duration of the two-hour tour of which we only visited the closest three islands that will only take 30 mins to hop on, Sibadan Fish Cage, Rock Island and C-Fish Cage N’ Sand Bar Resort.

1ST ISLAND, SIBADAN. Sibadan is not totally an island but a structure of fish cages where you can see a lot of large marine species (Blue Mackerel, Sharks and Stingrays) which you can swim with them for Php 50.00 (with life vest). You can also have lunch here, they have a “Dampa Style” type of restaurant where you can pick the fresh fish, crabs, curacha and shrimps then choose how do you want it to be cooked. We ordered a half kilo of Curacha (Spanner Crab) and had it cooked it in a sweet and spicy dish that cost us Php 275.00 for our lunch.

1/2 Kilo of Sweet and Spicy Curacha (Spanner Crab) – Php 125.00
2 Rice – Php 25.00/each
2 Mango Shakes – Php 50.00/each
Total of Php 275.00

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Baby sharks can also be observed here in Sibadan.

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We were savages as we ate the palatable Hot and Spicy Curacha Dish until Ken’s allergy triggered. We advise a moderate consumption on this delectable seafood. 🙂

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2nd ISLAND, ROCK ISLAND. The whole island is a large rock in the middle of the water where a resort is built in it. It is already a part of Barangay Cambatong, Hinatuan where you can also depart from that barangay’s port in order to arrive at the resort. You can tour around the place for only 20Php entrance fee.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1HeD4RqXGDFm36GvRstAL0midSpq0WS82

3rd Island, C-FISH CAGE N’ SAND BARS RESORT. This is the last island we visited since we lacked time to tour the five islands included in the tour package. It is actually not an island but it’s also like the Sibadan Fish Cage, though there are accommodations in the place and you can feed their stingrays if you happen to be there on feeding time. Caretakers told us that the domesticated stingrays are safe to feed and get in touch with since their stings are already removed.

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BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES

FARES

Tagum City to Mangagoy (Bus) Php 170.00 x 2 way x 2 pax = Php 640.00

Tricy Fare (Mangagoy Proper) = Php 7.00

Mangagoy to Hinatuan (Bus) Php 60.00 x 2 way x 2 pax = Php 240.00

Hinatuan to Enchanted River (habal-habal) Php 150.00 x 2 way = Php 300.00

ENCHANTED RIVER PROPER

Entrance/Environmental Fee: 40php each

Life Vest and goggles: 15php/hour per pax

Island Hopping: 500php/three hours (maximum of 5 pax per boat)

FOOD

1/2 Kilo of Sweet and Spicy Curacha (Spanner Crab) – Php 125.00
2 Rice – Php 25.00/each
2 Mango Shakes – Php 50.00/each
Total of Php 275.00

ACCOMODATION

at Paper Country Inn = Php 700 per night with breakfast

Some Other Expenses = Php 500.00

Total of Php 3,200.00

TIPS

  1. Last trip of Buses at Mangagoy Terminal is 7:00PM only.
  2. Its way better to stay or book for a Bnb near Hinaturan than accommodations at Mangagoy.
  3. Choose three destinations that are far from Enchanted River during your Island Hopping, but all destinations are great.
  4. Go to Enchanted River before or during Lunch Time for the feeding time.

Talikud Island Mangrove Beach Resort

Summer has ended but we have decided to pack up for a two-day adventure in Talikud Island Mangrove Beach Resort. It was early June 2017 when we travel from Tagum City going to the Island Garden of City of Samal (IGACOS).

We rode a bus bound for Davao City and dropped off at the Sta. Ana Wharf after an hour. There at the wharf, we look first of where to buy a ticket and we were told that it will be easily bought as we enter near the docking areas. The docking areas for the boats were a bit far from the entrance and you either need to walk for around three to five minutes or you can hire a padyak to drop you at the area. There will be a guard and a staff upon the entrance of the docking area, just before you enter they will ask if which island or place are you going and then they will give you a ticket and direct you to the boat.

We supposed to board a private boat for free owned by the resort we have booked, but unluckily, we weren’t able to make it on time. So we boarded another boat but not going directly to Talikud Island (they say Isla Reta when referring to that place since it’s the name of the resort where the boat usually docks) since there are no more available boats going straight to Talikud, it will stop first at the Kaputian (a place attached to the main island of Samal) and later to Talikud Island (it is a small island separated from the main island of Samal). It was around 20-30 minutes of navigating in the waters until we finally arrived at Isla Reta. We paid Php.120 each for the fare.

From Isla Reta, we rode a habal-habal motorcycle for Php. 100 (50 per head) as one-way ride towards the resort. It was literally a rocky road going there and we both did not expect that most of the roads in the island weren’t cemented or asphalted at the least. After 15 minutes, we finally arrived at Punta Del Sol or also known as Talikud Island Mangrove Beach Resort. The place is really breathtaking and solemn. We booked the Talisay Room which is secluded from the other rooms and has a wonderful view of the century old and young mangroves. The room has an air conditioning unit, hot and cold shower, TV, mirror dresser and a closet.

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The Talisay Room sitting in the pool of mangroves. https://www.facebook.com/talikudislandmangrovebeachresort/photos
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The room was spacious and can accommodate two to three persons. It can also cater a small family if added with beds. https://www.facebook.com/talikudislandmangrovebeachresort/photos

The next day, we tried their Talikud Island Tour. The tour costs 350/head, inclusive of transportation and entrance fees to all six (6) destinations.

A. INLAND TOUR (This is offered by the resort, just arrange your tour with their accommodating receptionist 🙂 )

1st Stop: DADATAN BAT CAVE. This conservation bat cave is supported by the Department of Natural Environment Resources (DENR) to maintain and preserve this natural habitat for bats. The trail along the cave is slippery due to the feces of the bats or guano, also the guide told us that there are about 600 bats living inside the cave. It was a downward cave and since it has been raining during that month, it is slippery and risky to walk through so trekking sandals or outdoor shoes are advised to be worn during a trip here. We weren’t able to take pictures inside since we are busy holding our lives through the boulders along the way. 🙂

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2nd Stop: FRIENDSHIP ROAD. This is one of the Mother Nature’s beautiful creations. As you can see, the sprigs of trees meet up above and thereby enshrining the road coolly like a green arch. This is around one kilometer in length.

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3rd Stop: LA ISLA BONITA. Such a peaceful and serene place. The sand relaxes every step you take. Unfortunately, upon our arrival at the resort, the motorcycle had a flat tire due to the challenging limestone road and the driver/guide has to leave us here to vulcanize his tire somewhere far from our location, but the brighter side was that we spent a little longer in this beautiful place. About a month later after this trip, the resort had already set up a Lovers’ Peak at the top of the place where you can put love locks and get a wonderful view of the beach. This is also a nice place to stay overnight, yet there are only few accommodation when we tour the place at that time.

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4th Stop: CENTURY OLD BALETE TREE. Located 10 minutes away from the Isla Bonita is this 100 years old huge Balete Tree. It would take almost five to seven people to hug the tree in all. Accordingly, there were legends about that Balete Tree of a boy falling inside the tree and entering into a world of fairies. Though, we find the story written in the site needs to be revised so that non-Bisaya speakers will be able to understand more the story about the tree.

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5th Stop: FAITH HEALERS CAMP. We skipped this destination because we are out of time for snorkeling at Punta del Sol and just proceeded to the last stop of the package.

6th Stop: BAGA CAVE PARK. We have gone only on the entrance of the cave because it was the only covered part of our tour. The guide said that it would take hours to go down farther and there are even a pool of water on the deepest part of the cave.

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We also tried to experience snorkeling into the clear waters of Talikud, it costs 250/pax which includes the apparatus (googles and tube). It was okay to bring phones but we decided not to risk the possibility that it might fall off the boat. Also, it’s much better to use waterproof gadgets or dry packs in this kind of activity.

B. FOOD

This is their latest menu.

For dinner, we had a half of Buttered Chicken, Sweet and Sour Fish and a pitcher of Iced Tea. https://www.facebook.com/talikudislandmangrovebeachresort
For lunch, again the 1/2 Buttered Chicken and a pitcher of Mango Juice. https://www.facebook.com/talikudislandmangrovebeachresort
https://www.facebook.com/talikudislandmangrovebeachresort

C. BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES

FARES

Tagum City to Sta. Ana Wharf (Bus) Php 100.00 x 2 way = Php 200.00

Sta. Ana Wharf to Isla Reta (via Kaputian) – Php 120.00 x pax = Php 240.00

Isla Reta to Punta Del Sol – Php 100.00 x 2 way = Php 200.00

Isla Reta to Kaputian – Php 50.00 x 2 pax = Php 100.00

Kaputian to SAMAL Wharf (Motorcycle) – Php 100.00 x 2 pax = Php 200.00

SAMAL Wharf to Sasa Wharf – Php 10.00 x 2 pax = Php 20.00

Sasa Wharf to Panacan Bus Stop = Php 10.00 x 2 pax = Php 20.00

ACCOMMODATION

Talisay Room (inclusive of breakfast) Php 2160.00

FOOD

Lunch and Dinner – Php 910.00

TOUR AND ACTIVITIES

Inland Tour – Php 350.00 x 2 persons = 700.00

Snorkeling – Php 250.00 x 2 persons (goggles and tube) = 500.00

TOTAL AMOUNT: Php 5, 250.00

D. TIPS

  1. Check the calendar for Full Moon dates, it’s highly recommended to go on a high tide, that will fill the whole place with crystal clear water.
  2. Bring waterproof gadgets for Snorkeling, you don’t want to miss out capturing the clear waters and the corals underneath.
  3. Take the first trip directly to Talikud Island Port (Mansod Port) and you’ll arrive at 7am to have a great head start for the Island Tour.
  4. For those going on a day tour, bring your own food but we suggest that you also try their food especially the Buttered Chicken.
  5. Make sure you charge your phones and other gadgets, Talikud has electricity cut-off schedule. There will be no electricity from 4am to 12noon.
  6. If you are planning to spend the night, we suggest booking the Talisay Room for Php 2, 160.00 to have a wonderful view. But there are also air-conditioned rooms for Php 1, 000.00 up.