We Left Our Hearts in The Islands of Dinagat. | Dinagat Islands

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

IMG20170501064022
On our way to Dinagat Island.

That’s what we exactly did when we visited one of the underrated group of islands in the country — the Dinagat Islands. Also called the Mystical Island Province of Love, the place was incredibly alluring.

We went to the island with ALL our hearts, but we left them there.

IMG20170501125222
Duyos beach sandbar. 

I don’t know any other word to describe this group of islands other than surreal and mystical. It has the ability to capture the hearts of every visitor including ours.

IMG20170501045548
Demi during the break of dawn. 

Our sojourn started before cockcrow as we took the first ferry ride to the mainland of this young province. I was feeling drowsy but I didn’t want to miss the beautiful sunrise as it started to paint the sky. Ace and I stepped out of the passenger seats and went to the deck to get a glimpse of the first light of the day.

 

The warmth of the new day and the cool breeze of the wind was telling us that it was going to be a wonderful day. Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect in Dinagat Islands because the place is usually overlooked and does not make much fuss. In fact, I really didn’t have any idea about it in the first place.

As a wanderer, I have this thought that there is beauty everywhere if you know how to look at it.  But I did not expect that this island province has so much beauty that it made me leave my heart on it.

IMG20170501065646
The gang during our arrival. 

My heart skipped a beat as our ride neared the port of San Jose. My friends were already up and we prepared to get off the boat. It docked in a small pier and we were welcomed with this row of houses.

IMG20170501065503
Row of houses in San Jose. 

At first sight, the place does not seem to offer anything special. But one thing I’ve learned from traveling is to never underestimate a humble place like this.

We walked through the streets of San Jose to meet our guide and transferred to a smaller boat for the tour. Our guide prepared a sumptuous breakfast for us which we ate on board while on our way to our first stop.

20170519_002530
A picturesque spot on the other side of Isla Aga.

Our first stop was a private islet called Isla Aga. It has an abandoned resthouse which was owned by the famous Ecleo family – the most powerful clan in Dinagat Islands. If you guys are familiar with PBMA (Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association), then yes, I’m talking about Ruben Ecleo Sr.’s family.

IMG20170501102602
Ace in Isla Aga.

From the balcony of the house, smaller islets which seem to be floating in the cerulean sea surrounding this private island is a sight to behold.

20170519_002840
A stunning vista of the islets from the abandoned rest house in Isla Aga.

At the back of the resthouse was a hanging bridge suspended above the crystal clear water. However, the bridge was already broken.

IMG20170501101536
The broken hanging bridge.

We did not miss dipping into the water here, of course.

After few minutes, we decided to resume our tour. We stopped by another island which looked similar to that of Palawan Island. This serves as the home of some Kalaw birds or the Philippine Hornbills. They call it  Kabukungan Island.

20170519_002023
A rock formation that serves as home of some Kalaw birds or the Philippine Hornbills in another Dinagat Islands’ islet. (Kabukungan Islet.)

When we arrived, there was no other visitor yet. The group decided to have our lunch here. While our guide and boatmen were preparing our meal, some of us took a tour of the islet while others are enjoying the waters.

IMG20170501112736

After lunch, we went to another island called Bababu. They said there’s a lake 45 minutes away from the beach. But we did not go there because of the constraint of time.

20170508_191952
Ace in Bababu beach. 

While the rest of the group were busy swimming, I got the chance to talk to an elderly lady sitting in a small hut nearby. I found out that his late husband was the one who discovered the lake. She said he loved the place so much that during the dusk of his life, he wished to be buried in the island. (See photo below. He was buried beside the trail going to the lake.)

She even told me that when she dies, she has the same wish as his late husband. So their spirits could guard the island even when they’re already gone. I thought that’s oddly romantic.

IMG20170501084330

Although I still wanted to hear more stories from her, we had to get going and proceed to our next stop.

20170519_004330
The fine sandbar in one of the islets of Dinagat Islands. (Duyos Beach)

Our next stop was Duyos Beach.

And oh that sandbar!!! I was speechless! I couldn’t help lying down and rolling over like a kid on the white powdery sand.

20170519_004702

Of all the islands that visited that day, I noticed only Duyos had established cottages, stores, and even karaoke machines. There were also a lot of people.  We only stayed in the sandbar area, though.

IMG20170501125751
The girls.

Our tour concluded in Bitaog Beach. We heard it was the most frequented by visitors but at that time we had the island all for ourselves. We swam to our hearts’ content there because it was our last stop. Ace and I even forgot to take a photo because we had so much fun swimming.

IMG20170501124857
Ace and Demi in Dinagat island. (Duyos Beach sandbar)

Truly, Dinagat Islands left me in awe. When we returned to Cebu, the first thing I did when I got the hold of my computer was searched about Dinagat Islands. I was surprised to know that there was still more of it. What we saw was only one face of the mystical island.

IMG20170501164442
Ace and Demi love Surigao! 

And that’s when we realized we might have left our heart there intentionally. So we have the reason to come back.

 

 

P.S You might want to read our adventure in Bucas GrandeSohoton Cove National Park and Enchanted River.

PP.S A huge thanks to our friend Annel Hope Mayuga and to her wonderful family for adopting us during our four days stay in Surigao. Thank you for your warm welcome and for making this venture possible. ’til next time.

Advertisements

A Hymn of Unfathomable Depth and Mystery| Enchanted River, Hinatuan

The river taught us to listen with a silent heart, with a waiting open soul…

IMG20170502135237
Ace and Demi visited Enchanted River, Hinatuan

In once a sleepy town of Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur, there is a mysterious river that continuously enthralls people because of its unfathomable mystery. They said this river is “enchanted”, thus the name Enchanted River.

18268252_1635044643190487_6966353011710825144_n
Ace and Demi in Enchanted River

The name and the fuss about it made Ace and I curious. We were very fortunate to have visited the place during our fleeting stay in Surigao.

Hidden behind the rocky mountains, covered with lush foliage near the Pacific Ocean, we found the said river in it’s placid state.

20170508_202734
The main pool. 

Enchanted River is a brackish lagoon with indeed, a beguiling appeal. With the pristine and deep blue color, I think there is no better way to describe this mesmerizing body of water other than “enchanting“. 

IMG20170502135910

Aside from its physical beauty, its depth also remains a mystery to everybody. Many professional divers are said to have attempted to reach the bottom but no one has successfully did.

18301697_1635044796523805_8265325392735713117_n

I was personally amazed when I first caught sight of the river. Unlike usual rivers that slither through valleys, this one springs from nowhere. No one knows where the water came from — is it a spring? Or does it come from the sea? Many said, there is an underground fissure where the sea water comes in. Well, that’s the most possible explanation but it’s not proven yet.

IMG20170502133646
Walking to the Enchanted river. 

During our visit, we had to register our names first followed by a short briefing about the do’s and don’t’s in the place. From the registration area, we had to walk for five minutes to go to the river.

IMG20170502134656
The gang. 

Swimming in the main pool of the river is already prohibited to protect and preserve its beauty. But there is a designated area ten meters away, where tourists are allowed to take a dip.

IMG20170502143131
The gang. 

That area is not deep, unlike the main lagoon. But you are still required to wear a life vest, regardless of your swimming skills because the pressure of the flowing water is too strong. 

IMG20170502141803
Demi enjoying the water.

At 3pm, people are asked to get out of the water. A bell rings and a beautiful hymn of an ancient ritual plays in the background. People call it the “hymn of Hinatuan“. It was beautiful! This signals the fish feeding time.

IMG20170502145810
Visitors watching the fish feeding. 

After few minutes, two men in a canoe came towards the main pool maneuvering it in a circular manner. Not too long after, a school fish popped out from nowhere, following the direction of the canoe. One of the men threw small shrimps and other food scraps to them.

IMG20170502150404

These fishes came swirling around, dancing and some even jumping as if showing off as they beat each other for the food. People are in awe and speechless, well, I was. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Those fish are dancing to the hymn!!!  That was a magical and enchanting moment, indeed!

IMG20170502153729
Enchanted River

That supernatural and mesmerizing sight left us speechless and astounded. Ace and I are very grateful to have witness such magical charm. We felt proud that such mystical river exists in our very own country. We hope the government, with the help of the people as well, would be able to preserve its beauty for the next generation to see.

IMG20170502144815

What more can we say? With this river’s unfathomable depth and mystery… We are enchanted!!!

 

’til our next enchanting adventures!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

P.S A huge thanks to our friend Annel Hope Mayuga and to her wonderful family for adopting us during our four days stay in Surigao. Thank you for your warm welcome and for making this venture possible. ’til next time.

 

Beyond Mysteries: Sohoton Cove National Park|Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of our Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cove tour.

Our next stop was the Sohoton Cove National Park Tourism Office where we had to register our names and transfer to a smaller boat in order to explore Sohoton Cove.

Sohoton

From afar, we already saw many boats surrounding the registration building. It took us almost ten minutes to find a space to dock ours. We saw many people waiting for their turn to register.

When it was our turn, we were told that they’re not accepting further visitors for the day. Wait, what? It so happen that there were too many people on that day and that they couldn’t accommodate everyone. 😥

20663843_1955034908074504_4793531736069531764_n

I went back to the registration table and plead. With my persuasive attitude, I was told that they might reopen the registration after two or three hours when there is already an available boat. But we had to be on stand-by because it’s a first-come-first-serve basis and they’re not accepting advance booking payment.

20622258_1955034794741182_107943588885014826_n

We thought, we would be wasting our time waiting for them to reopen. 😦 Again, I gathered guts and with my convincing power, we were able to secure the first slot once it would be reopened.

20622249_1955011554743506_5941780232076453542_n

While waiting, we went back to our boat and our boatmen steered it to another part of the island. There, we took a dip in the water. At first I was hesitant to join the gang because the water was deep blue which means it was very deep. I had my life vest but I was worried about what could be lurking underneath. (Eh, sharks, crocodiles. :p nyahaha)

20708262_1955034981407830_1386621641424160591_n

After about 30 minutes, we were called and told that we could already register. (That’s faster than we thought.) We hurriedly got off from the water and went back to the registration area. After paying for the necessary fees for the tour, we were given life vests and we waited for our tour guide.

20708061_1955327191378609_124996471205928166_n

We were divided into two groups because one boat could only have seven passengers the most. Our tour guide introduced himself and our boatman. They seemed to be very experienced and have known the place like the back of their hands.

20638233_1955326441378684_2701938347114971853_n

Then he told us that we were already about to enter the Sohoton National Park. He pointed to a cove and said that we were to pass through it. From a far, I doubted our boat to go through it because it was very small.

20707963_1955329908045004_8579293668733950733_n
The entrance.

During high tides, the cave is impassable not unless you dive underwater. This is where Sohoton Cove got its namesake — from the Visayan word so-oton which means to pass through a small opening.

Sohoton6
The entrance.

And tada! We’re now in Sohoton Cove National Park!

Sphoton
See how small it was.
20663721_1955325131378815_3601917485633534934_n
Tiil sa Kabayo or Horse’s Feet.

Not far from the entrance, is this oddly shaped rock which they consider a very important landmark. They fondly call it “Tiil sa Kabayo”  or a horse’s feet.

20664097_1955011628076832_7617967063033130318_n

The fjord, and these muffin-like islets inside the cove looked very similar to each other. Those who are unfamiliar of the place would certainly get lost, even our guides admitted that they could be lost, too if not because of that Tiil sa Kabayo landmark near the entryway.

20170519_001820

As we went deeper the Sohoton Cove National Park, our guide continued feeding us information about the place. He also showed us this very unique limestone cliff. I said it’s unique because all islets inside the cove are forested but this cliff’s face. We just forgot its name. Sorry.

20727903_1955034714741190_2591741382824386318_n

Our first stop for the tour was Hagukan Cave. It got its name from the term “haguk” which means snore. They said, if you’re lucky, you could hear snores from the cave which is created by the waves that goes in and out of it. Guess, we’re not the lucky ones because we did not hear it. Pffft!

20638051_1955012911410037_8384330675073385934_n
Taken from the inside of the cave.

For one to enter the cave, we had to dive for 3-5 seconds through the entrance of the cave. If we had a little luck  that time, that was because the tide did not reach the ceiling of the entrance yet, thus we only had to float upon entering. Inside was a huge cavern hiding healthy stalactites.

20170519_002250

After swimming inside Hagukan Cave, we boarded back our boat and head to our next stop, the Magkukuob Cave. Only few of us went inside because we were told that the only exit was to jump from a 15-feet platform. I did not do that but Ace did.

We skipped the Jellyfish island because we ran out of time and the tide was rising. We had to be out the cove before it submerged in the water and trap us inside the National Park. It was getting dark when we arrived at the Tourism Center. We hurriedly transferred to our bigger boat so we could go home.

sunset

 

It was getting dark on our way back to the port of Hayanggabon. We were rewarded with the glimpse of a wonderful sunset while cruising through Sohoton Bay.

We really had a great time exploring Bucas Grande’s pride. With positive attitude, we were able to make those misadventures an adventure itself. Because we believe that the twists and turns that we had experienced was what made our experience worthwhile and worth telling. 😀

Thank you, Bucas Grande for such a wonderful experience!

Over to you, have you had misadventures that are worth telling? We’d love to hear it from you. Leave us some words.

‘Til our next adventure!

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi.

 

P.S A huge thanks to our friend Annel Hope Mayuga and to her wonderful family for adopting us during our four days stay in Surigao. Thank you for your warm welcome and for making this venture possible. ’til next time.

Bucas Grande Island & Sohoton Bay | Part 1

Let me start this post with an aerial photo of Bucas Grande Islands which would surely ignite every itchy feet’s curiosity.

kanlunes1
Photo credit to the owner. (Source)

We know it’s a cliche, everyone says to lower our expectations. But, could you blame us for expecting too much? Photos posted on Facebook , Instagram, and other social media sites spell HIGH EXPECTATION.

20170519_003230

We already had posted a photo diary about of Surigao experience here. An invite from a good friend brought us to the beautiful City of Island Adventures and gave us the chance to experience a non-stop island hopping. 😀

So, how was our Bucas Grande Islands and Sohoton Bay experience?

20728002_1955035208074474_2977656841043175617_n
Port of Hayanggabon.

It was already 7:00am when we arrived in Surigao. A van picked us up to bring us to the Port of Hayanggabon where our Bucas Grande Island adventure awaited. We dropped by our host’s house to leave some of our belongings and immediately resumed our journey for the day.

20638867_1955035181407810_5425275626922680906_n
Our boat.

At the port, a medium-sized motorized boat waited for us. We quickly get on the boat and had our breakfast on board. We were very busy filling our hungry tummies, without knowing, we were already in the middle of Sohoton Bay.

20622043_1955034621407866_7377356771309963518_n
Sohoton Bay

Our major tour for the day was Sohoton Cove National Park. Since it was still a high tide, our boatmen toured us to other islands around Sohoton Bay. Our first stop is the Crystal and Bolitas Cave.

Sohoton4
The Gang.

Unfortunately, I did not have a decent photo inside the cave. But just a heads up, Crystal Cave is a huge cavern with stalagmites and stalactites shining like crystals while Bolitas Cave got its name from the strange rock formations inside that resembles to that of a pellet. (Here’s a perfect post that best describes what I’m trying to say.)

20663936_1955035231407805_5489998758092576322_n
A boat-shaped rock.

After we explored the two caves and done our photo-ops, we hopped back to our boat to explore another island. As our boatmen expertly maneuvered our boat avoiding the shallow water, we noticed this boat-like rock which is perfectly shaped by time. Look how amazing nature is!

20728048_1955035251407803_2644130744260112823_n

After a few minutes, we were in front of another island. It was fronting a cliff and it looked like a developed resort. We agreed not to drop there and just find another place where we can grill our fish for lunch so we won’t run out of time.

20638717_1955034691407859_4503189612694664871_n
Demi basking under the sun.

Our boatmen brought us to this nearly isolated islet. We saw a small hut when we were about to dock our boat. We learned that the hut was for the caretaker of the island but no one was around except the two kind big dogs. But not too long, a small banca arrived and we reckoned he was the said caretaker because the dogs greeted him sweetly.

Sohoton1

He was very kind and told us that he lives alone in this part of the island but there are frequent visitors who drop by, too.

For a while, we had the whole island for ourselves. While some of us prepared our food, others were having a great time exploring the island, taking Instagram worthy photos. I couldn’t help sharing this photo below that best describes how ‘struggle was real’ just to show that beautiful photos on Facebook and IG. 😀

Sohoton Nehind the scene
Behind the scenes.
SOhoton Behind The scene
Behind the scenes.

😀 Anyway, after our lunch and that crazy photo-ops, another group of visitors were headed to our spot. We decided to pack up and gave them the chance to enjoy the place like we did.

Sohoton7

Next stop, Sohoton Cove National Park. But I will save that on the later post. 😀 So, kindly stay tuned for that.

Part II of our adventure here: Sohoton Cove: Beyond Mysteries

20729552_1955327408045254_8480697990045973973_n
Ace and Demi enjoying the white beach in an island of Bucas Grande.

We hope you enjoyed our Bucas Grande Island and Sohoton Bay photo diary.

 

‘Til our next story.

Keep safe!

Love, Ace and Demi

 

P.S A huge thanks to our friend Annel Hope Mayuga and to her wonderful family for adopting us during our four days stay in Surigao. Thank you for your warm welcome and for making this venture possible. ’til next time.

A Photo Diary | How Surigao Swept Off Our Feet.

Don’t listen to what they say. Go see it!!!

Our first week of May was worthily spent in SURIGAO along with new awesome friends. The place was in our bucket list but we did not expect to visit it it soon. Somehow, blessings made our way to the City of Island Adventures. (And this marked our first venture outside the Visayas region.)

20170519_003230

An old friend invited us to visit her hometown. It so happen that Ace and I had plans to go to Negros and Bantayan Islands but the enticing places in Surigao made us change our minds.

I must say, we had made the BEST decision ever.

Surigao swept us off our feet since the first day and all throughout our sojourn. From the amazing fjord of Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cove, the untouched islets of Dinagat Islands, the awe-inspiring sight of Tinuy-an Falls, to the beguiling beauty of Enchanted River — everything went beyond our expectations.

Here’s a photo diary that will show you how the City of Island Adventures made us fall inlove.

How would you like to build your house in an island overlooking other tiny islets and the cerulean sea?

20170519_002840
A stunning vista of the islets from an abandoned rest house in Dinagat Islands.

Or maybe have the island all by yourself?

20170519_002530
Another picturesque spot on the other side of the abandoned rest house.

When you have the fine sand, the calm sea and a wonderful… body? (Excuse me!)

20170519_004330
The fine sandbar in one of the islets of Dinagat Islands. (Duyos Beach)

That Palawan dream… Surigao made it happen. 😀

20170519_002023
A rock formation that serves as home of some Kalaw birds or the Philippine Hornbills in another Dinagat Islands’ islet. (Kabukungan Islet.)

Entered a new world through Bucas Grande and got lost with the confusing inlets. Explored the hidden gems of Sohoton from caves to coves.

20170519_002250
A fjord to Bucas Grande.

Saw amazing rock formations that we’ve never seen before and heard folklores from a local tourist guide.

20170519_001820
Unique rock wall in Sohoton Cove.

Plunged and communed with nature. Or chose to swim with thousands of stingless jellyfish.

DSC_2027
Dipping in the water surrounded by stingless jellyfish.

Ticked off the widest waterfall in the country from our bucket list.

20170519_003532
A fascinating sight of the country’s widest waterfall — Tinuy-an Falls. (The 2nd tier.)

Chased the cascades of this multi-tiered waterfalls. And treated ourselves with a massage from the water curtain.

20170508_190435
The cascades of Tinuy-an’s first tier.

Dabbed a ‘squadgoal pose’ with the gang.

20170508_203235
Squad goals? Yeah, not without this pose. 😀

And stroke more squadgoal poses…. 😀

20170508_235246
Squad pose with Tinuy-an Falls’ stamp.

Admired the mystifying beauty of Hinatuan’s Enchanted River.

20170519_003736
A vibrant scene of Hinatuan’s Enchanted River. Simply enchanting.

Repleted our eyes as we stared at the enchanting river to our hearts’ content. Also enjoyed swimming and going with the river flow.

20170508_202734
Staring at the water to her heart’s content.

Whilst our fleeting stay in Surigao we couldn’t help but  DECLARE to come back for more, soon. The city surely has more gems yet to be discovered.

20170519_004702

Thank you for the wonderful experience Surigao. ’til our next visit on your land.

Cheers!

With love, Ace and Demi

 

P.S A huge thanks to our friend Annel Hope Mayuga and to her wonderful family for adopting us during our four days stay in Surigao. Thank you for your warm welcome and for making this venture possible. ’til next time.