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

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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?

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

Or maybe have the island all by yourself?

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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!)

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

That Palawan dream… Surigao made it happen. 😀

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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.

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A fjord to Bucas Grande.

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

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Unique rock wall in Sohoton Cove.

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

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Dipping in the water surrounded by stingless jellyfish.

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

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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.

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The cascades of Tinuy-an’s first tier.

Dabbed a ‘squadgoal pose’ with the gang.

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Squad goals? Yeah, not without this pose. 😀

And stroke more squadgoal poses…. 😀

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Squad pose with Tinuy-an Falls’ stamp.

Admired the mystifying beauty of Hinatuan’s Enchanted River.

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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.

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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.

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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.