5 Days Itinerary to Surigao and Dinagat Islands

I think that people who’d like to see the most virgin areas of the Philippines and cultures specific to its indigenous people should head to Mindanao… here in Surigao and Dinagat Islands, for instance.

However, there’s the issue of safety. Even today, Mindanao is known as a battlefront of civil unrest and rebellion. Thankfully though, there are still towns in Mindanao that are safe and even welcoming of tourists.

I’d been to quite a few islands here in the country, and I think that Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands are among the best. This is our 5-day exploration to these two provinces down south.

What’s in Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands?

Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte are prominent provinces in the Philippines, so if you’re a local, most likely you’re already familiar with them. Like other provinces in Mindanao, Surigao has unique attractions.

The most famous ones in Surigao del Sur are Hinatuan River, also called the Enchanted River because of its mystic blue, and Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig. Other nearby places have been gaining attention lately as well, including Britania islands and Laswitan. Meanwhile, Siargao Island is the main destination in Surigao del Norte.

We’d skipped these usual stops in Surigao del Sur because the rest of my companions had already been there. Hali had been to Enchanted River the year before, and though it was previously in my bucket list, I wasn’t exactly enticed with the crowd in his photos. Most people would agree though that these are must-sees in Surigao del Sur, so what’s written here is at best an alternative itinerary.

What we did instead

Beto cold spring in the town of Barobo. (Photo by Hali)

We spent a day in Barobo in Surigao del Sur, a quiet town that most people pass by on the way to Hinatuan and Bislig. Barobo has clear cold springs and a few islands to explore.

We’d also spent a day in Dinagat Islands province, which is just 2 hours away from Surigao City and island hopped in its main island, Dinagat Island. The islands here are as raw and uncommercialized as you could find.

Our last two days were reserved for exploring Siargao in Surigao del Norte, a world-famous surfing destination with lush lagoons and beaches.

5 Days itinerary to Surigao and Dinagat Islands

Day 0
– Flight from Manila to Butuan City
– Travel via van or bus to Barobo, check in at selected accommodation

Day 1 – Barobo, Surigao del Sur
– Visit Bogac and Beto cold springs
– Island hopping (Cabgan Island, Turtle Island, Snake or Vanishing Island)
– Travel via bus or van to Surigao City, check in

Day 2 – Dinagat Island, Dinagat Islands
– Catch 5AM boat in Pantalan Dos port to San Jose (2 hours boat ride)
– Island hopping in Dinagat Island
– Travel back to Surigao City

Day 3 – Siargao, Surigao del Norte
– Catch 5AM boat in the same port to Siargao
– Ride tricycle to selected accommodation, check in
– Visit Magpupungko Pool, Sugba Lagoon and/or General Luna for surfing

Day 4
– Explore Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande Island
– Island hopping (Naked Island, Daku Island, Guyam Island)

Day 5
– Check out, travel back to Butuan City
– Optional: Stop by Centennial Tree in Magallanes, Tagnote Falls, tour and buy pasalubong in Butuan City

Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands

Barobo, Surigao del Sur

Beto cold spring in Barobo, Surigao del Sur. (Photo by Hali)

Most people haven’t heard of Barobo, and fellow travelers who know about it prefer to keep it a secret. Do I recommend visiting here? Sure. Let me first elaborate on what I didn’t like and what I think are worth visiting in Barobo.

I wasn’t impressed with the cold springs, perhaps because of my preference for relaxing hot baths and springs. Beto cold spring has clear blue-green water comparable to Hinatuan River. It’s possibly not a coincidence that these two are geographically close. A beauty to behold, but not “tourist ready.” There were insects around the area, and even though it seems to be regularly maintained, we spotted broken bottle shards in the spring itself.

Perhaps with a little bit of clean-up, it’ll be more worthwhile to visit.

We also saw Wakat Cave, but it’s mildly disappointing compared to its photos online. It’s small and located literally beside the road. It’s also a bit awkward to swim at, especially when a resident would come to fill a pail of water for household use.

On the other hand, I did enjoy island hopping in Barobo. Cabgan Island is similar to Calaguas Island back on the day, when the latter was still an unknown beach in Bicol; that is, back when travelers would camp here in summer to see the Milky Way, not to videoke and party at night. There were sand flies in Cabgan Island, as is common in virgin islands we’d been to. A bottle of strong insect repellent is a must hand-carry.

Cabgan Island in Barobo, Surigao del Sur. (Photo by Hali)

Getting the most of our time while stranded in Cabgan Island. (Photo by Hali)

I liked Snake Island too. Snake Island is also known as Vanishing Island because it’s only visible when it’s high tide. High tide usually comes around noon, at about 11AM to 1PM, although this changes depending on the weather. It’s similar to Seco Island in Antique, only much better.

Snake Island “vanishes” during low tide. (Photo by Hali)

I actually wanted to write a whole feature on Barobo especially how we got stranded in Cabgan Island in the middle of a storm, but I promised a contact I wouldn’t write a feature about it. So this will do for now.

Dinagat Island, Dinagat Islands

There is so much to say about Dinagat Islands province. It has interesting history and economics, being one of the poorest provinces in the country. But most importantly, it has countless virgin islands and get visited rarely. I bet it’s possible to count the guests here per month by hand. We were alone during island hopping in Dinagat Island, and I’m pretty sure that has little to do with the gloomy weather during our trip.

Sundayo Beach in Hagakhak Island, Dinagat Island. (Photo by Hali)
Friends at tidal pool in Libjo. (Photo by Hali)

Aside from the tropical islands, here is where I’ve found one of the most beautiful tidal pools I’ve seen as of yet.

Related about it here: Island hopping in Dinagat Island

Siargao and Bucas Grande, Surigao del Norte

Siargao is one of the best destinations in the country and a surfing haven visited by professional surfers from all over the world. It has some of best sceneries in the country too. However, due to limited flights to Siargao, tourist flow isn’t as heavy as in other famous destinations and there seems to be more foreign tourists there than local ones.

Back in Sugba Lagoon. (Photo by Hali)

It was our second visit to Siargao, and it has dutifully kept its charm. We’d been to Cloud 9 Resort and bathed in the clear-green Magpupungko rock pool.

Small paddle boat to jellyfish lagoon, Sohoton Cove. (Photo by Hali)

We later explored Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande. Sohoton Cove is full of green… the islets, lagoons, the marine life underwater. We’d boat-paddled to see the home of stingless jellyfishes. There’s also Sugba Lagoon. Sugba Lagoon has been developed since the last time we were here. It’s more accessible to the public and convenient to visit.

All in all, a very worthwhile island to explore. Spending as short as two days here seems an affront to natural beauty, but well… our flight was scheduled the next day.

Related about it here: Siargao and Sohoton Cove, Bucas Grande: Sweeter the second time around

Practical Information Section

Barobo inns

Barobo has limited accommodations. We stayed at Viktoria Terazza, where a standard double room costs P800-900. We also spotted another accommodation called Traveler’s Inn nearby but weren’t able to ask for rates.

Surigao City hotels

There’s a lot of options in Surigao City for accommodation. There are budget lodgings to comfortable hotels in Surigao City. We stayed in a budget inn that’s walking distance from Pantalan Dos port, for P400 a room per night. If you want to reserve online, here are some budget inns you might consider:

You can also check out the lowest prices of inns and hotels in Surigao City here.

Siargao resorts

Similarly, there’s a lot of accommodations in Siargao. We stayed at Point 303 Resort in General Luna. I highly recommend Point 303 Resort since it’s near the beach for surfing, and it’s reasonably priced as well. As with other accommodations in the Philippines, it’s possible to haggle with the rate especially during off-peak season.

Here are some affordable Siargao resorts along General Luna:

Check out the lowest prices of Siargao resorts and other accommodations here.

Expenses and total budget

Island hopping rates in Dinagat Islands and Siargao are expensive, so it’s best to go with at least one other person. We were in a group, and we spent about P8000 each.

Barobo is a small town, and you can explore it via tricycle for a minimum fare. Boats for island hopping can be arranged at the back of the public market and costs P1000-1500.

Meanwhile, renting a boat in Dinagat Islands costs P3500. A day trip can include the tidal pool in Pangabangan Island in Libjo, seven islands which are close to each other and even Bababu Lake. (Don’t you just love this name? Bababu, Bababu.) We had the option to charter the boat to take us back to Surigao City for an additional P500, since the public boat’s latest schedule back to the city is too early, at 3PM.

In Siargao, there’s an imposed limit on the number of passengers per boat. The boat to Sugba Lagoon costs P1600 for 6 people, with an additional P200 for every additional person. Island hopping in Naked, Daku and Guyam island costs P1500 and P4000-5000 if Sohoton Cove is included. There are additional fees in the registration area in Sohoton Cove for tour guides and use of small paddle boats, which are used to get to the stingless jellyfish lagoon. Prepare at least P350-400 each to cover for the additional fees.

Navigating around Siargao costs a few hundreds via a tricycle. If you’re in a group, it’s better to charter a private van.

Update 2017:

We’d been informed that island hopping in Dinagat Islands remains at P3500 for the regular tour and P5000 if Pangabangan tidal pool is included.

More Tips

Short detour to see Tagnote Falls in Agusan del Norte. (Photo by Hali)
  • Buy corn coffee in Butuan City. It’s caffeine free and great tasting.
  • If you’re on a private van, make sure to visit Tagnote Falls in Agusan del Norte. It’s a short detour if you’re traveling between Butuan City and Surigao City.

Contact Details for tours

  • Island hopping tour in Dinagat Islands: 0946 587 7825
  • Dinagat Tourism Office: Facebook page
  • Kuya Mulo, boat for island hopping in Siargao Island: 0929 467 0505
  • Soccoro Tourism Office (Sohoton Cove): Facebook page/Aga Galanida, officer: 0909 366 1517

Before you go:


If this travel guide to Surigao and Dinagat Islands been helpful to you, please like our Facebook page here. We’d love to hear feedback or other recommendations of things we might’ve missed in the area. 🙂

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  1. What a fantastic guide to the Philippines! I’ve been before but never to Surigao and Dinagat Islands so would love a return visit there. I especially love jungle beaches and these places look great for that!

  2. I only went to Surigao en route to Siargao and mainly avoided spending time there because “Mindanao is dangerous for foreigners”. Your pictures and story really make me want to visit though! Would you say Surigao and Dinagat are fine for foreign travelers, or should we just stick to Siargao if we want to go to that area? Thanks!

  3. Hi..thank you for your blog..i got to have an idea on the cost of island hopping in siargao..bit i would like to know how did you book the tour? Thank you

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