Siargao Island and Sohoton Cove, Bucas Grande: Sweeter the second time around

I’m not really the type of person to have a definitive list of favorites. My taste continually changes, and I find it difficult to get attached to the still-developing towns and attractions here in the Philippines. I’d almost forgotten how much I loved the island of Siargao.

Our first visit in Siargao Island was for an outreach event in a barangay in del Carmen in 2015. Back then, I didn’t know much about Siargao except that it’s the Surfing Capital of the Philippines. It’s also the only Philippine destination I’ve visited where foreign tourists seem to outnumber local ones. Case in point: Siargao has this quality that draws people in from all over the world.

We reserved 2 days in Surigao del Norte to explore Siargao. These are the places we’ve re-visited and experienced for the first time.

Sugba Lagoon, del Carmen

When we first went to Sugba Lagoon, there was literally nobody in the area — just islands and the still water. There was a house in sight, but it was empty. I remember asking our guide what the lagoon was called, and he said it didn’t have a name, just “lagoon.”

Back in Sugba Lagoon. (Photo by Hali)

There were more people in Lagoon on our second visit. Tourists swimming in the lagoon, kayaking in the distance, jumping in the diving board. The house has been developed into a simple two-story building, which serves as docking area and restaurant where guests can order fresh seafood to be cooked. The funny thing is I’m the type of person who gets a little bit heartbroken over developments, but this wasn’t the case this time. The changes weren’t drastic and didn’t overpower the simplicity of Sugba Lagoon. It merely allowed it to be more accessible to the public.

Hali swimming gracefully. (Photo by Hali(
Green lagoon and islets. (Photo by Hali)
Our friend Peng getting ready to jump. (Photo by Hali)

The water in Sugba Lagoon is still as clear as I remembered it. It appeared even more lively with all the people around. Small fishes and fragile jelly fishes swim around the area.

I don’t know how I can describe our second visit to the whole of del Carmen in Siargao without my heart jumping in joy. Hali and I reminisced about the resort we stayed at, how we crossed the sea during low tide to get to other islands, the Sugba Lagoon that was then quiet and mysterious.

Magpupungko Pool

Magpupungko Pool from above. (Photo by Hali)

Magpupungko is a natural tidal pool located inside a resort in Pilar, Siargao. It’s best visited during low tide, where the actual pool itself is visible along with the small rocks that surround the area.

Small pool in Magpupungko rock pool, Siargao. (Photo by Hali)

I fell in love with Magpupungko Pool 2 years ago. This seems like a fickle-minded thing to say considering it’s gotten out of my mind, but it was the truth then.

I did again last February. I’m not even sure why. Magpupungko rock pool seems your run-of-the-mill swimming area, but its simple green-minted water has its own charm. There are more beautiful pools I’d been to, but there’s something about Magpupungko Pool that tugs the heart.

Sohoton Cove, Bucas Grande

I’d always wanted to see Sohoton Cove, famous for housing a lagoon full of stingless jellyfishes. The internet is abound with photos of people gliding smoothly in the water and posing with these creatures. I wanted to experience that for myself.

I realized that this expectation was overly simplified.

Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande. (Photo by Hali)

First, Sohoton Cove is huge. It’s a jungle of waterways where people can easily get lost. Tour guides have adapted a marking system to avoid this — a horseshoe-shaped rock formation marks the entrance to Sohoton Cove, for instance. Obviously, that means there are more places to visit here than just the jellyfish lagoon.

Entering Hagukan Cave requires diving underneath this tunnel. This is me getting pulled by the guides. (Photo by Hali)
The inside of Hagukan Cave is dimly lit by a greenish glow from the entrance. (Photo by Hali)

Our boat passed by a low cave to enter Sohoton Cove. During high tide, the cave becomes inaccessible. We were lucky that the weather cleared a bit that morning, so the water level was down. We visited Hagukan Cave, where we had to swim underneath to get inside. It reminded me of the novel The Beach. Anyway, I wasn’t a good swimmer so the guides had to pull me. Inside, it was dark and the water glowed with a luminous green.

We also visited Magkokoob Cave, where tourists had  to go inside and come outside to a cliff, where a diving board awaits. This is how people get back to the boat. Sounds exciting? Hali thought so. Guess who stayed in the boat and volunteered to take photos.

Small paddle boat to jellyfish lagoon. (Photo by Hali)
Off to see the stingless jellyfishes in Sohoton Cove.
Stingless jellyfish! (Photo by Hali)

Our last stop was at the jellyfish lagoon. We had to transfer into small boats and paddle our way into the lagoon. The boats can only fit 2 people. The view on the way to the lagoon was as grand as everything else in Sohoton Cove. Lots of clear, green-tinted water and undisturbed flora. We’d reached the lagoon and watched the jellyfishes swimming underneath. Tourists aren’t allowed to swim in the lagoon anymore, but we were allowed to touch the jellyfishes when they come near the surface. They feel like gelatin.

I wasn’t able to swim with the jellyfishes and take some fun photos in the water, but Sohoton Cove definitely exceeded any expectations I had before coming here.

Island hopping in Naked Island, Guyam Island and Daku Island

At this point the unforgiving weather had returned. We’d docked by Naked Island, a round-shaped island with literally nothing but blue sea and soft sands. We’d skipped Daku Island because the waves were too rough to cross and instead spent the rest of the afternoon in Guyam Island.

Sunburnt at Naked Island, Siargao. (Photo by Hali)

I didn’t really find anything special with Naked and Guyam islands. To me they’re ordinary, but I guess I have to let it out that I’d been to a couple of great beaches in the Philippines already, so my expectations are quite high.

Small pool in Guyam Island. (Photo by Hali)
Guyam Island. (Photo by Hali)
Hali in Guyam Island. (Photo by Hali)

I prefer the green pools and lagoons we’d been to earlier. Maybe we were better off looking for some undiscovered parts of Siargao or the newly opened caves we heard of before. I know a lot of people — and even bloggers — who liked these islands in Siargao, so maybe for others it’s still worth seeing.

And so…

This is the culmination of our 2 days in Siargao Island. Our last afternoon on this island in Surigao del Norte wasn’t as remarkable as the rest, but overall our stay in Siargao was still one of the best experiences I have here in the Philippines.

As I was writing this, I’d talked to a fellow volunteer who was with us in 2015 and he said that of all the places in the Philippines he wants to re-visit, Siargao is on top of his list. In Indeed, Siargao Island is this place that you’d want to go back to again and again… and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even surf.

 

If you’re planning to visit Siargao Island soon, you can check out the lowest prices of accommodations in Siargao here.

For practical information on directions and expenses, read about our travel guide and itinerary to Surigao and Dinagat Islands. Related PostDinagat Islands: The Mystical Island, Province of Love: .

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