How will I start to describe Dinagat Island?
I think a friend made a good start when he said that it’s one of the most virgin destinations in the Philippines. It certainly is. During island hopping, we passed through numerous beach coves, lush-green islands and the occasional community of houses built in stilts. Normally, I would’ve ignored these sights, but the months I’ve spent touring around the Philippines and seeing commercial attractions made me appreciate “untouched” provinces more.
Until a few years ago, I hadn’t heard about Dinagat Island. Dinagat Island is the main island in Dinagat Islands province — the second newest province in the Philippines, having been declared only in 2006 by the Supreme Court. (That makes sense because I was already done with geography class at that point and was out of loop for updates.)
Dinagat Islands province is one of the poorest provinces in the country. Perhaps this explains the lack of commercial development in the area or the fact that it remains ignored even in the local tourist radar.
Island hopping in Dinagat Island
Dinagat Island tourist spots include several islands and Lake Bababu, which can be reached through 45 minutes of trekking from one of our stops.
We scheduled to see seven islands and the tidal pool in Libjo for a day. The weather wasn’t favorable during our island hopping to Dinagat Island though, even though it was early in February and should’ve been all sunshine. We’d decided to keep the day trip short and excluded trekking to the lake.
The boat ride to the tidal pool in Pangabangan Island in Libjo was choppy, not to mention that there was intermittent rain. We were already wet before we’d made it to the island. As our boatmen were securing our ride on the shore, my companions went ahead and I heard one said, “Shet, ang ganda.”
That’s how you know you’ve stumbled upon something amazing.
That’s the tidal pool in Pangabangan Island. It’s one of the most beautiful tidal pools I’ve seen, and our photos simply don’t do justice. It was a dazzling blue and separated a few meters from the ocean. It looked like a fairy tale material, a goddess’ lagoon.
The rest of the islands we’d explored later that day were just as good. Too bad it was rainy, so most of our photos are gray or misty.
Dark emerald seems to be the dominant color in Dinagat Island. It’s in the sea, the small forests on top of rocky islets, the lines of coconut trees surrounding beach coves. I’d also lost count of the seemingly uninhabited beaches we’d passed along the way. I wanted to ask our boatmen if the beaches were ever visited, if the islands were occupied, if we could stop by every one of them. Alas, the weather didn’t give way and the noise from the boat engine prevented conversations.
We had lunch in Sundayo Beach in Hagakhak Island. There used to be a resort here, I was told. The huts were torn down, and we sat down in one of the cement foundations to have lunch and fresh coconut.
We’d stopped by Aga Island, a private property of a top government official that has been abandoned for unknown reasons. Stairs lead to the vacation house that’s still standing on top of the island’s cliff. The view from above overlooks the vast green sea of Dinagat Island and several islands in the distance. There’s a small beach on one side of Aga Island, where we spotted small schools of fishes and an idle stone fish sitting on the sea floor.
Before we’d left, we made a lost stop to a twin beach I’d forgotten the name of. At this point I wasn’t really thinking about blogging but more on trying to just suck all the beauty in. The twin beach is squeezed in between rock structures. Its water is a vibrant green and reminded me of the Green Lagoon in Coron, Palawan.
Short travel guide to Dinagat Island
We only spent a day tour of island hopping in Dinagat Island, but ideally you’ll have to spend at least 2 days here to explore everything… including the islands not mentioned here.
How to get to Dinagat Island
To get to Dinagat Island, ride a passenger boat from Pantalan Dos port in Surigao City en route to San Jose. The earliest schedule is 5AM, and the latest boat going back to the city is at 3PM. The ride takes 1.5 hour.
Island hopping in Dinagat Island
Island hopping rate depends on the boat size. We paid P3500 for a boat good for 4 people. There’s a bigger boat for 10-15 people, which costs P4500.
Our itinerary includes seven islands (Hagakhak Island, Aga Island, Bababu, Kabakungan Island, Duyos Island, Bitaog Island and one other) and the tidal pool in Libjo. There’s an option of chartering the boat back to Surigao City for an additional P500 in total.
Update as of 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.
- Island hopping tour: 0946 587 7825
- Tourism office: Dinagat Tourism Council Facebook page
Have you been to Dinagat Island? Can you add more places to this list of Dinagat Island tourist spots?
For more details on our trip, head on to our 5 Days Itinerary and Travel Guide to Surigao and Dinagat Islands.
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