Have you been to Dinagat Island? If not yet, then it’s the perfect time to go! Dinagat Island isn’t overly developed yet. In fact, it’s one of the off-beaten places in the Philippines. Here’s our Updated Guide to Dinagat Island including sample 2-day itinerary.
Dinagat Islands is the name of the province. It was actually a part of Surigao del Norte until its declaration as a separate province in 2006. Dinagat Island is its main island.
Here you can island hop to see beaches, a lagoon and a lake. There are also private resorts worth checking out if you’re staying for 2 days or more. There are also land attractions which you can do as a side trip if you have ore time. I personally love Dinagat Island and feel that it has a lot of potential to be the next Palawan.
How to get to Dinagat Island
The closest airport to Dinagat Island is Surigao Airport.
- From Surigao Port (aka Pantalan Dos Port) in Surigao City, ride a passenger boat en route to San Jose (P120 per person, 1.5-2 hours).
- The earliest schedule is 5AM and the latest boat going back to the city is at 3PM.
Make sure that you’re getting on a ferry to San Jose instead of Dinagat, which refers to another town.
Island attractions in Dinagat Island
These are the places you can see in the municipalities of Basilisa and Libjo during island hopping. There are a lot more to discover in Dinagat Island and this is just the tip of the iceberg, so I encourage you explore the province on your own.
If you’re only doing a day tour in Dinagat Island, most likely you will be visiting Basilisa. Here you can visit several beach coves. The nearest island in San Jose is called Unib Island or Lalaking Bukid, and here alone you can find 5 white-sand beaches: Bitaog Beach, Duyos Beach, Gealan Beach, Pagkawasan Beach and Cabacungan Cove.
- Bitaog Beach. A small beach cove with fine white sand and clear turquoise water. There are cottages that provides shade from the sun. It’s said to be the best beach in Dinagat.
- Gaelan Beach. Another beach, though not in par with Bitaog Beach.
- Pagkawasan Beach. This features twin white-sand beaches and interesting rock formations.
- Duyos Beach. A favorite local beach, particularly by families. Here you can rent a cottage and videoke.
- Babas Cove and Bababu Lake. From Babas Cove, a 30-minute trail will lead you to Bababu Lake. Babalu Lake has an emerald-green surface, surrounded by limestone formations and foliage. Interestingly, the lake has both fresh water (down to 20 feet) and salt water (20 feet and below) which does not mix due to lack of wind. It’s believed that the lake is enchanted, so it’s recommended to go here with someone.
- Little Hagakhak Island. Features sedimentary rock formations, similar to the ones in Biri, Samar.
- Aga Island. A private island with an abandoned house set atop a cliff. The view from the cliff overlooks the vast green ocean and several islands in the distance. There is a small beach cove where you can see swim.
These places are also located in Basilisa, but currently off-limits to visitors.
- Cabacungan Cove. This features intersting karst cliffs.
- Sundayo Beach (Hagakhak Island).
Again, Libjo will take your breath away. It has beautiful islands and karst formations, similar to Palawan. The prime attraction in Libjo is the Pangabangan Pool. The rest are scenic private resorts.
- Pangabangan Pool. One of the most beautiful natural pools in the Philippines. The pool is a dazzling blue-green, as if it jumped out of a fairytale. You can trek up the hill to get a better photo of the pool.
- Punta Villa Nature Resort. This resort has a white-sand beach set across karst islets. You can swim, snorkel to see corals, enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding islets from the viewpoint or trek to Quano Cave.
- Jelmar’s Islet Resort. This is a humble resort with a boardwalk where you can take pictures or plunge directly into the water.
- Punta Buena Suerte. A lively resort known for its wonderful marine life including various types of fishes and sea turtles.
If you have spare time, you can also do a land tour in San Jose, the capital of Dinagat Islands.
The most prominent among these land attractions is the Islander’s Castle, also known as “White Castle”, which is owned by the Ecleos, a political family in the province who once lead a cult. The castle is notable because it’s a stark contrast to the surrounding dirt roads and shanties in the island. I suppose it falls under dark tourism.
If you’re into beaches, San Jose has a couple of nice ones which can be found in Cab-Island Island, Stingray Islet and Puyo Islet.
Here are the rest of the town attractions in San Jose:
- Islander’s Castle
- PBMA Shrine
- Wilson’s Dumping Peak
- New West Virginia View Deck
- Angat Dinagat Landmark
- Guitar Stage
- Lobster Farm
- 120 Steps
- Beaches: San Jose Beach, Sta. Cruz Beach, Lawis Beach, Tagbirayan Beach
2 Days Itinerary to Dinagat Island
There are so many places to see in Dinagat Island, so each itinerary is different. Here’s a sample 2 days itinerary in Dinagat Island.
|Day 1 – Libjo Tour||– Pangabangan Tidal Pool|
– Punta Villa Resort
– Punta Buena Suerte
– Isla Aga
– Kisses Islet
– (Optional) Little Hagakhak Island/Hagakhak Rock Formation
|Day 2 – Basilisa Tour||– Jelmar’s Beach Resort|
– Bababu Beach and Bababu Lake
– Bitaog Beach
– Duyos Beach
– Pagkawasan Beach
– (Optional) Cabacungan Cove, Biray-Biray Island
Where to stay
There are accommodations in the mainland in San Jose. You can also book at the resorts in Basilisa or Libjo.
- Duyos Camping Resort: Facebook / 09090668104
- Jelmar’s Islet Resort
- Punta Villa Nature Resort: Facebook / 09075149455
- Punta Buena Suerte: Facebook
Rates and expenses
It’s possible to do this trip DIY so you have control of your itinerary. If you’re solo or couple, I suggest booking a joiner tour instead.
Island hopping tours
Here are the current rates (updated as of 2020):
Boat tour rate depends on boat size and how many days you’re staying. Entrance fee to resorts are usually not included.
- Boat rental for 1 day: P2500 (good up to 2 pax) / P3500 (good up to 4 pax)
- Boat rental for 2 days: P5000 (good up to 2 pax) / P6000 (good up to 4 pax)
The 1-day itinerary covers the islands in Basilisa. You may also visit Pangabangan Tidal Pool in Libjo for an additional fee (around P500).
A joiner tour for 2 days island hopping in Dinagat costs around P2000 per person, including boat tour, entrance fees and accommodation.
Dinagat Island Travel Tips
- Currently, there is little tourist infrastructure in Dinagat Island so adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Bring enough cash with you as there are limited ATMs in San Jose.
- For DIY tours: you can buy food and water in San Jose Public Market. Usually resorts can cook your food for a minimal fee.
Here are useful contact information for your tour in Dinagat Island
- Island hopping tour: Kuya Percing: 0946 587 7825 / Tatay Ric: 0930 139 3172
- Dinagat Islands Tourism: Dinagat Tourism Council Facebook page
Have you been to Dinagat Island? If you have any more suggestions or comments, let us know in the comment section below. 🙂
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Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).