Raw and Untouched: Island hopping in Dinagat Island

Sundayo Beach in Hagakhak Island, Dinagat Island
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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. All I can say is that we love this place and we hope to go back here in the future to explore the rest of its islands.

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.

Here we’ll be sharing our island hopping experience in Dinagat Island including a short travel guide to Dinagat Island.

Island hopping in Dinagat Island

We were on a 5 day trip in and around Surigao and thus only had one day to explore Dinagat Island. Looking back, this place deserves at least 2-3 days more.

We scheduled to see seven islands and the tidal pool in Libjo for a day. The weather was gloomy though, so we had to keep the tour short and excluded trekking to Lake Bababu.

Our first stop was the tidal pool in Pangabangan Island in Libjo. It wasn’t originally included in the tour, but I asked the boat owner that we wanted to stop by here specifically. The boat ride was choppy and 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 to the pool and I heard one said, “Sh*t, ang ganda.”

Tidal pool in Pangabangan Island, Libjo
Off to see the tidal pool. (Photo by Hali)
Tidal pool in Pangabangan Island, Libjo
Tadaa… featuring the tidal pool in Pangabangan Island, Libjo. (Photo by Hali

That’s how you know you’ve stumbled upon something amazing.

This is the tidal pool in Pangabangan Island. It’s simply one of the most beautiful tidal pools I’ve seen, and our photos simply don’t do justice. It was a dazzling blue-green and located just a few meters from the ocean. It looked like it jumped from a fairy tale book, a “magical lagoon”.

It’s actually possible to trek in the nearby hill to get a better photo of the lagoon. As I said though, it was raining and we were pressed for time since we didn’t know if the sea would still be safe later on the day. I actually felt a little resentful that our photos for that day were mostly gray or misty due to the weather. But ah, there’s always a next time.

We explored a few more islands after the tidal pool. Overall, I can say that the islands are just as nice.

Sundayo Beach in Hagakhak Island, Dinagat Islands
Sundayo Beach in Hagakhak Island, Dinagat Island. (Photo by Hali)
Aga Island in Dinagat Islands
Down to the beach, at Aga Island. (Photo by Hali)

We had lunch in Sundayo Beach in Hagakhak Island. We were told that there used to be a resort here,. The huts were torn down, and we sat down in one of the cement foundations to have lunch and fresh coconut.

We then stopped by Aga Island, a private property that belongs to a top government official. Aga Island 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 in all the beauty around us. 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.

Here’s a little reflection about our island hopping tour in Dinagat Island.

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. Maybe that’s for another time.

Travel Guide to Dinagat Island, Dinagat Islands province

Dinagat Island is the main island in the Dinagat Islands province. It’s the second newest province in the Philippines, having been declared only in 2006 by the Supreme Court.

The province is one of the poorest provinces in the country. Perhaps this explains the lack of commercial and tourist development in the area and the fact that, despite its natural beauty, it’s still a little dot in the tourism map.

Tidal pool in Pangabangan Island, Libjo
With travel buddies at Pangabangan Island. (Photo by Hali)

I admit that I hadn’t heard about Dinagat Island until a few years back, so I was awed during our visit here in 2016.

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

We only spent 1 day island hopping in Dinagat Island. Ideally you’ll need 2-3 days to explore everything, although if you’re on a tight schedule, a day tour will also be fine.

1 Day island hopping tour in Dinagat Island

We paid P3500 for a boat good for 4 people. We also had an option to hire a bigger boat for 10-15 people at P4500, although since there were only 4 of us it wasn’t necessary.

We were also offered an option to charter the boat back to Surigao City for an additional P500 in total.

Here are the places included in the island hopping tour:

  • Pangabangan tidal pool in Libjo
  • Hagakhak Island
  • Aga Island
  • Lake Bababu – requires 30-45 minutes of trekking
  • Kabakungan Island
  • Duyos Island
  • Bitaog Island
  • 1 other island

There are other islands and places to visit in Dinagat Island aside from those we’ve listed here.

Island hopping rates

Island hopping rate depends on the boat size.

(As of 2017) Island hopping in Dinagat Islands is at P3500 for the 7 islands and P5000 for the 7 islands +Pangabangan tidal pool.

Other places to visit in Dinagat Islands province

There are also beaches you can visit in this province. Some of these, including Cab-Ilan Beach, are part of packaged tours in Dinagat Islands.

Some of these beaches are:

  • Biray-biray Beach
  • Cab-ilan Beach
  • Bita-og Beach
  • Sta. Cruz Island

Other nearby attractions include Siargao Island, which is a boat away from Surigao City.

Contact information

Here’s the contact details of our tour guide. If you have other questions, you can contact the tourism office of Dinagat.

 

Have you been to Dinagat Island? Can you add more places to this list of Dinagat Island tourist spots?

 

P.S. You might also be interested in these:

Here’s our 5 Days trip to Surigao and Dinagat Islands. Here are other posts we’ve written:

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10 Comments

  1. hello,
    thanks for sharing your dinagat trip.

    just wondering from where you got the one day tour? from dinagat or from surigao? as i understand, you travel to san jose.

  2. hi! I will be visiting Dinagat next week April 22-30. Hindi po ba mahirap ang phone signal and and what is the fastest internet provider din po base on your experience? Thank you.

    1. Hi, we just been to Dinagat Island. Phone signal will depend on where you are. But while we’re in San Jose, signal was fine. Regarding internet provider, I wasn’t sure because the place we stayed had strong wi fi connection.

    1. Hi Mrs Retchie, sorry we weren’t able to ask the names of accommodations in Dinagat, but definitely there are existing ones in the mainland. There’s no ferry from Dinagat to Siargao, you have to go back to Surigao City. Hope that helps.

      1. Hindi kaya ng isang araw Lang. We were there for 4 days at kulang pero depende din siguro sa akong gusto nyong gawin. Contact Jmalls tourist inn dahil may promo sila. You can search them sa Facebook.

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