Beyond Surigao City in the North

Beyond the City

Surigao City is a great starting point to discover even more beautiful places of interest namely Siargao and Dinagat Island in the North or Lake Mainit in the South.

Siargao Island - Philippines Surfing Capital   Picture gallery

Siargao Island contain the biggest mangrove forest reserves in Mindanao. Long stretches of wetlands likewise indicate potentials for commercial seaweed propagation. Siargao Island is greatly influenced by the winds and currents coming uninterrupted from the Pacific Ocean, intensified by the Mindanao current running westward through the Siargao Strait.

Offshore, a classic tropical island lay protected within its surrounding coral reef and the dozen coconut palms dressed in the center circle of the island rustled gently in the morning breeze. Off to the right, well within the massive coastal reef, lay a shining white sand bar some 200 meters long, claimed by a flock of some forty black-headed terns that stood chattering among themselves at the waters edge. The tide of Siargao is diurnal with tidal curves typically present especially on the east coast of the island.

The beach paradise around here in General Luna ("GL") is Siargao Island. Many have likened it to the Boracay of 20 years ago before tourist mobs and crass commercialism descended on the place. Just across the 27-mile white beach are the postcard-pretty islands of Guyam and Daku. The white sand here is so fine you will sink to your ankles and calves as you walk. If you're lucky you can have the entire Guyam island to yourself. It is so small you can walk around it in ten minutes. Sun-worshipping bathers, however, prefer the "Naked Island," a white sandbar between GL and Guyam.

You can get to Guyam from GL by a five-minute motorized banca ride, or via the more leisurely and fun sackcloth-fitted sailboat. The calm waters in GL are fenced in by a natural barrier reef which keeps the giant Pacific waves at bay. Siargao

These giant waves have been discovered by a group of Australian and American surfers in 1993. Rated among Asia's best, it remains one of the best-kept secrets outside Surigao. The surfing trailblazers named several reef breaks and somehow the names stuck: Cloud Nine, after a local chocolate bar; Pilar Point, in honor of the lady who looked after them at the resort; and Pancit Reef.

The Siargao International Surfing Cup at Cloud Nine (General Luna) is the biggest tourism and sport event. The inclusion of Siargao International Cup as one leg of the Australian Surfing Championship Circuit signifies the laurel that it begot. At present, there are ten documented breaks found in Siargao Island these are Pacifico, Caridad, Pilar, Neil's Spot, Rock Island,Daku, Pansukian Reef, La Januza Island and Antokon Island.

Cloud Nine has a world-class wave. It is one of the top five surfing areas in the world. It has the fastest, swiftest, strongest wave in the world. The area is not for amateurs. Siargao Islands has nineteen surfing areas, twelve of which are located in General Luna with "Cloud Nine" as its crowning glory.

Getting There: From Surigao City by motor launch or ferry to Dapa (Siargao's entry point), MV Dua, MV Philippe

Interested in the history of Siargao? Click here...

Dinagat Island   Picture gallery

Apart from Siargao, the other major island of the province is Dinagat. It, too, consists of satellitle islands that stretch towards Leyte. Here you will find rock islands and islets reminiscent of the limestone rock formations of Palawan and the Hundred Islands of Pangasinan. For a taste of the sublime, scale a mountain and be rewarded by a panoramic view of these sea sculptures strewn over the blue and green waters.

They come in assorted shapes and sized. Locals refer to some of these according to what they resemble best: Pato (duck), bao (turtle) and Punta Kalabera (Skull Point). At sunset, the Eagle's Point in the uninhabited island of Hagakhak resembles a magnificent golden phoenix rising from the sea spray. Dinagat Island

What these rock islands lack are fine sandy beaches, but they more than make up for those by rich marine life easily discovered with a diving mask and snorkel. Anywhere you go the waters are so clear it is possible to see starfishes and seaweeds ten to 20 feet below.

Dinagat, about 1 hour by motorboat from Surigao City, has so far almost no tourist infrastructure though this may change as soon as some investors will have discovered the beautiful tiny islets along its western coast. There are many excellent though unexplored sites for divers as well as spelunkers. Dinagat is a big, seven-town island lying between Southern Leyte and Surigao del Norte, of which it is a part, within the newly formed Caraga region.

The island is not without historical significance. During World War II, US Gen. Douglas MacArthur was quoted as saying that Dinagat was one of "three island-sentinels guarding the (southern) Philippines from the enemies in the Pacific." Unib Islet - This islet, just ten minutes by pump boat from Basilisa, has the unspoiled Bitaug beach and several unexplored caves. It is surrounded by so far mostly undestroyed coral reefs in between interesting underwater rock formations.

Hagakhak Islet - This uninhabited islet, best reached by pump boat from the village of San Roque, is known for beautiful above-water and underwater rock formations. There are several good but unexplored dive sites around the islet. Magsaysay Islets - Not just one but a whole group of beautiful islets off the shore of Dinagat Island; several beaches with pure white sand and a cave, Suy-ang Cave, that waits to be explored.

Bucas Grande Island   Picture gallery

Bucas Grande features mushroom-shaped limestone rocks, green with foliage, sprout from its shimmery blue waters. Bucas Grande bears a striking resemblance to the Rock Islands of Palau in Micronesia.

For something exotic, try the Suhoton Cave in Bucas Grande Island that can be accessed only by banca or kayak at low tide. Once you get past it, you will find yourself in a blue lagoon sprinkled with islets and enclosed by limestone cliffs and virgin forests.

 

Lake Mainit   Picture gallery

The pear-shaped Mainit Lake engulfs the municipalities of Mainit and Alegria between Surigao and Butuan. At a certain season, one can admire the purplish blooms of water hyacinths and lilies. Its placid waters is a sanctuary of thousands of wild ducks. This 17,340 hectare body of freshwater is the fourth largest lake in the Philippines. Also site of many waterfalls.

Lake Mainit is the fourth largest lake in the Philippines, with a total inland water of 17,000 hectares and also the deepest lake in the Philippines, with a depth of 180 meters and an elevation of 37 meters above sea level. The unspoiled teardrop-shaped lake is one of the most natural ecosystems in the region that has unique and diverse potentials among the largest lakes in the country. It has the most pristine water surrounded by numerous cold and hot springs in its various tributaries. The lake is home to some rare and delicacy fresh water fishes such as eel, locally known as “casili” (Anguilla Sp.), mudfish or "hayuan" (Ophicephallus striatus), Gurami (Gourami Belontiidae) and the “bolinao” (Neosthethus thessa) which is cited as found nowhere else in the world and which are among the many other existing migratory fishes (Catadramous fishes) passing through Kalinaoan River.

The terrestrial ecosystems feature some of the rare and endangered species of palm, orchids, fire orchid (Vanda hookeriana), a relative of Waling-Waling, hardwood premium timber species like narra, molave, the Philippine Rosewood - toog, the Philippine Ironwood, Magcono, Malabayabas (Eucalyptus spp.), the marshland lotus called "pagusi" and a local source of a delicacy nut called Nelumbo nucifera. The presence of wildlife species such as migrating birds in season that are dependent on the lake due to presence of shallow marshland and estuarine areas are observed during the first quarter of the year, including Mindanao Scoop Owls, Mindanao Savannah Night Jar, Mindanao Himalayan Swiftlets, Mindanao Forest King-fishers strong billed shrike as well as White-breasted Sea Eagle, including the common monkeys and wild pigs.

Sources:
www.surigao.com, www.philtravel.net, www.surigaoislands.com