THE PARADISE ISLANDS OF BUCAS GRANDE

When God shaped the 7,107 Islands of the Philippines, He favored the province of Surigao Del Norte to be the home of some of the finest and most gorgeous islands and islets in the country. This include pristine lagoons and untouched coves that made up the reason why this is one of the most beautiful places in this tropical paradise. A paradise for lovers of island life.

21Bucas Grande Islands SurigaoIt was love at first sight. It was three years ago when I first marveled at its magnificent beauty that is entirely different from all the places that I’ve visited. As a self-proclaimed son of the beach, I’ve been to various island destinations in the country but this perfect picture tropical haven possesses an enigmatic charm that is so hard to resist. I’m talking about the Bucas Grande Islands of Socorro, Surigao Del Note, my personal favorite in my island Mindanao.

247Bucas Grande Islands SurigaoThe Bucas Grande Islands are pristine island jewels of Surigao Province and the whole CARAGA Region. It is situated in the vast waters of Siargao Islands and belongs to the Municipality of Socorro. Endowed by Mother Nature with such untainted magnificence, it is groomed today to become one of the finest eco-tourism destinations not only in the region but the whole country.

251Bucas Grande Islands SurigaoSince my first visit to the Islands, Bucas Grande has become my favorite among the many places I’ve visited in Mindanao. To be fair, there are countless of stunning places in the country that have wowed me in so many ways but there is something in this breathtaking group of islands that make it so exceptional among others. The transcending tranquility of the whole environ is so enchanting that I feel like I’m in a magical world of all that is beautiful. Perhaps, it is designed by God to be a sanctuary of those who long to find peace and quiet in nature. And I must say – it is communing with nature at its best!

47Bucas Grande Islands Surigao98Bucas Grande Islands Surigao211Bucas Grande Islands SurigaoThe group of beautiful islands and islets are beautifully scattered in the tranquil clear blue waters of Siargao. The abundant verdant vegetations that cover the mountains are thick and untrimmed. The coves are mystical and enchantingly mesmerizing. All that comprise the Bucas Grande Islands are glorious natural wonders.

69Bucas Grande Islands Surigao 89Bucas Grande Islands Surigao 103Bucas Grande Islands Surigao 110Bucas Grande Islands Surigao Among those extraordinary attractions in the Islands that offer exciting things to see, Sohoton National Park tops the list. Declared by the Philippine Government as a National Park, it covers a total area of 70 hectares featuring mystical coves, blue lagoons, underwater caves, and the picturesque seven Islets. To reach the Park, one must pass through a 60-meter cave-like entrance which can only be accessed by boat during low tide. The cave-like entrance looks like an underground river. That alone is a thrilling experience.

Bucas Grande Islands 5 Bucas Grande Islands 8 Bucas Grande Islands 9 Bucas Grande Islands 10 Bucas Grande Islands 11 Bucas Grande Islands 12 Bucas Grande Islands 14 Bucas Grande Islands 16Adding to the many wonders of this paradise is the Jellyfish Kingdom. Perhaps it is this one that makes Bucas Grande Islands out of the ordinary. It is one surreal place that bedazzled me until now. Among the number of lagoons there, one seemed to possess an enchanting magic that makes it the only lagoon in the Islands where millions of non-stinging jellyfish abound. Imagine you diving and swimming in body of water filled with friendly jellyfish. You just don’t swim, you swim with them. What a surreal experience.

Bucas Grande Islands 40 Bucas Grande Islands 41 Bucas Grande Islands 42Bucas Grande Island for me is a destination I will never get tired of coming back again. Everything in the island is a beautiful work of nature and experiencing every bit of it is truly special. Such unspoiled, it a rare beauty so immaculate and magnificent. It is like journeying to another world – a world of enchantment.

29Bucas Grande Islands SurigaoAnd wherever I’m there, I always muttered this to myself, “I must have done something right that I deserve to see this kind of place – a paradise on earth”. And yes, I’ve been to a paradise – the Paradise Islands of Bucas Grande. WHY I LOVE BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS? It’s worth all my LOVE! 

PHILIPPINE’S BEST ISLAND DESTINATIONS: The Travel Teller’s Pick

Recently, I’ve gotten loads of emails from readers from across the globe asking for The Travel Teller’s pick of the best island destinations in the Philippines. Honestly, I have been backpacking to the different towns and provinces in the country blessed with amazing Islands and Islets but collating the best and most beautiful ones is not an easy task. You see, the Philippines is an archipelago composed of 7,107 stunning islands and most of these islands boast of sparkling, dazzling even untouched beaches.

And so instead of giving you the best of the best, let me pick one Island/Beach destination each of three main Islands of the Philippines (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) that has truly impressed me and left me with an awesome memory. It is with great hope that this may entice you to come and relish for yourself a kind of beach holiday you too will never forget. So, brace yourself. Get ready to fly bound to these destinations. This is The Travel Teller’s pick of the best island destinations in the Philippines.

THE ISLAND OF LUZON. Luzon, being the biggest Island in the country is home to some of the world class beach destinations now renowned to the world. Among those that I’ve visited and considered “top of the line” is the Caramoan Group of Islands.

The Limestone Mountains and Rock Formations of Caramoan
The Pristine Beaches of Caramoan
This Blogger at the Enchanted Lagoon of Caramoan

Caramoan is one of the thirty-five municipalities of the Province of Camarines Sur in the Bicol Region. It is situated at the heart of the Caramoan Peninsula at the southernmost tip of Luzon. The islands came to fame when it became the location of the 6 different International Survivor Franchises, the most celebrated reality show on earth. Long before the invasion of Survivor, Caramoan used to be a secret Island Paradise of the province. Isolated from the rest of Camarines Sur, it teems with pristine white sand beaches, stunning twin islands, limestone islets, undisturbed caves, enchanting lagoons and rich marine life making it an ideal island destination. It has gained a world class reputation as the one of the best Island Getaways in the whole Luzon. Today, despite its international fame, Caramoan remains unexploited and laid back retaining its enchanting and alluring beauty that charmed tourists, both locals and foreign alike.

THE ISLAND OF VISAYAS. Visayas, dotted with the most prized island and islets in the country is undoubtedly the home of the most famous Islands and beach destinations in the Philippines. I can’t enumerate these gems of the Island as most of them are equally charming and worth visiting. But to top it all, no one can deny that the Island of Boracay is incontestably the most beautiful, most famous not only to the whole Visayas Region but the whole country.

Puka Shell Beach of Boracay Island
Posh Beach Hotels in Boracay
This Blogger enjoying the famous Sunset of Boracay

Boracay is a tiny island about 2 km off the northwest tip of Panay Island in the Western Visayas. The Island and its world class beaches have received awards from numerous travel publications and agencies around the world describing it as the crown trophy beach of the Philippines. Boracay is every beachgoer’s dream destination. It has everything what holidaymakers look for – posh beach hotels, classy resorts, restaurants, great food, shopping, water sports, souvenirs and island party. If you are up for great sun, sand and the sea, Boracay is for you. Everything is in Boracay.

THE ISLAND OF MINDANAO. Being a proud son of Mindanao, I can say our Island is truly blessed with so many pristine beaches waiting for hungry beachcombers and islander-wannabes to come. I have toured 75% of the whole Island and I can truly say every province we have here possesses beach havens one should never miss to explore. Among the islands and beaches I have explored in Mindanao, the one that left an indelible mark in my heart is the Bucas Grande Islands.

The Serene Lagoons of Bucas Grande Islands
Club Tara, one of the finest resorts in Bucas Grande Islands
Kisses Islets dotting the crystal clears waters of Bucas Grande Islands

The Bucas Grande Islands is part of the Municipality of Socorro and belongs to the Province of Surigao Del Norte. Socorro is one of the nine municipalities that comprise the famous Siargao Islands, the famed surfing capital of the Philippines. While the main island of Siargao is home to world-class surfing seas, the Bucas Grande Islands of Socorro features amazing wonders of nature set together in a group of incredible Islands so best to commune with Mother Nature. Everything that surrounds Bucas Grande Island is perfect work of nature – Limestone Mountains, karsts and rock formations, kisses islets, undisturbed lagoons, Underground River, underwater caves, twin lakes, pristine white sand beaches and many more. The most unusual feature that I truly say the rarest is the jellyfish lake sanctuary, home of the million stingless jelly fish in the island. Bucas Grande is so special to me that until now I wouldn’t get tired of telling beautiful stories about her.

THERE THEY ARE! The Travel Teller’s pick of the best Island Destinations in the country. Caramoan for Luzon, Boracay for Visayas and Bucas Grande Islands for Mindanao! They are just THREE of the best of the best! There are more to boast in this 7,107 Islands of the Philippines, the Pearl of the Pacific! Have your backpack ready, hit the road and see these wonders of the Philippines.

THE PEBBLE BEACH OF MABUA

Just when I thought that beautiful beaches are those of pristine white sand and cobalt sea waters, my quick visit to the Pebble Beach of Mabua in Surigao City proved me wrong. Setting foot there for the first time, I can’t help but admire its unique splendor that I must say beautifully sculptured by nature.

Mabua Pebble Beach is among the priced tourist attractions of Surigao City. The City is part of the Province of Surigao Del Norte in CARAGA Region and is the gateway to the famed Siargao Islands and the Province of Dinagat Islands. There are other tourist spots that Surigao City has to offer but I find Mabua Pebble beach as the priced spot that is truly unique in many ways.

Mabua Pebble Beach is a shoreline of kilometer-long stretch of smooth, multi-sized pebbles situated in Barangay Mabua, about 20-minute ride from the City Proper. There are no sands, of any kind, in this part of Surigao City. The beach’s shoreline is completely composed of smooth stones, mostly in white colors and of different sizes. It was an amazing thing to see such a lovely quite beach so unique from the many beaches I have explored. One of the greatest works of nature, I muttered.

A very quaint beach as it is, Mabua’s shoreline is laid with old rustic Nipa Huts and Cottages one could instantly feel an old-fashioned way of beach living. I have always loved a quaint and quite beach escapades and I must say Mabua Pebble Beach is just so finest.

At far end, there is a hill where tourists or beach lovers like me can climb to see the perfect view of the whole pebble beach from above. Up there is a panoramic view of a picture perfect paradise and a tropical backdrop. The blue calm waters are enticing for swimming. The vastness of the ocean, the serene shoreline and coconut trees lining nearby provide a perfect feeling of a tropical paradise.

It is very easy to get Mabua Pebble Beach. Every Surigaonon knows the place. For overnight stay, there are resorts and inns available there. Though I missed it, the golden sunset at Pebble Beach is one of the highlights of Mabua Beach escapade.

I know my quick visit to Mabua Pebble Beach is not enough to fully describe the uniqueness of the place. This gives me the reason to come back there. I am dreaming one day I could spend another pleasurable time lounging at the Pebbled Shorelines of Mabua Beach. I know it’ll come.

SNAPSHOTS ON CRUISING DINAGAT ISLANDS

Exploring the mystical Islands and Islets of the Province of Dinagat Islands continued. Visiting the “Mystical Island Province of Love” is not complete without romancing the many spectacular Islets and Islands of the Province. Being a large group of Islands, the Province is endowed with stunning wonders of nature worthy to be discovered and explored. This is the main reason why I braved to come to Dinagat Islands – to uncover the Secret Paradise Islands of the Province. Dinagat Group of Islands is in itself a Wonder of Nature and seeing at least few of its hidden nature’s treasure is enough for me to take pride of. This has made me excited. Together with Dinagat IslandS Provincial Tourism Officer Danilo Bulabos, I, with the company new found adventurous friends, explored the true gems of the Province – the Islands and Islets beautifully scattered by nature on the waters of Dinagat.

Two of the many stunning Islets of Dinagat Islands

Aboard the motorized boat especially made for tourists, our Island Tour started leaving the Port of San Jose. As the boat sailed, Mr. Bulabos offered a prayer for our safe Island Tour. We were lucky that the weather that day was incredibly great. We had the chance to appreciate the azure skies blending the sapphire colors of the Dinagat waters.

Isla Aga, Town of Basilisa

As we toured around the many jaw-dropping islands and islets of Dinagat Islands, I can’t help but appreciate every single thing that my eyes saw right at where I was. The tiny group of islets so alluring to see, the thick foliage covering some big islands, the limestone wall that erected at one side, the rock formations truly so amazing and the waters so crystal clear were things I can truly say the jewels of the Province.

An Amazing Seascape Like No Other

Simply put, words are not enough to describe those wonders of nature that once lured me cruising Dinagat Islands. As a photography enthusiast, the whole place is a paradise so ideal for picture perfect snapshots. As a nature lover, the place is a haven where communing with nature is at best. As a self proclaimed “Son of the Beach”, this is undeniably – the place to be.

The Jewels of the Island Province

Here are my collection of the must visit Islets and Islands of the Province of Dinagat Islands. There are more to see, there are more to experience.

Biray Biray Rock Formation
Bitaug Beach
Some of the Islands around Basilisa, Dinagat Islands
Kabacungan Island
Island Tour Destinations

Bababu Rocks

Isla Aga
Hagkahak Island
Sondayo Beach
The Hanging Bridge of Isla Aga
Sondayo Beach, Hagakhak Island
Bitaug Beach
Huge Rocks of Bitaug
This Blogger Awed By The Beauty of Dinagat Islands
Nature at its Best
The Mystical Allure of Dinagat Islands
Stunning Charm of Island Living.

Having visited and toured the province, now I say, one must not fear in going to Dinagat Islands. One should not be hesitant in discovering the wonders of the Islands. The whole Province of Dinagat Islands is a paradise waiting to be explored, waiting to be discovered, and waiting to be enjoyed.

This Blogger Savoring the Charm and Beauty of Dinagat Islands

COME. VISIT DINAGAT ISLANDS AND EXPERIENCE THE MYSTICAL ISLAND PROVINCE OF LOVE!

I would like to end my DINAGAT ISLAND TRAVEL SERIES thanking the people who made this journey possible. To Mr. Danilo Bulabos, the Provincial Tourism Officer, my most heartfelt gratitude for your kindest accommodation, you are a gift to the Tourism Industry of the whole Islands; to MARK ACAIN, thanks for the ride; the Bahay Turista, for being my home for two days; to my new found friends in the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process, thank you for the great time, i enjoyed playing “dollar dollar how I wonder”; and to the people of Dinagat Islands, daghan salamat for letting me experience the Charm of your Island. You have the most incredible beaches in the island. Take care of it! Again, my heartfelt THANK YOU.

This is the last part of “EXPLORING CARAGA REGION: The Travel Series

  1. CATCHING SUNRISE AT CLAVER, SURIGAO DEL NORTE
  2. SOCORRO AND THE BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  3. CLUB TARA AND TIKTIKAN LAKE OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  4. SOHOTON NATIONAL PARK OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  5. THE SANDY BEACHES AND STUNNING ISLETS OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  6. THE JELLYFISH SANCTUARY OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  7. EXPERIENCING SAN JOSE AND THE PROVINCE OF DINAGAT ISLANDS
  8. THE LEGEND OF DINAGAT ISLANDS
  9. SNAPSHOTS ON CRUISING DINAGAT ISLANDS

THE LEGEND OF DINAGAT ISLANDS

Mystical Islands. Two simple words often coined to describe the Province of Dinagat Islands. Many consider it mysterious. Some believe it magical. While others think it has healing powers. But I wasn’t there to uncover its mysteries. That was not my purpose.  I traveled to Dinagat Islands to see and discover the many spectacular natural wonders that I’ve heard from other people. But this journey to Dinagat Islands does not only let me discover its natural splendors but it also allow me to understand why they often call Dinagat, Mystical Islands.

A Breathtaking Sunset View of Dinagat Island

On my first day that I was there, I chanced to ask my host Mr. Danilo Bulabos, the Provincial Tourism Officer of Dinagat Islands why the whole Province is called Dinagat Islands. He looked at me and started saying, “Only those who doesn’t fear to come to Dinagat Islands can understand fully the Legend of the Islands. Only those whose hearts are pure and those who come to see Dinagat Island as gift of nature to behold can only see the proofs of the Legend.” I began wondering what he meant until I realized I was slowly drowned listening to his story about The Legend of Dinagat Islands.

The serene view of Dinagat Islands during Sunset

Once upon a time in a faraway land, there existed two different tribes that lived in fierce rivalry. The chieftain of each tribe was known to be fearless and proud. The chieftain of the first tribe had a handsome son named Prinsipe Gat, a pure and strong warrior while the rival chief had a beautiful daughter named Prinsesa Dina, an admirable virtuous lady, so unceasingly gorgeous to behold. In spite of their tribe’s feud, Dina and Gat fell in love with each other. Because of their father’s rivalry, they chose to keep their affair in secret. But rumors spread around the two tribes. Soon, both chieftains learned about their secret affair and forbid them to see each other. And like other romantic stories, their enduring love would conquer all obstacles. Dina and Gat chose to fight for their perpetual love and decided to escape from their own tribes. They fled far across the miles and sailed the oceans until they reached a secluded Island Paradise. Here, Dina and Gat lived as husband and wife and together built the family of their own.

The Island had been a good provider to the couple. It gave them shelter. It gave them food. In returned, Dina and Gat nurtured and fostered the Island as their own. They nourished and cultivated the Island they considered a paradise and vowed to protect it for their children and their children’s children.

One day, a fleet of foreign ships carrying armies of hundred intruders were seen coming to the Islands. Seeing the multitude of intruders, Dina and Gat were frightened they cannot fight such huge armies of enemies. They were scared they cannot protect the Island they considered their home paradise. But because of their love for their children and the Islands, they ran to the seas and dove and swam the deep blue waters of the Island. They dove deeper and deeper until both disappeared. Few days passed by, a separate bulge of two Islets sprouted in the middle of the waters where the couple was last seen. The two islets appeared so mystical it formed like giant humans laying down to rest. It became incredibly visible that it was believed to be the remnants of Dina and Gat, the protectors of the Islands and its children.

Babaeng Bukid, believed to be Prinsesa Dina

The first islet was called Lalakeng Bukid and the other was called Babaeng Bukid. And from then on, the whole Island was called DINAGAT, named after the Prinsesa Dina and Prinsipe Gat. Today, people of Dinagat Islands believed that the couple are still guiding and protecting them through presence of the Lalakeng Bukid and Babaeng Bukid. That is the reason why the people of Dinagat Islands manage to survive and endure the tests of time.

Lalakeng Bukid, believed to be Prinsipe Gat

After his exciting narration of the Legend of Dinagat Islands, Mr. Bulabos asked me to indentify which among the many islands in Dinagat is said to be Lalakeng Bukid and Babaeng Bukid. He repeated, “Only those men whose hearts are pure and those who come to see Dinagat Island as gift of nature to behold can see the proofs of the Legend”. So then I looked around meticulously searching for the two significant distinctive figures. And then I pointed my fingers to an Islet nearby and then to another Island. Mr. Bulabos gave me an approving smile and said, “You have a good heart and the Islands loves you”. I smiled back. I was right. It wasn’t a guess. When my eyes laid to those two figures, it knew they were Lalakeng Bukid and Babaeng Bukid. It was overwhelming to know that I was right.

Some of the untouched Islands of Dinagat

That was the Legend of Dinagat Island. A tale that merely proves that indeed Dinagat Islands is a “Mystical Island Province… of Love”.

This Blogger worshiping the beauty of Dinagat Islands

This is the eighth part of “EXPLORING CARAGA REGION: The Travel Series

  1. CATCHING SUNRISE AT CLAVER, SURIGAO DEL NORTE
  2. SOCORRO AND THE BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  3. CLUB TARA AND TIKTIKAN LAKE OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  4. SOHOTON NATIONAL PARK OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  5. THE SANDY BEACHES AND STUNNING ISLETS OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  6. THE JELLYFISH SANCTUARY OF BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS
  7. EXPERIENCING SAN JOSE AND THE PROVINCE OF DINAGAT ISLANDS
  8. THE LEGEND OF DINAGAT ISLANDS