Philippines · Surigao del Norte · Travel Tales

A Backpacker’s Guide: Five days in Surigao del Norte

The Boardwalk at Cloud 9 in Siargao
The Boardwalk at Cloud 9 in Siargao

Fellow teachers Edison, Angel, Czhar, Weng, DJ, and I took advantage of our school’s sembreak to set our students’ test papers aside — but just for five days — and go explore more beautiful places here in the Philippines. We also went to cross out some items in our bucket lists: Czhar wanted to surf, and Edison wanted to see the stingless jellyfish of Sohoton Cove. I initially wanted to see the Enchanted River of Surigao del Sur, but given our lack of time, we decided to put that off for later. Our trip then consisted of going around Surigao City and the nearby town of Mabua, surfing and island hopping in Siargao, and visiting the gorgeous Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande.

Mabua Pebble Beach
Mabua Pebble Beach

I think that by now, we could also start crossing out the list of things to do in the Philippines according to the old “Pilipinas, Tara Na!” Department of Tourism music video. We could finally proudly say that we’ve done Jessa Zaragosa’s “Mag-surfing sa Siargao”. πŸ™‚ (We actually watched the video again the night after we surfed and cheered loudly during that part. That was priceless.)

Mga kapwa lakwatsero at lakwatserang guro
Mga kapwa lakwatsero at lakwatserang guro

Our itinerary

(Traveling with this crowd always entails doing unplanned activities. Much of what follows happened out of the blue.)

  1. Day 1: Fly from NAIA to Surigao via a Cebu Pacific ATR
  2. Have lunch at Gaisano
  3. Rent a jeep to Mabua
  4. Check in at Mt. Bagarabon Mountain Resort
  5. Climb the trail to the rock formations
  6. Swim at dusk
  7. Day 2: Catch the 5:45am ferry to Siargao (2 hours and 45 minutes)
  8. Take a hired van to Wayfarers at Cloud 9
  9. Have lunch at Laida’s
  10. Hire a boat to go island-hopping in Guyam, Daco, and Naked Islands
  11. Nap (which turned to a 14-hour sleep, gosh)
  12. Day 3:Β Watch the sunrise at the Boardwalk
  13. Hire a habal-habal to General Luna
  14. Eat at Aventino’s
  15. Walk to the cemetery, swim in the rain
  16. Find a boatman who could take us to Bucas Grande
  17. Take a habal-habal back to Cloud 9
  18. Surf at Cloud 9! In the rain!
  19. Dinner, bonding, and sleep at Wayfarers
  20. Day 4: Take a habal-habal to General Luna
  21. Breakfast at Maridy L’s
  22. Take the hired boat to Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande Island at 7:00am (2 hours 30 minutes)
  23. Tour Sohoton Cove
  24. Take the hired boat to Hayanggabon Port in mainland Surigao
  25. Have a late lunch at the eatery by the port
  26. Take a public van to Surigao City
  27. Get a tricycle
  28. Check in at Travelers’ Inn
  29. Dinner at Bebie’s Barbecue at the port
  30. Coffee and bonding at True Brew (across Gaisano)
  31. Back to Travelers’ Inn
  32. Day 5: Take a hired tricycle to search for pasalubong (and the elusive sayongsong)
  33. Check out; take tricycle to airport
  34. Fly back to Manila
Jellyfish Lagoon in Sohoton, Bucas Grande
Jellyfish Lagoon in Sohoton, Bucas Grande

Our budget

Our limited budget meant that we had to sacrifice a few things, particularly a land tour around Siargao and a trip to the Magpupungko pool in Siargao (although the weather on our Day 3 was also at fault). But after a year of a lot of traveling, I’ve reached the conclusion that I don’t have to see and experience everything — except, perhaps, the best stuff. In this case, surfing and Sohoton were “non-negotiables”.

ITEM Cost per group Cost per person
Transportation
taxi (Alabang to NAIA T3)
shared among 3 people

400

133.33

hired jeep (Gaisano to Mabua)

200

33.33

hired jeep (Mabua to Surigao Port)

400

66.67

ferry (Surigao City to Dapa, Siargao)

250

hired van (Dapa to Cloud 9)

1000

166.67

habal-habal in Siargao
one trip from Cloud 9 to GL or vv. is P30/person

90

hired boat
General Luna to Sohoton in Bucas Grande
Sohoton to Hayanggabon in mainland Surigao

5000

833.33

van from Hayanggabon to Surigao City

120

metered taxi (NAIA T3 to Alabang with toll and tip)
shared among 4 people

400

100

Activities
island hopping in Surigao
boat leaves from Cloud 9
(boats that leave from GL cost P1500)
islands visited: Guyam, Daco, Naked

1800

300

Sohoton Cove tour
environmental fee: P50/person (for locals)
lifevest rental: P20/person
pumpboat: P500/group

boat guides: P165/guide (2 guides = P330)
paddlers: P100 (6 paddlers = P600)

1950

325

surfing lessons in Siargao
Hippies Surf Shop
per hour; with instructor and board rental

500

Accommodations
Mt. Bagarabon
room for 5 (P2200) with extra bed (P200)

2400

400

Wayfarers at Cloud 9
3 double rooms (P600/room – discounted price)
2 nights

3600

600

Travelers’ Inn
2 double rooms (P800)
with extra bed each (P300/bed)

2200

366.67

Other expenses
tricycle around Surigao City (estimated total)

150

food (estimated total)

857

tips, etc. (estimated total)

350

58.33

Β TOTAL

5350.333

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8 thoughts on “A Backpacker’s Guide: Five days in Surigao del Norte

  1. Hi there, good blog you’ve got here. We’re about to start on a long term project in Siargao and are currently gathering information of people, places and day-to-day stuff in the island. Found your spot along the search results and would just like to leave a thumbs-up “good stuff”.

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