Updated May 2019
This is my second time in the province, I was already here exactly 3 years ago and still with my sister and her family. I still love going back to this province, aside from beautiful places to go to, siyempre libre accommodation at pakain!
It was actually a family vacation of my sister’s family (with her husband and 2 kids), I just asked them if I can join them (eh pumayag) kaya nakasama ako.
I just bought my own plane tickets, which has cost me ₱4,108.12 Round Trip via Cebu Pacific to Butuan City (Bancasi Airport). I arrived at Bancasi Airport at around 2pm and went on my own to find the van going to Surigao City. Surprisingly, there’s a Philtranco RoRo bus from Cubao/Pasay to Surigao City and it costs ₱1,737.45 to 1,750.65 for 23 to 28 hours of travel time. I think it is a good idea if you want to travel Bicol-Samar-Leyte-Surigao by land; but of course, you need more time to do that. Maybe I would try that someday.
It was the cheapest fare on that travel date. I don’t want to complain with the ticket price because I know I wouldn’t be spending a single centavo in Surigao. Thanks to my ate and brother-in-law for spoiling me. I would still give you the breakdown of our expenses for the benefit of those who want to travel in Surigao and Siargao Islands.
There are vans you can ride outside Bancasi Airport, to reach Surigao, for ₱250 and wait for the van to be fully occupied. My destination was Bad-as, Placer, Surigao del Norte and in 2016, we rented the whole van for ₱2,000. The travel time to Surigao from Butuan is around 2 1/2 to 3 hours. You may take direct flights to Surigao City or Siargao but for a higher cost.
It is very common to see a carabao and other kind of farm animals in the province. What’s cooler is that you can get up close to them and take photos. Be sure to be extra careful because you might get punctured by their horns if you agitate them.
We stayed in a nipa-hut-style room beside a vast field of greenery where you are assured of clean and breezy air that is cool even at noon time. The air is also fresh, you know you are breathing the theoretical 20% Oxygen composition of the air; unlike in the city, you are breathing a lot of Carbon Monoxide. Rooms can be booked at Surigao City via Agoda.com which costs at least ₱600 per night. Surigao City to Placer (vice versa) travel is around an hour. You can ride a bus or jeep which costs around ₱50.
The most commonly used transportation in Surigao is tricycle or traysikol how they say it (they are very much aware of it). There are multicabs (their own version of jeepneys) that are used to travel farther distances like from town to town. You may also ride a van to transfer to another town or to another city.
Our first destination was the Togonan Falls. To save from expenses, we just borrowed a mini pick-up from my brother-in-law’s relatives to transport us to our destination. It would cost you around ₱100 to 200 to reach Mainit, Surigao del Norte. You may take habal-habal or tricycle depending on how large your group is.
There is an entrance fee going to the falls for ₱15 to 25 and you may or may not have a cottage that would range from ₱150 to as much as 1,500. We just paid for our entrance and did not get our cottage. The place is privately-owned that’s why there’s an entrance fee you need to pay.
From the drop-off point, you need to descent the stairs. It is kinda exhausting, but not as exhausting as the Tangadan Falls in La Union. It is one of the shortest and easiest way going to a falls. You’d get there in no time but still tiring.
The place is already developed as I mentioned earlier because it is privately-owned. The place was still undergoing its development when we visited. Personally, I would have preferred seeing it in its natural beauty and unadulterated state rather than the developed one. That’s only for my preference, some might like it. The water in the falls is freezing cold, we were not able to dip ourselves there. We just settled in the pool because the water there was much more tolerable for swimming.
The Togonan Falls itself is a beauty, I don’t know why there’s a need to develop the place. I feel more like of a conservative type in terms of maintaining the environment. Not sure of its legal implications.
There are several animals in Togonan Falls that are caged and chained. I don’t know whether they are appropriate or not. If you would ask me if you should visit the place, it is up to you to decide. I am not an expert in environment protection and animal welfare, so I am leaving you the judgment.
The next day, we rode a tricycle going to the docking station of small boats near Placer for around ₱50. We rent a very small motor boat going to Tinago Island and it has cost us ₱750 for the 5 of us. It’s so small, we barely fit inside the boat.
I am not sure whether it is the big or small Tinago Island that we visited. In the island, there were plenty of fish to see if you are fond of snorkeling; however, it is noticeable since the corals were dead.
Well, at least there were fish and sea urchin. Is that a good sign? I got really scared with the sea urchin after all the death stories I read and heard about it. I didn’t try to go near it. I don’t want to end my life away from home. Hahaha! Whatever. We were able to swim, jump, and feed the fish in the area. I was afraid to go to the deeper area because it was still difficult for me to swim while taking photos. I know how to swim, pero takot ako malunod. I almost drowned in a swimming pool back when I was in elementary. It was during a swimming training , I had no goggles, and I did not see where I was going to. Little did I know that I was still in the middle of the pool where it was the deepest. I panicked, ayun muntik na malunod and luckily was able to rescue myself. Nakakahiya kaya for a swimmer na malunod. Hahaha! Anyway, enough for the flashback.
After our island hopping in Tinago Island, we stopped over the small beach at Tagana-an. The sand is beige to white and grainy. But generally, it is peaceful and clean and a good place to contemplate if you’re that type of person who loves the tranquility of a quiet environment.
There’s a beach volleyball court that gets submerged in the water when it’s high tide. We just enjoyed the beach while waiting for our pick up service going back to Placer. I love places that are not so crowded even if it is not that of high quality.
The next day, we just visited the spring with mini dam in Placer near the Surigao del Norte Provincial Hospital. It is just a small fresh water source with mini fish in it and the water’s very cold. It is where the locals dip their selves or should I say where the young locals swim and play. We just did what the locals do and experience to be a Surigaonon. We got there via habal-habal or motorcycle because the road is too small and very rough for the pick up to pass through. We needed to attend a family event and rest that day to prepare us to Siargao the next day.
El Solana Pebble Beach
The El Solana Pebble Beach is located in Punta Bilar, Surigao City. From Bad-as, Placer, we rented a multicab going to there for ₱1,500 from 1pm to 5pm. Travel toim If you are going to commute, you need to ride a bus/van/multicab going to Surigao City. From Surigao City, you need to take habal-habal to the Pebble Beach. We did not pay anything because it’s complimentary for a kakilala. Hooray!
It is located here! Be sure to be at the right resort.
The water at the beach is incredibly crystal clear turquoise blue in appearance. This is due to the pebbles that don’t give a murky appearance when disturbed by external forces. There are rock formations as well, just nearby where you can have your glam photoshoot or just an Instagram-worthy photo-op to make your friends envious of your travels. Just kidding, I don’t promote that kind of attitude.
|Plane Ticket RT (MNL-BUX)||₱4,108.12|
|Van (Butuan to Surigao)||₱250.00|
|Lodging 2 nights x P600||₱1,200.00|
|Tricycle to Togonan Falls RT||₱200.00|
|Entrance to Togonan Falls||₱25.00|
|Tricycle to Placer port||₱50.00|
|Island hopping to Tinago Island P750 /5||₱150.00|
|Food x 3 days||₱1,350.00|