Surigao is one of the northernmost provinces in Mindanao. It has two major islands: Siargao and Bucas Grande, all blessed with amazing natural jewels like white sand beaches, lagoons, and impressive limestone formations. The terrains are abundant in natural resources like minerals while the waters are rich in seafood. Anybody can enjoy the endless tropical beauty of Surigao del Norte.
Visitors are drawn to the province because of the strong waves found in the island of Siargao. One of the top destinations for surfers all over the world, Siargao frequently hosts international surfing tournaments, some even are attended by more than 8000 people. Apart from surfing, Siargao has all sorts of activities for the huge number of tourists that visit the island yearly like swimming, boating, and fishing. Dive sites and diving clinics are available for beginners.
The Suhoton Cove National Park is another amazing destination in Siargao. Located in Bucas Grande, the other major island of the province, the park is a lost tropical paradise made up of a lagoon between limestone hills. It also has mystical cave that creates a snoring sound from the waves. There is another cave which requires visitors to dive from a cliff in order to exit. There are also areas in the park which has become popular for snorkeling and swimming with stingless jellyfish.
Another natural wonder to see in Surigao del Norte is the Lumondo Waterfalls. It has huge rocks at the bottom of the 30-meter waterfall. It is surrounded by the distinct flora and fauna of the province.
Philippine Airlines fly daily from Manila to Surigao City, the capital of Surigao del Norte. Travel time is only one hour and 40 minutes.
Land travel from Manila to Surigao City is also possible via Philtranco Bus. The buses usually depart either from the Cubao or Pasay Terminal. Travel time is a lengthy 28 hours.
How to Get Around
Tricycle and Habal-Habal
When going around Surigao del Norte, you can take the tricycle or habal-habal. They area ideal for reaching destinations that are off the beaten path.
You can take a jeepney if you want to travel from one town to the other.
Motorcycles are available if you want to explore the different parts of the province at your own pace. Of course, make sure you have your license and you know how to drive one.
What to See
Surigao del Norte has been blessed with a natural beauty beyond compare. This province in northern Mindanao is known for its laidback vibe that is perfect for some peace and quiet..
Among the numerous destinations in Surigao del Norte, Siargao is probably the most visited. This tear drop-shaped island has a coastline teeming with coral reefs and white sand beaches that will leave you in awe. Siargao is also known as one of the country’s surfing meccas, drawing hundreds upon hundreds of surfers from all over the world every year. There are several surfing spots on the island but the most popular of them all will have to be Cloud 9. This sprawling area is lined by resorts, surf shacks, and crowded with tourists who want to ride its huge waves.
Bucas Grande is another remarkable island in Surigao del Norte. It features verdant landscapes and pristine seascapes that will totally excite the nature lover in you. One of its draws is the jellyfish sanctuary where you can swim with some non-sting jellyfish.
The Sohoton Cave is another interesting feature of Bucas Grande. The cave drew its name from the Cebuano word “so-oton,” which means to pass through a small opening. The cave has stunning rock formations that will make you feel like you’re in another world.
The Hagukan Cave is known for the snoring sound it makes as the waves splash onto the cavern’s roof. The nearby Magkubkob Cave also has a natural pool where you can swim while being surrounded by incredible limestone formations. There are also other caves beyond Sohoton with stunning hidden wonders like Cuyapnit Cave and Putting Bato Cave.
For those who love the beach, the beauty of Mabua Pebble Beach and Looc Beach will dazzle anyone looking for a tropical paradise. Mabua Pebble Beach is full of smooth and round pebbles instead of the usual white sands. Its waters, however, are blue, clean, and perfect for a refreshing swim. Not too far away is a small hill with a staircase that leads to an area where you can enjoy an awesome view.
Looc Beach also has smooth pebbles and azure waters but is more secluded and private, perfect for those who want to experience some peace and quiet in a quirky but scenic beach.
Lake Mainit is the fourth largest lake in the Philippines, spanning the provinces of Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte. Aside from an expansive body of water, the lakeside is ideal picnics, camping, and sightseeing.
Seven kilometers away from Lake Mainit and accessible via habal-habal is the glorious Togonon Falls. The trip to the falls can be a bit rough but guaranteed to be worth it. You can also head over to Barangay Mainit where you can enjoy a therapeutic dip in the hot spring waters of the Mapaso Wellness Spring Resort.
Step back in time and take a look at the history of the Surigaonons by visiting the Surigaonon Heritage Center. Located along Parola Boulevard in Surigao City, this museum and library is home to various artifacts and art pieces that promote and preserve Surigao heritage.
Not too far away from the heritage center is the Luneta Park, a tree-lined public plaza that fronts the city hall and the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas. The park is an calm spot in the heart of the city where you can lounge and breathe in the fresh air.
Another attraction is the Day-Asan Floating Village, located about seven kilometers away from the city proper. The village is considered the “Little Venice of Surigao” because of its numerous houses on stilts.
Events and Festivals
Every September, the people of Surigao City celebrate the Bonok-Bonok Maradjao Karadjao Festival. The event is highlighted by a street dancing event where the locals dance the ethnic Mamanwa tribal dance called “Bonok-Bonok,” a means of thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest.
Also in September, surfers from all over the world participate in the Siargao International Surfing Cup. This competition is the longest running international sporting event in the Philippines, having been established in 1994.
Where to Eat
For dining, Ocean Bounties Seafood Market & Restaurant has an array of seafood dishes that you should definitely check out when in Surigao. Another is Ocean Bounties, which offers a Dampa-like dining concept where you can choose among the market’s fresh catches of the day and have the restaurant prepare it the way you like it.
Siargao has an array of restaurants of its shores. Kermit Restaurant and Pizzeria serves a bevy of Italian dishes made with the freshest ingredients, both locally produced and imported from Italy. Their brick oven pizzas are exceptional, even earning the praises of Conde Nast Traveler.
Bravo Restaurant, also in Siargao, is another favorite dining spot. It serves Mediterranean and Spanish fares to its guests. Its best seller is paella as well as sangria for drinks.
Sameplace Grill House is another unassuming restaurant in Surigao City that offers pocket-friendly yet totally delicious Filipino dishes. Their chicken barbecue comes highly recommended.
Fare: PHP 8,000.00++
A roundtrip airfare from Manila to Surigao City costs roughly about PHP 8,000.00. If you’re taking the bus, a one-way ticket from Philtranco costs about PHP 1,750.00.
When going around the province, the base rate for a jeep ride is PHP 7.00. A habal-habal ride costs PHP 10.00 or higher per person, depending the destination. If you’re planning to rent a motorcycle, the rate is PHP 300.00 for half a day and PHP 500.00 for one day.
Food: PHP 150.00 to PHP 500.00
Meals in the province are very affordable. There are many barbecue shacks, especially in Siargao, where grilled entrees start at PHP 15 to PHP 20.00. In most restaurants, a budget of PHP 150.00 to PHP 200.00 is recommended.
Shopping: PHP 20.00 to PHP 250.00
For souvenirs, key chains and ref magnets are affordable: only PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 apiece. Souvenir shirts start at PHP 250.00.
Accommodations: PHP 800.00 to PHP 9,000.00
There are budget accommodations in Siargao for only PHP 800.00 a night. For more upscale rooms, there are some that could go as high as PHP 9,000.00 a night.
Activities: PHP 50.00 to PHP 4,000.00
Snorkeling for one hour is PHP 50.00, while kayaking is priced at PHP 500.00 for three hours. Surfing lessons start at PHP 500.00 for about an hour. And if you’re taking the Lake Mainit Lakeside Cruise, the rate is PHP 4,000.00, inclusive of meals and a cultural show.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
When dining at restaurants, a service charge is often included in the final bill, so tipping is no longer necessary. But if you insist, you can leave tips amounting to PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00.
||ETA in Surigao City
||Have lunch at Sameplace Grill House.
||Depart Surigao City for Siargao.
||ETA in Siargao Island. Check in at your accommodation.
||Have dinner at Kermit Restaurant and Pizzeria.
||Retire for the night and rest for the activities for tomorrow.
||Have breakfast at the hotel
||Go island hopping around Naked Island, Daku Island, and Guyam Island.
||Have lunch at Bravo Restaurant.
||Conquer the waves at Cloud 9.
||Enjoy a vegan dinner at Shaka Siargao Restaurant.
||Head to the bar for drinks.
||Have breakfast at the hotel.
||Depart Siargao for Surigao City.
||ETA in Surigao City
||Have lunch at Ocean Bounties Seafood Market and Restaurant.
||Check in at your accommodation.
||Visit the Suriagaonon Heritage Center.
||Hang out at the Luneta Park and watch the sunset.
||Have dinner at Calda’s Pizza.
||Walk around Surigao City before heading back to the hotel.
||Have breakfast at the hotel.
||Check out of the hotel.
||Check in at Surigao Airport.
||Depart Surigao City for Manila.
||ETA in Manila
The average temperature in Surigao del Norte ranges from 24 to 29.9 degrees Celsius. The province also receives the maximum amount of rainfall from November to June. Light and breathable clothing is advisable, but also bring a jacket or a scarf to keep you warm especially at night.
There are quite a number of hospitals and health centers in Surigao del Norte should you need to seek medical attention. The top hospitals are in Surigao City: CARAGA Regional Hospital, Miranda Family Hospital, Amarile-Dominos Hospital, and the Surigao Medical Center.
There are pharmacies and drug stores throughout the province but please bring your own medicine, especially if you have certain medical conditions.
Traveling to Mindanao is usually frowned upon, because of the conflict in the recent years. Despite this, Surigao del Norte is still a safe place to visit. The Surigaonons are very hospitable and helpful as well.
However, vigilance is still recommended. Keep an eye out for your valuables especially when visiting public and crowded places.