Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bucas Grande Island, Surigao del Norte

A Hundred Islets off Surigao

Claver is the last town in Surigao del Norte that visitors pass by before reaching Surigao del Sur. I like its scenery when I first visited three years ago. Behind the poblacion (town proper) is the Iron Mountain, which is along the border of Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur. Facing the town is a cluster of islands of different sizes.

During sunny weather, the mountain's brick-red soil glistens while the isles seem to beckon. Both are eye-catching sights, and I was lucky to see them again. They can be viewed from the town wharf, which I did while waiting for the boat that would take me to Bucas Grande Island. It was a humid afternoon when the boat arrived.

I felt confused when I first saw Bucas Grande. Located behind Siargao Island, it was hard to tell if Bucas is an island with numerous islets or simply a cluster of islets. I got more perplexed when the boat was meters aways from the isle.

Bucas is inaccessible by road. I saw floras endemic in Caraga; I spotted a few magcono woods and pitcher plants not far from the guest house. I didn't see any mammals, but the occasional sounds of primates suggest that wildlife abounds.

The water is about twenty feet deep within the isle's territory. While resting in the guest house. I stared at the verdant mounds. They could be islets close together. They could be rolling hills that define the isle. They could be both. Miro Ajoc, the island's barangay captain, couldn't tell either. What he's certain of, though, is Bucas has more than a hundred islets. He then pointed out that it was low tide; he suggested that we go to Suhoton Cove, Bucas' most popular destination.

A few hundred meters from the guest house is a partly-exposed passageway. It's the path to Suhoton Cove. Stalactites were a few meters above our heads while the boat passed through; a huge one shaped like a horseshoe greeted us as we entered the cove. Suhoton is a big lake surrounded by numerous islets, many of which resemble Bohol's Chocolate Hills. As I observed the tranquil surroundings, Miro told me that there are a number of caves within the area. We went to Crystal Cave, which is partially submerged. The faint sunlight was enough for me to see and gape at the cave's ceiling. Milky white. Smooth. No stalactites. We stood on a boulder in the middle of the small cave in order to see the bottom of the cave. The water is about ten feet deep, and there no traces of shells and rocks. The white sands seem to glow. It's an otherworldly place - too bad my digital camera isn't waterproof.

Dusk set in as we left Suhoton. As the boat traveled back to the guest house, I witnessed what Bucas Grande looked like in the early evening. A canopy of stars lit up the isle and the sea. The noises made by insects were in unison. It was one of a kind.

Like a dream

A half-day tour isn't long enough to see the entire island, but it's more than enough to see other areas not far from the guest house.

Miro first took me to a lagoon teeming with non-stinging jellyfish. He claimed that only Palau and Bucas Grande have jellyfish of this kind. Then we went to Bucas' own version of Hundred Islands; some have pocket white beaches, which we checked out. Tiktikan, one of the isle's numerous lakes, was our next destination. We rested and enjoyed the view from the open hut that was perched on a slope above the lake.

I left for the mainland after lunch. As Bucas became obscure, I realized that the entire trip was like a dream. I wondered if there was another isle like it.

(First published in Zest Air Inflight Magazine on November 2009)


n0isyneighb0r said...

nice picture! this looks like a very nice place to live in.

Franz said...

Thanks! I haven't thought about living there. I lived in the city, so my stay there was kind of a strange experience. I hope to go back and explore the isle.

Anonymous said...

Hi There! Have you seen foreigners (American)going to Bucas Grande?...I have a friend whi wants to visit Bucas Grande but scared of terrorist and rebels. Any suggestions?

Franz said...

My guide is the barangay captain of the island. He said that foreigners were the first to discover Bucas Grande Island.

Consider this: there's a resort not far from where I stay that charges 10K a night.

There was a house under construction near the resort. Miro (the name of the barangay captain) said a Belgian owned it.

Bucas Grande is located at the back of Siargao Island. We know that Siargao is a popular destination for local and foreign surfers. So...

Is your friend an American? He can get in touch with Miro Ajic. Send me your e-mail address, so I can e-mail his contact details.

Franz said...

It's Miro Ajoc. Sorry about that. Eastern and northern Mindanao is safe.

Your friend can take a Manila-Surigao City plane. He can go to the pier to take the boat to Bucas Grande. Travel time is three to four hours.

I don't know if there's a direct flight to Siargao. If he'll come from there, the boat ride takes a few hours.

I chose Claver, the town near the border of Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur. Miro asked someone to send a boat to fetch me at the wharf. Our trip was 45 minutes long.

Aside from summer (April and May), June to October is that period of the year when the weather in eastern Mindanao is generally OK. November to March is the region's rainy season.

I hope this helps.

Judy said...

We enjoyed the best food & swimming of our lives at Pimentel's Hidden Resort Island & slept well on firm mattresses. Quiet nights - no traffic or crying cats. Honest staff like one happy family.

Anonymous said...

Are there cheap accommodations in Bucas Grande? Any suggestions?

Franz said...

Yes. I stayed at the guest house that cost 200 Philippine pesos (about 4.5 US dollars) a night. That was during my visit two years ago. If there's ever an increase, it might not be more than 100 pesos.

The guest house is located not far from Suhoton Cove, the lagoon (where there are lots of non-stingy jellyfishes), pocket-size white beaches, and some of the island's lakes.

The house has a terrace that offers a panoramic view of Bucas Grande's mound-y landscape. The room I stayed in wasn't bad. The location of the guest house is far from the town. But I like the tranquil atmosphere.

em-em said...

Do you still have the number of the guest house where you stayed?
I can't find much information on the internet with regards to accomodations in Socorro. I tried the cellphone numbers in the Socorro official website, but I don't think it's working.
Can anyone please send me any contact information on who to contact in Socorro?
Please email me at
Thank you!

Cagayan de Oro news said...

Nice.. I would love to have a nature trip there with my travel buddy.

Kriza Marie Ardon said...

Cool! Never been to that place. I didn't know Surigao del Norte have an amazing island! Thanks for sharing.

Cagayan de Oro News

jacigurl said...

Hi, Did you stay in the room with the view from the picture above?
what's the name of the place?

Franz said...

It's an open hut with the view of one of the isle's lakes. I stayed at the guest house not far from there. The rate was P200/night, but that was three years ago.

Tata said...

hi! been to suhoton back in 2002 and i've always wanted to go back. can i have the contact details of the guest house you stayed in?

We went to Suhoton from Siargao and it took us quite a long time. Would love to go there via Claver which I heard was indeed a lot closer.

My email add is Thanks a lot!

klaire ciarra sangco said...

Hi I'm from Socorro. Actually Socorro isn't just an island, but a municipality island, with 14 Barangays. And yes Socorro is definitely 1 of the bests. Try to visit again and see how far the improvements are. Thanks! :)