“The beauty of each place I visit exceeds more than my imagination”
My 8 days and 7 nights Solo Backpacking in Mindanao
Manila – Butuan City – Surigao City – Siargao Island – Bucas Grande – Surigao – Davao City – Samal Island – Davao del Norte – Davao – Manila itinerary.
Features: Surigao City to Siargao Island, Paglaom Hostel, Surfing at Cloud 9, Magpupungko Pool, Marsh, Cave and the Siargao People
Arriving at the port to catch the first trip to Dapa Port in Siargao. I purchased my ticket for Php 250.00, enter a small boat and waited for it to be filled. After an hour waiting the boat left Surigao City at 0600, the sea is calm, the sky is cloudy and the air is refreshing. I fell asleep for a few minutes, woke up because of the heat of the sun is bathing on my face. Then the view was spectacular, range of hills, and islands before my eyes are arrange beautifully. I just saw Bucas Grande, one of the islands of Surigao Del Norte. I wanted to go there but renting a boat is way expensive for me. I settle myself of viewing the endless green and blue array of the islands. Its one of the prettiest island I saw in my entire trip. I can stare it for another whole day.
Its still far to Siargao but I rather stay awake and marvel to the view for the next 30-45 minutes. The boat arrive in Dapa Port around 0830, the tourism office will asked you to sign the tourist sheet which actually good in case of emergency they will be the one who will do the call out. Its good for me since I am traveling alone. Another series of barkers, dispatchers and habal-habal drivers will hover you to get their habal-habal services. I just stood around the corner, observe a bit and I can feel the a low because I haven’t eaten heavy meal yet. Being hungry is a lot worse than getting lost. HEHE
In the middle of the crowd, someone snatch me and offer Php 50.00 to Paglaom Hostel. From Dapa Port to GL / General Luna is usually cost Php 200.00 good for 3 pax. So I immediately grab Kuya Bebot’s offer before it lasts. The never-ending question of being alone started here. Kuya offered me habal-habal trip to Magpupungko Pool for Php 700.00 saving Php 100.00 for the usual cost which is good for 2-3 pax. Then he asked me if I will go on island hopping and Bucas Grande. I told him that Bucas Grande is very expensive for me. He will have guests from Manila on the next day which he offered both island hopping and Bucas Grande tour for Php 4000.00 which I can chipped into. The usual rate for boat for island hopping to Guyam, Naked and Daku minimum costs Php 1,200.00 depending on the number of pax. I agreed to the terms and will meet them tomorrow. So we travel from Dapa to GL for 20-30 minutes.
I arrived in Paglaom Hostel, deem culture shock to the people around me. Both Filipinos and foreigns, so my thick shell melts down and I welcome the introvert me. I am too shy to talk to them at first. Paglaom Hostel cost Pho 300.00 per night. Bunk bed, bathroom, kitchen, personal locker and lanai to keep the conversation. If you want cheaper, there are inns that offer as low as Php 150.00 per night. I prefer Paglaom because I want to meet Sunny and Cocoy which are owners of the hostel. I set my things down, write my name on my bunk bed, lock my things, prepare my day pack and change clothes. Then, I am going to cloud 9 to try surfing.
I change my itinerary on the spot. Decide to surf first, then Magpupungko Pool. No rest needed. I need to compact my time because of unexpected addition to my itinerary. So I went ahead to Could 9, take a quick a lunch (fried blue marlin and rice) for Php 55.00 and pick up my long board. I hire a trainer because I am not good at boarding stuff even though I tried surfing several times. My trainer give me the basic long boarding lesson and we head to the water. Board rental (short or long) cost Php 350.00 for half day and Php 500.00 for a whole day. Trainer cost Php 200.00 per hour. The waves of Siargao are higher than any surf spots in the Philippines. Its the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines” after all. The waves are the one you can see in surfing movie. Aqua green, high an endless. I am pretty boring when I started, my arms and upper body are weak. i cannot stand at all. I fell several times but I am determined enough to paddle my board. I keep on thinking on how I was able to pull it off before. I want to stand and ride my waves. I will not stop until I am able to ride. So I focus on my goal, 30 minutes later, I was able to stand on my glory.
I enjoy the rest of my surfing gig proud and mighty. I am getting good every time I tried surfing. It a happy ending after all, I was all smiles and giggly when I finish boarding. I want to stay longer but I need to visit Magpupungko. I rest a few minutes, take my picture at the infamous Cloud 9 bridge and head off to Magpupungko Pool. Its at least 30 minutes away from General Luna, I hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) for Php 700.00 which is actually good for 3 persons. I was still on a high after the surfing gig. The fresh air of Siargao and its scenic view will relax your soul. The island have uncanny weather system, half of the island is experiencing rain and the other half is smiling sunny. I am still having the best time, rain or shine.
I arrived Magpupungko at 1400, its raining hard but its low tide so you can actually swim to the nature-made infinity pool. Entrance fee cost Php 50.00 and you can rent tables/chairs/cottages or just put your things on the beach side. After the rain subsides, I walk to the pool slight rain pouring my head and again all smiles. I was so happy I forgot that I am tired. The marvelous sight of Mapupungko Pool will make your day. Its a clash of waves, sand bar in the middle and a cliff pool near the beach shore. I enjoy the rest of my day swimming, jumping off the cliff, diving and taking pictures. The place is pure happiness for a person who loves the water.
The trip just started yet I am congratulating myself for achieving this far. I can say that I am now comfortable to conduct this kind solo venture. I explore the entire Pool area, around 0430, I decide to rest a bit before going back to GL. I am indeed a camper, I brought my gears with me because I love to sip coffee everywhere I go. So I heat water, enjoy my instant coffee and instant noodles to quench the starvation. This day is full of exploration and first time. After having my afternoon snack, I decide to go back to GL to rest. My guide advised me to check out Tayangban Cave since he saw junkie I am when I jump off the cliff several times.
The Tayangban Cave have little canyon to trek before heading in the cave. The entrance fee cost Php 20.00, exploring the cave add-ons is Php 50.00 for locals (Filipino) and Php 50.00 entrance / explore Php 50.00 for foreign tourist. I explore the cave which is a little bit intense but I am glad to drop by, the cave is underneath the national highway system in Siargao. It starts at the right side of the road and you will end up on the left side. Its a 15 minute spelunking activity which is a must try.
After my brief caving experience, we continue the ride back to GL. I asked my guide to stop by the Paghungawan Marsh for me to take my video. The marsh is home for Saltwater Crocodiles which is similar to the giant crocodile of Butuan, Lolong. The road system of Siargao is already equipped which is a sign of tourism boost in the region. If you want to explore Siargao Island, you can rent your own habal-habal which cost Php 350-500 per day, gasoline at your own expense. I can only drive a bike and too scared to drive my own motorcycle. I need a driver to prolong my life. Hehe
I went back to GL around 1800. The day is tiring, traveling both sea and land is exhausting. I need to buy some thing while staying in Siargao. I went to the market bought tuna and ingridients, went back to Paglaom and start to cook my food. The troop are asking me to go out since its Jungle Night. I am not the party head and I am too tired to go out. I also need to be early for the Bucas Grande trip. I did not join the jungle night and stayed in the cozy Paglaom lanai all throughout the night before going to bed. I am still adjusting to the friendliness of the people around me. Dumbfounded on how they seem to know each other in a very short time. I am thinking of extending my stay here if only I allot more days for this trip. I need more days because I am enjoying it way too much.
The night is deep, my call time is 0600. I need to rest and in my bunk before I am engrossed to fun of the night. The Siargao trip is truly magnificent. This is one of the best islands I visited, currently pulling this place as one of my top destination. I doze off to sleep and wonder for the love Bucas
Grande can give to me. Too tired and sleepy, I dream of having the wonderful time of my life. To live like this is to FEEL LIFE.
Catch you tomorrow PIRATES!
Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.