Davao Oriental Escapade

Davao Oriental is a province in the Philippines situated in Davao Region, Mindanao. Its capital is Mati and outskirts Compostela Valley toward the west, and Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur toward the north. Map here.

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So we have this undeclared vow that we will travel all provinces in Mindanao first before hopping to different major islands here in the Philippines. Therefore, our next destination is the tourist destinations of Davao Oriental.

The following destinations are being met:

  • Panas Falls, New Corella, Davao del Norte
  • Aliwagwag Falls Eco Park, Cateel, Davao Oriental
  • San Victor, Baganga, Davao Oriental
  • Manay, Davao Oriental
  • Sleeping Dinosaur, Mati, Davao Oriental
  • Mati Baywalk, Mati, Davao Oriental

Timeline (Estimated)


Day 1

1:00 am – 4:30 am Travel and Breakfast in Tagum

4:30 am -5:30 am ETA to Panas Falls

5:30 am-8:00 am ETA to Aliwagwag Falls

8:00am-2:00 pm Enjoying Aliwagwag Falls

2:00 pm- 3:00 pm ETA to San Victor Island

Day 2

8:00 am – 11:00 am – ETD from San Victor to Manay

11:00 am-1:00 pm LUNCH

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm ETA to Sleeping Dinosaur

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm ETA to Mati Baywalk

4:00 pm – 8:00 pm ETA to Davao City


Panas Waterfalls, New Corella

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From Davao City, we need to arrive in Tagum City as early as possible. This is not really part of our itinerary but it will be a good deal if we can enjoy one of the waterfalls here in Mindanao too, so we visited Panas Waterfalls in New Corella.

Panas Inland Resort is the first inland resort in the entire New Corella. It is an LGU-worked resort created to wind up distinctly the essential eco-tourism site of the town. It settles in the timberland secured zone of Barangay Carcor speaking of multi-layered falls, streams and sifted spring waters unsullied to characterize a perfect eco-tourism experience.

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Aliwagwag Falls Eco Park, Cateel

That was a long drive from Tagum to Cateel, Compostela. You will experience almost 90-degree consecutive turns going to Aliwagwag. You will pass by a cliff and waters dripping from its side. You can see good views as you go through the mountains of Compostela Valley.

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When coming to Mindanao, Aliwagwag Waterfalls is one of the best tourist destinations. It is hailed as the tallest waterfalls in the Philippines with its 127 falls, 21 of which are reachable by trail.

Entrance-Adult-Php 50.00 | Children-Php 20.00
Table and Chairs-Php 75.00
Monkey Bridge – Php 50.00
Zipline – Php 200
Monkey Bridge and Zipline – Php 225.00

No overnight.| Falls will close at 5pm.

Unfortunately, I was so excited to swim in Aliwagwag and it was so hot, so I forgot to take picture of the whole thing.

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The Eco Park has a lot to offer, from a 680-meter zip line with an altitude of 55 meters starting from the first level which overlooks the canopy of the rainforest and the reasonable waters of Cateel River included by the magnificence of Aliwagwag Falls out of sig_to a Monkey bridge that crosses over a raging falls, giving the tourist a perspective of the falling deluges underneath.

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Monkey Bridge.

Before you go to a hike going to either zip line or monkey bridge, you better pay everything from the entrance coz’ they will not entertain you unless you have the ticket slip coming from the registration area. That was actually what happened to us and we just went back with a dampened heart from a 20-minute hike back from a monkey bridge.


San Victor Island, Bagangga

After our Aliwagwag Falls escapade, we went straight to San Victor Island in Bagangga municipality. It took us almost an hour so we had a chance to rest. This is where we spent our night on this beautiful island.

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The San Victor Island is one of Davao Oriental’s extraordinary islands confronting the Pacific Ocean. It is 3-hectare Island situated in Barangay San Victor around 20 minutes drive from Baganga’s town appropriate and 40 minutes ride from its neighboring town of Cateel. The island is exceptionally available from the parkway and around 5 minutes vessel ride from the territory.

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Manay, Davao Oriental

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First thing in the morning, we took our breakfast and a little bit of ala goodbye swim to San Victor Island and went straight ahead to Manay, Davao Oriental. One of my colleagues prepared our lunch. We were so pampered that they really prepared sumptuous food and drinks. They even rented karaoke for our recreational activity. Hot soup, grilled fish, fresh papaya and watermelon, and updated karaoke lists. Thanks, Suganday family.

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Lunch with Suganday family in Manay.

Early in the morning, the beauty of Manay will really astound you. The clear water, the bright and scorching sun, everything seems perfect. We had our breakfast, then we played volleyball.

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Playing Volleyball.
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Clear water of Manay.

Mati, Davao Oriental

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After our lunch with Suganday family, we set ourselves up to go home. As you backpedaled from Manay to Davao, you will pass through Mati City. So when you say Mati City, one of the spots that you might want to visit is the Sleeping Dinosaur Island_and it’s free.

Sleeping Dinosaur Island is normally a stopover for most guests, and its inquisitive shape has collected a lot of myths and gossipy tidbits.

Locals were saying that there might be truly dinosaurs that lived and settled on the island some time ago, subsequently its shape. Be that as it may, whatever the purpose behind its fascinating development, the Sleeping Dinosaur Island is an unquestionable requirement to see, which is situated in Brgy. Dawan, Mati.

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Sleeping Dinosaur.

Another destination that you don’t want to miss in Mati City is their baywalk. It is just an hour away from the Sleeping Dinosaur Island, so we headed ourselves there. You can take pictures and stuff_ and embrace the scorching sun. Yes, it was super hot.

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Mati Baywalk

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TIPS


  • Bring food and snacks along the way.
  • Bring water.. .Even though you will be plunging from different forms of water, you will really be dehydrated.
  • All my friends were envy because I had a summer hat. This will really help you from the heat of the sun.
  • Bring sunblock.. it was too hot and it will be hot.
  • If you are in Aliwagwag, pay all fees like for zip line, tables, monkey bridge, and many more in the registration area.
  • If you have private vehicles, leave your things inside. No one will guard your things unless somebody will have that noble sacrifice not to swim.
  • Before arriving in San Victor, charge all your phones, gadgets, and even power banks coz’ all amenities in San Victor that you will be using have fees (i.e. electricity, boat..)

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Surigao del Sur Escapade

Surigao del Sur is blessed with different natural resources, from lakes, beaches, falls, mountains, and much more. It is not surprising that Surigao del Sur is one of the best destinations that can be chosen when it comes to nature tripping.

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Surigao del Sur is an area in the Philippines situated in the Caraga locale in Mindanao. Its capital is Tandag City. It is situated on the eastern bank of Mindanao and facing the Philippine Sea toward the east. Map here.

Before we continue, I will just give you an idea that what we had during this trip was not for backpackers. Everything was planned ahead of time, from transportation, itinerary, accommodation, and even the expenses during the tour. Meaning, what I can share with you is plainly the experience we had.

So, let’s get started.

  • Britania Group of Island, San Agustin
  • Enchanted River, Hinatuan
  • Bislig Baywalk,
  • Tinuy-an Falls

Timeline (Estimated)

Day 1

1 am – 9 amTravel from Davao to Britania, San Agustin

9 am – 11 am Rest and unpacking

11 am-12 pm Lunch

12 pm-4 pm Britania Group of Islands

4 pm-6 pm Recreational Activity/Dinner

Day 2

8 am – 10 am Travel from Britania San Agustin to Enchanted River

10 am -12 pm Enchanted River

12 pm – 2 pm Travel going to Tinuy-an Falls, Bislig

2 pm – 3 pm Lunch

3 pm – 7 pm Travel from Bislig to Manay

7 pm Rest and Dinner


Britania Group of Islands

San Agustin is blessed with 24 islands and islets scattered all over Lianga Bay, which confronts the Pacific Ocean. The gathering of islands is called Britania, named after its barangay.

As we arrived in San Agustin there was a heavy rain, it was a bad weather, perhaps. That’s why went straight to Mac Arthur’s Place where we booked a reservation beforehand. They have decent cottages that can cater 10-15 persons and it is just fronting the Britania’s Group of Islands.

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2nd floor of our cottage.

Good thing the rain stopped. Though it was gloomy, we cannot compromise our itinerary since as you have noticed almost half of the total hours from our itinerary was for traveling. So we moved on.

We started to hop into the boat at 12 pm and travel going to the first island which is the Hagonoy island for around 20 mins. 

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Hagonoy Island

It is a virgin island! There are coconut trees, rocks, sand, and sea water. That’s it. Nothing less, nothing more. We just stayed for about 15 mins then go back to the boat.

In front of Hagonoy Island is the Naked Island. As what the name of the island is suggesting, it is really naked. Meaning, nothing is in there_just plain white sand. So we did not bother to visit the area.

Next stop is Boslon Island. This is the main island where tourists really visit and stay for longer time than the other islands. You can appreciate this island because of its fine sand. You can also see a statue of Mama Mary facing the sea.

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Boslon island.

We also asked our bangkeros if we can have our swimming in between the islets for deeper diving, and they agreed. We had it for 30 mins then went back to Boslon Island. So most of our time was being spent on this island, then decided to go back to our cottage.

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On the following day, we packed right away to travel to Enchanted River. But before that, we had some stop over to a souvenir shop where you can also view the Britania Group of Islands.

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Britania Group of Islands and Islets

Hinatuan Enchanted River

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The river itself is just at the back of the signage.

The Hinatuan Enchanted River is a profound spring stream on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. It streams into the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean at Barangay Talisay, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. It is found between the limits of Barangays of Talisay and Cambatong.

From Britania Group of Islands, it took us almost 2-3 hours to reach Enchanted River. As you arrived, you can see souvenir stalls where you can buy cheap and nice remembrance. The parking area was quite far from the enchanted river itself. So we needed to wait for their van since we were carrying pieces of luggage. But if you cannot wait for the van and don’t have heavy things to carry, then you can walk for about 100 meters.

Entrance Fee = Php 30.00   |  Life Jacket Rental = Php 15.00 per hour

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Enchanted River
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Walk from parking area to the river.
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Entrance to the river.

Bislig Baywalk

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Their baywalk is just along the road, so you can stop over and take some pictures.


Tinuy-an Falls

 

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Tinuy-an Falls! Sigh. It really manifested what the name is suggesting. Tinuyo-an in Cebuano or Visayan dialect means intentional. Intentional in a way that it is far from the highway and you really need to have the intention whether you want to visit or not. The road going there was rocky and it will take you 2 hours to reach the place coming from the highway alone.

The entrance fee on that day was Php 40.00. The attendant said that the entrance fee will depend on the prior weather. Usually, it will cost around Php 20-30.00 only. Since it was raining and the volume of water was high, so as the price.

We just took our lunch then packed up right away.


We actually went straight to Manay and Mati City. For a full read, I will lead you to my another blog intended for Davao Oriental Escapade.



Finally, we reached Davao at 8 pm already. Exhausted but it was fun. In this trip, I can say that we really did not maximize the spot that we had visited. So if you can suggest a better itinerary, please feel free to comment below.


Surigao del Sur has a lot of tourist destinations that you can visit with. However, these destinations are quite distant from each other. So if you have a plan, you better secure your transportation and accommodation beforehand. This will really lessen your burden as you have your tour. Nevertheless, it was a  new and fun-filled experience.

Island Garden of Bucas Grande

Summer is coming. You might want to enjoy and have a glimpse of some wonders of our nature with a short period of time. Well, here it is. Why not enjoy your short vacay in Bucas Grande, Socorro, Surigao del Norte, Philippines.

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Bucas Grande is an island in the territory of Surigao del Norte in the Philippines. The island is touching with the district of Socorro, Surigao del Norte. Its zone is 128 square kilometers. Map here. Among them are perfect tidal ponds, ocean hollows, inlets, and lakes, some of which are still unfamiliar, while others must be gotten to in specific conditions.

When summer is coming, we always search for some beautiful places that we will be enjoying. Since I, personally, wanted to visit all wonderful places within Mindanao first_before jumping into another island or what. We accidentally found Sohoton considering the idea that we want to have a hassle free vacation. That’s why we looked for an agency that offers a tour for Sohoton and we found Explore Adventure Travel and Tours. So you better check out their FB link and inquire about it.

Anyway, we finally booked the 2D-1N tour of the said agency.


Timeline (Estimated)


  • 11 pm Meetup
  • 11 pm-7 am Looooong TRAVEL from Davao going to Surigao del Norte
  • 7 am Breakfast c/o agency
  • 7 am-8 am Travel going to Hayanggabon Port
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Hanyanggabon Port
  • 8 am-9 am Travel from Hayanggabon Port to your accommodation (Tiktikan Lagoon)

Fun begins (Day 1)


Sohoton Gamay (Tondan Cave)

After putting all the bags into your room, you need to hop yourself in the boat for the first destination which is the Tondan Cave for about 15 mins.

Since we had everything with the agency and it also a peak season, our tour guide was the one who huddled for our queue. The entrance fee costs roughly Php 20-30.00 only but if you are with the agency, you don’t need to pay ‘coz it is a part of the amount you had paid. After registering your name, you will be given a “funky” helmet. Then, hike about 100 meters going to the cave.

The cave was not too big since it was named as Sohoton Gamay which means a smaller version of the real Sohoton Cove. We were there for about 30 mins only because it was hot inside since it is an underground cave.


Back to Tiktikan Lagoon for lunch 

Since you’ve been traveling like forever, you can really appreciate a well-ordered and tidy room, so as Tiktikan Lagoon. It has comfy beds and enough ventilation for recharging an exhausted body. However, we did not do the way you think we did after seeing the bed. When we saw the turquoise-colored sea water from the window, we just had to choose what side of the bed will be sleeping, put some sunblock, then swooped down to the water. SWIM. We were able to borrow some life jackets from the boat docking nearby. That’s why we were confident somehow.


Sohoton Cove

So after sumptuous lunch, this is it! Sohoton Cove! Hopped into the boat and rode for about 20 mins. But before reaching the registration area, we had to hop from our boat to smaller boat due to some sea areas that were shallow. But you will really enjoy the sceneries and even the clear water. Basing from the last picture _those pinkish things under the water are actually coral reefs. See? That’s how shallow the water if it is low tide already.


Enchanting Sohoton

Okay.. so our group was in the same boat except to our friend who needed to be with the other group. So just to give you heads up, if you want to enjoy and witness amazing things all together, you better have the number that is divisible by 6 or 8 or else there might be someone who cannot relate when you have your chit-chats later on.

Along the side of the islets, they have this landmark called Ti-il sa Kabayo (Horse Shoe). This serves as their landmark when entering and exiting the lagoon. Another thing is, our tour guide also mentioned that the reason why Sohoton is called Enchanting Sohoton because locals sometimes hear some chants around where it seems mysterious and the lagoon itself produces fish where they don’t know where it really came from. No matter how valid the reason is, one thing is for sure Sohoton is indeed enchanting.


Hagukan Cave

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After passing through those landmarks, you will be enjoying Hagukan Cave or the snoring cave. Hagukan Cave is based on the Cebuano or Visayan dialect “hagok” means snoreThe cave creates sound because of the waves getting in in the cave. The cave has a small passage that you need to swim and if it is high tide you cannot even see the opening of the cave. Just a tip, if you are not a good swimmer like me and not confident to risk your life for a 15-meter swim, then you better borrow a life jacket or better stay on the boat and wait for any report from your friends that swim like a fish. Anyway, your tour guides will really help you to swim_like a dog and that’s what we did.


Magkukuob Cave

Okay, this is one of the most challenging things we did in Sohoton. Before you get inside into the cave, you need to be oriented and prepared to jump and plunge from a 10-ft platform and mind you NO TURNING BACK. Going up is not an easy task. You need to memorize the stones for grabbing and stepping for not slipping down or else stalagmites are very ready to catch you down. It was narrow, dark, and slippery. When I was checking my friends going up, I was having regrets and doubting my capacity if I can really make it through. But fortunately, I did it. Just take your time. Again, another reminder.. that was just the entrance.

When we were still in the boat, I was so confident that I can jump as high as 10-ft. “That was too easy“, I said. But I’ll tell you, it was not easy. My knees were shaking and hard as the tree clinging to the sides of the islet not to fall. But it was my turn already, my friends and some random tourists were all staring at me and I don’t wanna fail them and another motivation guys, there is no other way going out. I better jump from the platform than taking the route again as we went up. So I jumped.


Jellyfish Sanctuary

That was my first time to have a close interaction with the jellyfish…of course, those are stingless jellyfish. But before that, we waited for almost an hour before hopping into a 3-seated boat. The queue was long due to the number of tourists who flocked in Sohoton.

When it was our turn to hop in, you will be having a chance to paddle going to the sanctuary for around 20 mins. According to Kuya, our bangkero and tour guide, the number of jellyfish went down due to some tourists before that were allowed to swim with the jellyfishes. Since people are very much worried about their skin, sun block or any beauty products might be the reason for the diminishing numbers of reproduction. Therefore, we did not swim with them but we were able to touch some.


Heading back to Tiktikan Lagoon

First-day tour was done. We felt hungry as well as exhausted. We better go back before the evening strikes. The sceneries captured as we headed back to Tiktikan lagoon was so mesmerizing. The sun, the clear water, the ambiance, sigh.. it was breathtaking.


Plunging into Different Beaches (Day 2)

On that day, we just toured around different beaches that the Bucas Grande has to offer. Like Turtle Island, Marka-A Island, White Sand Island and much more.


TIPS

  • When we were traveling from Davao to Surigao, we were seated at the back of the van. With that, you should be early so that you will be able to choose the middle part of the van. On that area, there will be minimal shaking when the van passes through a rocky road and you will be having a decent sleep.
  • Bring food and water when you start your tour. Along the way, you will be hungry. Your accommodation is quite far from places that you will be visiting.
  • Bring towel or shoal when having a tour.
  • Place your gadget in waterproof cases.
  • If you are in a group, make sure the number of pax should be divisible by 8 or 6. Even numbers.

Bucas Grande is indeed one of the nature sceneries that gives us an idea how wonderful God’s works are. Amazing and breathtaking. Hopefully, I can still see this preserved beauty for how many years from now. Even now as I am writing this blog, I can still recall the feeling when I was there. Give it a try. Witness the beauty of Bucas Grande.