Sohoton Caves and Bucas Grande Island
Surigao del Note is one province that will bewilder travelers. If you think Siargao island is beautiful wait until you visit Sohoton Caves and Bucas Grande Island which is just south of this surfing spot.
I was actually hesitant to write about the Sohoton Cove because this would mean more tourists to this piece of paradise on earth; more tourists means more trash right? But then again, the secret is out and all I can do is implore the readers to “leave nothing but footprints.” I hope you do this not only here but in every place you visit. i hope this will not be another Boracay.
Anyway, following are my unforgettable experiences that can also serve as a travel guide to everyone planning to visit this tourist destination.
A Welcome Invitation
Halfway on my ISANGDAAN Journey, I was lucky enough to be invited by my friend, Ed Sangco of www.islandvacations.me, for a tour of Bucas Grande Islands and Sohoton Caves. He is a proud local of Socorro town where these places are located.Being a nature and beach addict, I can’t let this pass, right?
Early morning we traveled by van from Surigao City to Hayanggabon port (2.5hours) and rode an outrigger banca to Sohoton Cove National Park (1.5hours). One can also opt to go there from Siargao island via Socorro town. From Dapa pier you can take the ferry to Socorro for Php150 (2 hours), first trip leaves at 8:00am. From Socorro, one can hire a banca to Sohoton National Park at Php1,500 or up depending on the capacity. You can contact Sir Ed Sancgo at 0917-703-0510 for inquiries.
Mesmerizing Sohoton National Park
The place was teeming with life. Various coral formations can easily be seen because of the crystal clear waters as you near the island. The place would leave every visitor with mesmerized- clean lakes, secret coves, enchanting lagoons, spectacular rock and coral formations, incredible sea creatures and many more. If you think Coron, Palawan is charming, Bucas Grande is way much better and more pristine.
If you think that these tour would cost you a lot, worry not. There are budget friendly options and I suggest you compare prices before booking your accommodation. I was lucky enough to be offered a complimentary accommodation in Socorro Town after the tour. Details can be found at the latter portion of the blog.
Our first destination was the Titikan Lake where one have to trek up and down to see the lake (like that in Kayangan lake in Coron). From there you can use a small paddle boat or the bamboo raft “balsa” and immerse himself on nature’s beauty while appreciating the thick foliage of the rock formations around the lake.
Then we checked out Bolitas Cave, named like that because of the “bolitas-like pebbles” replete inside of it. The cave exploration was very tiring because you have to literally move with your hands, feet and knees as some openings are too small. It is home to “balinsasayaw,” a kind of swiftlet or swallow that produces the bird’s nest which is the most expensive soup in the world, favorite among Chinese folks for its medicinal value. I recommend going there with a knowledgeable guide and of course an efficient light source like headlamp and flashlight. Expect to get dirty with mud and bat poop.
Then of course to the highlight of the tour- Hagukan & Makukuob caves and the Jellyfish Lagoon. You can reach this nature park when its low tide as small bancas will have to navigate the small cave opening.
I will never forget the Hagukan Cave. You have to swim and duck dive to a small opening in order to reach the cave. The only available light is the one coming out of that small opening. That sunlight was being reflected by the water inside the cave which in turn being reflected by the stalactites above. I tried swimming face up to see the calcium-rich minerals above, it was like seeing clouds. My ears slightly under the water, I heard some sounds maybe from the waves outside the cave as it bumps the opening. I close my eyes and sound was like voices of angels singing. It was a heavenly experience, bliss. I forgot everything and felt nature close as I continued floating for the next 15 minutes.
We also checked out the Makukuob cave that has majestic stalactite and stalagmite formations. Don’t forget to wear a helmet for safety, okay? Once you’re inside, the only way out is to jump off the cliff opening where the turquoise water is waiting for you, I tried going further up and jumped from a tree about 30feet straight to the sea. Adrenaline rush to the highest dude!
We didn’t left the place without seeing the stingless jellyfish or the Spotted Lagoon Jelly (Mastigiuas papua). It was just the start of the jellyfish season so I just saw small ones and their slimy green eggs. This is one of the highlights of the trip, really amazing! Don’t you forget that the season for theses jellyfish is from April-June only.
The whole trip was a feast to the senses, I can’t believe that all those can be found in Surigao del Norte. Unbelievable beauty!
Where to stay?
I was lucky enough to have a good friend take care of my accommodation at Island Vacations Country Inn in Socorro Town. You can check the rates by visiting the website: www.islandvacations.me.
There are at least 3 cottages in Buca Grande too. Cinnamon Island Cottage, Titkikan Lake Cottage and SIFAI Cottage which are very affordable especially for backpackers.
One may also opt to splurge and stay on Club Tara Island (www.clubtara.asia) or Hidden Island Resort (www.hiddenislandresort.ph)
You can also check the guides of Lakwatsero: www.lakwatsero.com/destinations/bucas-grande-islands-sohoton-cove-national-park-socorro/ and EAZY Traveler: www.eazytraveler.com/2012/01/bucas-grande-islands-secrets-of-sohoton.html.
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The Sohoton Cave and Bucas Grande Tour happened during Day 50 of the epic ISANGDAAN Journey where I traveled around the whole Philippines for 100 Days, non-stop the cheapest way possible.