How will I start to describe Dinagat Islands?
I think a friend made a good start when he said that it's one of the most virgin destinations in the Philippines. It certainly is. During island hopping, we passed through numerous beach coves, lush-green islands and the occasional community of houses built in stilts. Normally, I would've ignored these sights, but the months I've spent touring around the Philippines and seeing commercial attractions made me appreciate "untouched" provinces more.
Until a few years ago, I hadn't heard about Dinagat Islands. Apparently it's the second newest province in the Philippines, having been declared only in 2006. That makes sense because I was already done with geography class at that point and was out of loop for updates. Dinagat Islands is also known as "Mystical Island, Province of Love."
Dinagat Islands is one of the poorest provinces in the country. Perhaps this explains the lack of commercial development in the area or the fact that it remains ignored even in the local tourist radar.
Island hopping in Dinagat Islands
We scheduled to see seven islands and the tidal pool in Libjo for a day. There's also Lake Bababu, which can be reached through 45 minutes of trekking from one of our stops. The weather wasn't favorable during our island hopping to Dinagat Islands though, even though it was early in February and should've been all sunshine. We'd decided to keep the day trip short and excluded trekking to the lake.
For reference though, here's a photo of Lake Bababu from Panoramio. In normal days it seems to resemble Lake Pandin more rather than the cool blue of this one.
The boat ride to the tidal pool in Pangabangan Island in Libjo was choppy, not to mention that there was intermittent rain. We were already wet before we'd made it to the island. As our boatmen were securing our ride on the shore, my companions went ahead and I heard one said, "Shet, ang ganda."
That's how you know you've stumbled upon something amazing.
That's the tidal pool in Pangabangan Island. It's one of the most beautiful tidal pools I've seen, and our photos simply don't do justice. It was a dazzling blue and separated a few meters from the ocean. It looked like a fairy tale material, a goddess' lagoon.
The rest of the islands we'd explored later that day were just as great. Dark emerald seems to be the dominant color in Dinagat Islands. It's in the sea, the small forests on top of rocky islets, the lines of coconut trees surrounding beach coves. I'd also lost count of the seemingly uninhabited beaches we'd passed along the way. I wanted to ask our boatmen if the beaches were ever visited, if the islands were occupied, if we could stop by every one of them. Alas, the weather didn't give way and the noise from the boat engine prevented conversations.
We had lunch in Sundayo Island. There used to be a resort here, I was told. The huts were torn down, and we sat down in one of the cement foundations to have lunch and fresh coconut.
We'd stopped by Agan Island, a private property of a top government official that has been abandoned for unknown reasons. Stairs lead to the vacation house that's still standing on top of the island's cliff. The view from above overlooks the vast green sea of Dinagat Islands and several islands in the distance. There's a small beach on one side of Agan Island, where we spotted small schools of fishes and an idle stone fish sitting on the sea floor.
Before we'd left, we made a lost stop to a twin beach I'd forgotten the name of. At this point I wasn't really thinking about blogging but more on trying to just suck all the beauty in, so I wasn't diligent to list down details. The twin beach is squeezed in between rocks. Its water is a vibrant green and reminded me of the Green Lagoon in Coron, Palawan.
Practical information to Dinagat Islands
To get to Dinagat Islands, ride a passenger boat from Pantalan Dos port in Surigao City en route to San Jose. The earliest schedule is 5AM, and the latest boat going back to the city is at 3PM. The ride takes 1.5 hour.
Island hopping rate depends on the boat size, I was told. We paid P3500 for a boat good for 4 people. Our itinerary includes seven islands and the tidal pool in Libjo. There's an option of chartering the boat back to Surigao City for an additional P500.
Boat operator: Kuya Lolong, 0948 856 2634
For more details on our trip, head on to our 5 Days Itinerary and Travel Guide to Surigao and Dinagat Islands.
Have you been to Dinagat Islands? What's your favorite stop in this unexplored province?
How will I start to describe Dinagat Islands?