Few places evoke the wondrous hodgepodge of nature as powerfully as Bucas Grande. Decades ago, this far-flung island just lurks in the shadow of its more famous neighbor – the surfing capital of the Philippines – Siargao Island. Thankfully, it has carved out its own identity today. It’s the kind of place where you seem to have discovered a jaw-dropping idyll somehow uncharted by the rest of the country; where elusive tarictic hornbills glide past limestone hills hemmed in by pitcher plants and soaring magcono (ironwood) trees that yield one of the hardest lumbers in the world.
Oliver Baronday at mobile#: 0919 787 1825
TOP ATTRACTIONS IN BUCAS GRANDE ISLAND
STINGLESS JELLYFISH at TOJOMAN LAGOON (Sohoton Jellyfish Sanctuary)
The star attraction here is the spotted stingless jellyfish (Mastigas papuas). Though there are reports that they only thrive during summer (March-June), Ronald Ajop, the tourism officer, reveals that they are actually present anytime of the year, just moving around to avoid human disturbance. If you are lucky, you will find myriads of them in glassy, emerald waters like in Tojoman Lagoon.
For their protection, swimming with these pleasant creatures is prohibited. You can also see them in other lagoons in Sohoton. I’ve seen a couple of them swimming freely at the coastline leading to Bolitas Caves, and a staff at Club Tara advised me that they also thrive in the jade-colored lagoon there.
The underwater cave of Hagukan is rooted in the local word haguk, which means snoring, because it makes an ominous snoring sound as the waves of the receding tide lap the cavern’s roof. You can swim into the tiny passage and frolic in its bio-luminescent azure water.
MAGKUKUOB CAVE (Diving Cave)
At the nearby Magkukuob Cave, one has to wade in waist-level water. Here, you’ll find yourself surrounded by crystal draperies, stalactites and stalagmites. To exit, you can retrace the trail to the entrance or dive off the cliff!
BOLITAS and CRYSTAL CAVE
For a more daunting spelunking experience, Bolitas and Crystal Cave won’t disappoint. As you might have surmised, Crystal Cave is draped by crystal formations. It is also home to Balinsasayaw birds that produce the edible bird’s nests. On the other hand, Bolitas Cave can only be explored by crawling through its tiny passage clad with amazing stalactites and stalagmites.
A journey to Bucas Grande is not limited to Sohoton Cove; other islands are also open for exploration, such as Cinnamon Island, which is draped by cinnamon trees. Visitors here are welcomed with delicious cinnamon tea prepared by boiling the cinnamon barks, until the water turns rosy.
This island is managed by SAVE Sohoton, an organization founded to help provide alternative livelihood to the fishermen of Brgy. Sudlon, Socorro. Members served as boat operators, paddlers, tour guides, cook and entertainers. They also have affordable rooms (fan and air-conditioned) with breath-snatching views of Sohoton Bay that can accommodate up to 5 pax per room.
Due to typhoons that hit Bucas Grande Islands in recent years, the corals here were heavily destroyed. Fortunately, the uninhabited Marka-A Island remains a good snorkeling spot, just bring your own snorkeling gears as there is no place to rent one here.
This low-key resort offers a scenic view of the surrounding bay. They are known for their Jacuzzi rooms with an impeccable view of jade-colored lagoons hemmed in by lush jungle-clad hills. Day trippers are welcome here, entrance fee is only Php 20 per head.
The glassy, emerald water of Tiktikan Lake is reminiscent of Bulusan Lake. Visitors can go boating or trekking here or simply chill by the cottages dappled around its shoreline.
KAPIHAN NATURE AND ADVENTURE PARK
Ride the zip line (Php 400) at Kapihan Nature and Adventure Park in Socorro, the highest point of Bucas Grande that also offers a scenic view of Siargao Island. Contact #: +63 910 292 3539.
HOW TO GET TO SOHOTON/ BUCAS GRANDE ISLAND
Manila – Surigao – Hayanggabon Port (Recommended route)
Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific flies daily between Manila and Surigao. You can travel by land to Hayanggabon Port via Claver from Surigao Integrated Bus Terminal. Fare is Php 120, travel time is about 1 hour. From Hayanggabon Port, charter a boat directly to Sohoton. (This is my recommended route)
Surigao – Hayanggabon Port – Socorro
If you wish to drop by or stay in Socorro Town, you can ride a passenger boat from Hayanggabon Port to Socorro. Travel time is 1 hour, fare is Php 100. There is not much to do in Socorro town though.
Socoro to Hayanggabon Passenger Boat Trip Schedule
|05:15 AM||Daily||D’Island Tour Vessel|
|06:00 AM||M/Thur/Sunday||Jade Horrace|
|07:50 AM||Daily||Sohoton Star Spirit|
|12:00 PM||Daily||D’ Island Tour|
|01:00 PM||M/Thur/Sunday||Jade Horrace|
Surigao – Socorro
From Surigao you can ride a passenger boat directly to Socorro at Surigao Pier, however travel time is about 3 hours, fare is Php 220 and the boat leaves at 12 noon only from Monday to Saturday.
Siargao Island – Socorro – Sohoton/Bucas Grande Island
From Dapa Port, passenger boats leave daily for Socorro. Fare is Php 100, travel time is about 1 hour.
Socorro to Dapa Passenger Boat Trip Schedule
|06:00 AM||Tuesday||Jade Horace|
|08:30 AM||Daily||D’ Island Tour|
|12:00 PM||Daily||Sohoton Star Spirit|
Siargao Island – Sohoton
You can charter boats directly to Sohoton from Siargao Island, although it is more expensive. See rates below (under tour expenses).
Manila – Butuan – Hayanggabon Port
Philippine Airlines flies daily between Manila and Butuan. From Butuan, catch a bus to Surigao City and get off at Bad-as junction. Travel time is 2 hours, fare is Php 180. From Bad-as junction, transfer to a van en route to Hayanggabon Port via Claver, fare is Php 90.
Manila – Butuan – Hayanggabon
Take a Philtranco bus bound for Davao which passes by Surigao City via Lipata Port. Travel time is around 24 hours, fare is around Php 2,000+. Follow Route 1-3 once you’re in Surigao.
Bucas Grande/Sohoton Boat Rates:
|Socorro- Hayanggabon – Sohoton (vice versa / 1 day tour)||Php 3,000 (small boat)/ good for 1-4 pax)|
|Php 3,500 (medium boat/good for 5-10 pax|
|Php 4,000 (large boat /good for 10-15 pax)|
|Socorro – Sohoton|
(vice versa / 1 day tour)
| Php 2,000 (medium boat/good for 5-10 pax)|
|Php 2,500 (large boat/good fpr 10- 15 pax)|
|Dapa (Siargao) – Socorro – Sohoton (vice versa / 1 day tour)||Php 3, 500 (small boat/good for 1-4 pax)|
|Php 4,000 (medium boat/good for 5-10 pax)|
|Php 6, 000 (large boat/good for 10-15 pax)|
Recommended boatman/guide/tours: Oliver Baronday at mobile#: 0919 787 1825
* Note that the boat rental does not cover the fees for Sohoton Cove tour. You will only be transported to Sohoton and you need to transfer to a smaller boat to tour inside Sohoton Cove.
Please refer to the rates below for
Sohoton Cove Tour Fees
|Php 50||Entrance Fee for domestic tourists (Php 150 for foreigners)|
|Php 50||Environmental fee|
|Php 100||Docking fee (per boat)|
|Php 80||Life vest and helmet rental|
|Php 500||Pumpboat to get inside Sohoton Cove (per boat)|
|Php 330||Guide fee (Php 165 per guide/2 guides per boat)|
|Php 100||Paddler to go to Tojoman Lagoon/jellyfish sanctuary)|
|Php 20||Crystal Cave and Bolitas Cave entrance fee|
|Php 20||Lake Tiktikan Entrance fee|
|Php 20||Club Tara Entrance Fee|
- For those who wants to avail of tour packages or boat rental: contact Oliver Baronday at mobile#: 0919 787 1825 or
- SAVE Sohoton via Cinnamon Island’s manager: Roldan Dizon at 0948 820 5835
I recommend staying in Sohoton since there is not much to do in Socorro town. Accommodations in Sohoton offers scenic sea views where you can swim, snorkel or go kayaking.
WHERE TO STAY IN SOHOTON, BUCAS GRANDE ISLAND
Contact #: Roldan Dizon (operations manager) at +63 948 820 5835
There are 3 spacious native cottages with a scenic view of Sohoton Bay. Fan cottage (Php 2,500 / good for 1-5 pax with breakfast and air-conditioned cottages (Php 3,000/ good for 1-5 pax without breakfast).
Cinnamon Island can also arrange breakfast, lunch or dinner, contact the operations manager prior to visit (see number above).
* Take note that there are no store/ market around Sohoton so best to arrange the food for your island hopping tour.
Beachfront of Cinnamon Island
Jacuzzi room promo rates start at Php 4,000 + with breakfast (good for two). They also have dorm rooms and forest view for Php 1,000 per person.