This is one of the places where you had to know the right time to visit. Access to Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande is only during low tide. Coming from Tundan Cave, we went back to Sohoton Bay Resort for a short lunch break before returning for the cove in the early afternoon. I was already impressed with what I’ve seen of Bucas Grande in general. The low round karst hills and islets reminds me of chocolate hills but this one over the majestic Palawan blue waters. That’s until we passed through the 40-meter low cave and entered the world of Sohoton Cove.
Placid blue waters. So still that the landscape reflects like a mirror. Only broken by the gentle ripples as our boat cuts through the silent waters. Lush and exotic. The place is so serene and quiet, especially when we noticed we are the only boat inside this 60-hectare cove. How could this beautiful place not see as many tourist as its neighboring Siargao Island is a mystery. A mystery I hope remains, unraveled only by a chosen few to those who dare explore further.
My host, Sir Ed, showed my an eye catching bare white rock wall. Old tales tell of an enchanted plant called “dawongdong” thriving at the center of this rock face. It’s leaves, once fallen off from its branch becomes food from all types of animals. Fish, snakes and other mammals. Locals were afraid to approach Sohoton Cove then because of this. They decided to cut this plant off the wall and since then, creatures no longer came to feed. People started to explore this enchanted cove.
Fun and Surreal Caves
Within the cove are 7 islets. Medium rise giant mounds covered in vegetation. Occasionally I could see a few birds flying from one islet to the other, disturbed by our presence. On one of the larger islets are two small caves. We visited Magkukuob Cave first. Initially, I was hesitant to go inside at first but sir Ed egged me to check it out. And why not? I’m already there.
The Magkukuob Cave comes from the Cebuano-word which means “to bow”, as people have to stoop low to enter the cave. A large iron-colored wall chamber awaits guests, stunningly illuminated through an exit above. We climbed the upper cave exit and found myself on a cliff jump platform about 5-meter high. It was a fun jump on that still azure waters.
The Hagukan Cave also comes from a Cebuano word, this one meaning “snore”. It’s from the sound naturally made by the tide as it enters and recedes across the cave passage and constant lapping against the ceiling. When the water level is low enough, visitors can swim through the cave and marvel at its translucency. When we came, the opening was just low enough that we need to swim on our backs to avoid hitting out heads on the sharp ceiling. The surreal iridescent glow and the hollow yet comforting silence is like being in another world which I succumbed for a while inside.
Sohoton Cove is also home to the non-stinging jellyfish (Mastigias papua). These golden underwater creatures lurk in these azure waters during the summer season. The name is a misnomer as the jellyfish do sting but only mildly and harmlessly so. Unfortunately it wasn’t the season for the jellyfish when I came as they usually appear around April and May.
Afternoon came and we still found ourselves alone in the cove. Wallowing in the calmness and serenity. A luxury to come by when a lot of tourist destinations have been crowded lately. Sohoton Cove has bits and pieces of popular locales harmoniously rolled into one. A right dash of nature adventure here and there.
My Bucas Grande Island tour is organized by Island Vacation Travel and Tours
Island Vacation Travel and Tours
Bucas Grande Island, Socorro, Surigao del Norte, Philippines
Email: [email protected]
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.