It was one splashy ride. We’re midway through hour 2-hour journey along Surigao strait for our first island hopping stop in Dinagat Islands, the Pangabangan Island. I knew the weather would be intermittent in a September but my birthday was coming up and I wanted to go to a place I haven’t been before. I’m fascinated about Dinagat Islands after seeing photos from friends who went there. The natural wonders looks raw and beautiful. The province is curiously wrapped in a mysterious culture and religion.
En Route Dinagat Islands
The province of Dinagat Islands was one of those places I can easily cross-out from my list of unexplored provinces in the country. Located northeast of Surigao del Norte, bounded by Southern Leyte on the west and Siargao island on the southeast, the island province is one of the smallest in the country with a total area of 1,036.34 square kilometers.
I flew via Cebu Pacific Air to Surigao City with a flight connection from Cebu. Arriving in Surigao City, I went to the boulevard to catch the next passenger boat heading to San Jose, one of the seven municipalities of Dinagat Islands. It was short of a 1.5 hour boat ride. Ronald of JBN Seaside Inn welcomed me when I arrived at the capital municipality and drove me to his inn just 10 minutes away from the port. A really cozy big house on stilts protruding the bay. It was airy and had a nice view of the sea. Clean and quiet with only the sound of the waves reaching the shore at night.
I had help from JBN Seaside Inn to arrange my boat for my island hopping tour. It was a bit pricey since I was traveling alone and had to pay for the whole boat. The plan was to visit the highlight islands first and do the side trips later. One of those iconic islands I’ve been seeing is the Pangabangan Island up mid north at the municipality of Libjo.
From the inn, I rode a tryke to Don Ruben Port where I would board the large outrigger boat. It was quite sunny when we left but midway, a squall caught us and the torrential waters came. It didn’t last long though. When we reached the scenic archipelago of Basilisa, the rains abated and we removed the roof tarp so our boat can run faster. I love the scenery here though as we pass through the channel.
We finally reached Pangabangan Island. A limestone island that could easily have been mistaken as part of Palawan. There’s a beautiful strip of white sand beach on the eastern side. A circular lagoon enclosed by a wall of limestone north of the island. The island resembles a can opener tool from the sky.
I met a family from Agusan having their vacation since a member of the family came home from abroad. I first encountered them when I climbed this low limestone hill overlooking the islets and the lagoon. Gesturing to take a picture of their group started our conversations. Later, they offered some of their food for lunch. Then we were floating on the raft in the middle of the lagoon sharing a few stories and laugh. It was fun.
The lagoon looks quite deep. A steep drop from the shallow beach surrounding it. A few jellyfish in the area too but it didn’t stop others from swimming. The waters were clear. I can imagine it to be more striking and inviting under the sun instead of the gloomy skies. Shortly we had to leave after lunch and continue on our way to the mystical Lake Bababu. I bid the other family good bye as our boats went separate ways.
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.