I’m sure there was a time in one of your trips when the weather was all gloom and rain then became bright and sunny when you’re about to leave. That was on repeat on my trip in Dinagat Islands. I was already at the port, about to buy my ferry ticket back to Surigao while feeling regretful seeing the sun out in all its glory. “Sir, pwede natin ituloy yung Basilisa, maganda na panahon (sir, we can continue with our Basilisa, the weather’s better)” the text I suddenly received from one of the boatman I was referred to for island hopping. I mean, I already have my baggage with me. All my stuff are packed in and organized already. Will I still have a chance to go back to Surigao within the day? To heck with this. I took one of the bao-bao (local transport) ride back to Don Ruben port. Let’s go island hopping under the sun!
Basilisa Island Hopping
The municipality of Basilisa is found at the central area of the Dinagat Island province extending to the islands on the western side. I’ve already visited Basilisa when I went to Lake Bababu but failed to visit the islands due to the bad weather. The island hopping tour here is quite popular since it’s closer to San Jose and with many islands to visit.
I met up with the wife of Kuya Percing, my boatman, and she led me to their little hut by the shore. While waiting for the boat, I took what I need for island hopping and left my luggage in their hut. Kuya Percing arrived shortly. We boarded his boat and went off to see the islands and beaches.
Less than half an hour, we reached our first stop, the Pagkawasan Beach (sometimes spelled Pagcawasan). It’s part of the southern coves of the triangular-shaped island of Unib. With the sun up, it was an ideal picture-perfect beach with towering coconut trees fringing a strip of 130 meters of white grainy sands with island peaks at the background, clear waters and native huts. The waters were finally blue despite the waves. It is possible to stay overnight here.
Entrance Fee: P20/adults; P10/kids
Day Cottages: P500-P1000
Overnight Cottages: P700 – P1,500
(Maximum pax per cottage is 20, additional P10 per excess)
Table and chair sets rental for P250/day
Biray-biray Paradise Island
Southward just across the seas is the small Biray-biray Paradaise Island. A lush elongated island with a nice strip of white sand on the east side and rocky shores on the west side. There are overnight cottages here as well. They said there’s good snorkeling here too. Next time I should try.
Found at the southwestern tip of Unib Island is Duyos Beach. Looks like it’s the most popular in the area in terms of crowd. It may have a lot more people but the beach area is wide enough that one could still find pockets of spaces to enjoy. The waters were also enjoyably clear and nice for swimming. There are several resorts too if one wants to stay overnight. I can imagine it would be fun to stay on the islands next time to catch the sunset and sunrise.
I took a few minutes to swim and enjoy my time on the sand. I’m glad I stayed behind for a few hours to really enjoy and experience some of the best Dinagat Islands has to offer. Shortly we headed out. Was supposed to visit Bitaog Beach, still part of Unib island, but this one boasting of fine powdery white sands. Unfortunately, the waves were still not ideal to dock despite the sun being out. Not risking being stuck there, I just told Kuya Percing that I’ll just visit that place next time. Sometimes we leave enough good places un-treaded so we have a reason to return.
By mid-afternoon, we were back in San Jose. I was able to wash-up at Kuya Percing’s place. Gathered my things and finally catch the last ferry back to Surigao. I was glad I was able to salvage this trip in the last stretch. I think it’s one of those times I may have broken the trend of leaving on good weather without being able to explore.
For Island Hopping tours in Dinagat Island, you may contact Kuya Percing at +63.946.587.7825.
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.