Showing posts with label Surigao del Norte. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Surigao del Norte. Show all posts

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Dinagat Islands: Tagbirayan Beach in Cagdianao, Surigao del Norte

Dinagat Islands was a province of the Philippines until February 11, 2010. If it still was a province, I would have been celebrating my completion in December when I set foot on Dinagat Islands, my 80th province (81st if you count Shariff Kabunsuan, another defunct province).

But even if it's been ordered back to Surigao del Norte, I was quite surprised to discover that the Provincial Government of Dinagat Islands is still up and running. In fact, a few days before I arrived, the Bugkosan sa Isla or Dinagatan Festival 2010 had just ended.

To get to Dinagat Islands, you have to hop-on a ferry in Surigao City. As soon as I arrived in Surigao City from Cebu, I rushed straight to the ferry port. There are ferries to various towns in Dinagat Island such as Dinagat Municipality and the capital town San Jose. The one for San Jose leaves at 12 noon. While the one for Dinagat Municipality leaves at 1 p.m. Make sure you mention the exact town because if you say Dinagat, they will point you to the ferry that goes to Dinagat Town.

Since I just stayed overnight, I got to visit only a few places. One of the beaches I saw in Dinagat was Tagbirayan Beach in Cagdianao. We were actually trying to look for a beach in Dinagat Municipality but couldn't seem to find one. So we crossed to Cadianao, the opposite side of the island which faces the Pacific Ocean. I noticed that the waves were stronger there. I later read that they have also have a surfing area in Cagdianao.

The gold sand is very soft and your feet will easily sink in. They have several resorts in Tagbirayan Beach. If only I had more time in Tagbirayan Beach, some of the nearby islands looked enticing. Tagbirayan is definitely a must-visit when you are in Dinagat Islands.

Update (03/29/11): The Supreme Court flip-flops again and reverses its earlier decision nullifying the creation of Dinagat Islands. Dinagat Islands becomes the 80th province of the Philippines.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Surigao del Norte: Mabua Beach and more from Surigao City

Surigao del Norte is best known for Siargao Island and Cloud 9, one of the top surfing spots in the country. Surigao del Sur is also known for surfing, particularly Lanuza. While there are direct flights to Siargao via Cebu, major carriers also fly to Surigao City which has flights from both Manila and Cebu.

I was in Surigao City for a night. So I made use of the little time I had to visit its most popular beach, Mabua Beach, and the Surigao del Norte Provincial Capitol which is one of the few remaining heritage structures in Surigao City.

Mabua Beach is actually a pebble beach about 30 minutes away from the city proper. You can hire a tricycle to get there. There are some resorts in the area plus huts for day visitors.

Another beach worth visiting is Basul Island, a fine white sand islet close to the city.

Surigao is one of the gateways to Caraga's surfing areas. There are regular ferry services from Surigao to Siargao which take between two to four hours depending on the type of boat you'll use. Public transport is also available going to Lanuza. The trip can take between three to five hours depending on whether you'll hire a private van or take the bus. Private vans to Lanuza can cost you from Php3000 one-way.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Top surfing areas in the Philippines

Unknown to many in the country, the Philippines has a long list of great surfing areas. Here are some of the more popular surfers' haunts where you could ride the waves or simply get lessons if you are a beginner. The Philippine Surfing Federation gave me the first eight and I added two more.

1. Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte (Cloud 9)
On top of the list is none other than the "Surfing Capital of the Philippines." The Cloud 9 wave can be found in the town of General Luna and has put the Philippines in the world surfing map. Other popular breaks in and around Siargao Island include Jacking Horse, Tuason Left, Rock Island, Stimpies and Pacifico. Check out the Sagana Resort website for detailed information. Thanks to Sagana Resort for the Siargao photos.

According to Sagana, the best months for surf in this area is from August up to the start of November when the area gets the most typhoon swells and the best winds. From May to July, the surf is generally smaller. From December to April the winds are often strong and cross shore. But they say that the swell is always pretty big and some surfers prefer this time of year.

2. Puraran Beach, Baras, Catanduanes (Majestics)
Puraran Bay in Baras, Catanduanes is home to the famous mighty Majestics reef break that produces awesome long-barrel waves. The waves are at their finest in August and September. The place itself is a picturesque backdrop of coconut trees and small hills. Although course, the white sand is clean and the water is crystal clear. But as they say, if you are a surfer, "Puraran equals Majestics period!"

3. Cemento Beach, Baler, Aurora
Most have heard about Sabang, a beach break 5 to 10 minutes away from the town proper where most of the tourism establishments are found. Cemento on the other hand is a reef break which is 30 minutes away from the town proper. But you can easily get lessons in Sabang Beach. Check out my Baler surf adventure: More summer fun in Aurora.

4. Calicoan Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar
Calicoan Island is home to The Surf Camp. And the great news for surfers is that ABCD Beach has both left-hand and right-hand waves. The season runs from April to November, with the summer months perfect for beginners (with gentle 2 to 3 foot waves). Latter months offer bigger and more challenging waves.

5. Maira-Ira Beach, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Few people know that way beyond the resorts of Pagudpud is a secret hideaway called Blue Lagoon, the best beach in that part of the country. Saud Beach may be great, but Maira-Ira is astounding! And what's great is that on a windy day, the beach is perfect for surfing!

6. San Juan, La Union
Home to the Billabong San Juan Surf School of Luke Landrigan, San Juan is a perfect place for longboarders. And it's very accessible too since you can take any bus to Ilocos and get off just a few meters from the San Fernando-San Juan boundary. This is another surfing haunt I got to try for myself.

7. Lanuza Bay, Surigao del Sur (Doot Poktoy)
According to the Surf Lanuza website, "Doot Poktoy is endowed with some of the best waves in the world. And when the waves are good, they can measure up to the world renowned waves of Siargao and Hawaii. Located on the southern edge of the Northwestern Pacific typhoon belt, the waves driven by the winds of the typhoons are unpredictable. If a strong typhoon passes close enough, surf can reach almost 15 feet, with 9, 11 or 14 waves per set and up to twice as many waves per hour as a long groundswell like affecting Indonesia and Hawaii.

The Surf Report Magazine describes Lanuza as "a place with a flawless river mouth. Its waves spin long perfect rights on a big swell at low tide. There is a hollow tube section at take-off and there are long section walls up to 200 meters."

8. Cabugao, Ilocos Sur (Kido's Point)
Kido's Point has been a popular site for surfing competitions in Ilocos Sur, attracting participants from surfing areas all over the country. The place got its name from Cabugao's local surfing hero Kido Cabasug.

9. San Narciso & San Antonio, Zambales
The Canoe Beach Resort in Pundaquit, San Antonio is where professional surfer Joseph "Joe" Villatora from Kauai, Hawai conducts his surfing lessons.

10. Bagasbas Beach, Daet, Camarines Norte
This is another great surfing area located on the Pacific coast of Luzon. When you're hungry, check out Alvino's Pizza, a popular surfers hangout.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Surigao del Norte: Maradjao karadjao Surigao!

Here is another those trips from my archives. I attended an annual convention of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) in Surigao City in October 2003. Since there are no direct flights to Surigao, I had to fly to Butuan City first. From the airport, we were met by the organizers who had a ready vehicle for us to Surigao City, the capital of Surigao del Norte, which was two hours away.

For the first two days, I had to endure the boring part which was the convention proper filled with speeches, lectures and keynote addresses! Hehe! But I was able to venture around the downtown area late in the afternoon when sessions were over. They have an American colonial period city hall in front of what is known as Luneta Park. Some of the better features of the park is a large sundial and pre-war acacia trees bordering the plaza.

As part of the convention, there was also a showcase of ethnic Mamanwa-inspired dances from Surigao's Bonok-Bonok Maradjao Karadjao Festival in the grounds of the Surigao Provincial Capitol, another elegant colonial building.

On the last day, they took us around the city and one of the places we visited was the Mabua Pebble Beach. The beach, which is about 30 minutes from the town proper, is most known for its kilometer-long stretch of fine round stones, native huts set in a natural backdrop of coconut tree-laden hills. We arrived just in time for its famous dramatic sunset.

If only I had more time, I would have joined the trip to Siargao Island the next day. But I had decided to move my return flight to Manila from Butuan to Cagayan de Oro in order to explore more of Mindanao.

So the next day, I took the bus back to Butuan City, the capital of Agusan del Norte, where I stayed for a night at the relaxing Almont Inland Resort thanks to promo rates for Cebu Pacific passengers. Among the places I visited was the Butuan National Museum, the "repository of historical and cultural materials and artifacts that proves Butuan’s prehistoric existence and rich cultural heritage."

One place I missed, and its such a shame that I did, was the Balangay Shrine Museum which is the attraction Butuan in most known for. The balangays of Butuan were declared national cultural treasures. I even bought myself a really nice miniature balangay to take home for display.

The next day, before leaving for Cagayan de Oro, I made a trip to the local market to look out for more cultural souvenirs. I was quite happy to find a shop selling different kinds of local salakots. And I bought several of them for my collection. After lunch, the hotel service took me to the bus station for my three hour trip to Cagayan de Oro, the capital of Misamis Oriental.

In CDO, my SSEAYP batchmate MJ picked me up at the station. The plan was for us to visit the Gardens of Malasag Eco-Tourism Village. But it was raining really hard when I arrived so we weren't able to do much. We met up with another batchmate Andy later in the evening and had dinner at the outdoor ihawans and food stalls along Magsaysay Avenue. But I was lucky since it was fruit season and I got to savor a Mindanao fruit which many of us in Luzon do not know about. I had one whole marang fruit all to myself! Hehe! Yummy!

My flight back to Manila was the next morning so I was not able to really do much. Again it was such a quick trip and I was not as adventurous then as I am now. Hehe! I'll hopefully be back in Cagayan de Oro this September en route to Camiguin.
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