BUCAS GRANDE ISLAND HOPPING AND SOHOTON COVE TOUR: Impressions and A Travel Guide

BUCAS GRANDE ISLAND HOPPING AND SOHOTON COVE TOUR. With its lushly vegetated tropical rock islands, crystal clear waters, caves, lakes and school of non-stinging jellyfishes, I certainly agree to those who say that this destination is a must-see in Surigao Del Norte. One can expect to be surrounded with sublime scenery during island hopping. I would, however, like to set proper expectations by saying that while there are a few beaches in Bucas Grande, they’re small and not as stunning as those beaches found in Palawan, Caramoan, Boracay and Siargao. This shouldn’t stop you from visiting Bucas Grande islands and Sohoton Cove though, because this destination certainly has its unique charm and the scenery is really spectacular.

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ISLAND HOPPING AND SOHOTON COVE TOUR. It took me a while to understand how the whole day island hopping tour is done in Bucas Grande. Basically, one needs to hire a private boat either from Hayanggabon port (costs Php3,500) or Socorro port (costs Php2,500) to go around Bucas Grande. These boats can accommodate up to 30 persons.

Hayanggabon port is the main jumping-off point to Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cove Tour. For groups, I suggest you hire a boat at Hayanggabon port instead of going to Socorro port. While taking the tour from Socorro port may sound cheaper, please note that you’ll also pay about Php100 (one way) for the fare going to Socorro port. And chances are, if you miss the first trip (7AM) of the public boat going to Socorro from Hayanggabon port, you’d be left with no choice but to schedule your tour the next day, and spend more for a one-night stay in Socorro. The second trip from Hayanggabon going to Socorro port leaves at 11AM. Last trip is scheduled at 4PM. Please be advised though that these schedules aren’t fixed, and that the boat may leave earlier or a bit late depending on how soon the boat is full of passengers. So it is best to go there at least an hour before the scheduled trip.

Note, If you’re coming from Siargao, you’d either have a different island hopping destination, or if pressed for time, you’d go all the way to Sohoton Cove.

A private boat for Bucas Grande island hopping tour
A private boat for Bucas Grande island hopping tour. Whether you intend to begin from Hayanggabon port or Socorro port, you may contact Naigel Dizon at 09081802756 | 09303360765 or in Facebook for your Bucas Grande Island hopping tour. Depending on the number of guests, he may be able to give you a price lower than the standard rate since he owns the boat

Island hopping destinations include Isla Noah Lake, Bolitas and Crystal Cave, Tiktikan Lake, Hidden Resort, Kanlunes Resort, Marka-a beach, and Bubon Beach. Some of these require entrance fees.

We passed by this beach. Quite small but it would have been nice if we stayed here for a while
We passed by this beach. Quite small but it would have been nice if we stayed here for a while

Kanlunes Resort
Kanlunes Resort, a beach resort near Sohoton Cove. Room rate starts at Php1,000

Club Tara
Club Tara, a high end accommodation in Bucas Grande. Entrance fee: Php20

Hidden Resort
Hidden Island Resort. It has cages with a shark, big fishes, and sea turtles. Entrance fee is Php50

While swimming with the non-stinging jellyfishes is not allowed in the jellyfishes sanctuary, there are a lot of other spots where you could see and swim with them. This picture is taken at Isla Noah
While swimming with the non-stinging jellyfishes is not allowed in the jellyfishes sanctuary, there are a lot of other spots in Bucas Grande where you could see and swim with them. This picture is taken at Isla Noah Lake

Crystal And Bolitas Caves registration area. Php30 entrance fee per head which includes flashlights and helmets plus  Php100 guide fee
Crystal And Bolitas Caves registration area. Php30 entrance fee per head which includes flashlights and helmets plus Php100 guide fee

Inside the dry Crystal Cave where a few crystals/calcite can be seen. This is easy to navigate
Inside the dry Crystal Cave where a few crystals/calcite can be seen. This is easy to navigate

Some crystals/calcite inside Crystal Cave
Some crystals/calcite inside Crystal Cave

The entrance of the 16-meter long Bolitas Cave. Ceiling is too low and you would crawl most of the time. Not for the claustrophobic like me and certainly not for beginners
The entrance of the 16-meter long Bolitas Cave. Ceiling is too low and you would crawl most of the time. Not for the claustrophobic like me and certainly not for beginners

Tiktikan Lake. Paddling around it's gentle water surrounded by nature is a sheer bliss. For adrenaline junkies, there's an area where you could jump and dive into the water
Tiktikan Lake. Paddling around it’s gentle water surrounded by nature is a sheer bliss. For adrenaline junkies, there’s an area where you could jump and dive into the water

Marka-a beach is a  small beach where tourists are taken for lunch. Less than 5 boats can dock here at the same time
Marka-a beach is a small beach where tourists are taken for lunch. Less than 5 boats can dock here at the same time

The boatman will wait until low tide before proceeding to Sohoton Cove National Park Center. At the center, you would need to register and pay the fees before you start the tour.

    Environmental Fees: Php150/pax for foreign tourists | Php50/pax for local tourists
    Docking Fee: Php100 for small boat, Php150 for medium, and P200 for large boats ( This is a docking fee for the boat that you used for island hoping earlier. The boatman will wait until you are finished with the Sohoton Cove Tour)
    Pumpboat with two guides: Php830 per boat, maximum of 8 persons ( Yes, this is a different boat. It is smaller. The boats that are used for island hopping are bigger and would not fit in the entrance of Sohoton Cove National Park)
    Boat with a paddler: Php100 per pax. ( Yes another boat, very small)

After you’ve paid the fees, the tourist assistants would ask you to sit down and wait for your name to be called. You may be asked to ride the motorized boat to take you inside Sohoton Cove, or take the small boat with a guide who would paddle all the way to the jellyfish sanctuary. The sanctuary is not located inside Sohoton Cove. In our case, we did the former first.

The motorized boat takes you around Sohoton Cove National Park. Entering the park is an experience in itself. where you will be quickly surrounded by a breathtaking beautiful scenery.

Sohoton Cove National Park Entrance. Not accessible during low tide
Sohoton Cove National Park Entrance. Not accessible during low tide

Tropical rock islands with lush green vegetation
Tropical rock islands with lush green vegetation

The horse shoe rock . The most photograph rock formation at Sohoton Cove
The horse shoe rock . The most photograph rock formation at Sohoton Cove

The two main destinations inside the cove are Hagukan cave and Magkukuob cave. Hagukan cave can only be entered during low tide and depending on the level of the water, one may either simply swim, float, or swim under. Even when the tide is low, the ceiling can be just 1.5 to 2 feet above water, and when you’re not careful, your head or worse, your face may be cut by the sharp oyster shells attached to the rock ceiling. It’s dark inside the cave and you’ll be swimming most of the time. There’s a spot inside where you can step on a rock under the water to rest. The water inside the cave appears luminous as an effect of the small amount of light that’s coming from the entrance of the cave.

The entrance of Hagukan Cave
The entrance of Hagukan Cave

The view of Hagukan cave entrance from inside
The view of Hagukan cave entrance from inside

Magkukuob cave is a small cave where you need to climb a few steep rocks to go up to the exit and then dive into the water. In case you’re afraid of diving, you would need to go back to the entrance, which I think is as difficult, if not more, as going up.

This may just take  a few minutes but certainly not an easy way up
This may just take a few minutes but certainly not an easy way up

No fear at all!
No sign of fear at all!

It won't even take a minute :-)
It won’t even take a minute 🙂

After an hour, we were back at the center and were transferred to the small boat that would take us to the jellyfish sanctuary. The view all the way to the sanctuary is awesome, but I wasn’t totally impressed with the jellyfish sanctuary.

The paddle boat
The paddle boat

A passage going to the jellyfish sanctuary
A passage going to the jellyfish sanctuary

Tourists inside the  jellyfish sanctuary
Tourists inside the jellyfish sanctuary

There were only a few jellyfishes inside the lake, and they put some rocks where the water flows out. I think this is to prevent the jellyfishes from swimming away from the sanctuary.
A transparent jelly fish
A transparent jelly fish

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We didn’t stay very long. When we reached the center, we went back to the boat we used for island hopping and Naigel, our boatman, brought us back to Socorro port.
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PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK FOR LIST OF ACCOMMODATION AND A GUIDE ON HOW TO GET SOCORRO BUCAS GRANDE ISLANDS>>>>

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