What brought me back to Siargao and Bucas Grande Island? That’s easy! These islands were among my favorites in the entire Philippines.

For years since my first visit to Surigao provinces, I craved intensely to go back and swim in the crystal-clear emerald waters of Sohoton lagoons with hundreds of non-sting jellyfish and finally ride the famous surf in Cloud9.

I stayed six days each in Siargao and Bucas Grande wanting to see as much of these islands as possible. Even then it was not enough. I spent most of my time wandering around random beach and inland trails, which got me lost pretty often but also rewarded memorable experiences.

I spent another week chasing waterfalls and enchanted rivers in the eastern corner of Mindanao. My feet were set to visit Aliwagwag Falls, the highest waterfalls in the country. Along the way, I also stumbled upon interesting and beautiful places in Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, and Surigao del Sur.

Journey to Surigao del Norte

Aerial view of green islands of Surigao on my “Cebu to Siargao” flight

Siargao’s surf waves beckon

Bucas Grande Island, Surigao del Norte

Exploring quiet beaches of Socorro, Bucas Grande Island

Beautiful hidden spot that took more than an hour hike along the coast from Socorro town proper

Rough waters at desolate white sand beaches on the other side of Bucas Grand Island

Blooming rice paddies surrounded my emerald-covered hills

One of the easily overlooked spots I passed by on my walkathons around Bucas Grande. I loved the color contrast on this red earth trail, the bright green leafy shrubs, and chaos of its net-like thin roots

Lonely walk on the hills overlooking the whole island

Sohoton Cave and Lagoons

An overlooking view along the 30-minute karst forest trail from Brgy. Sudlon to Dagatan, near Sohoton Lagoons. Trekking my way to the lagoons still required another paddle boat ride to the entrance of the Sohoton Cave and then a chartered boat around the main lagoons.

Passing through Sohoton Caves, the entry-point to the beautiful salt-water lagoons of Bucas Grande Island

Sohoton Salt Water Lagoon

Hornbill (Kalaw) sighting!

Snorkeling at the coral gardens outside the lagoons

Sohoton’s famous non-sting jellyfish. Hundreds of these can be found swimming in one of the lakes.

Surfing in Siargao

Siargao’s Cloud9 surf spot during low-tide

Surf waves at Cloud9 were not too active during my visit. As a beginner, I actually liked it better since I could avoid monstrous wipe outs.

The long arduous walk from Pesangan surf spot to the mainland

Planned to spend at least one week in Siargao to learn how to surf better. My body was aching real bad after only two days of surfing. I realized it would take me at least a few more weeks to have a good “surf training” taking rest days into account.

Around General Luna

Beach view outside my cottage in General Luna town proper

Bird hunting for fish at Pesangan, General Luna.

Ate a few sea urchins that children were collecting at Pesangan. These orange non-sting sea urchins are my favorite kind. Best eaten raw!

Beaches along the coastal foot trail from General Luna to Cloud9. I survived the whole day without slippers :D

One of the interesting tidal pools, natural aquariums, offering a close-up glimpse of marine plants and critters.

Biking through random trails around Siargao

Peaceful, low-key dirt roads of General Luna town proper.

Working lunch at one of the restaurants in General Luna that offers free WIFI.

Magpupungko Tidal Flats and Rock Formations

“Top load” jeepney ride from Dapa to Pilar, Siargao Island

Captivating landscape of Magpupungku Rock Formations

Colorful seemingly extraterrestrial vegetation at the expansive rock shelf

Bunawan Giant Crocodile

Bunawan, Agusan del Sur’s most beloved creature is a crocodile

At 20 feet and 3 inches in length, Lolong is the world’s largest crocodile ever caught and placed in captivity.

Awao Falls, Compostela Valley

Fan-like cascade of Awao falls in Monkayo, Compostela Valley

Serenity at Awao Falls

more: Awao Falls, curtain-like cascade in Monkayo, Compostela Valley

Aliwagwag Falls, Davao Oriental

Front view of Aliwagwag Falls, a series of 84 cascades that make up the tallest waterfalls in the Philippines

Virgin forest surrounds the entire length of Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel, Davao Oriental

My favorite cascade of Aliwagwag Falls

Enchanted River, Surigao del Sur

The abyssal depths of the Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. One of the most visually bizarre places I visited in the entire Philippines