Ever since I started earning my own money some 10 years ago, I made a promise to myself that I will visit all the 81 provinces of the Philippines, and that has been a goal ever-since. I know I have a long way to go but for my 27th province, I decided to visit Surigao del Norte, home to the magical and enchanting Sohoton Cove National Park. And today, I’d like to share with you our trip that would erase any doubt you have about this gem of an island.

HOW TO GET THERE?

From Davao

We rode a bus from the Davao City Overland Transport Bus Terminal going to Butuan City for a fare of ₱500. We left Davao at around 10PM and arrived Butuan at around 3AM the next day. From Butuan, we took another bus going to Bad-as for about 2 hours. We paid ₱200 for the bus. From Bad-as, we took a van going to Hayanggabon (another 2 hours) where the banca going to Bucas Grande is waiting for us. Fare from Bad-as to Hayanggabon is ₱100.

We have already pre-contacted the banca that was waiting for us in the Port of Hayanggabon. They were initially asking for 8k (4k/day) since we are going to stay there overnight which technically means that we are renting them for 2 days. But after a little negotiation, they said that we just have to add 1k for the second day. So that’s a total of 5k for the banca rental.

We stayed at Sohoton Bay Resort where the room is originally priced at 4,000 per night but we got it for only 2,500 since it’s off-peak and we literally were the only guests during that time.

Our group (standing) together with our banceros and resort caretakers.

SOHOTON COVE NATIONAL PARK TOUR

DAY 1

After having lunch at their floating restaurant, we started our tour. The floating restaurant is just across the jump-off point for the Sohoton Cove Tour. Since our banca has a capacity of about 15 persons, we needed to transfer to a smaller boat since the entrance to the actual Sohoton Cove is too small for our banca to fit. We had to rent another banca that has a capacity of around 5-6 persons.

Happy kids enchanted with the beauty surrounding us.

It’s the first surprise of this trip. The Hagukan Cave is so special that during high tide, you have to swim underwater for 8 seconds just so you could get inside the cave. Luckily, we didn’t have to do it since we arrived a little bit late in the afternoon already where there is a small opening enough for us to enter the cave without holding our breath. Once inside the cave, water splash gives you a luminiscent effect on the water. You’ll end up disturbing the water delibirately just to witness such beauty.

You might think that getting inside the Hagukan Cave is the most extreme thing you can encounter in Sohoton; wait till you reach the Magkuku-ob Cave. Before getting inside this cave, you have to decide whether to push through or not because once you enter, the only way out is through a 5-meter cliff jump so you can go back into the lagoon where you began.

Proud cliff jumpers 🤪

After visiting two caves, we went back to the jump off area so we can start with our next activity. We had to transfer again to a smaller boat. This time with a seating capacity of 2 (bancero and you).

Paddling our way to the Jellyfish Lagoon. It wasn’t jellyfish season said our banca paddlers so we only saw very few non-sting jellyfish around.

To appreciate this beauty is to appreciate God’s wonderful design.

We ended our first day at a virgin island with no entrance fee or whatsoever. We just passed by it on our way back to our resort and decided to have a few minutes of swimming and pictorial.

My model trying to give that resting beach face. **pun intended

We just asked our friendly banceros to dock and give us some moment to enjoy the shore.

DAY 2

Taken after exploring the inside of the Crystal Cave. I didn’t manage to take a picture of the crystals because my phone camera’s not really good with low light environment.

Stopped by Lagoon Tiktikan and Sohoton Gamay Resort to enjoy the water before we head back to our resort.

SUMMARY OF EXPENSES

Bus Fare (Davao to Butuan) ₱500/each
Bus Fare (Butuan to Bad-as) ₱200/each
Van Fare (Bad-as to Hayanggabon) ₱100/each
Main Banca (can carry up to 15 people) ₱5,000 for 2 days
Smaller Banca (for Sohoton Cove Tour) ₱800/boat
Environmental Fee ₱50/each for local
₱150/each for foreigner
Helmet and Lifevest Fee ₱40/each
Paddle Boat (for Jellyfish Sanctuary Tour) ₱100/each
Sohoton Bay Resort Room ₱2,500 (good for 7 persons)

 

Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande is more than what we see in the pictures. Aside from the beautiful scenery and magical feeling you would get, the hospitality and honesty of the people that took care of us for 2 days is something worth sharing. Definitely a place I would go back to.