Surigao City Mindanao


SurigaoThere are many places in northern Mindanao waiting to be explored and experienced. One of these is Surigao City, a coastal city with 17 islands promising sun-kissed beaches, enchanted caves, spectacular rock formations, icy cool waterfalls and hot springs. These and other attractions make the islands of Surigao a splendid tourist destination: unspoiled and unaffected.

Visitors of Surigao will rue not having enough time to explore all its islands. Even regulars who stay for months can't seem to get enough, so they come back year after year. Obviously anyone would expect these places to be overrun by tourists, but that has not happened yet.

One reason these spots are not well-known is because they have not been commercially developed yet and many are inaccessible and uninhabited. Many people would like to keep it that way. Those who frequent Surigao to go scuba diving, sailing, surfing, windsurfing, and fishing would naturally like to have their own paradise. So will you, once the rustic yet captivating charms of Surigao's islands get under your skin. Not that you'd mind.

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SAGISI ISLAND RESORT

One such place off Surigao City is Sagisi, an uninhabited island resort with a two-kilometer shoreline of cream colored sand generously sprinkled with seashells and coral fragments.

Close to the shore under crystal clear waters is a shallow strip of coral reef teeming with colorful fishes. This underwater garden holds a variety of marine life in red, gold, blue, pink, lavender and other rich colors. Easily recognizable are the hump corals, staghorn corals, fire corals and mushroom collars. There are also sponges, star fishes, crabs, sea urchins and harmless jelly fishes.

Best of all, this lovely underwater garden is only 10 meters from the shore and five feet deep at high tide, or five meters away and three feet deep at low tide.

For swimmers who wish to take it safe and easy, there is a shallow beach at the other side of the island, accessible by a mere 10-minute stroll over a hill. The shoreline is less than kilometer long but the cream-colored sand is of the finer grain.


GETTING THERE
Before proceeding to the island, it is wise to consult the Surigao City tourism office located at the city park. They can help arrange for a rented boat and a reliable guide, and if necessary, notify the resort's caretaker of visitor arrivals well ahead of time.

There are motorized banca and launches which can be rented. Rates vary according to the boat size and number of passengers. For example, a boat which can hold 10-15 people may be negotiated for P500 per day excluding fuel. One advantage of renting a boat is that one can get to Sagisi in less than an hour.

There is one regular trip daily via a passenger boat to the neighboring island of Bayagnan. The fare going one-way is P20.00. This boat docks at the Bilang-bilang pier beside the Surigao City Port and departs for Bayagnan at 12:00 n.n. daily except Sunday. Upon arrival at barangay San Jose, for P10.00 per passenger, the boat operator can be requested to proceed to Sagisi. Otherwise, a motorized banca can transport guests in less than five minutes.

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ACCOMMODATIONS
The resort has a spacious nipa hut with two beds, as well as a multi-purpose cabana plus a good supply of mats and pillows. There is no electricity but the caretaker will provide lamps. The freshwater comes from a well, and drinking water is brought in containers from the neighboring islands.

The fresh seafood is another glorious experience. Their able cook can serve it grilled, fried, marinated in vinegar and spices, or cooked in coconut milk according to the guests' wishes. Fish, squid and mollusks are common here; while lobsters and crabs are seasonal.

The caretaker runs a little sari-sari store modestly stocked with beer, soft drinks, shampoo, coffee, chips, noodle soup packets and canned sardines.


ISLAND HOPPING
To explore the neighboring islands, there are motorized bancas in San Jose that rent for P100-P300. Bayagnan's barangay Buyho has a 70-ft. waterfall, while barangay Bagong Silang in Talavera Island has a sandbar that looks more like the graveyard of seashells and corals.

There are expansive mangrove forests that fringe the islands along Hinituan passage. It is possible to explore this maze of tangled vegetation riding in a banca with an experienced boatman. Towards low tide the waters in and near this passage is littered with eddies and whirlpools.

A popular must-see in Bayagnan Island is the giant whirlpool in Barangay Bitaugan. At low tide, this foaming vortex is truly something to behold and hear with its accompanying sound effects. The whirlpool, which can expand to 20-meters wide, has been known to suck bancas although it is only within wading distance of 10-meters from the shore.



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