Thursday, June 06, 2013

Beach Trippin': Surigao

So my brother got an online deal to stay in Club Tara Resort in Bucas Grande, Socorro, Surigao. Surigao is famous for the Cloud 9 in Siargao island where a lot of people go to surf for the famous waves. They also have the Enchanted river which is also famous because nobody has reached its bottom till now. 

Bucas Grande is on the other side of Surigao. It is not as famous as Siargao island but its already getting quite a lot of tourists for its stingless jellyfish and caves. Going to Bucas Grande is a long trip so I suggest you allocate an entire day for it. 

Here's our trip journal. 

Day 1 

Took a flight from Manila to Surigao through PAL Express. Alternatively you can book a flight to Butuan and ride the roro or a van that will take you to Surigao, this takes around 5-6 hours. But since we did not have the luxury of time to do that, we just took a straight flight to Surigao. 

We contacted a boatman through Charrie Quiriban (09198223128). We found her number through the internet since we heard that you should negotiate with boatmen early on so that you do not get overcharged. Our initial agreement was that he will pick us up from Hayanggabon Pier to Club Tara. The next day he will give us a full day tour and on our 3rd day he will bring us back to the pier. The agreed cost for everything was 5,000 pesos all in for 4 people. We chose to arrange the transportation on our own because transpo costs if you get it directly from Club Tara is at 2,500/person/way. It was just too expensive. 

However, as luck would have it, our supposed 11am flight was delayed first by an hour and then 2 until we finally left at around 3:30pm. We immediately contacted the boatman to inform him of our change in arrival schedule. That we will be arriving later and around 7pm. However, the boatman did not want to pick us up anymore. It was so annoying that he would go back from the original agreement. So we just decided to cancel everything. 
We get a lunch because of the delayed Pal flight
Upon arrival at the airport, you can walk left from the gate around 300meters and you will see the terminal where there are vans that will take you from Hayanggabon Port. But if you do not want to walk and you have a lot of baggage, you can ride a tricycle for 100 pesos to bring you to the terminal. 

Since we were on a hurry and did not want to wait for other passengers we rode a "colorum" or unregistered van to go to hayanggabon. Be sure to ride the vans going to Claver. Fare per person is only 150 pesos.  The ride was only supposed to be an hour and a half but there were a lot of stops and the van was also picking up passengers along the way so it took us more than 2 hours to get to the port. At one point, the driver and barker stopped for soft drinks, and there was also a stop when they just offered us watermelons to buy. It was stressful because we did not want to cross the ocean late at night. 

Since we did not have a choice as our boatman bailed on us, we had to contact the resort to pick us up from the port. We had to pay 1,000 per person. Boat left at 7pm and we got to Club Tara at 8pm 

According to the net, Club Tara was the only 5 star place in the island. I agree that it looks to be the most expensive and the most photogenic but definitely not 5 star. They have good points but more bad ones. I think mostly because it was not properly maintained. The Jacuzzi wasn't working, it was full of rust, the bath and shower did not have a room so no privacy whatsoever, water was salty, pool did not look clean, food was ordinary. Although the staff was really nice and accommodating.  My full review of Club Tara is in Trip Adivsor already. 

Club Tara
Club Tara villas. Very Picturesque
Door going inside the rooms
Bed with the arranged futon on the floor since we were 4 in a room
The only divider of the room and the bath area
Our booking included full board meals. This was the dinner for our first night. If you eat a lot, better make sure you bring snacks.
There is unlimited use of their Kayak and surf boards
The pool looks like it already had algae
Day 2
Our view when we woke up. The three stone formations are the signs that you are in the entrance to Club Tara

This was when we went around and appreciated the beauty of the island. First, we needed a boatman. A quick search over the internet and we found Kap Mero's number (who apparently ran for councilor last elections). He offered a full day tour with transfer the next day from the resort to the port for 1,500/pax. Still good, considering that Club Tara was offering us a 2,500/pax half day tour only. 
It is important to have aqua/beach shoes as there are rocky areas you will go to

We started at 8am, we went to a cave then off to Sohoton. 
First stop is Lagoon Tiktikan
You will have to go up this steps to reach the cave entrance
Inside the cave
You also have the option to go inside Bulitas cave, named for the small circular rocks you will find inside that looks like bulitas. To get there, you have to go through this really tight space
Inside Bulitas cave. That's my brother by the way.
Wear appropriate shoes because it's rocky
Next stop is the famous Sohoton
You will have to ride a smaller boat to get to the Jellyfish Sanctuary. The boatman might give you a paddle, you can also paddle if you want.
Stingless Jellyfish. I read you can only find this in 2 places, Palau and here.
The water here is so clear. Found this clown fish.
Next up is Sohoton cove. You''ll ride another boat, this time 4 can fit.
You can swim inside the cave. This is also where you can go up and jump from a 10 ft platform to the ocean. I didn't have a picture because I took a video.

Back to Club Tara for lunch then island hopping in the afternoon where our guide went up a coconut tree and gave it to us for free. 
Club Tara at low tide. This was around 1:00pm
They also had a boat wreck in Club Tara
The lunch was good or we were just really hungry.
I don't usually like fish but this one I liked
After lunch, we went Island Hopping
Coconut, all gone
They prepared a candle lit dinner for our last night with them

Day 3 

Woke up at 5 am to kayak around Club Tara. The sun rises up early in this part of the world. Snorkeled a bit and then back to Manila we go. 
Kayak with the boat wreck in the distance. At high tide now.
At the port you will ride vans like this. You can rent them for 1,500 so they don't pick up passengers if you're in a hurry but if you have enough time before your flight (allocate around 3 hours travel as they will really fill the van up) you can just pay the regular fare of 150 pesos

This is a really nice escape from the city and really makes you appreciate the beauty of our country.

1 comment:

  1. hi i would like to ask if you still have contact number of kap mero in sohotan.tnx so much