Besides the beautiful islands that make up Siargao, Bucas Grande island, which is located in the town of Socorro, is another ideal place to visit in Surigao del Norte. Socorro is another municipality in Surigao del Norte, and it can be reached via a boat from Dapa port in Siargao.
Though it’s possible to include Bucas Grande island in your Siargao trip, doing so is a bit tricky because of the limited boat schedules and the expensive prices for a private boat ride to and from Dapa port in Siargao. In fact, this is probably the most difficult part of the Surigao del Sur/Surigao del Norte itinerary that I prepared. 😀 Here’s a guide for you though, based on our experience.
What to See in Bucas Grande – Places to Visit
The entire Bucas Grande island surprisingly offers a lot of beautiful places to explore and several activities to enjoy. Most tourists would often mistakenly interchange Bucas Grande with Sohoton Cove or the Stingless Jellyfish Sanctuary, but it is important to take note that the two places can actually be found IN Bucas Grande island.
Sohoton Cove and the Stingless Jellyfish Sanctuary are the most popular sites to visit in Bucas Grande, but there are other places to explore in the island too. Take note though that there’s a different price for each site you visit.
Stingless Jellyfish Sanctuary
Fee: 100 per person
I looooved the stunning color of the water in this place. The stingless jellyfish sanctuary is a small area near the registration site on the island, and as its name suggests, it is home to stingless jellyfish, though they’re mostly abundant during the rainy season.
The sanctuary is probably just a 5- to 10-minute boat ride from the registration area. The boat is small and can only accommodate two persons – you and your boatman. Though there’s really nothing to do here besides swim with the jellyfish, the site is a marvel.
Even before you reach the place, you’ll be captivated by the calm water, which beautifully glistens with its emerald/cyan green hue. The water is very clear too. In fact, I would be happy to go there even if there were no jellyfish to see 😀
Speaking of jellyfish, we only saw a few during our visit, since it was still summertime. The boatman said that there are many during the rainy season, around June to August. You can stay in your boat and marvel at the creatures from there, but you can also swim in the water for a close encounter with the jellyfish.
Again, the jellyfish is stingless, so there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. 😀 In fact, that was the only time I was delighted to actually see a jellyfish. 😀
Non-swimmers should take note though that the water is deep, but lifejackets are provided before you set out to the site. However, the time on the site is limited. After about 15 or 20 minutes, we were told by the boatman that we had to go back to the registration area. Bitin.
The Stingless Jelly Fish Sanctuary is actually my only reason for going to Bucas Grande. But since our time there was surprisingly limited and we had nothing to do afterward, we opted to visit Sohoton Cove as well. As I said, each site costs differently, and we paid Php1000 for the visit to Sohoton Cove, if I remember correctly.
The Sohoton Cove tour takes you to two caves, and the boat can only enter the caves during low tide since the entrance is low and narrow. The first cave, if I remember correctly, is the one where the water “glows.” You have to get off from the boat and swim inside the cave.
As it’s dark inside, you’ll observe that when you make movements in the water, it actually glows, possibly because of the faint light coming from the cave’s small entrance. It was a beautiful sight though difficult to capture with a GoPro since it’s basically pitch black inside the cave. It was my own version of bioluminescence plankton (which is still on my bucket list!) which I thoroughly enjoyed. 😀
The other cave, Magkukuob Cave, is where you can go cliff diving. We didn’t try it because we were too chicken (haha), but our boatman demonstrated it for us. We don’t have pics though because he was already in the water by the time our cameras were ready. 😀
**Note: The water inside the first cave is deep too. Non-swimmers would still need a lifejacket to get inside.
Club Tara Resort
Fee: None (just in front of the resort)
Also located in Bucas Grande is the high-end Club Tara Resort. You can pass by the resort and take pictures in front of it. The resort is popular for its “whitewashed cottages perched on stilts” and luxurious amenities.
Standard room price starts at almost Php6,000 per night. Take note that you can’t go beyond the resort’s front area when taking pictures as it is exclusive to guests.
Besides these three sites, there are other caves and even beaches/islands that you can visit in Bucas Grande. You can see the full list of areas to explore at the registration area on the island.
How to Get to Bucas Grande from Siargao
Public boats depart from Dapa port in Siargao to Socorro, the town where Bucas Grande is located. There are only two schedules daily: between 7:30 am to 8:30 am, and between 2:30 pm to 4 pm. Boat fare is only Php100 per person. The boat ride is around 2 hours.
Alternatively, you can hire a boatman from Siargao to take you straight to Bucas Grande island and back to Siargao, but it would cost around Php3000 to Php4000, which is steep for solo travelers. Take note that if you’re bringing a private boat to Bucas Grande, there’s a docking fee of Php100.
Since there are only two boat schedules daily from Siargao to Socorro and vice versa, you have no choice but to hire a boatman to take you back to Siargao in the late afternoon (if that’s where you’re staying) after you’ve explored Bucas Grande. Alternatively, you can opt to stay for one night in the town of Socorro, where there are cheap accommodations, and then take a boat back to Siargao the following morning.
Because we didn’t want to spend so much for a private boat or an extra accommodation, we decided to visit Bucas Grande on the last day of our Surigao trip so we wouldn’t have to go back to Siargao after exploring the island. Bucas Grande was our last stop in Surigao, before we headed back to Davao to catch our flight back to Manila (complicated, huh?) 😀
What We Did
- From Dapa port in Siargao, we took the first/morning boat schedule to Socorro, which was around 8am.
- Since we didn’t have a contact person or boatman in Socorro, we headed straight to the tourism center of the town so they could assist us in our tour to Bucas Grande, as advised by the locals.
- At Socorro’s tourism office, we were given a brochure and were informed about the places we could visit in Bucas Grande. A boatman was assigned to take us to the island; the boat ride costs Php1000 for the two of us (Joseph and I).
- Before we left Socorro, we bought food from the carinderia for our lunch on the island.
- Upon arrival at Bucas Grande, we were taken to the registration area, which is a sort of establishment situated on the water. There’s an environmental fee of Php25 for locals and Php50 for foreigners.
- Upon registration, you’d have to specify which of the sites in Bucas Grande you intend to visit and pay for them. You’re supposed to just wait at the area until your boat is ready to take you to your desired sites.
- After exploring the jellyfish sanctuary, Sohoton Cove, and passing by Club Tara Resort, we asked the boatman to take us to Hayanggabon port, which is located in Claver, another municipality in Surigao del Norte, instead of going back to the town of Socorro. We opted to go to Claver since it’s where we could take vans going to back to Surigao City, where we could take a bus going back to Davao. (Didn’t I say this was a complicated IT? :D)
**Travel Date: May 2015
Next post: Hiking Adventure in Batad