8 Great Things You Can do in Surigao

by - July 10, 2018

I miss travelling by plane and after swearing off that I’ll lie low for maybe like 5 years from going around places, (I got travel-fatigued and a case of being stressed from traveling, work-related) I just cannot resist when the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the marketing arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT), invited me to participate and provide media coverage to the 1st International Dragon Boat Summer Festival to be held in Surigao City. Having never been in that part of Mindanao, I said yes since it will also be the first time I will cover an international sporting event.

Flying thousands of feet above the ground and seeing those tiny islands, I am still amazed how our country is surrounded by ocean, seas and rivers. And seeing those scattered islands is always a marvel. As Cebu Pacific is about to descend in Surigao City airport, I look at the deep blue waters and sometimes green and I remind myself that this water is home to some of the famous beaches in the country like Siargao which is just a boat away from Surigao City.

Having finally landed, we were warmly welcome by the local tourism and organizing committee of the Surigao International Dragon Boat Summer Festival. And thirty minutes after our arrival, while having lunch by the sea, we got another great welcome as suddenly it rains so hard and the wind is gusting all around us. I thought it was kind of normal because we were laughing as we eat, little did we know that it was a squall (first time to hear this weather condition) and it was the strongest to hit Surigao this year. We only know the damage the squall has brought when on our way to the hotel, we saw all the tent lining the boulevard for the festival were destroyed.

Although our day is already filled with activities, we get to see the town proper of Surigao. I love how laid-back it is and just like any other cities in the country it has its own charm. We get to discover more of it after the much successful 1st International Dragon Boat Summer Festival which not only showcased Surigao as the premier sports tourism destination but also a great place to visit.

Here are the 8 great things to do in Surigao:

Water Sports Destination

Surigao is an island and its city a coastal one. It is a great place to hold water sports and last May 25 – 27, the 1st International Dragon Boat Summer Festival was held in the city. Its government and the people are proud that it is the first ever international sporting event held in Mindanao where 28 teams, four of them from other countries, competed. Surigaonon is becoming partial to this sport and has produced teams worthy of competing for international competition. It is also being taught to many of the young people and if you’re lucky, you get to try this water sports too.

Stroll along the Boulevard of Surigao

The Surigaonanon are proud of their boulevard which is patterned after Manila’s Roxas Boulevard or the ones in Dumaguete and Tacloban City. The 1.8 km stretch boulevard is a park with benches facing the sea, great for family bonding or having fun with friends. It also serves as a harbor for boats offering rides to other great places in Surigao.

Photo credit: www.busy.org

At night, the boulevard comes alive with its bars and restaurants, coffee shops and music lounges which serve as night-time watering holes after a walk along the boulevard.

Check out Surigao’s Famous Pebble Beach

Surigao is home to two famous pebble beach, the Looc, and Mabua – Ipil. Located just 30 minutes away from the city, this unique beach is filled not with sands but multi-sized pebbles which they say is alive and can grow to as big as bowling balls. Almost all the pebbles are smooth but you cannot get one to take home as souvenir because it is forbidden.

Right next to Mabua is the Looc Beach which is accessible, if you’re at Mabua, by ascending a 100-step staircase, but we take the easy way by driving around. It is at Looc Beach where you can watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in this part of the world. They say you can see the sun looks as if it’s floating as it begins to set.

While waiting for the sunset, you can enjoy swimming in its pristine green water.

Visit the Battle of Surigao Strait Museum

Surigao City has its own Luneta Park and near it is a church and the Battle of Surigao Strait Museum. Surigao has a rich World War II stories and this museum is dedicated to one of the greatest naval engagements which is part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

It is said that the Battle of Surigao Strait is the decisive battle where the Japanese were beaten by the Allied Forces, paving the way for them to liberate the rest of the country. Several Japanese battleships were decimated during the battle and all are still under the Surigao Strait up to now.

Inside the museum is a torpedo found in the waters off Dinagat Island in January 2013. What is amazing about this torpedo is that it’s part of a batch used by the Japanese when they attack the Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Also, in the museum are several Japanese army artilleries and a haunting picture of a Japanese soldier which still an unidentified person and many other photos and artefacts.

We may have enjoyed visiting it but if you’re a Japanese visiting here, it will be saddening and heart-breaking for you because this museum is testament to Japanese defeat during the World War II.

A Grand Tour at Sohoton/Bucas Grande Island

After nearly two hours of sea travel, which to my surprise is quite enjoyable, we finally reach the Bucas Grande Islands. It is a group of islands located somewhere around the town of Socorro and is also known as the Sohoton Cove National Park.

I was completely awestruck by this place with its natural beauty. Going around it is a trip in itself and you almost hope that it does not become a popular tourist destination lest it be destroyed with many people visiting it, but that would be selfish and people should experience how awesome nature is.

It’s too bad we didn’t get to see the popular Jelly Fish Farm when we were there.

Explore the Silop Cave System

I’m terrified of bats. When I thought we were just going to see a cave which many say has the most impressive limestone formation, the Batman logo I saw in the staff's uniform shirt of the Silop Cave stopped me from joining the tour. I know it’s crazy but I just waited for the tour to finish and just happy to listen to the people’s account of how the cave is such a terrestrial wonder, anyways there are photos around the place where I can also see stalagmites and stalactites.

Silop Cave has 12 chambers with limestone formation formed over a million years. Going up to see it using stairs which look like a hundred step is worth it, so you shouldn’t miss it, according to my shuttle mate.

Eat the Best Buttered Chicken

What is travel without eating? During our time in the city, we were treated to the best food especially the sweetest and freshest seafood you can imagine eating, be it grilled or kinilaw name it, we’ve eaten the best. And you know what else is the best I have tasted in the city? It’s the fried chicken which is buttered in the most delicious way possible. I didn’t know what they did with the butter but it was really delicious and did not lessen the crispiness of the fried chicken. Even after a month, I’m still craving for the Buttered Chicken of Harbourside Grill.

Take Home the Food Delicacies of the Surigaonon

Each province has its own specialty and delicacies and Surigao has many. The most cliched things we did here is to buy as many of these delicacies to bring home to Manila.

In one of the coastal Barangay in Mabua is who makes the best Sayungsong in town. Sayungsong is a sticky rice snack wrapped in banana leaves. It is tender but not too sweet like the other food. I had fun watching it being cooked and it is more delicious when eaten straight from kitchen.

Even after staying for 4 days, it seems our time is not enough to know more about the natural wonders and the colorful history of Surigao City. The province has all the ingredients to be one of the country’s top travel destination not only for its beaches. For the tourists and adventurers, Surigao has laid out a series of activities and events worthy of a visit. For sure, I will be back Surigao, there are still so many places I haven’t seen.


There is no available direct flight from Manila to the city since an earthquake severely damaged the airport. There are daily direct flights from Manila to Cebu then Cebu to Surigao.


Surigao has several hotels, inns and resorts for accommodation. We stayed at the Hotel Tavern Annex but if you’re fussy about the shower or wi-fi connection, you should book at the main hotel and not at the Annex.

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