There’s an island province in northeastern Mindanao that I think is comparable or even better than Palawan and it deserves to be discovered by tourists. It’s called Dinagat Islands.
- What province does Dinagat Island belong?
- DIY or Group tour?
- First Stop: Hagakhak Rock Formation
- What to wear and prepare
- How to go to Dinagat Island
- Tour rates and where to stay in Dinagat Islands
- Other places to go to in Dinagat Islands
- Find Dinagat Islands on Google Maps
What province does Dinagat Island belong?
I’ve always found Dinagat Islands to be geographically obscure. It’s neighbor is the popular surfing destination, Siargao, but there’s no direct route getting here. Dinagat Islands is also near Eastern Visayas but it’s neither accessible from there. It’s baffling how it has gone off the radar especially to people who are not from Mindanao considering this island offers some of the most pristine beaches and natural wonders in the whole Philippines.
I think it’s time that Dinagat Islands receive the attention it deserves so I went there to see it for myself.
DIY or Group tour?
Dinagat Islands, the country’s 80th province, used to be part of Surigao del Norte province and is more well-known as the origin of the healing missionary group Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) founded by the late Ruben Ecleo Sr. but the province is more than what you hear in the news. Many people consider
Dinagat Islands as a hidden gem in the Caraga Region. Well, the truth is, describing this place as a “hidden gem” is an understatement. Dinagat Island is a mystical jewel!
If you set aside your false impressions about the place, Dinagat boasts of a natural beauty that makes you gasp in wonder. White sand beaches with crystal clear water, rich marine resources, lake, mountains, magnificent rock formations. Name it, they have it.
Based on my experience as a solo traveler, going around islands (in the Philippines) that are not touristy is quite challenging and tend to be more expensive. So I decided against doing a DIY travel and booked a two-day group tour instead. I got it cheaper and more convenient.
First Stop: Hagakhak Rock Formation
Our first stop was the Hagakhak Rock Formations in the town of Basilisa. These are nature-carved rock formations that resemble like melting candles. Climb to the top and you’ll see the province of Leyte not so far away.
Hagakhak’s physical appearance is so unique that makes it a perfect spot to take a thousand selfies! We explored the place for an hour and judging by the wonder of Hagakhak, I knew I would be awed by Dinagat.
What to wear and prepare
You need to climb to the top of Hagakhak Rock Formation to see the magnificent beauty of the place. As the steps become slippery during the rainy season, you need to wear comfortable hiking sandals or rubber shoes. It’s quite windy up there so wear a pair of confortable shorts instead of a skirt.
Hagakhak Rock Formation is usually the first stop of the Dinagat Islands tour so make sure to bring spare batteries and SD cards for your phones and camera as you might be overwhelmed with taking selfies here. Most important reminder of all, don’t litter!
Entrance fee for Hagakhak Rock Formation: None!
How to go to Dinagat Island
Unlike Siargao, there are no direct flights from the capital, Manila, to Dinagat Islands.. Your starting point is in Surigao City where ferries are bound to San Jose, the capital of Dinagat Islands. There are daily flights from Manila to Surigao City via Philippine Airline, Cebu Pacific or Air Asia and I suggest you check Skyscanner because you can find the cheapest prices of flights there. I usually book my flights on Skyscanner because they’re reliable and they give out the best deals.
There are no direct ferries going to Dinagat Islands from anywhere in the Philippines so Surigao City is your only starting point. Travel time from Surigao City going to San Jose, Dinagat is approximately one hour and a half.
Senior Citizen/PWD 160.00
Motorcycle P500.00 with Driver
Always check the schedule as they tend to change more often or sometimes, they get cancelled due to bad weather or wind velocity. Here’s an updated schedule of ferries for the Surigao City – Dinagat Islands and Dinagat Islands – Surigao City route:
Take note that the port going to San Jose, Dinagat is located in Boulevard and not in Lipata.
San Jose, Dinagat Islands – Surigao City
6:00 am M/V VIEL’S LINER 1/2
6:30 am M/V NEWS MPC ISLAND NAVIGATORS 3
8:30 am M/V VINCE GABRIEL 2
10:15 am M/V VIEL’S LINER 1/2
11:30 am M/V NEWS MPC ISLAND NAVIGATORS 3
1:00 pm M/V NEWS MPC ISLAND NAVIGATORS 4
1:30 pm M/V VIEL’S LINER 1/2
2:15 pm M/V REISESCHATZ 1
3:30 pm M/V VIEL’S LINER 1/2
4:30 pm M/V VINCE GABRIEL 2
Surigao City – San Jose, Dinagat Islands
5:30 am M/V VINCE GABRIEL 2
8:30 am M/V VIEL’S LINER 1/2
9:30 am M/V NEWS MPC ISLAND NAVIGATORS 3
10:30 am M/V VIEL’S LINER 1/2
11:45 am M/V VIEL’S LINER 1/2
12:30 pm M/V REISESCHATZ 1
1:30 pm M/V VINCE GABRIEL 2
3:00 pm M/V NEWS MPC ISLAND NAVIGATORS 3
4:00 pm M/V REISESCHATZ 1
5:00 pm M/V VIEL’S LINER 1/2
5:30 pm M/V NEWS MPC ISLAND NAVIGATORS 4
Tour rates and where to stay in Dinagat Islands
You can book a tour at the Dinagat Tourism Office but I booked mine at Jmalls Travel and Tours via Facebook (Contact number: +63917-163-4907). For a 2 days-1 night tour, I paid 2,998 (the price must’ve changed by now) inclusive of lunch and dinner for Day 1, breakfast and lunch for Day 2, 1 night accommodation, all entrance fees, tour guide fee, docking fee, cottage fee, boat service for island hopping and environmental fees.
Other places to go to in Dinagat Islands
As I go along, I will write detailed blogs about the other places that we went to in Dinagat Islands. During our 2 day-tour, we explored Lake Bababu, Bitaog Beach Resort, Pangabangan Resort (Blue Lagoon), and PBMA Shrine.
All in all, my Dinagat experience was a blast and I wished I could’ve stayed a little bit longer. I hope more tourists will discover the beauty of this island province so prices of boat rentals for group tours will be a bit cheaper.
Find Dinagat Islands on Google Maps
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