Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bucas Grande: Lagoon, Lake, and Caves

Our sole purpose of going to Bucas Grande Island was to see Sohoton Cove and its neighboring lake and caves.

The first stop of our tour was Sohoton Cove. It was almost noon on a Saturday when we got to the Sohoton Cove Visitor's Center to register and pay some fees:
  • Entrance fee Php 25
  • Environmental fee Php 25
  • Docking fee (per boat) Php 100
  • Tour guide for the Sohoton Cove tour Php 330
  • Small pumpboat for the Sohoton Cove tour Php 500
  • Paddleboat and guide/paddler for the Jellyfish Sanctuary (per guest) Php 100
Sohoton Cove Visitor's Center

There were already about half a dozen groups and we had to wait our turn for the tour. Pumpboats have to wait at the Visitor's Center and guests have to transfer to a smaller pumpboat for the tour. Only small pumpboats can get into the cove because the entrance to it is through a low–ceilinged cave. Sohot is a Visayan word meaning to pass through a small opening, thus Sohoton Cove.


The tour visits two caves: Hagukan Cave and Magkukuob Cave. Guests are encouraged to swim inside Hagukan Cave. For those who don't know how to swim, lifevests can be rented at the Visitor's Center or trust your guide to lead you into the cave. Hagukan Cave is named for the snoring sound the water makes when it hits the opening during high tide. Haguk is Visayan for snore. One would expect the inside of the cave to be pitch black, but it actually isn't. Too bad I didn't have a waterproof camera to take photos of the inside of the cave.

Entrance to Hagukan Cave

It is a short walk to get inside dark Magkukuob Cave (not to worry, your guide is a Boy Scout, he'll have a flashlight with him), then a bit of climbing to get to the exit. It is also known as Diving Cave because you have to jump off a platform to exit. You can actually trace your way back to the entrance but it's easier to just jump off than navigate your way down the slippery cave.

The exit is 15 feet above the water

After visiting these two caves, we were taken back to the Visitor's Center to transfer to a paddleboat for the Jellyfish Sanctuary. Only one guest per paddleboat and paddler/guide. I asked for an extra paddle from my guide and started paddling. My paddling was taking us anywhere but the jellyfish lagoon. I eventually just hummed a tune and pretended to paddle.

Paddling to the Jellyfish Sanctuary

The shallow entrance to the sanctuary

The jellyfish are stingless. One can touch them but not take them out of the water for more than a minute or they die. The jellyfish appear from March to July and are abundant around April. It is best to go to the sanctuary when the sun isn't too high up—the jellyfish hide when it's hot, at least that's what my guide said. Swimming is strictly prohibited at the sanctuary.

Photo by D. Ogabang

After Sohoton Cove and the Jellyfish Sanctuary, we proceeded to Tiktikan Lake, Bolitas Cave, Crystal Cave, and a newly explored cave, Tundan Cave (thanks Glen for the info). All three caves are in the same area.

An entrance fee of Php20 is collected at Tiktikan Lake. To go to the lake, we had to follow a path that ascends then descends. Cottages for overnight stay and open cottages for picnics dot the area around the lake. It was too quiet at the lake, I don't think I'd want to stay the night there. :-)

Entrance to Tiktikan Lake

 Two sad pawikans in a pen by the entrance :-(

A wooden sculpture of the tiktik bird (left) halfway to Tiktikan Lake (right)

After the lake, we boarded our boat and were taken to another area where Bolitas, Crystal, and Tundan Caves are. To explore the caves a guide and flashlights are required. No guide fees but tips are always welcome. Flashlights can be rented for Php20.

The first cave we went into was Tundan Cave. It took us almost an hour in and out of it. There were portions where we had to crawl, tuck our stomachs in, and wriggle our way through. After this exploration we were drenched in sweat and covered in mud.

Inside Tundan Cave (left) and Crystal Cave (right)

Crystal Cave was easy to explore. No wriggling and shrinking yourself required. After the two caves, where we saw shiny, sparkly formations inside, we didn't bother going into Bolitas Cave (the entrance to Bolitas is a narrow passage by the mouth of Crystal Cave). It was already dusk when we emerged from Crystal Cave. We were grimy, muddy, stinky, and exhausted.

For Php3000 we were picked up from Socorro, taken on a six-hour tour of caves and lakes, and, the next day, taken to the mainland (Brgy. Hayanggabon, Claver, Surigao del Norte) to catch a van (1.5 hours, Php120) going to Surigao City.

 Hayanggabon port (left) and the van terminal just outside the port (right)

Boat transfers/tour was arranged thru:
Balanghai Kanlunes / Fredie Rosillo
0935 418 3244 / 0946 696 3120

Three Days in Siargao:
In and Around Siargao Island
La Isla Siargao Bar and Grill
Magpupungko Then and Now
Three Little Islands
Skales Greek Restaurant

Siargao's Neighbor, Bucas Grande:
Balanghai Kanlunes in Bucas Grande Island
Lagoon, Lake, and Caves (you're here!)

Siargao and Bucas Grande: Itinerary and Expenses


  1. bro, we're so jealous of this post. we failed to go to bucas grande last summer... now we're totally effed because both me and my wife are going to be based in luzon starting july. back to school for me as a 4th year medicine student in UPH, binan, laguna. wifey is currently working as an assistant in a radiology clinic.

    on a brighter note, we will get to attack destinations in luzon this time around.

    great post as always!

    1. Hey, don't fret! There are so many beautiful places in Luzon!!! Try Ilocos Norte. You should go there if you haven't yet! And if you want to hike thru rice terraces, visit Batad. There are still so many places in Luzon I have yet to see. You're lucky to be based many places to choose from that are just a bus ride away :-) Good luck with your studies, sir! And to your new life in Luzon. Cheers!

  2. my dad is 100% ilocano from san nicolas, ilocos. i think those places near manila first like zambales, batangas then we'll try going into the crater of taal volcano. should have started blogging before we would have documented most of our travels. :)

    1. Ah so you have explored Ilocos Norte :-) Oh yes, taal. I bet you have been to most of the Philippines! It's great you are traveling with your wife.

  3. Beautiful post, but you should have taken the turtle from the pond out :P

    1. Thanks Noelfy. Yes, I should have. If only there was no caretaker around and if only the pen wasn't too far down (need a ladder to reach it). It was the LGU's (local government unit) doing. Sad. The pawikans look so sad and dirty :(

  4. The name of the cave is Tundan Cave sir. Nice post you have here. :-)

    1. Thanks Glen! I'll add that to the post :-) Thanks for visiting!

  5. Nice share of your trip to Siargao. Kasi Siargao is an island, right? Is that really far from Surigao City?

    1. Thanks Ian! Yes, Siargao is an island of Surigao del Norte. It's about 2-3 hours by boat from Surigao City. But this post here is about Bucas Grande Island. The island next to Siargao :-)

  6. Will definitely visit Siargao in the future. Very detailed posts and great pictures, too. Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Do visit Siargao and Bucas Grande! Do! Thanks for reading :-)

  7. sir??pag tour ninyu sa sohoton bah wala moi laing group nga nka sabay??tnx!..:)

    1. naay daghan groups pag adto namo... taas taas sad ang linya ato hehe :D

  8. Is it possible to do this tour from Siargao?

  9. Hi Mustachio,
    Ang 3K na budget is per person or entire group?

    1. Hi Jenpai. The 3000 is for the boat (not per person) to take you to the visitor center (so you could go to the cove), to the caves, and to the lakes. It does not include the fees collected at the Sohoton Cove Visitor's Center stated in the first part of the above post. At the Visitor Center, you have to transfer to smaller boats (Php 500 per boat, can carry up to 5 passengers, if I remember right) to get into the cove. Please visit this post for a breakdown of expenses.