April 9, 2015

SIARGAO 2015 TRAVEL DIARY – Island Hopping Tour: Daku / Dako Island

Siargao has been in my bucket list ever since I saw how beautiful its beaches are. Obviously I am a sucker for white sand beaches and clear blue and turquoise waters. Whenever I have the opportunity to travel, I always choose a place where there’s a beach; I may not have the beach body and the confidence to wear two-piece swimsuits and I also don’t know how to swim properly, but the feel of sand under my feet gives me a certain high. 
 

Since one of my good friends is coming back to Manila this Summer, and we always make it a point that we will travel whenever she’s on vacation in the Philippines, I booked us a flight to Siargao Island. Most flights to Siargao are quite expensive especially for a regular-earning professional like me, but thank goodness for airfare promos and seat sales that I was able to book a flight to Siargao that was cheaper than normal. There is no direct flight to Siargao, you have to pass by Cebu and board a smaller aircraft to Siargao. There’s only one airport in Siargao – Sayak Airport in Del Carmen town, which is a relatively small airport compared to Caticlan’s or Coron’s airport. Only 1 flight arrives and leaves Sayak airport daily when it’s the lean season; but when there’s a surfing competition Cebu Pacific (the only airline that flies directly to Siargao) opens two flights per day and this is around May to September.

 
 


Siargao is a tear-drop shaped island in the Philippine Sea in the province of Surigao del Norte. It is  best known for its beautiful and large waves that are good for surfing, especially that this island is on the southeast part of the Philippines and faces the Pacific Ocean. But Siargao is not all about surfing, it boasts of other tourist destinations like beaches, natural pools, lagoons, falls etc. The landscape in Siargao reminds me of both Coron and Bohol, but it has its own different charm. It’s more laid-back, more peaceful and even though tourists flock it, it isn’t crowded at all. The locals of Siargao are one of the nicest and hospitable people I’ve ever  encountered – they are simple, respectful, fun and honest. Everyone is very friendly and accommodating. During our 4 days stay on the island, I’ve come to love it and had somewhat a separation anxiety when we were about to leave. I felt like I wasn’t ready to leave just yet, but then that only gave me a fuel to return to Siargao when I have the chance to.
  


ISLAND HOPPING TOUR: DAKU (OR DAKO) ISLAND

The mere mention of Siargao Island brings thoughts about waves and surfing; but Siargao is more than surfing. It also boasts of beautiful beaches with fine white sand and turquoise seas, lagoons, falls and the famous Magpupungko Rock Formations in Pilar town. Most islands included in the island hoping tour is just near the General Luna port and could be reached in more or less 30 minutes and transferring from one island to another would only take around 10 minutes.
 
On our third day we went island hopping in the nearby islands off the coast of General Luna. We availed a tour from one of Kuya Levie’s (our habal-habal driver) acquaintances. Usual rates for boat rental including boat driver is around PHP 1500-2000 and will still depend on how big your group is. But since there were only 3 of us and there weren’t many tourists going on the island hopping trip, we just rented a small boat and haggled the price down to PHP1,300 only for a half day island hopping tour.


Before we went on our island-hopping trip, we went to General Luna Boulevard where the port and the market are and had our breakfast there. We bought some frozen meats and had it cooked by Nanay Inday who owns one of the eateries there behind Palaka Diving Center. It is the usual practice of tourists to buy food and fresh seafood at this market and bring them during the trip; but since we were full from our heavy breakfast we decided to bring just some fruits and water.

 
After our short stay at Naked Island, we headed to Daku (Or Dako) Island, which was just a couple of minutes away. Daku is a Visayan term for big, this might have been named as such because it is the biggest among the three nearest islands to General Luna town. There is actually a community or village here of fishermen and surfers as well. The residents’ houses are at the other end of the island and opposite is the beach where tourists can stay.
  

There are cottages lined up along the shore that are available for rent, either for a day trip or for an overnight stay. If you find yourself hungry by lunchtime and you didn’t buy anything from the town proper’s market, fret not, because there are locals of Daku Island who owns stores and can cook your lunch for you for a certain fee. 
 


The head of the village (barangay captain) who happens to be a fisherman also stores his fresh catch of the day at his house which you can buy and have them cooked. 


We thought we won’t feel hungry after a heavy breakfast but we were wrong. Also, one of the locals offered us to try spider sea shell, which is a local delicacy in Siargao. We also bought raw fish and octopus (yes octopus!) and had everything grilled and cooked the adobo-way. The spider sea shell tasted like mussels while the octopus tasted like squid but more rubbery. The French family in the other cottage got so curious about the spider sea shell that they asked if they could taste some, we happily obliged and they liked it. LOL!
 


Daku Island has a long stretch of pristine white sand and the beach has an unobstructed view of the sea. We stayed here the longest but we didn’t go swimming because the sun was at its hottest. Since we were also offered fresh coconuts (and the one for our boatman was free) we just stayed in our hut while drinking coconut juice and munching on coconut meat while we exchange conversations with a Canadian couple who was occupying the hut next to ours.


Daku Island is probably the best of the three nearby islands of General Luna besides its super soft and fine white sand, it is also the biggest and you can do a lot of other things here. The locals are very friendly, accommodating and helpful too. 


We did do some snorkeling in a nearby coral garden but there wasn’t much to see except for large brain corals, a few fishes and blue starfishes. Our boatman was able to dive and pick a bunch of seaweed locally called “lato” which can be made as salad.

After snorkeling for a bit we moved on to our next and last stop: Guyam Island.



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