Finding Idyllic Isolation In Bucas Grande

Photo by Chapters

Photo by Jann Pascua

Bucas Grande is one remote destination that needs to be added to your bucket list.

Nestled between Surigao del Norte and surf capital Siargao is an unlikely empyrean called Bucas Grande. Also known as Sohoton Cove National Park, the island group located on the northeastern corner of Mindanao hosts a myriad of natural wonders waiting to be explored by keen travelers.  The collection of tiny islets is only accessible via a journey that involves air, land, and sea travel.

Rest assured, the secluded wonder is worth the trip. Because Bucas Grande rests away from the main tourist foot traffic, its coral reefs, rock formations, and blue-green waters remain pristine. Despite the island’s sequestered location, accommodations can be found according to your budget. (Though, pro tip, anyone looking to wake up to a private balcony over the sea can book a villa at Club Tara Resort.)

The idyllic location is perfect for explorers who love the water since the only way to visit islets is by hopping around on a boat. Visitors can snorkel, free-dive, and even go spelunking in the various caves. One shouldn’t miss the Hagukan cave which lets the light enter in such a way that it seems like you’re swimming in a glowing pool. Guests are able to get to one of Bucas Grande’s crown jewels by boat—the emerald-hued Jellyfish Lagoon, or Tojoman Lagoon.

Photo by Jann Pascua

This secluded jewel-toned body of water can only be accessed by chartering a small boat through a cave at certain times of the day—go at the wrong hour and you could wind up stuck overnight. 

What’s special about the lagoon is that because it’s so isolated from the rest of the sea, the thousands of jellyfish that reside in it never faced any predators. In turn, over the years, they lost their ability to sting—making it perfectly safe to swim among them and even hold one of the tentacled lagoon-dwellers in your hands.

Unlike more popular tourist destinations that have been heavily urbanized in recent years, Bucas Grande remains largely untouched and the pristine waters and caves are all the better for it. However, this does mean that getting to the islands requires a bit of a journey since the remote location lacks a direct connection. 

Daily flights from Manila to Surigao are accessible all year round, though it’s best to schedule a trip outside of typhoon season. From Surigao, it’s an hour-long bus ride to Hayanggabon Port and from there, you can charter a boat directly to Bucas Grande. 

If Bucas Grande succeeds a trip to the popular island, Siargao, tourists can take an hour-long boat directly from there. The convenience comes at a larger expense, but it saves the time and trouble of connecting various trips and modes of transportation. 

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