Philippine tourism

Discovering Dinagat Islands’ dreamy beaches

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Discovering Dinagat Islands’ dreamy beaches

DINAGAT. Dinagat Islands has many beaches to offer tourists.

Fore Esperanza/Rappler

Traveling to the Dinagat Islands? A local Dinagatnon suggests the best underrated beaches to visit for pristine waters, marine life, and stunning sights!

MANILA, Philippines – Imagine this: skylines painted golden and clouds in orange, pink, and blue hues, accompanied by crystal-clear waters and sandy shores.

These are just a few reasons why Dinagat Islands’ beaches should be on your next domestic travel bucket list!

Dinagat Islands is an under-the-radar, underrated vacation spot that sits pretty in Mindanao, on the south side of the Leyte Gulf.

To get there, you can come from Surigao City and ride a tricycle going to a pantalan (dock) and look for lanchas (big boats) heading to the small island of Dinagat.

The one-and-a-half-hour sea trip via lancha will cost P165. It will bring you directly to the island, where you will be greeted by habal-habal (motorcycles) or bao-bao (turtle-shaped tricycles). These are your only choices of land transportation.

Upon arrival, the view from the pantalan is already impressive – but it gets better. Here’s a list of Dinagat Islands’ best beaches, curated by a local Dinagatnon just for you!

Tagbirayan Beach

Don’t forget your sunscreen because the shorelines of Tagbirayan will have you walking under the sun! Located in Cagdianao, a municipality in the province of Dinagat, Tagbirayan is known for its fine golden sands.

TAGBIRAYAN BEACH. Fore Esperanza/Rappler

From Dinagat, you can ride a habal-habal that passes through multiple barangays. Local drivers are accustomed to the slippery road, but tourists should be reminded to stay calm!

Once you arrive at Cagdianao, the beautiful municipal hall will welcome you as it is located near the pathway to the beach. Once you hear the waves crashing and start to see a line of coconut trees, you know you’re near.

At Tagbirayan Beach, there are many cottages you can choose from, all managed by friendly and honest people. Don’t worry about food because sari-sari stores can be found everywhere. You can even rent a karaoke machine and sing your heart out!

Lake Bababu

Do you prefer the stillness of lakes more? Lake Bababu, located in Basilisa, is the country’s longest underwater cave connected to the sea. It is a lake situated on top of a mountain. It’s almost like a volcano, but instead of lava, you get cold water. The surface of the lake is freshwater, while below is saltwater!

A resident tour guide, usually accompanied by local dogs, will debrief you about the trail going to the lake. Don’t forget to bring your water jug and wear hiking shoes, because the path can be slippery. The trek usually takes up to 30 minutes.

There are no stores around, so bring snacks to enjoy while admiring the view from up top (the only sound you’ll hear are the trees rustling). You can take a quick swim, but you can’t go far.

Before going down, make sure to take your garbage with you to help preserve the environment.

Jelmar’s Islet

Take a trip to Jelmar’s Islet located in one of Dinagat’s municipalities, Libjo. You can travel by sea via pambot or hire a habal-habal or bao-bao driver to take you. If you take your own vehicle, parking is free.

The restaurants nearby pride themselves in their fresh seafood selections (lato, sinugba, kinilaw, you name it) as the island is rich in natural resources.

JETMAR’S ISLET. Fore Esperanza/Rappler

What makes Jelmar’s Islet different from the other beaches in the province is its long boardwalk. Visitors are encouraged to bring their visors so they can take a walk surrounded by clear waters, where you can see marine life thriving. You can also take a quick hike on a nearby trail that allows a view of the entire resort. 

Pangabangan Tidal Pool/Blue Lagoon

A Dinagat trip isn’t complete without setting foot in the Pangabangan Tidal Pool, also known as the Blue Lagoon. The rich marine biodiversity is seen in this freshwater-meets-saltwater gem.

You can rent a bamboo raft to get a good view of the entire lagoon and witness the hues of the water transition from clear aquamarine to deep blue. The water is so clear (and perfect for drone shots).

Pagkawasan Garden Beach Resort

Take a slow and quiet getaway at this private resort, where, after traveling by water, you are greeted with rock formations (with one resembling Hershey’s Kisses).


Located in Basilisa, Pagkawasan Garden Beach and Resort is named after a local word that means “liberty.” Like every beach in Dinagat, the sand is fine and the water is pristine.

You won’t hear any vehicle noises from your resort cottage. If you get hungry, there are restaurants near the vicinity.

Bitaog Beach

For some locals, this idyllic beach is considered one of the classics, since it has been around before the advent of post-pandemic tourism. 

BITAOG BEACH. Krestine Jan Pulido/Rappler

Because of its popularity, this beach has had more exposure to visitors, tourists, and locals alike. The local government of Basilisa has exerted great efforts to preserve and promote responsible tourism in the place. 

When you get tired of swimming and exploring caves, a makeshift duyan tied between two coconut trees facing the sea is free for everyone to enjoy. The resort also offers kayak activities for adventurous travelers who want to take a breather from diving. 

Islander’s Castle

Even before arriving at the dock of Dinagat, a lone castle on top of the hill surrounded by trees might pique your interest. To get there from Dinagat, the municipality of San Jose is accessible by pambot or habal-habal. Visitors are only allowed to witness the castle from outside its gates.

Ready for your upcoming Dinagat adventure? Amping permit (take care always)! – Fore Esperanza/

Fore Esperanza is a Rappler intern.

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