Siargao

Siargao’s famous Sugba Lagoon closed for month-long breather

Ivy Marie Mangadlao

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Siargao’s famous Sugba Lagoon closed for month-long breather

DIVE. A tourist dives into the Sugba Lagoon in Del Carmen, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte.

Ivy Marie Mangadlao/Rappler

The yearly closure began in 2016 when the local government started rehabilitating the lagoon which suffered from the impact of unregulated tourism

BUTUAN, Philippines – Siargao’s gem, Sugba Lagoon, took a break from tourists as it closed for a month to undergo rehabilitation on Wednesday, January 10.

Known for its clear turquoise waters surrounded by limestone formations and lush vegetation, the lagoon is a natural cove nestled on the island community of Barangay Caub in Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte.

The yearly closure is based on a local ordinance “declaring 32 days (of) annual tourist holiday and proscribing entrance and other leisure activities within the Sugba lagoon at Barangay Caub every January 10 to February 10 of every year for the repair and maintenance of the tourism facilities and environmental recovery and rehabilitation.”

Land, Nature, Outdoors
KAYAK RIDE. Tourists on a kayak at the Sugba Lagoon in Del Carmen, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte. Ivy Marie Mangadlao/Rappler

The annual closure began in 2016 when the local government started rehabilitating the lagoon which suffered from the impact of unregulated tourism.

Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo Coro II compared the one-month closure to a vacation for Sugba Lagoon as he stressed the importance of preserving it.

“If people need rest to recover and be more productive, so does nature. Sugba Lagoon needs to rest to give time for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the local government unit to review its operations and compliance to ensure we retain its beauty and charm that have attracted thousands of tourists around the world,” Coro said.  

The local government reminded tourists that only Sugba Lagoon is closed during this period, and other destinations such as Mangrove Forest, Kawhagan Island, and Pamomoan Island remain open.

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Sugba Lagoon is accessible through a 20- to 30-minute boat ride from the town’s port, passing through a vast expanse of mangroves to reach the destination.

The famous lagoon is the highlight in community-based ecotourism tours of Del Carmen under the “Siargao It Up!” Mangrove Management and Social Tourism Program.

In 2018, the program won the Galing Pook Award which recognizes innovation and excellence in local governance under the joint initiative of the Local Government Academy-Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Ford Foundation, and other advocates of good governance from the academe, civil society, and the government.

“The program paved the way for the development of the community-based mangrove tours that provided alternative livelihood to 248 beneficiaries, who are either illegal mangrove cutters and fisherfolk and those affected by commercial fishing,” Galing Pook stated. 

According to the Department of Tourism-Caraga, Siargao recorded a total of 234,973 tourist arrivals during the first two quarters of 2023 alone. – Rappler.com

Ivy Marie Mangadlao is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.

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