Beyond Siargao: Six other must-visit Caraga destinations

Ivy Marie Mangadlao

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Beyond Siargao: Six other must-visit Caraga destinations

PICTURE PERFECT. Tourists enjoy the scenic view of Bega Falls in Barangay Mabuhay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

Department of Tourism-Caraga

Caraga has much more to offer beyond Siargao's famed shores. From uninhabited islands, enchanting rivers, and stunning waterfalls, Caraga is a treasure trove just waiting to be explored.

BUTUAN, Philippines – With the start of the dry season, it’s the perfect time to seek out places to beat the heat, and the Caraga region boasts some of these ideal summer destinations.

While Siargao Island is unquestionably the premiere tourist destination in the region, Caraga has much more to offer beyond its surfing capital’s famed shores. From uninhabited islands, enchanting rivers, and stunning waterfalls, Caraga is a treasure trove just waiting to be explored.

Here are some destinations where you can venture off the beaten track this season and find some of the most fascinating spots that highlight the region’s natural beauty:

‘Blue Lagoon’

Nestled on Pangabangan Island in the town of Libjo, Dinagat Island, this tidal pool got its name ‘Blue Lagoon’ due to its crystal-clear waters, which boast rich shades of blue when viewed from afar.

Surrounded by towering karst formations, the Blue Lagoon is a perfect place for sunbathing, seaside relaxation, and tranquil swimming experiences. There’s a floating cottage available for those who wish to soak up the scenery, or a bamboo raft for exploration.

BLUE LAGOON. A bird’s eyeview of the Blue Lagoon in Pangabangan Island, in the town of Libjo, Dinagat Island. courtesy of Erwin Mascarinas

For those seeking adventure, one can climb a large karst formation that offers a panoramic perspective of the Blue Lagoon and its surrounding waters. Though the climb may be a bit steep and slightly risky, the breathtaking view from the top makes it all worthwhile.

Tourists can opt to spend the night by setting up camp under the coconut trees.

Tinuy-an Falls

The Tinuy-an Falls Eco Park features a majestic waterfall, with its curtain of water cascading down a four-tier drop that spans 95 meters wide and 55 meters high. Tourists often liken Tinuy-an Falls to a mini-version of Canada’s Niagara Falls.

Found in Barangay Burboanan, Bislig City, Surigao del Sur, about 16 kilometers from the city center, the entire area is filled with tall trees, which adds to its appeal.

The water basin on the second tier, the tallest of the four layers, is an attraction in and of itself.

TINUY-AN FALLS. Crystal-clear water flows at the Tinuy-an Falls in Barangay Burboanan, Bislig City, Surigao del Sur. courtesy of Erwin Mascarinas

Visitors can swim, take photos, and ride a bamboo raft to come up close to the waterfall and feel the water cascading down like a soothing massage.

Enchanted River

As soon as you catch sight of the river tucked away in the coastal town of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur, you’ll find yourself utterly enchanted.

Situated in the Barangay of Cambatong, about 14 kilometers from the town center, the Hinatuan Enchanted River offers a visual feast of greenish-blue crystal-clear waters.

The river traverses the boundaries of the villages of Talisay and Cambatong and flows out of Hinatuan Bay, facing the Pacific Ocean.

ENCHANTED RIVER. Tourists take photos from the observation deck at the Enchanted River, Hinatuan town in Surigao del Sur. Ivy Marie Mangadlao/Rappler

Upon arrival at the spot, you’ll be welcomed by a stunning blue lagoon. Although the enticing color of the water may tempt you to jump right in, it’s reserved solely for sightseeing. The designated area where tourists can take a plunge or swim is situated some 10 meters away from the lagoon and is secured with ropes and floaters.

According to local folklore, the river earned its name due to the “engkantos” (Philippine mythical creatures or spirits) believed to inhabit its waters, with legends also suggesting that supernatural beings act as its guardian.

Britania Islands

If you’re seeking an island adventure, Britania Island is definitely the destination for you.

With its clear turquoise waters, pristine white sand beaches, and delectable seafood offerings, this group of islets comprising Britania Islands in San Agustin, Surigao del Sur promises to captivate all who visit.

Located along Lianga Bay, facing the Pacific Ocean, the Britania Islands consist of approximately 20 to 25 islands and islets, their numbers depending on the tides.

Among these islands, four are prominent stops on the island-hopping tour packages that have become popular with tourists: Boslon, Hagonoy, Hiyor-hiyoran, and Naked Island.

BRITANIA ISLANDS. An aerial view of a part of the Britania Islands and islets with two of the islands that have white sand beaches in San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. courtesy of Erwin Mascarinas

Visitors can also enjoy a variety of recreational water activities such as jet skiing, snorkeling, banana boating, and flying fish rides.

Bega Falls

While Agusan del Sur, the only landlocked province in the region, may lack the sandy shores found in other provinces with coastlines, it compensates with breathtaking waterfalls, among them is the Bega Falls.

Located in Purok 5 of Barangay Mabuhay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, approximately 16 kilometers from the town center, Bega Falls stands as a natural wonder boasting three tiers of cascading water within the Bega River system, originating from the source at Sitio Ugnop Cave.

Each level of Bega Falls has its unique charm, with clear water flowing gently over moss-covered rocks. Surrounded by lush greenery, Bega Falls welcomes visitors to experience its layered beauty and enjoy the peacefulness of nature.

PEBBLE BEACH. The Mabua Pebble Beach with its crystal-clear water in Barangay Mabua, Surigao City. courtesy of the Department of Tourism-Caraga
Pebble Beach

On Surigao City’s western side lies a one-of-a-kind beach experience: Mabua Pebble Beach.

Unlike the typical sandy stretches, you might expect, this shoreline is made up of multi-sized pebbles, which sets it apart from most of the beaches in the Philippines.

This pebble beach, named after Barangay Mabua where it is located, offers crystal-clear waters.

Even when the water reaches chest-deep, you can still see your feet clearly beneath the surface. 

And those pebbles? They’re not just for looks. Walking barefoot on them is therapeutic too, as it’s like giving your feet a mini-massage while you explore.

For sunset lovers, Mabua Pebble Beach offers a showstopping view. It’s one of the best spots in the Caraga region to catch the sky changing its colors to a mesmerizing orange hue. –

Ivy Marie Mangadlao is a community journalist writing for Mindanews and an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow for 2023-2024.

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