New Siargao-Dinagat sea route promises to bolster Caraga tourism, economy

Ivy Marie Mangadlao

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New Siargao-Dinagat sea route promises to bolster Caraga tourism, economy

AGREE. Dinagat Governor Nilo Demerey (left), Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo Coro II (center), and Cagdianao Mayor Marc Adelson Longos (right) sign an agreement to start the new sea route for Dinagat and Siargao islands, vice versa.

Municipality of Del Carmen

The first and only direct sea route connecting Siargao and Dinagat islands reduces travel time from almost four hours to a little over an hour

BUTUAN, Philippines – Local officials are optimistic about a surge in tourism and economic growth for both the island province of Dinagat and Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte in the Caraga region with the opening of a new sea route linking the two.

With an average travel time of one hour and 20 minutes, this is the first and only direct route connecting the two islands, reducing travel time from almost four hours, which usually involved a boat trip to the mainland in Surigao City and then another boat ride to the islands.

Launched on Monday, April 22, the new route from the port in Del Carmen town in Siargao to Cagdianao town in Dinagat, vice versa, is serviced by the M/V French 777 of Nier Shipping Lines.

Authorized by Special Permit No. 2024-04-042 from the Maritime Industry Authority, it has a carrying capacity of 120 passengers, including motorcycles.

Dinagat Governor Nilo Demerey Jr. said the opening of the new sea route is an initiative to bolster local tourism in the province through collaboration with Del Carmen in Siargao Island.

Demerey said their aim is not to compete with Siargao’s tourism but rather to integrate Dinagat into the broader island adventure experience that Siargao offers.

“We copied what Siargao has done so that Dinagat can also become a part of Siargao… We know that tourism in Siargao is really good. They have a nice airport, clear plans, and beautiful surfing spots, making them the surfing capital,” Demerey said during the launch.

Apart from boosting the tourism industry, Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo Coro II said the route would also open economic opportunities for both islands.

“Siargao’s tourism can be expanded to include Dinagat with its own exciting adventures as a mountainous island province and host to Asia’s largest bonsai forest, while Dinagat benefits from access to Siargao Airport for trade and supply chain of agricultural produce,” Coro said.

He added that small island economies must continue to explore collective and coordinated actions to maximize natural assets to promote sustainable development and inclusive growth.

New tourism circuit

Department of Tourism-Caraga Director Ivonnie Dumadag said connecting the two islands signals the birth of a “new tourism circuit” and paves the way for the promotion of lesser-known but similarly beautiful destinations in the Caraga region.

“We capitalize on the strength of Siargao, which is primarily its accessibility, and use that strength to help nearby Dinagat Island, which also offers world-class yet pristine natural attractions,” Dumadag said.

DOT Caraga’s records showed that Dinagat Island logged a total of 22,832 tourist arrivals in 2023, marking a 35.76% increase from its record in 2022, where it tallied 16,818 tourists.

Meanwhile, Siargao saw the highest number of tourist arrivals in the region for 2023, recording a total of 529,822 tourist arrivals, which represented a 323.56% increase from the 125,088 tourists logged in 2022.

M/V French 777 offers regular trips on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. It departs from Del Carmen at 7 am and from Cagdianao at 1 pm.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, it leaves from Del Carmen at 1:30 pm and from Cagdianao at 3 pm.

The regular fare rates are set at P350, with a 20% discount for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and students, and P175 for children ages 4-10. –

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