a paradise-hopping experience, October 11, 2015
a paradise-hopping experience, October 11, 2015

For most people, may they be foreigners or Filipinos, every time they hear of a white sand beach in the Philippines, the first thing that comes to their mind is Boracay Island in Kalibo, Aklan. Little do they know of the existence of small patches of paradise in the south.

Located in Lianga Bay in the municipality of San Agustin in Surigao del Sur, is a group of about 24 islands and islets, collectively known as Britania Group of Islands.Most of the islands have a very minimal to no vegetation cover. Man-made structures are also very limited on these islands, which made them more natural and more pristine than most commonly-known island beaches in the country. Out of the 24 (or 25 as some locals would say) islands, only 4 of them are part of the tour. However, since we had our island hopping activity when it was low tide, we were able to visit 2 additional islands. So overall, we were able to visit 6 islands, and they are as follows:

1. Naked Island

crystal clear water along the shore of Naked Island
crystal clear water along the shore of Naked Island

This was the first island that we visited. As the name implies, this island is naked, meaning, it has no vegetation cover, nor large rock formations. The surface of the island is covered with white, fine sand. The water surrounding the island reminded me of Fox (and maybe FRES as well) candy, because of its bluish, clear color.

2. Hagonoy Island

the vegetated part of Hagonoy island
the vegetated part of Hagonoy island
staying at the bare portion of Hagonoy
staying at the bare portion of Hagonoy

Next in line was Hagonoy. Half to about 2/3 of the island is almost naked, just like the Naked island, while the remaining portion is covered with some vegetation such as coconuts. This island is also gifted with a wide portion of flat rock formations, located along one of its side, near the vegetated area.

3. Boslon Island

the most commercialized island, Boslon island
the most commercialized island, Boslon island
fresh sea urchins
fresh sea urchins

Among all the islands, this is the most developed. Many people are selling souvenir items here, as well as meals that are perfect for lunch. You can also buy fresh sea urchins here for as low as Php 100 per tumpok or heap (around 5 to 6 pieces). A number of tables and chairs are available in this island that can be rented by visitors. A gold-plated statue of Virgin Mary, together with a
medium-sized cross, is built here, near a gigantic boulder.

4. Panlangagan Islands

the opening of the cave
the opening of the cave in Panlangagan Island

Although these islands are actually 2 separate islands, they are both called Panlangagan, According to our guides, our boatmen. These islands are accessible through Boslon Island during low tide.Our main goal of going to one of these islands, the farthest from Boslon, was to explore its cave. It was the most exciting and challenging activity that a visitor can possibly (as of now) do in Britania group of Islands. To be able to reach the cave, you have to climb, not really like the mountain climbing kind of climb but more like a very easy version of rock climbing kind of climb, all the way to the top of the island. Exploring the cave, including our way up and down, took us around 20 minutes, since the cave is just actually small.

5. Hiyor-hiyoran Island

a view of Hiyor-Hiyoran Island from our boat
a view of Hiyor-Hiyoran Island from our boat

Among all the islands in Britania that we visited, this island had the most vegetation. We took a short trip around the island, to see what else it has to offer. A small portion of this island is covered with white sand, while the remaining portion is left for rock formations and vegetation. Hiyor-hiyoran Island was the last one that we visited before we headed back to the resort where we had our lunch.

According to one of our boatmen, we could actually visit around 7 or 8 islands. But since we were already tired (and hungry!) after we visited Hiyor-hiyoran Island, we decided not to visit the remaining islands anymore.

Britania is our last stop in our Surigao Del Sur tour, which started wih a visit at Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig City, then followed by 3-hour stop at the Enchanted River of Hinatuan. After our very late lunch, we packed our things and headed to our next Mindanao adventure, Dahilayan Gardens in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. We surely did enjoy our island hopping experience in one of the best-kept secrets of Surigao del Sur.

When we left, we took nothing but pictures, we left nothing but memories.

Additional notes:

  • The caving activity is not really part of the island tour package, so be sure to ask your bankero (boatman) if he can take you there.
  • Be sure to start your tour as early as possible. It will be much harder for you to enjoy your stay at the islands, especially Naked and Hagonoy Islands, because of the heat of the sun, unless of course, you can withstand it.
  • Always be reminded of a simple rule: garbage in, garbage out.
  • You may contact MacArthur Place through:
    • Smart: 09486577234 /09999910845/09399163745
    • Globe: 09165850171/09161675695
    • E-mail: lmok_orcullo@yahoo.com

Acknowledgements:

I would like to send my sincerest gratitude to Ms. Carenne Amador-Jabay for providing me with the travel guide and as well as the estimated budget; also to her family for allowing us to stay at their home. 

Travel Guide    
Route Mode of Transportation Estimated Travel Time
Bancasi Airport (Butuan City) to bus terminal Multicab (Route 4/R4) 20 minutes
Butuan City to San Agustin, Surigao Sur Bus (Tandag bound) 4.5 hours
Britania Hi-way crossing to Mac Arthur Resort Motorcycle 10 minutes
Mac Arthur Resort (dock for motorized boats for island hopping) to Britania islands (island hopping) Motorized boats Boats are allowed a maximum of 4 hours

 

Estimated Budget (in Philippine Peso)  
Transportation (one-way)  
Bancasi Airport (Butuan City) to bus terminal 20
Butuan City to San Agustin, Surigao Sur* 165
Britania Hi-way crossing to Mac Arthur Resort 20
   
Tour Package (MacArthur’s Place)  
Upto 15 persons (4 hours) 1500
Additional fee per head (excess of 15) 100
Guide fee** 250
   
Accommodation***  
Standard Family room (good for 2 w/ breakfast) 1000
Dormitory rooms (good for 8 w/ breakfast) 2000
Additional bed for both (w/breakfast) 200
   
Food per person (lunch) 100
   
Environmental Fee 25
*Another option is to board a bus bound for Davao but alight at San Francisco. From San Francisco, transfer to another bus or van that is bound for Tandag and tell the conductor to drop you off at the crossing going to Britania Islands in the town of San Agustin. It will cost you Php 165, Php 100 for bus ride fromButuan to San Francisco, then Php 65 for a bus ride from San Francisco to San Agustin.   
**Guide fee is not actually required and entirely the group’s prerogative, especially when you request the boatment to take you to the cave, which is not part of the island tour.   
***The maximum capacity of the standard family room is upto 6 persons while the dormitory rooms can accommodate upto 14 persons  

 

Here are some photos of our trip in Britania Islands:

McArthur lodging
McArthur lodging
McArthur Place
McArthur Place
Hagonoy Island Sandbar
Hagonoy Island Sandbar
walking along the shore of Naked Island, October 11, 2015
walking along the shore of Naked Island, October 11, 2015

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