Bucas Grande Islands Revisited

Bucas Grande
Bucas Grande
The enchanting Bucas Grande Group of Islands

Three years after the enchanting Bucas Grande first awed me, I was back again with Ate Claudia for a short yet eventful visit. A weekend of re-acquaintance, remembering and rediscoveries of the scenic and pristine landscape of Sohoton Cove and the entire Bucas Grande Islands.

Coming from Cagayan de Oro City, it took us twelve hours to reach Sohoton including all the waiting time and transfers plus the traffic brought by the ongoing road constructions. Our tour guide Reggie was already waiting for us at Hayanggabon Port as early as eight o’clock in the morning but we arrived at almost three in the afternoon and by four, after crossing the waters that separate Sohoton and the mainland, we finally reached Bucas Grande. While everyone else there was about to call it a day, ours were just about to start.

Bucas Grande
Our home in Bucas Grande, Cinnamon Island Cottage
Bucas Grande
Our simple room at Cinnamon Island Cottage

Roldan, the Operations Manager of Cinnamon Island Cottage and Secretary cum Treasurer of Strengthened Association of Volunteers for the Environment of Sohoton (SAVE Sohoton) welcomed us and led us to our room at the second floor of the lovely cottage. It was a big basic room, with bedding typical of a spa. The island has no electricity, but our room has a lot of windows that allow the natural flow of fresh air. One window is overlooking the picturesque entrance of Bucas Grande. The thought of spending a night there made me excited.

When we were settled, we left the island and met Sir Dodo, the Tourism Operation Manager of Sohoton, at the Reception Area for a cup of coffee and a short talk before proceeding to our lone activity for the day – snorkeling around Marka-a Island. It is a spot teeming with colorful huge corals of varied types – staghorn, table, brain, branching and others. There are also crinoids, fishes and other tropical species, all in shallow and clear water. Sir Dodo and Reggie were right, the water surrounding Marka-a is one, if not the best place for snorkeling in Bucas Grande.

Bucas Grande
Huge table corals in the waters of Marka-a Island

We spent some time drifting with the current, busy spotting the vivid seascape below us until we reached the patch of fine white sand beach. It was almost sunset and the view of the setting sun from this area of Bucas Grande was so fascinating. But before darkness totally enveloped us, we decided to go back to Cinnamon Island Cottage.

Bucas Grande
Beautiful sunset from Marka-a Island

The volunteers from SAVE Sohoton in Cinnamon Island prepared a sumptuous dinner and arranged a lovely candle light setting under the star adorned sky. To complement the amazing night, Roldan made a tea out of Cinnamon tree bark. It tasted good and it was amazing to know that it is indigenous and natural. We quickly emptied the teapot but Roldan just added hot water on it and in a minute a flavorful tea was ready. We added calamansi and wild honey to it and in an instant, we finished the second teapot.

Bucas Grande
Cinnamon Tea is the island’s specialty drink 🙂

It was a lovely night with the sound of waves and chirps of crickets as our music, and the fireflies around that added glitter to a star filled sky. The moon was out of our sight, only the lamps provided us light. Though we can barely see the surroundings, the lamps were just enough to allow us to move around. There wasn’t any wind either but it wasn’t hot. Without electricity and so much to do, our day ended early in Cinnamon Island.

We woke up early the next morning and had breakfast partnered with our self made capuccino. Reggie arrived afterwards and our tour started. We went to some sites that we have already visited three years ago. The surrounding lagoons first and then we transferred to smaller paddle boat that brought us to Tojoman Lagoon, home to non-stinging jellyfish. To our surprise, their number was not on its peak yet, only few adult jellies and a lot of small ones. They estimated it to peak by end of May to June when it used to peak by April to May before. Swimming is not allowed in the lagoon anymore.

Bucas Grande
The one in a million jellyfish of Bucas Grande Islands

Afterwards, we went back to Reggie’s trigger boat and proceeded to Sohoton Cove where we checked out Hagukan Cave and jumped off a 15-feet platform after going inside Magkoko-ob Cave.

Time passes quickly in Sohoton for those who are busy enjoying the place. We were surprised that it was almost noon and our time was already up, so Reggie maneuvered the boat back to our island. We quickly washed up and packed our stuff while our lunch was being prepared. We also accompanied Roldan in getting Cinnamon bark that we took home.

Bucas Grande
A view from our window at Cinnamon Island Cottage

A batch of more than 50 teachers from Surigao City came after we had our lunch, Roldan and the other volunteers became busy preparing their lunch and attending to their needs. Meanwhile Ate Claudia and I had to leave. It was a quite short stay in Bucas Grande, but we made the most out of it.

Going back, we endured the scorching summer sun aboard the shadeless boat to mainland. A one hour boat ride of direct sunlight that burned my skin. Amid the ride, I looked back and saw the islands of Bucas Grande gradually moving away. We still haven’t reached the mainland but I was already planning my return.

How to Get There

From Surigao City

Surigao City, capital of Surigao del Norte is the main jump-off point to Bucas Grande Islands. Philippine Airlines, AirPhil Express and Cebu Pacific have daily flights from Manila to Surigao City Airport while  Cebu Pacific also has daily flight from Cebu.

From Surigao City, you can go directly to its port where motorized boats to Socorro dock and from Socorro hire another boat going to Bucas Grande. Alternatively, you may skip the main town of Socorro and head straight to Bucas Grande by catching a van (P120.00) or bus going to Claver, get off at the Hayanggabon Port and transfer to a boat going to Bucas Grande.

From Butuan

If you are coming from Butuan, catch a bus to Surigao City and get of at Bad-as junction, travel time is two hours and fare ranges from P145.00 to P180.00. From Bad-as junction, transfer to a van (P90.00) or bus going to Claver and get off at the Hayanggabon Port, then catch a boat going to Bucas Grande.

Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific have daily flights to Butuan City from Manila while  Cebu Pacific also has daily flight from Cebu.

From Siargao

From Dapa Port in Siargao, catch a ferry going to Socorro. There are ferries that leave in the morning and in the afternoon, fare is around P100.00. From Socorro hire another boat going to Bucas Grande.

Cebu Pacific flies from Cebu to Siargao.

For more information on Bucas Grande Islands, check out Lakwatsero’s Travel Guide for Bucas Grande Islands


  1. Starting April 20, 2016 Bucas Grande, Sohoton Island accommodate 400 tourists a day, that’s tourism carrying capacity on first come first serve basis. The council adopt ” No Permit, No Entry” policy where visitors will be required to secure visitor entry permit before entering the cove and jellyfish sanctuary to ensure that life forms are not disturbed beyond what they can tolerate and prevent them from transferring for more suitable conditions.
    so hurry and book now, visit bucasgrandesohoton.com/sohotoncovetravelguide for more details. thank you!

  2. Dont miss to visit Bucas Grande Island and Siargao Island, please contact Randy Humaylab (Boat owner/Tour Guide as mobile # 09099641659. Thanks!

    Note: We offer the lowest rate and tour package



      1. Heloo mam Elena B. Rebosura, pls send ur fon #. We will talk regarding ur island hopping and tour package.. Here’s mine 09099641659/globe 09756141755. Thanks

  3. ping

    hello… just wanna ask? magkano po ang cinnamon cottage? kelangan p bh mg reserve? or ok na kahit on-d-spot? hehehehhehe! and ask lng ako if cheaper bh n wag mg package? mejo mahal ksi.. 🙁 ano po msuggest nu? maraming salamat po! :)))

    1. cba

      hello ping, it’s necessary to reserve or book your desired dates. if you are a group of five or more, the package will be cheaper. enjoy sohoton!

  4. Yuuri

    Been here in cinnamon island.. love the place.. love sohoton…

    1. cba

      yes yuri, cinnamon is beautiful! 🙂

  5. sheena

    saan po kami pwede mkasakay ng van patungo sa hanyanggabon port?

    1. cba

      hi sheena, vans for port hayanggabon are available at bad-as, placer.

  6. You have a very informative blog…this is different from the others that I saw…you are so generous in providing us with informations…am planning a trip to the beaches of Glan, Camiguin, Siargao, Bantayan and Siquijor…this year. Thanks Lankwatsero (Angel J.)…”like”d you on FB.

    1. Thanks Henry 🙂

  7. Meg

    The only direct flight from MLA-Surigao arrives ng 1240pm. Bucasislandgrande.com says the last ferry going to the island leaves 12noon. Can a boat be hired from Surigao port going to bucasgrande in the afternoon pa ba?

    1. opo mam pero masyadong mahal at saka maghanap pa kayo. . mas maganda via hayangabon port nlang kayo..

  8. Hi,
    how much is the boat rental from Soccoro to Bucas Grande Is.?
    Want to go there when we fly to Siargao this June.


  9. Riz

    ganda naman d2. sana mapuntahan q din to. 🙂

  10. Very rewarding ang paggising sa umaga at pagtulog sa gabi bcoz of the served food like the cinnamon tea and cappuccino… Bonus nalang ang magandang place like this!

  11. mjcv45

    how did you book for the place? how is the food? how is the bathroom? btw, magkano ang rate nila and sa island hopping and cave exploration? Thanks!

    1. cba

      for mcjv45,

      the food is great – normally serve seafood, the rest room is descent and you can refer to lakwatsero’s travel guide on bucas grande islands for your booking needs.

    2. pinoygeek

      expect P3500 for boat rental from Hayanggabon Port to Bucas Grande Island. leave Hayanggabon as early as possible to avoid the big waves of Surigao known for. Get your seafood and other needs at Socorro town cause the resorts don’t have readily available seafoods and head out to explore the island. Club Tara has expensive cottages, Hidden Island Resort offers P2000/room and P3000 for Dorm type rooms with double deck beds enough for a whole family. Watch out for the boatmen at Sohoton Cove, they tend to open and steal valuables from bag while you climb inside a cave. Must visit the lagoons and experience snorkeling around d island. The non-stinging jellyfish are to watch for. Never crossed the waters after 12:00 noon if your heading back to Hayanggabon from Bucas Grande. Enjoy the island !

  12. naman! ang ganda! been to surigao/siargao twice but never to bucas grande.

    1. Make it thrice and do not miss Bucas Grande 🙂

  13. sayang di tayo nag-abot!
    did you dive?

    1. You were there nga daw the day before we arrive. Sayang 🙂
      Di na kami nagdive, snorkel lang, wala din daw naman kasing masyadong makikita sa mas malalim kasi sa shallow areas pa lang magaganda na ang corals. Saka sobrang mahal, haha. Club Tara lang kasi ang dive operator in the area and pang foreigners ang rate nila.

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