Bucas Grande Island - Sohoton National Park

The best thing about not being in charge of the itinerary is that you're definitely in for a surprise. Just make sure you don't google!

Here's two things I knew about Bucas Grande before the trip: it's an island south of Siargao, and there's swimming involved.

We rode the ferry from Dapa Pier in Siargao to the Socorro Municipality at 8AM. More than an hour later, we walked down the streets of Socorro and found ourselves a place to stay for the night. Thirty minutes later, armed with take-out lunch from a carinderia and bottles of softdrinks in a cooler, we rented a smaller boat bound to the Sohoton National Park. We were checking the time since we needed to be there by low tide. Why? That time I still didn't know and I didn't ask. See? I was prepared to be surprised.

On the way, we were surrounded by blue and green calm waters bounded by islets and pristine shores. We also spotted some areas with abundant corals and looked perfect for snorkeling. The boat docked at the Sohoton Visitor's Center where we paid our fees and rented an even smaller boat. Why do we need an even smaller boat?  That added up to the mystery.

Pristine waters in front of the Visitor's Center

By the time we boarded the boat, I was brimming with excitement.   

The only entrance and exit to the Sohoton National Park is through a small and low cave-like entrance that is only passable during low tide (The reason we were pressed for time and the need for a smaller boat!). Only accredited boatmen could take visitors through the entrance as one wrong maneuver could send the boat smashing to the walls.

Here's a video of the cave entrance with me WOWing in the background.

Once inside the park, we found ourselves in a huge maze of lagoon with clear blue waters and surrounded by lush mangroves and islets. I was so awed that I didn't realize I was holding my breath. It was so beautiful that we all hushed up as we took in all the magnificent view.  No other sound could be heard aside from the low mumbling of the engine and the birds chirping. We were lucky that there were no other visitors that time. It was so serene that I could hear myself think.  The guide finally broke the silence to do his job.

Entrance to Hagukan Cave
Several caves are still left unexplored and only a few were allowed to be visited. The first one was the Hagukan Cave, named after the snoring sound made when water hits the cave entrance. During high tide, one has to swim through the low oyster-clad entrance. Unlike its entrance, the cave's interior was huge, adorned with several stalactites. The sun's rays were reflected in the water inside the cave, making the water seem luminous.

Next stop was Magkukuob Cave.  This time the entrance was much bigger and there was no need to swim your way through. There were more stalactites and stalagmites formed in this cave and most met to form a column.  There are two ways to exit the cave: it's either you go back the way you entered, or climb up the formations and jump off to the sea.  (Here's a back story: Some time ago I had the opportunity to jump off a water falls but I didn't because I don't think I could swim. I went home in regret.) Finally, here 's a chance to redeem myself!

Jump off to the sea - Photo by Ed Yap

It was a short climb to the opening on the other side of a cave. Outside was a small, wooden landing set up as a jump-off point. My knees were trembling hard and I tried counting to 10 but in the end I just had to do it and jump. Now I know that I can swim to save my life. The feeling of conquering something you fear is beyond compare. But of course, the best thing still is to grab a life vest nearby.

Don't be fooled! The jump was 20ft high!
That's my WOHOOO face!
We circled the lagoon and took a few turns, still enchanted by the view and the tranquility of the place, before we made our way back to small entrance.  

The was what Bucas Grande Island did to me on my year-ender trip. It took me by complete surprise. I still have a silly smile pasted on my face whenever I remember that jump. Thanks to Ed of Eazytraveler for taking care of the itinerary.

For the nitty-gritty of the trip (eg. fees,boat rentals,etc.), visit Ed's post


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