Presenting Surigao del Sur: My Land and My Home

College was a big change for me, maybe also for others. Many students came from different places and used different languages. For example, in my dormitory, we came from all over the Philippines. From Leyte, Samar, Bacolod, Masbate, Zamboanga, and Palawan. It was chaos for me as a province girl, now living in a big old city.

On the first day of class in college everyone needs to introduce themselves. Name, from what school, and where you came from. Of course, I got my turn, I introduced myself and told the whole class I’m from Tandag, Surigao del Sur. Not sure if everyone knows where I came from since most of my classmates are from the city. But there’s one person who asked me.

She asked, “Where’s Surigao?”

I told her “It is in Mindanao.”

With an unsure face, she asked with a smile, “So there’s a lot of trees there, like coconut?”

Well, I believe she asked me if I was living inside the jungle and not just around coconut trees. But for the first months of living in Cebu, I got a lot of questions about where I came from. Like..“Have you experienced bombs?”, “There are a lot of NPAs there, right?”,  “Is your place near Zamboanga?”. I’m not criticizing them for their poor geographical skills or what they saw on the media about Mindanao, but sometimes it’s difficult to share in detail about my place. I just answered those questions with a ‘Yes’ and a ‘No’. Simple and not complicated for both sides.

Chance to introduce where I came from

Since I’ve been writing to all the places I’ve been to. I guess this is my chance to introduce where I came from. And now that I’m starting, I must say that it is more complex to explain the place where I spent my whole life than the place I’ve been to for a few days. I actually don’t know where to begin without getting too emotional. Can you feel me? Haha. I guess I just have to do it in my own way for the best way you can relate. That’s why I will share with you some tips and places you can go to this region I call home.

So let’s start with a brief introduction

Surigao del Sur is a place where each town has a different variation of Surigaonon. As you travel and hop in different towns you can see different versions of ‘welcome’ and ‘thank you for coming’ along the road. We call some waya-waya, waza-waza, and my dialect is Tandagaonon use wara. The southern part speaks kamayo, and some speak Bisaya-Cebuano, especially those towns near Agusan del Sur.  We know what part of Surigao del Sur a man is from the way he speaks. You might think this is too confusing for us, but we manage to understand one another despite the slightly different languages.

Our developing province is facing the Pacific Ocean which made us prone to typhoons. Signal no. 1 sounds ordinary to us. Even without a low-pressure area, we experience heavy wind when raining. Aside from that, facing the Pacific gives us good waves that can be dangerous and enjoyable at the same time.

We also have vast land and forests with waterfalls. I must say we have a lot and we actually don’t know how many are discovered and about to discover. Surigao del Sur has a lot to offer and it may be an underrated destination, but once you see its beauty, it is not just ordinary.

How to get to Surigao del Sur?

  • By Air – There are various ways to go to Surigao del Sur. I used all the below options in the following order when I went home.
    • Option 1: Butuan City – This is in Agusan del Sur. From here you can take a van or bus going to Surigao del Sur. For example in Tandag, it will be a 4-5hours trip.
    • Option 2: Surigao City – Located in Surigao del Norte. It will take 5-6 hours bus or van from Surigao City to Tandag. But depending on your route this can be your option 2.
    • BEFORE: There’s a flight to Tandag City, the capital of Surigao del Sur, and also my home town via plane, but the schedule is only MWF and it is only once a day. Note that this route is only available on Cebu Pacific Air. This flight route may be going to be back in the future so you need to check that out.
  • By Sea – Not the best choice but if you have a lot of time, you can go to Surigao via ferry.
    • Cebu to Surigao City – You can take Cokaliong Shipping Lines departs at 7 PM every day. It’s a 12-hour trip so it’s basically one whole night. Then you can take the bus or van going to Surigao del Sur. It will be a 5-6 hours trip.
    • Cebu to Butuan City – You can take also Cokaliong and take a bus for a 4-5 hours trip to Surigao. Depending on your route.

Book your transportation here:

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Places to visit in Surigao del Sur

1. Lanuza Surf Camp

Lanuza, Surigao del Sur, Philippines

I did my first ever surfing trip here and I wasn’t prepared! Haha. This is the only known surfing spot in Surigao del Sur. They have a Surfing Festival in November which is the best time to travel and surf here.


  • 500 with Instructor (2 hours)
  • 250 without (whole day)
  • Accommodations – There’s a lot of homestay around Lanuza. But if you can afford more you can check Babak Bongalows.

Also, there are a lot of spots in other towns, especially in Cantilan, Tandag, and Cortes. Just ask the locals in the right direction and also be guided since those spots are not touristy and might lack safety percussions.

2. Laswitan in Cortes

Travel Guide to Surigao del Sur, Philippines 1

Visit Laswitan in Cortes. The Laswitan is actually a 20-foot rock formation facing the ocean. The waves crash the rock and it would flow on the other side creating a waterfall effect. It is best to view the “laswit” from December to February when the waves are high. The lagoon can fill up 200 people. Laswitan will close at 5:00 PM.

TRAVEL GUIDE: Laswitan in Cortes, Surigao del Sur Travel Guide

3. Cagwait White Beach

Enjoy this mini Boracay minus the crowd in Surigao del Sur. But just in case you like the crowd, you can visit the beach during Kaliguan Festival. This celebration lasts for a weekly celebration during the Feast of St. John the Baptist.


  • Entrance Fee – Php20.00
  • Accommodation – Many resorts around the area.
    • LGU Cagwait Beach Resort is more affordable.

4. Britania Group of Islands in San Agustin

Travel Guide to Surigao del Sur, Philippines 3

Composed of 24 islets and only a few can be visited since most of the islands are uninhabited. These Islands have different forms and beauty to offer. Some have wonderful rock formations, and some are naked, just pure sand.

Usual Islands to visit:

  • Hagonoy Island
  • Naked Island
  • Boslon Island
  • Hiyor-Hiyoran Island
  • Panglangagan Island


FULL GUIDE: Travel Guide: Britania Group of Islands, Surigao del Sur

5. Enchanted River in Hinatuan

Enchanted River is a famous tourist spot in Surigao del Sur. I first visited in 2012 and went back in June 2024. The river is just as beautiful as I remember! The water is clear, showing off the lovely rock formations and the fish swimming below. They have fish feeding times at 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM every day. The place closes at 5:00 PM.


  • Entrance Fee:
    • Regular – Php100.00
    • Senior Citizen / PWD – Php80.00
    • Childen below 4ft tall – Php30.00
  • Life Jacket – Free
  • Parking Fee – Free

6. Sibadan Fish Cage in Hinatuan


Meet Brenda in Sibadan Fish Cage. She is a very nice stingray. 🙂 You can swim with her along with the other two stingrays and big fish in the cage. If you’re brave enough, you can swim with the seven baby sharks who are almost 5 feet long. Also, aside from the swimming activity. Try their fresh kinds of seafood. I assure you, it is very delicious.


  • Boat – Php400.00 back and forth *The rate may be higher when you take it from Enchanted River
  • Entrance Fee – Php30.00/head
  • Accommodation – From the Enchanter River, you can stay the night here in Sibadan Fish Cage.
    • Room Options:
      • 4 people non-aircon
      • 4 people with aircon
      • 8 people non-aircon
      • 8 people with aircon
      • Kindly message them for updated room rates: Sibadan FISH CAGE and Resort 
READ: Why my thoughts are with Brenda?

7. Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig

Travel Guide to Surigao del Sur, Philippines 5

Tinuy-an Falls is the widest fall in the Philippines. It measures approximately 55m high and 100m wide. It is also a multi-tiered waterfall. For me, the best time to visit is in summer when the water is enough so that you can swim under the curtain drop of water.


  • Entrance Fee:
    • Regular – Php55.00
    • Senior Citizen / PWD – Php44.00
  • Parking Fee:
    • 2-3 Wheel – Php11.00
    • 4 Wheel – Php22.00
  • Cottages
    • Small – Php200.00
    • Kubo – Php300.00
  • Life jacket- Php33.00
  • Cottages:
    • Cottage 1 (big)- Php550.00
    • Cottage 2, 3, 4, 5 (small) – Php330.00
    • Table Tent – Php220.00
    • Long Table – Php220.00
    • Short Table – Php110.00
  • Bamboo Raft available
  • A guide is needed if you want to go the the second & third levels.

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Have you been to Surigao del Sur? Or do you want to visit? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!

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My Travel Faves!

🌎 Safetywing: For travel insurance

✈️ Google Flights: For finding flight deals

🏨 For searching hotels

☀️ Klook: For tours and activities

📷 Canon G7X Mark II: My travel camera

🧳 Luggage: My favorite luggage

Originally published: January 20, 2017.