Launching a bangka boat at Mabua Pebble Beach (Photo: Lester Ledesma)

Where to stay

  • Almont Beach Resort, Lipata; +63 86 826 7544; Situated along the coastline, the resort boasts a private beach area, an outdoor pool and spacious rooms with free WiFi access. The bonus? A sweeping view of the Surigao Strait.
  • Casa de Babano Pension House, Bislig City; +63 86 853 1297. Affordable dormitory-type rooms – perfect for travelers on a budget.
  • CJ Hometel, General Luna St, Brgy. Maharlika, Hinatuan; +63 929 665 1641; Offers basic dormitories, as well as apartelles with kitchenettes (each accommodating two to six people).
  • Destajo Traveller’s Inn, Nabalca, San Juan; +63 86 231 5204; A budget hotel with rooms offering free WiFi and cable TV.
  • Hotel Tavern, Borromeo St; +63 86 826 8566; A clean and updated hotel with friendly and efficient service.
  • Marky’s Hostel, Brgy. Maharlika, Hinatuan; +63 928 439 7785. An affordable base for backpackers exploring the Enchanted River.
  • Paper Country Inn, Osmeña St, Tabon, Bislig City; +63 86 628 2313. A cozy budget inn with a rustic, homely ambience.

Where to eat

  • C-Fish Cage and Sandbar Resort, Brgy. Talisay; +63 915 418 4550. Have the restaurant’s catch of the day cooked any way you want.
  • EJ’s Garden by the Bay, Borromeo St; +63 86 826 1881; Enjoy a fresh seafood dinner against the backdrop of live music, as well as a fantastic view of the city boulevard.
  • Islands Resto and Seafood Restaurant, Rizal St; +63 920 909 9777. Indulge in parrotfish, crab and other seafood dishes.
  • Marbie Store, Purok Kahoy, Brgy. Ipil. Be sure to order the sayongsong (ground purple sticky rice and ground ordinary rice cooked in coconut milk and sugar), which is Surigao’s local delicacy.
  • Ocean Bounties Seafood Market and Restaurant, Diez St; +63 86 826 1625; For fresh and flavorful seafood like grilled prawns and kasili (eel).
  • Ocean View Park Restaurant, Purok 6, Brgy. Cumawas, Bislig City; +63 86 853 4061. Expect huge portions at reasonable prices. Plus, the restaurant is located on a hill, so you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the sea.
  • Sameplace Grill, Amat St. For affordable barbecued fare like grilled chicken and isaw (intestines) with puso (boiled rice wrapped in leaves).
  • Sibadan Fish Cage and Resort, Port Lamon, Hinatuan; +63 927 393 6207. You’ll have to work hard for your meal here! Reel in your catch first, before cooking and eating it on the spot.
  • 18 East Winstar Bulalo, Amateur St, Washington. Serves up tasty, belly-warming bowls of bulalo (beef shank soup) and balbakwa (ox skin and tail stew).

What to do

  • Basul Island. This little paradise can be reached from Punta Bilar via a 20-minute pump boat ride. You’ll find a beautiful white sand beach on one side of the island, and a rocky shore on the other.
  • Battle of Surigao Strait Museum, Luneta Park, San Nicolas St; +63 920 909 0999; The museum’s display of World War II artifacts makes for a great history lesson.
  • Britania Islands, San Agustin. A group of 24 beautiful islands and islets in Lianga Bay, with bright blue waters and powdery white sand. A popular island-hopping itinerary includes Hagonoy Island, Naked Island, Buslon and Hiyor-hiyoran.
  • Enchanted River, Hinatuan. A picturesque river with crystal-clear waters that range from aquamarine to deep blue.
  • International Doll House, Purok 6, Brgy. Cumawas, Bislig City; +63 86 853 4061. Ogle at a wide array of dolls (over 6,000 of them!) from all over the world.
  • Mabua Pebble Beach. A unique shingle beach. While it’s often referred to as a pebble beach, the stones that line its shores are actually the size of an adult’s palm. Hike up the 380 steps of the Mabua-Looc Concrete Mountain Trail for some seriously stunning views of the sea.
  • Punta Bilar. Explore the underwater beauty of Punta Bilar – home to hundreds of coral species – by going snorkelling or cave diving. Punta Bilar Dive Center (+63 920 909 0999) is a good starting point.
  • Silop Cave. One of the most popular spelunking destinations in the province; located about 20 minutes away from Surigao City.
  • Sohoton Cove National Park. Rent a boat and take a half-day tour of Sohoton’s best attractions – Hagukan Cave and its bioluminescent waters, limestone coves and inlets, and an easy enough cliff jump for beginners at Magkukuob Cave.
  • Stingless Jellyfish Sanctuary. Once in Sohoton, hire a smaller boat to visit this lagoon, where you can get up close and personal with harmless jellyfish. You can even swim alongside them!
  • Tinuy-an Falls, Bislig City. These spectacular multi-tiered waterfalls – touted as the little Niagara Falls of the Philippines – stand a staggering 55 meters high and 95 meters wide.
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