LIFESTYLE

Welcome to Surigao del Sur’s best kept secret

John Ryan Mendoza discovers the Britania group of islands, 24 islets scattered around the Lianga Bay that faces the Pacific Ocean in the town of San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. The place – though not very popular (yet) – has been described as a hybrid of Aklan’s Boracay island and Pangasinan’s Hundred Islands.

After a lazy whole day and serene overnight stay at the Cagwait White Beach, we headed to our next destination, the Britania group of islands – 24 islets scattered around the Lianga Bay that faces the Pacific Ocean in the town of San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. I have not heard much of this place, but the locals from the province had us all excited as they have described the Britania islands as a hybrid of Aklan’s Boracay island and Pangasinan’s Hundred Islands.

So we took the van in the morning to Brgy. Salvacion and took a three kilometer motorcycle ride from the main highway to the Britania port. At the beachfront, boat drivers were waiting for passengers. We rented a boat for 1,500 pesos for the whole day.

From the port and when already at sea, one can see the islands looking like topiaries or trimmed shrubs. At around 20 minutes, we arrived at the first destination on our boatmen’s itinerary: the farthest among the rest, Hagonoy Island.

The light aquamarine waters welcomed us when we docked at the powdery white sands of the guyabano (soursop) shaped island that had only four coconut trees in the middle. On one side of the island, we spent some time skipping among the coral rock pools that teemed with many small sea critters. Swimming and sunbathing is ideal here, but – alas, for us, that wasn’t an option to have.  Our boatmen called us to proceed to our next stop: Naked Island.

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While heading there, however, our boatmen noted the strong sea undercurrents, and so he decided to skip this bare white sand bar surrounded by the open sea.  We proceeded instead to Buslon Island. The shifting hues of aquamarine, light and dark blue of the sea waters was such a magnificent sight to see as the next island neared.

Upon disembarking our boat on Buslon, my feet felt the fine powdery feel of the sand. Indeed, this was surprisingly at par to the Boracay sands. The island used to be someone’s private property; and this island is also distinctive for the Virgin Mary statue perched on a large rock boulder. My brother – a rock climbing enthusiast – had countless of options on the islands.

It was low tide and we had the chance to walk to the neighboring island of Panlangagan. One has to wear flipflops or other footwear as sea urchins are found in the coral rock pools in between the islands. We had the chance to explore the Tagoan island, which we also reached by foot. Here we found a cave with large stalactites and stalagmites after a brief climb up the rocks to the island’s upper interior. At the island’s rocky base, crimson colored corals formed Jacuzzi sized pools where you can stay and take a dip. Just don’t stay too long as tides rise later in the afternoon.

We spent most of our time in these three islands. There are no cottages, so we all laid on the fine soft sand to bask in the sun, gossiped, and had beer, some mangosteens, and sweet ripe mangoes for the whole afternoon. The locals are very strict with littering and no longer allow overnight camping, which I say is very good as these beauties should definitely be preserved.

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The tides started to rise as the afternoon went by. Our boatmen then took us to the last stop: Hiyor Hiyoran Island. This one was the rockiest of the islands, as the beach was just filled of shells, driftwood, and rocks. This was just a smorgasbord for my German friend who collects seashells.

Like a farewell ritual to this incredible island hopping, we requested to drop anchor at the open sea and have our last dip. The currents were gentle and our hearts were filled with such awe to this discovery of Surigao del Sur’s best kept secret.

Britania Islands6
Britania Islands5
Britania Islands4
Britania Islands3
Britania Islands2
Britania Islands7

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Welcome to Surigao del Sur’s best kept secret
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