Islands and Beaches

4 Amazing Philippine Islands to Explore in One Go: Cantilan

Surigao del Sur

Ida Damo
Ida Damo | Feb 25, 2015

We were all praying and maybe a little singing for the sun to come out tomorrow so we can have an island hopping tour of Cantilan’s sea offerings.  Lo and behold when we woke up th next day, the sun was shining. 

Small outrigger boats and choppy waters could not dampen our spirits and stop us from exploring!

First stop, Huyamao Island.  Not to swim or frolic on the shore but to remove the awning from our boat because the wind was blowing it off.  From its shore, we could glimpse other smaller islands being pounded by the waves. 

Second stop, Ayoke Island. Ayoke's 2-kilometer stretch of beach line begs to be explored.  But our destination was the surfing area at the back of the island.  Here, black limestone outcroppings lined the shore where the waves rush in. Our male companions, Rb and Joey, tried surfing but failed to ride a wave.

The women took photos, dipped in the sea, sat on the grassy ground and sipped fresh coconut water.

The locals were talking about breadfruit or kulu which sustains the whole community when they cannot go to the mainland to buy rice and other food.  Unfortunately, we did not get to sample it as we came during the off season.

Off to the next island.

Bills' Sanctuary or Inijakan is sanctuary privately managed by the William K. Hotchkiss Foundation, Inc. for the conservation and preservation of the island.  It is also a good learning center for marine biodiversity, both for kids and adults.

For more information on the foundation, go to

They take care of Napoleon Wrasse fish which is the natural predator of the dreaded crown-of-thorns which damage our coral reefs.  They also have sea cucumbers and jacks and corals.

One can swim, snorkel, kayak in its waters or go up a hill and say a prayer at its chapel.  The mystical Lake Danao can also be found within the island but it would be a challenging climb without proper trekking shoes on.

While relaxing in the serenity of the island under the shade of the huts, every so often you hear the sound of the Hornbill or Kalaw breaking the silence.

Fourth stop is the enchanting Isla Encantada.

From afar, the island appears as layers upon layers of rock slabs piled on top of one another. Indeed when you get nearer to its cliffs, lines separate one slab from the other.

You go up rocks and in the middle of the island is a white rest house affording a 360-degree view of the deep blue and green vegetation of the nearby islands.

You sit on the rocks or the chairs in the rest house; wherever you choose, it's going to be stunning. The island simply draws you in and embraces you with its simple beauty and the peace it brings.

I guess that is how the islands of Cantilan are—raw, serene, and unspoiled.  You get to bask in the sun, swim and frolic in the deep blue sea and enjoy the fresh breeze.

I hope they all get to stay that way.  So we all have to be responsible tourists.  Don’t leave your trash and live by the traveller’s saying, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and kill nothing but time” but do have some fun.

Much thanks to Cathe Duero for making our itinerary and sharing Cathe Pacific and her hometown of Cantilan with us.  Thank you, Ms. Emma and Tanya Hotchkiss, Christel Yparaguirre and Mary Myla Miranda for generously sharing the beauty of Cantilan with us.

How to Get There: (from Wikipedia)

Pedicabs are roam the streets of Cantilan.

By Land: Buses ("Bachelor Express"), Vans and Jeepneys ply from Cantilan to Tandag and Surigao City vv on the coast-road Surigao-Tandag.

By Sea: Inter-island vessels like 2Go and Sulpicio Lines ply the Manila-Surigao City routes on regular schedule. Cokaliong also has schedules from Cebu-Surigao City routes on a daily basis. The harbour in the Cantilan river can be used by Pump boats only. On the east side of the Capungan peninsula, that separates the Lanuza bay from Carrascal bay, exists with "Consuelo Port" also a harbour for bigger ships.

By Air: The next Airports are Surigao Airport (IATA: SUG, ICAO: RPMS) and Butuan Airport (IATA: BXU, ICAO: RPME). The Tandag Airfield (IATA: TDG, ICAO: RPMW) has limited flights from Manila and Cebu City starting on June 30, 2014.

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