Best kept secret of the Philippines: Surigao

At the moment of jumping into the crystal blue water of Bucas Grande Island, and finding myself surrounded by thousands of free-swimming, non-stinging jellyfish, I knew that this trip to Surigao del Norte was definitely worth my while. As I marveled at these free-spirited creatures floating around in every direction, it gave me this incredible feeling of satisfaction. One that gave me the drive to venture out into the world by myself in the first place. At one point in my swim, with no other tourist around, I looked around and smiled, realizing how quiet everything is, simply acknowledging the simple fact that I am, in fact, swimming in a lagoon, and alone with the jellyfish. I did not go during high-season, where they are millions swimming around, and probably paired with tourists, but there were still enough spotted jellies to make this a magical experience in October, and exactly what put Surigao on the map for me. There are plenty of other attractions in Surigao, but pressed for time, I came here only to experience the jellyfish.

Fun Fact: You can really swim with stingless jellyfish here! Their average lifespan is about 4 months.

When to go: Mid-Summer to Early Fall - When it's rainy season (jellyfish time)

Where to Stay: I stayed at the Hotel Tavern Surigao in Surigao City and took a private van to the Hayanggabon port from Surigao Airport. You can find them on Booking. Get $25 off your booking using the referral code: RIDING13. A few affordable shared living quarters are available on AirBnb. Use this referral credit to get $40 off your booking. Although Club Tara Resorts looks like the ideal dream location to stay at, the awful reviews ultimately deterred me from staying there. 

How to get to Bucas Grande Island: From Hayanggabon port, hire a boatman that will take you around. I would suggest making arrangements with a reputable tour guide ahead of time because it was quite deserted when I arrived. Unfortunately, I do not have a specific person to refer since I did not have the best of time with my contact. 

Tip: If you’re doing a private or DIY tour, make sure to bring your own snorkel gear. The place is quite untouched and secluded, so borrowing snorkels is out of the question. 

I did not come during high season, but the jellies float around in waves, and simply go where the current takes them. This is a perfect moment where there were a ton of them pulsating around me.

Okay, okay, I kid..

These jellyfish actually do sting, but their stingers are too weak for humans to have a reaction or even notice anything. If you do decide to touch them, (it is pretty much inevitable if you are in the water), be conscious that they are not to be lifted out of the water (that dehydrates and kills them), and to be extra gentle with them, like you would with anything precious. Avoid wearing sunblock or chemicals that will get into their natural habitat, and put on a rash guard instead for sun protection. Lastly, enjoy!

Stay wild,

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