Last Updated on April 22, 2020 by Tina
Surigao City, the capital and only city of the province of Surigao del Norte is located in the Caraga region in Mindanao, Philippines. My colleagues who used to work there describe it as a paradise. Even though it is just about 3 hours away from Siargao Island by ferry, it is not a popular tourist destination, unlike Cebu, Bohol, Boracay, and Palawan. But this city and its neighboring towns have so much to offer for those who love pristine destinations. Here’s a travel guide to Surigao to help you plan your trip to the City of Island Adventures.
Best Months to Visit Surigao
Surigao City falls under the type II climate based on the modified Corona Classification of Climates in the Philippines. It is characterized by no dry season with a very pronounced maximum rainfall period from November to February. A lot of rain falls from October to March with January being the wettest month. On average, the warmest month is August and the coolest month is March. August is the driest month. For me, the best time to go to Surigao is from May to September.
How to Get to Surigao City
There used to be daily direct flights from Manila to Surigao City before the 2017 earthquake. After the earthquake, part of the runway has been damaged causing limited operations in the airport. Only flights from Cebu to Surigao resumed. But the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced that the Surigao Airport is poised to return to full operational capability by 2020; direct flights from Manila to Surigao will resume.
As of the moment, you can fly from Manila or Clark to Cebu then Cebu to Surigao City with Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. Or you can fly from Manila to Butuan with Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines then take a bus or van to Surigao City. Vans to Surigao City are available at the airport and the van fare is around Php 150 (US$ 3). If you are taking the bus, you need to ride a multicab to the bus terminal (fare is Php 20 / US$ 0.40), then take the Surigao City-bound bus. The name of the bus is Bachelor and the fare is around Php 215 (US$ 4.30). Although the van is cheaper and faster, I recommend taking the bus because it is safer and more comfortable.
There are ferries sailing to and from Manila, Cebu, and Liloan, Southern Leyte to the nearest port of Lipata in Surigao City. 2Go Travel sails from Manila to Surigao City. For ferries from Cebu, you can check out Cokaliong Shipping Lines or Cebu Ferries.
Daily ferry trips from Dapa Port in Siargao to Macapagal Terminal, PPA Port in Surigao City are also available.
Buses are available from Manila, Butuan, Tandag, Davao and other parts of Mindanao to Surigao City. You can take the Philtranco Bus if coming from Manila or the Bachelor Bus if coming from Tandag, Davao, Butuan and other parts of Mindanao.
Mobile Signal and Internet Connection
Mobile signal is available in Surigao City for both Smart and Globe networks. But some spots have very weak or no signal at all in some of the islands. There is mobile data in most areas. Most hotels have a free wifi connection.
Getting Around the City
There are several ways of getting around Surigao City:
Take public transport.
Taking public transport is the cheapest way of getting around the city. Tricycle is the main mode of transport. It can accommodate up to six passengers. Fare is around Php 10 (US$ 0.20). You can ride a multicab to get to outlying barangays. Multicabs have fixed routes. If going to the island barangays, there are pump boats in Pantalon Dos that follow scheduled sea routes.
To get to other towns, you can take a van, bus or multicab/jeepney at the transport terminal near Gaisano Mall.
Charter a tricycle.
There are no taxis in Surigao. If you want a more convenient way of getting around the city, you can charter a tricycle (they call it “special trip”). It will be more expensive but you won’t be sharing the tricycle with other passengers.
Charter a multicab or van.
If you have a big group, hiring a van or multicab is the best option.
Charter a pumpboat.
If you want to do an island hopping tour, or visit one of the islands, you can charter a pumpboat. Take a tricycle to Punta Bilang-bilang or Boulevard and from there you can hire a motorized boat that will take you to the islands. Or you can contact Kuya Jimmy at 09071178718 and arrange an island hopping tour with him.
Where to Stay in Surigao
Almont Beach Resort
Located along the coastline, Almont Beach Resort has a private beach area, a restaurant, an outdoor pool and spacious rooms with free Wi-Fi access. It is about a 15-minute drive from the city center and a 5-minute drive from Lipata Ferry Terminal.
Hotel Tavern Surigao
Located along the Boulevard, it is one of the best hotels in the city. Within easy reach are Eva Macapagal Passenger Terminal, Punta Bilang-bilang and Pantalan Dos.
Annex Hotel Tavern
Located across Hotel Tavern, this hotel is cheaper than the main.
Parkway Hotel Surigao
This hotel is a 5-minute drive to Surigao Airport, Gaisano Shopping Center and Surigao Bus and Jeepney Terminal.
One Hive Hotel and Suites
Located at the heart of the city, it is walking distance to Luneta Park and just 1 km. away from Surigao Airport. It has a single room, ideal for those who are traveling solo.
Centrotel Citi Suites
Located at the city center, it is walking distance to Luneta Park and Metro Surigao Shopping Center. This is a comfortable place to stay at a reasonable price.
Bohol Traveller’s Place
Located near the public market, this is an okay place to stay when you are traveling on a tight budget. One night costs less than Php 500 (US$ 10). Eva Macapagal Passenger Terminal, Punta Bilang-bilang and Pantalan Dos are within easy reach.
Where to Eat
There are plenty of restaurant choices in Surigao City. Here are the good ones that I’ve tried:
EJ’S Garden by the Bay
Located within the grounds of Hotel Tavern, this is one of my favorite restaurants in Surigao. It has plenty of food choices. This restaurant offers fresh seafood, meat, and noodle dishes, cakes, and many more. A live band plays at night. Chicken Skin and Spam Fries are my favorites here.
One of the things that Surigao City is famous for is restaurants offering grilled foods near the Eva Macapagal Passenger Terminal. Sameplace Grill is one of the highly recommended restaurants here offering mostly grilled-food at an affordable price.
Lyn’s Lechon House
Craving for Lechon? You should drop by this place. It is not a fancy looking restaurant, but they serve delicious Filipino dishes. Here you can buy Lechon by the kilo, or even 250 grams. We used to buy Lechon here to take with us to Mabua Beach.
Located at Amat Street near Northeastern Mindanao Colleges, Winstar Bulalo offers a lot of Filipino food choices at a very affordable price. Their bulalo is a must-try.
Another restaurant serving delicious bulalo and other Filipino dishes, this is located near the Fire Department. Try their beef bas-oy and bulalo.
Almont Beach Resort
About 15-minute drive from the city center, the restaurant in Almont Beach Resort offers buffet lunch. Try this out if you want to have lunch with a nice view of the sea.
Tuna Republik Surigao City
Located along the national highway near the police checkpoint, they serve delicious tuna and other seafood dishes.
Located near the airport, they offer a wide variety of food and their food serving is huge. Their crispy pasta is a must-try.
Bugsay Seafood Restaurant
A seafood restaurant with a good open view of the sea. They serve good food and has a live band at night.
What to Do/Places to Visit
Check-out the downtown sights
It is a tree-lined public plaza located at the heart of the city. The park has a gazebo, the Rizal Monument, playground, souvenir shops, restaurants, chess tables, and benches. Here you would find locals offering manicure, pedicure, and massage services. The park is in front of St. Nicholas Church and Surigao City Hall.
Surigaonon Heritage Center
A museum of Surigao’s history and culture. It contains archaeological and mineral displays from the province of Surigao. It also contains a significant collection of various rocks and minerals found in the province.
Visit the mainland attractions
Mabua Pebble Beach
A 30-minute drive from the city center, Mabua Pebble Beach is a unique beach as it consists of cobbles and pebbles and not sand. On your way to the beach, tell the driver to drop by Junmel’s Store to buy native delicacies such as Sayongsong and Linambiran to take with you to the beach.
Looc Pebble Beach
Located at the right end of Mabua Pebble Beach and separated by a view deck hill, it is also a pebble beach with crystal clear water but the pebbles here are smaller. Also, this beach is less crowded and has fewer cottages.
Day-asan Floating and Mangrove Forest
This is a fishing village with houses erected on wooden stilts above the water and a vast expense of mangroves. It is hailed as the “Little Venice of Surigao City”. You can take a boat tour here to fully appreciate the place.
How to get here: It may be reached by land or sea. Habal-habal (motorcycle taxis) going to Day-asan are stationed near the city public market. If going by sea, go to the transport terminal at Pantalan Dos.
Punta Bilar Dive Site
It is a 2 kilometer stretch of pristine life and a place for diving. To know more about this place, check out this link.
Go on an island hopping tour
Tagged as the city of island adventure, Surigao City has plenty of islands that you can explore.
Basul is a small private island characterized by a long stretch of fine white sand with assorted shell fragments and lined with coconut trees. Click on this link for more information about this island.
Cantiasay-San Pedro Wooden Footbridge
Dubbed as the longest footbridge in the Philippines, the Cantiasay-San Pedro Bridge is a wooden bridge that connects two islands, Nonoc Island and Hanigad Island. More about this here.
Located in Hikdop Island, this is a 3-kilometer cave complemented by stalactites and stalagmites. This cave has the King’s throne formation, the main attraction.
Also located in Hikdop Island, Pagkawasan Beach is a strip of fine white sand and lined with coconut trees and has cottages. To know more about Pagkawasan Beach, read this post.
Sumilom has a long stretch of white sand beach with huge rocks in between and is lined with trees, a majority of which are coconut trees. It also has a sandbar. To read more about this island, check this link.
Danawan Island is a fishing village blessed with varied shapes and sizes of marine life and it is where one could see fresh seafood catch on the beach. Click on this link to know more about this island.
Located about an hour away by boat from the mainland, Sagisi Island has deep blue waters and white sand beaches lined with coconut trees. Its coral reef is teeming with marine life making it a perfect place for snorkeling and diving.
Sea Breeze Paradiso Resort
Located in Sibale Island, this is a private resort with fine, white sand and crystal clear azure water. It also has open-air cottages and rooms that you can rent if you plan on staying there overnight. To know more about this resort, click on this link.
Check out attractions in nearby towns
Aside from the attractions in the city, you can also check out other attractions in nearby towns. Below are links to the other attractions near Surigao City:
Additional Tips When Visiting Surigao City
- Don’t forget to bring sunblock. You’ll be staying under the sun for very long periods of time so better protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
- Philippine peso is the currency used in the city. Make sure you exchange your money to the local currency before going there to avoid having the problem of looking for money changers.
- There are many banks in the city where you can withdraw money.
- The city is very safe and the locals are very friendly even for solo female travelers but as in any place, don’t leave your things especially your valuables unattended.
- After exploring Surigao City, you can take a ferry to Siargao Island. Read this link for my 4 days solo travel itinerary in Siargao.
Hope this guide made you want to visit Surigao City. If you have any questions, feel free to email me or write it down in the comments section. And if you like my writing and find this guide useful, consider donating to my cheesecake fund. It takes a lot of time to come up with something meaningful to write- a slice of cheesecake helps and it’s up to you what the cheesecake is worth.