Dinagat Islands DIY

2022 DIY Travel Guide to Dinagat Islands: Itinerary & Budget

I’ve probably said this so many times here in my blog, “this _____ is one of the best island I’ve seen in the Philippines“. Honestly, every single time I tick a province off my list I just keep realizing that Philippines is made of 7,000+ pieces of heaven on Earth. There’s no denying that if you travel around the country with your backpack on, you’ll keep stumbling onto new islands that will capture your heart. And Dinagat Islands is one of those provinces that I’m lucky to have stumbled onto. (Dinagat Islands DIY)

Dinagat Islands is part of our Mindanao-Visayas trip. We went straight here after our group did a side-trip to Agusan del Norte’s cave pool. Read more about it here.

Dinagat Islands DIY

About Dinagat Islands

Dinagat Islands is located West of Siargao and North of Surigao City — a group of islands constituting a province in the Caraga region in the Philippines. The language spoken are Surigaonon, Cebuano and the local dialect of Dinagatnon. Tagalog is not common in the island province which makes it a bit hard to communicate to some locals in the area.

The best time to go here is during the summer season in North-East Mindanao which is from February – June. As per a local friend I met here, typhoon start from the months of November – January.

How to go to Dinagat Islands DIY way

The closest airport will be Surigao Airport and Butuan Airport (BXU). Whichever airport you come from, you need to go to Surigao Port to get to Dinagat Islands as there are no humanitarian airports in the island province.

Outside the airport of Butuan, there are multicabs available that will take you the terminal for Php50.00 and 15 minutes ride. From the terminal, ride a van or bus to Surigao City. Travel time is 2.5-3 hours (van) and 4-5 hours (bus).

From Surigao Port, ride a ferry bounfd to San Jose Port in Dinagat Islands. Travel time is 1 hour and fare is Php180.00, while terminal fee is Php10.00. There are lots of ferry and shipping lines bound to Dinagat. For instance, Montenegro Shipping Lines offers daily and hourly departure which starts at 4:30am until 5:30pm only.

For more information about boat schedule, check out Escape Manila’s article — Surigao City to Dinagat Islands Boat Schedule and Fare Rates.

surigao to dinagat islands
Surigao Port to San Jose, Dinagat Islands

Where to Stay in Dinagat Islands

I highly suggest to book homestays in San Jose since you will be arriving there from the port. Here are a few homestays near San Jose port in Dinagat:

How to Get Around in Dinagat Islands

Take note that there are no jeepneys in Dinagat. The main transportation in Dinagat is a bao-bao tricycle. Fare starts at Php10.00/each for short trips around San Jose. If you are traveling from San Jose to Libjo, fare starts at Php2,000.00 and can ride 3-5 people.

bao-bao tricycle
Bao-bao Tricycle

Places To Visit in Dinagat Islands

Visiting the island province after typhoon Odette’s catastrophe made a huge impact during our travel. For instance, (1) the rate of boat rentals went up, (2) some resorts are still closed due to the damages, and (3) our mother nature is still in the process of healing. Wrecks were everywhere, palm trees were like match sticks from afar, houses and establishments were damaged as well.

We managed to rent a boat for our island hopping for 2 days for Php6,500.00 good for 4-8 people. The trip covers Libjo on the 1st day and Basilisa on the 2nd day. Our pick up point is in San Jose Public Market, beside the docking area of the pump boats.

Libjo Island Hopping

  • Hagakhak Rock Formation
  • Isla Aga
  • Pangabangan Tidal Pool
  • Punta Buena Suerte
  • Kisses Islet

The best part of the Libjo tour is Pangabangan Tidal Pool! The entrance fee is Php20.00. If you plan to do an overnight here, make sure to bring your own tents as there are no rooms available here, no electricity and no water. Day tour cottage is Php1,000.00 and overnight cottage is Php1,500.00.

Dinagat Islands DIY
Pangabangan Tidal Pool
pangabangan tidal pool
Pangabangan Tidal Pool
hagakhak rock formations
Hagakhak Rock Formations

Basilisa Island Hopping

  • Jelmar’s Beach Resort
  • Lake Bababu & Bababu Beach
  • Duyos Beach
  • Pagkawasan beach

Jelmar’s is the place to be if you’re looking for a budget overnight stay during the island hopping tour. Entrance fee at Jelmar’s is Php20.00, overnight cottage is Php1,000.00 and tent rental is Php250.00. There’s a kitchen you can use, activities like swimming, snorkeling, freediving, kayaking, and karaoke.

jelmar's beach resort
Jelmar’s Beach Resort
Dinagat Islands DIY
Jelmar’s Beach Resort
island hopping in dinagat islands
Docking area at Jelmar’s Beach Resort

Lake Bababu requires a 30-45-minute hike from Bababu beach. The tour guide fee is Php300.00 for the whole group and entrance fee is Php50.00 each. After hiking the Lake Bababu, you can go back and do some swimming and snorkeling in front of Bababu beach.

lake bababu
Lake Bababu
Dinagat Islands DIY
Lake Bababu
bababu beach dinagat islands
Bababu Beach

The name “Duyos” means a pice of land that rises and sinks depending on the tides. Hence the name of the beach. This beach is also perfect for photoshoot because there is a small islet in front of it.

duyos beach dinagat islands

Our last island to visit was the white beach of Pagkawasan Beach. It’s another island that looks like Palawan’s islands because of the limestones features, caves, and coconut palm trees. There is an area where you can do cliff jumping at 5-15 feet.

pagkawasan beach
Dinagat Islands DIY

San Jose Land Tour

If you have more time in Dinagat Islands, you can go around San Jose and visit some of its attractions.

  • Islander’s Castle – the castle is owned by the Ecleo family and they govern the island province as well. The castle can be seen during island hopping trips because it’s on top of the mountain. To get here, you can ride a bao-bao from San Jose to take you here. The fare is Php20.00 each.
  • PBMA Shrine
  • Angat Dinagat Landmark
  • New West Virginia View Deck
  • San Jose Beach, Santa Cruz Beach, and Lawis Beach

How to get to these places? You can hire a bao-bao for 1 day trip going to these places for Php1,000.00 good for 4-5 people. You can negotiate the price depending on your skills.

ecleo castle
Islander’s Castle

Freediving Spots in Dinagat Islands

During our Dinagat Islands trip, we managed to check some spots too. So if you’re a freediver reading this, you might want to check the spot at Jelmar’s Resort in Libjo and in front of Pangabangan cave pool too.

freeediving in dinagat islands
Freediving in Dinagat Islands

Itinerary, Expenses, Important Contacts (Dinagat Islands DIY)

Below is an example itinerary assuming that you are staying in Dinagat for 3 days. For island hopping in Dinagat, you may contact Kuya Alon at 09076102770. Say hi for me!

1st Day2nd Day3rd Day
Libjo Island Hopping Tour
Hagakhak Rock Formation
Isla Aga
Pangabangan Tidal Pool
Punta Buena Suerte
Kisses Islet
Jelmar’s Beach Resort
Lake Bababu & Bababu Beach
Duyos Beach
Pagkawasan beach
Islander’s Castle
PBMA Shrine
Angat Dinagat Landmark
New West Virginia View Deck
San Jose Beach
Santa Cruz Beach
Lawis Beach
Ferry to Dinagat Islands from Surigao PortPhp190.00
Accommodation at Come & Lodge @ Sofia’s BedPhp800.00/night
2 days Island Hopping boat rentalPhp6,500.00
Entrance Fee per islandPhp20.00
Food expensesPhp50.00/meal
Transportation using bao-bao tricycles (short trip)Php10.00/person

Tips From Joan’s Footprints (Dinagat Islands DIY)

  • Do not ride tricycles outside Surigao port. These drivers harass their passengers and charge unreasonable fare. I highly advise that once you got out from the port, ignore these tricycle drivers and walk 2-3 streets away. From there you can hire a tricycle to take you where you wanna go.
  • If you are riding a bao-bao in San Jose port, locals speak Dinagatnon. Make sure to be clear with the fare rate before riding one to avoid fixed rates. Fixed rates will cost you more than twice the regular rate. So make sure to negotiate properly and politely.
  • Book your tour in advance. I advise to contact island hopping tours beforehand.
jelmar's beach resort
Thanks to the Acabal family for accommodating us!

Help me improve my Dinagat Islands DIY travel guide! By commenting suggestions in the comment section below, I am very open to new ideas. Drone shots by Milo Quinantoto.
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