Updated: Dec 13, 2021
As the new slogan of the Department of Tourism unveils, it brings hope and excitement for all travelers. "Wake up in the Philippines" is timely and clever. For now, "Stay at home, dream" makes us linger to the places that we've been, the experiences we had, and the memories we created.
We will feel the resistance to waking up to the new norm. Traveling to known destinations may become expensive and limited, but this may be the key for us to discover some best-kept destinations of the Philippines. Let yourself wake up to the new destinations and experience the new norm at the new views.
My first entry for this new norm is the Britania Group of Islands in San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. Haven't you heard? Well, check this out!
These breathtaking islands are the wonders of Surigao del Sur. Accessible through island hopping, there are four islands to visit - Hagonoy, Naked, Buslon, and Hiyor-hiyoran Island. Island hopping rate is only Php1500 per boat with a capacity of 10-15 persons.
Where is San Agustin, Surigao Del Sur?
First, Surigao del Sur is in Mindanao, and its coastline faces the Philippine Sea.
Second, San Agustin is in Surigao del Sur, and it is considered a 4th municipality.
Third, Britania is a barangay in San Agustin, and it is the take-off point to reach the islands.
What to expect in Britania Group of Island tours?
Every resort in this area offered boat rental for island hopping. Even homestays have contacts with boat operators that provide service for island hopping. The Php 1500 rate per boat does not include lunch, but you can bring packed food because there are no restaurants and food stalls in the islands.
As mentioned, there are four islands to visit; however, Naked Island will only be included during April-June or when the winds and currents are not strong. Each island or islets have their charm, and it only takes 10-15 mins to reach each island.
This is the first stop of island hopping and the farthest from the main island. For about 20 mins, you will reach this island. It is a sand island with bunches of coconut trees and plants in the middle. The sand is white and fine; the waters are clean and blue. It is swimmable, but be careful of the strong waves!
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to visit the island during our trip. However, it is near Hagonoy Island, and you can see a glimpse of the sand formation of this island. There are no trees and just purely sand. It is like the Naked Island of Siargao too.
This island has water activities and not just for swimming and tanning. Banana boat is priced at Php100 per head, and you can rent jetski for half an hour. There are local selling souvenir items too. The sand here is finer than Hagonoy's, and water is as clear and blue. You can only access the front area because the majority of the island is limestones and big rock formations. There are cool features of this island like a passage from the front beach to the side beach through the rocks, and during low tide, the adjacent island can be reached just by walking.
The island is just 5min boat-ride away from Buslon and the last stop of the tour. The apparent features of this island are the tall coconut trees and the patch of grass that makes beer-and-chill suitable under the shade. Don't forget to bring your speakers to listen to your beach playlist while enjoying your meal or the bottles of beer. The sand here is the finest among the three, and waters are as clear and as blue - best for swimming too. These features make this island as one of my favorites.
How to get there from Manila?
The nearest airport is Tandag (code: TDG); however, few flights are going here. The next closest and the more frequent trip is to Butuan (code: BXU). Both Manila International Airport (code: MNL) and Cebu Mactan International Airport (code: CEB) have daily and more scheduled flights here. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines cater to both MNL-BXU and CEB-BXU flights. Upon arrival at the airport, follow this guide:
1. Look for the van going to Hinatuan. Hinatuan is known for its Enchanted River, so you can also visit this tourist spot. I prefer the van over the bus because it is faster and has lesser stops. Tell the driver you are heading to Britania so that he will drop you at Lianga intersection
Travel time: 1hr 45mins
Estimate Fare: Php 200
2. Alight at Lianga intersection. Wait for a van or a bus bound for Tandag or Surigao.
3. Ride the van to Tandag or Surigao. Tell the driver to drop you at Salvacion Intersection of San Agustin. It is the intersection going to Britania.
Travel time: 25 mins
Estimate Fare: Php 50
4. Alight at Salvacion intersection. Ride tricycle going to your hotel. There is an entrance fee before reaching the hotel area. Pay Php50 per person for the environmental fee.
Travel time: 10mins
Estimate Fare: Php15 (per head if shared)
5. You arrived! Welcome to Britania
How to get there from Davao?
Davao is far from Britania and may take 6hr drive. There are buses from Davao City to Tandag or Surigao City, and you can take this route to reach the Salvacion intersection at San Agustin, Surigao del Sur.
1. From Davao City Bus Terminal, look for buses going to Surigao City or Tandag.
2. Travel from Davao City to Salvacion, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur
Travel time: 6hrs
Estimate Fare: Php 400
3. Alight at Salvacion intersection. Ride tricycle going to your hotel. There is an entrance fee before reaching the hotel area. Pay Php50 per person for the environmental fee.
Travel time: 10mins
Estimate Fare: Php 15 (per head if shared)
4. You arrived! Welcome to Britania
How to get there from Siargao?
Siargao is in Surigao del Norte while Britania is in Surigao del Sur. The travel may take a day to reach Britania.
1. From Dapa Port of Siargao, buy a ticket going to Surigao City
2. Take the morning trip from Dapat to Surigao via fast-craft for faster transfer. Fast-craft takes 2.5hr travel than RORO with 4hr travel time.
Travel time: 2.5hrs
Estimate Fare: Php 280
3. From Surigao Port, ride a tricycle going to Jollibee intersection.
Travel time: 5mins
Estimate Fare: Php 10
4. At the intersection, ride a multicab going to Surigao City Bus Terminal
Travel time: 15mins
Estimate Fare: Php 9
Or you can ride a tricycle from Surigao Port to their Bus Terminal for a special trip fare.
5. Ride van going to Hinatuan. If none, look for the van going to Tandag.
Travel Time: 3hrs 50 mins
Estimate Fare: Php 180
6. Transfer to another van going to Hinatuan or San Franz. Tell the driver you will alight at Salvacion intersection of San Agustin
Travel time: 1.5hrs
Estimate Fare: Php 80
7. Alight at Salvacion intersection. Ride tricycle going to your hotel. There is an entrance fee before reaching the hotel area. Pay Php50 per person for the environmental fee.
Travel time: 10mins
Estimate Fare: Php 15 (per head if shared)
8. You arrived! Welcome to Britania
How to get there from Cebu?
I recommend flying from Cebu to Butuan Airport (code: BXU) if Tandag flights are not available. Then follow the blog entry 'How do I get from Manila to Britania.' If your flight is arriving at Surigao Airport (code: SUG), then follow the blog entry 'How do I get from Siargao to Britania'
Places to stay?
I stayed in MacArthur Place, and it is okay though the rooms are not well maintained. They have dorm-type rooms for big groups. If you are on a budget, there are homestays in the area, but if not, try the other resorts with good amenities. Most of the hotels accept walk-ins, but during the summer season, it is better to reserve online or call directly.
Sunset shot taken at MacArthur Place.
Best time to visit?
April to June so you can visit the Naked Island. But even if it will not be included, a sunny day at any time of the year is just perfect.
You can continue your trip to the following destinations:
1. Hinatuan Enchanted River- Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur (1 hr 50mins travel time)
2. Tinuy-an Falls- Bislig, Surigao del Sur (2 hrs 15 mins travel time)
3. Laswitan Lagoon- Cortes, Surigao del Norte (2 hrs 15 mins travel time)
Click this blog to help you get there!
Video clip showing the powdery white sand of Hiyor-hiyoran: