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Alluring Sohoton jess and Eric Montalban .pdf


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Alluring Sohoton
Text and Photos By JESS AND ERIC MONTALBAN

Boats wait for tourists who
will explore Sohoton Cove
National Park.

S

urigao del Norte consists of
four islands, namely: Bucas
Grande, Guyam, Hibuson,
Kabo, and Siargao. Siargao is
world-famous for its surfing
waves with a reputation for thick,
hollow tubes called “Cloud 9.”
Bucas Grande, on the other
hand, is slowly gaining traction
as a tourist destination and draws
hundreds of tourists with its
crystal-clear lagoons and natural
wonders. A visit to Bucas Grande
won’t be complete without
visiting Sohoton Cove National
Park and Jellyfish Sanctuary.

Getting here

 From Surigao City to Hayanggabon Port (recommended route):
Getting to Surigao City from
Manila or Cebu is very easy with
major airlines flying daily to
Surigao Airport.
After you land, take a trike to
Surigao Integrated Bus Terminal
then take a bus bound for Tandag
or take a van to Hayanggabon

Port. Travel time is about an hour.
From Hayanggabon Port, charter
a boat to Sohoton.
 From Butuan City to
Hayanggabon Port: From Butuan
bus terminal, take a bus bound for
Surigao City. Take the same route
from Surigao City to Tandag or
Hayanggabon Port.
 From Davao City to
Hayanggabon Port: From Davao
City Overland Terminal, take a
bus bound for Surigao City. Bus
frequency is every two hours.
First trip is at 7:30 a.m.
A private boat ride to Sohoton
National Park costs around
PhP3,500–PhP4,000 good for 10-12
people (as of 2016).

Tondan Cave

Our first stop of the tour was
Tondan Cave. We were quite
excited at the start, but we got
bored after the tour. The cave
was not that huge and you could
explore it in five minutes or less.

You might reconsider visiting
Bolitas and Crystal Caves instead.
Entrance is PhP30, inclusive of
flashlight, helmet, and tour guide
fees.

Sohoton Tourist Center

The original plan was to
have our lunch at Cinnamon
Island, but due to lack of time,
we headed straight to Sohoton
Tourist Center, a few minutes
away from Tondan. After we
docked, we transferred to a
smaller boat to the tourist center.
The local government-based
tourist center collects fees for the
following:
• Entrance fee – PhP50
• Environmental fee – PhP50
(local tourist); PhP150 (foreigner)
• Helmet and life vest usage –
PhP80
• Guide fee – PhP330 (165 per
guide, 2 guides per boat)
• Pump boat – PhP500 (shared)
• Jellyfish paddler – PhP100
• Docking fee – PhP100
Health & Home September-October 2017

45

To Jelly Lagoon

Once our names were called,
we then hopped into a smaller
boat that could accommodate
two people.
You have to paddle your way
to Jelly Lagoon along Tojoman
Lake, which is 20 minutes
away from the tourist center.
According to the paddler,
Tojoman comes from the word
tojom or toyom (“sea urchin”),
because the lake used to be
littered with sea urchins.

Diminishing numbers

After 30 minutes of paddling
intensively, we finally arrived at
Tojoman Lagoon where spotted
jellies are found.
Called “spotted lagoon jellies,”
these can live up to 14 months.
They are also one of the prettiest
and most recognizable species
of jellyfish. Because they have
no tentacles but only oral arms,
they’re not harmful to humans.
And because of their cute
appearance and constant energy,

some people even keep them as
pets.
Unfortunately, we spotted only
a few because of their diminishing
numbers. We’re not sure if it’s
pollution-related but the boatman
insists that it is because of the
pollution, the season, and the
substances in sunscreen lotion.
They now prohibit swimming with
the jellies.

Sohoton Cove National Park

Sohoton Cove can only be
accessible during low tide. The
narrow opening leads to a paradise
filled with trees along its cliffs.
These trees are home to different
species of birds, underwater
creatures, turquoise waters, and
caverns.
The water was quite high so
we had to bend down to prevent
the rock ceiling from hitting our
head. As soon as we got to the
cove, our guide showed us the
only landmark—The Horsehoe, an
oversized stalactite that resembles a
horse’s foot.

Hagukan Cave

There are two small caverns
inside Sohoton Cove, with the
first being dubbed as Hagukan
(hagok is Cebuano for “snoring”).
The cave emits a snoring sound
whenever water slams into the
cavern.
You can enter it by swimming
carefully so your head will not
touch the upper portion of the
minute entrance. Inside is a
big rock in the central portion
where you can step on and take
a rest. As light comes in through
the entrance, you can witness a
luminous green color in the water.
Amazingly, it makes the skin of
those with dark complexion to
look fair.

A spotted lagoon jellyfish swims near our paddle boat.

Our group first explores
Tondan Cave.

Docking is necessary to enter
Sohoton Cove.

46 Health & Home

September-October 2017

The Horseshoe welcomes guides
and tourists inside Sohoton Cove.

Magkukuob/Diving Cave

It’s an adrenalin rush at the second cave: Magkukuob. It is
so named because of the bending position (kuob is Cebuano
for “bend forward”) you need to take in entering the cave.
Inside you will maneuver up rocky steps, with stalactites
and stalagmites as handrails, toward a skylight leading to
a wooden platform right on a cliff located 15 feet above sea
level.
We didn’t have any choice but to jump. As we stepped
forward, we could feel our knees shaking a bit. We regained
composure, summoned our courage, and after some
encouraging chant, we finally leapt off the platform and
landed safely. A motivating and rewarding experience!
We then headed back to Hayanggabon Port to catch a bus
bound for Tandag City.
If you have more time to spare, you can visit Tiktikan
Lake and Cinnamon Island, which are slowly gaining
prominence among travelers.

S

ohoton Cove National Park is an enchanting paradise
filled with gorgeous islets, lagoons, and caves. we’re
quite optimistic and hopeful that the local government will
continue to preserve the park because destruction is a real
threat. The mining town is just at Sohoton’s doorsteps.

Jess and Eric Montalban are behind the travel blog Tuklaserang Matipid. Together,
they seek new adventures and unique travel experiences on a budget.

Tourists who visit Magkukuob
Cave exit by jumping off a platform.

Health & Home September-October 2017

47


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