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Traveling

Island Hopping the Britania Islets of  San Agustin, Surigao del Sur May 6-8, 2013

Island Hopping the Britania Islets of San Agustin, Surigao del Sur

GPS waypoint: N8 41.639 E126 12.503
Location: Britania, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur

Heard it from the Grapevine
After Enchanted River, I began to backtrack north to Barobo and head out for Tandag and get off at Salvacion for the Britania Islets. I never heard of Britania Islets until I reached Butuan. I was curious how different it could be from Hundred Islands of Pangasinan or the sprinkling of islands in Coron, Palawan.

map location Britania Islets

Lodging Blues
My first difficulty upon arrival was looking for reasonable lodging. I found the resort rates to be exhorbitant - P1000 for a non air-con room? I went to 2 resorts haggling my way. At Mac Arthur's Place, I was able to negotiate P200/day for a picnic hut. That's right. It's just a picnic hut - not a room. I didn't really mind. I actually liked it better at it gave me beachfront location.

Big Group Only
I did my rounds of some resorts and found their rates to be all off-the-wall. I took a look at one for P2500/night and it was spartan for such a price. Most of the people who go there are big groups and it's typical for them to rent out a room for P2000 and cram 12 people in. I guess that works out, but for the lone traveller or the travelling couple, there is hardly any reasonably priced room.

Home Sweet Home
Next thing was to secure my 'home'. I put clothes line around the hut where I could hang my malong and towel to keep them dry and also to provide for privacy. Next, I set up my jungle hammock, making sure I'm far away from any coconut that would fall off the tree. After that, I fixed up a space where I can do my laptop work. I could only do hard drive work as there was no internet. I believe, La Entrada, the only upscale resort nearby, had wifi, but a sluggish one at that (according to one of the guests). It was R&R when everything was already set up.

No Joiners
Island hopping was P1500/trip for up to 10 people, but they don't have a joiner policy in place. Unlike Coron where I can join a group to fill up the boat, here at Britania, I will have to pay for the entire boat. I opted out. If I had a date, sure. But me alone, it didn't feel worth it. Besides, I was perfectly happy in my own space to catch up with work by the beach.

Super Anne
Luckily for me, Anne, the trusted store keeper of the resort was looking out for me. Actually, she was the one negotiating on my behalf with the owner to accept me at P200/night. She also looked after my meals and was concerned when the shells I ate sent me a few times to the toilet. She looked after my laundry as well. Anne again surprised me when she said she already arranged for me to join a group for island hopping at P100! Whoa!!!

Island Hopping
I joined a group of elementary teachers from Butuan. It was fun with them and their families. We hopped on 3 islands. First island was Hagonoy. It was good for beach swimming. What I found interesting was the sudden 45-degree drop-off at the water line where your legs sink in the loose sand. Second island was Naked Island. Hold your horses, it's not a nude beach. The island is just a small outcropping of white sand, perhaps 2 meters high. It's all sand - no trees, or big rocks or anything else. Third island (forgot the name) had a Mama Mary grotto and ample space compared to the others. Like the rest, it was only for swimming. It would be great if they can put up nipa huts on some of the islands to serve as lunch tables for the island hopping guests - just like Coron. One island, I was told, has a cave with stalactites. We only visited 3 islands.

Tourism Features
The place itself has a lot to offer. First, the white sand beach was attractive. But the resorts fence their beach boundary making long walks on the beach impossible. It was a turn-off and somehow gives a negative impression about the collective thinking that goes with the place. Can you imagine Boracay with compartmentalized beach walks? Second, the coral reef could be a crowd drawer. The reef system is extensive, but dynamite fishing from days past reduced the system to rubble. With rehabilitation of the reef, it may come back.

Ending Thoughts
Altogether, Britania Islets have the potential to be a major tourist destination. They have the beaches, the islands, calm waters, pumpboats for island hopping, etc. But the resorts need to clean up their act to make it happen. If they really want to be a contender for tourism revenue, they should rethink their pricing to accommodate smaller groups or couple travelers. They can also improve lodging amenities. A joiner policy for island tours would encourage backpackers to come. Fast internet would be a plus. Lastly, they should dismantle those barriers on the beach. A beach is not a beach if you can't make long walks on the beach. We're not reinventing the wheel here. All they have to do is look at Boracay and Coron. The template is there.

I wanted to stay one more day but I realized I didn't have enough cash to pay them off. After 3 days, I packed up to catch the 2pm bus for Tandag.

--- TheLoneRider

ps - If you want me to objectively cover your resort for this website (beach resort, mountain resort, island resort, etc.), email me.

ps - my camera bonked on the way to the islets. I'm relying on people I met at the boat to tag me when they post their pictures.

How to Get to Britania from Enchanted River

  1. board a habal-habal from Enchanted River back to the highway, 12kms, P150 (if you are alone, otherwise it's P50/head)
  2. take a bus going to Butuan, but get off at Barobo Terminal, P45 non a/c,
  3. from Barobo Terminal, take another bus going to Tandag, but ask to be dropped off at Salvacion, P66 a/c bus, 50 mins
  4. from Salvacion, take a habal-habal to Britania, P20, 20 mins
  5. there are many resorts in Britania but they could be far apart

Resorts in Britania

  • Mac Arhtur's Place - 0999.991.0845 / 0939.916.3745, family room, a/c, P2000/10 pax with breakfast, P3200/14 pax with breakfast, P1800/6 people, island hopping P1500/10 pax
  • La Entrada Resort and Restaurant - 0930.227.5934 | 0949.971.9630, laentradaresortandrestaurant@yahoo.com, wifi, rooms from P1200 to P3600, island hopping P1000/10 pax
  • Oasis Rest House - contact: Bebie Cadelina, 0910.752.9319
  • Arena Blanca Beach Resort - 0918.962.2192 / (082)284.4203
  • Ysha's Resthouse - contact: Lourdes Edulan, 0921.482.9523
  • Twin's Pension House - 0949.672.7967 / 0948.146.4071
  • lodging in Britania is overpriced compared to the rest of the country. They cater to large groups that will fit into a room.
  • typical rate would be: fan room P1500, air-con room P2500 for 3 pax

Island to Visit in Britania

  • Hagonoy - beach swimming, sudden sandy drop-off
  • Naked Island - exposed sandbar about 2 meters high, no trees, just sand
  • Tagoan
  • Britania
  • Panlangagan
  • Hiyor-Hiyoran
p5060933 p5060934 p5060936 p5060945
p5060949 p5060954 p5060957 p5060958
p5060959 p5060960 p5060962 p5060967
p5060969 p5060973 p5070981 p5070991
p5080992 p5080995 p5080997 p5081005
p5081006 p5081008 p5081011 p5081025

SUGGESTED ITINERARY
(along the Surigao coastline from Surigao City to Surigao del Sur)




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Reader Comments:

Christeen CerenoChristeen Cereno
(Sep 19, 2013) Nice one sir, Very helpful.

Ferd AguilarFerd Aguilar
(May 8, 2013) hey men on my way to Ely's place. Class reunion hehe. Alam mo ba yung Baskit Island? Meron ako nakausap dun minimina yung deuterium me parang planta na daw nang mg amercano. Deuterium fuel of the future only in the philippines. Made under water by the pressure of Philippine Deep. It is also called heavy water.

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