Dinagat Islands Travel Guide
Dinagat Islands Overview
Formerly a part of the province of Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands officially became a province in 2006, composed of 7 municipalities. It is the third newest province in the Philippines (2006), with Maguindanao del Sur as the newest (2022). The tourism infrastructure in the province is not yet well-developed and the main attractions on the island province are mainly by boat. There are a few tour operators on the island but I can assure you that the atmosphere in Dinagat Islands is very laid-back – a calm place, with cool and nice people. This is one of the few provinces in the Philippines that I have been to that is very rural and the province life is what makes them happy.
Read also: Dinagat Islands: Caraga’s Mystical Island Province
Simple living in the islands is one of the main highlights I have observed and fishing or aquaculture is one of their main sources of livelihood (aside from the island tours some locals offer). They are more ventured into nature tourism because of their numerous island hopping attractions and natural places that are definitely pleasing to the eye.
Best Time to go to Dinagat Islands
Since the Philippines only has two predominant seasons (wet and dry), the province of Dinagat Islands is best visited during the peak of the Dry (Summer) Season from April until the wee months of the wet (monsoon) season until September. During these months, the waters are calmer and the weather is more bearable and rainfall is just spotted on some occasions. It is also the perfect time to explore its neighboring province of Southern Leyte if you want to discover the Visayas or go to Siargao Island if you want to catch the Pacific waves. The average temperature in the province is 24°C – 29°C.
How to get to Dinagat Islands
Exploring around Dinagat Islands by land can be a bit challenging since the only public transport I have observed plying the province is the bao-bao tricycles (likely of Thailand’s Tuk-tuks) and conventional tricycles as well. It is an absolute advantage if you have your own car or motorbike to go in and around Dinagat Islands. You can bring your own cars via the RORO barges that service the route to and from Surigao City. The minimum fare around the province is about ₱ 20-35.
The nearest and most accessible airport from Dinagat Islands is the Surigao Airport (SUG) in Surigao City. You can also go and hop into the Sayak Airport (IAO) in Del Carmen, Siargao Island but boat transfers to Siargao from Dinagat are quite limited. Surigao City is approximately 1 hour away from Dinagat Islands (San Jose Port). Tricycle fare from the airport to Surigao Boulevard Port (Pantalan Dos) costs ₱ 20-30 and the travel time is around 15-20 minutes.
Passenger boats and barges are the main means of getting to the province of Dinagat Islands through their main ports (San Jose, Dinagat, and Cagdianao). Boats along Surigao Boulevard are easily spotted and unfortunately, they only have a makeshift terminal (a table, basically) for you to register on before riding the boat to Dinagat Islands. The fare is around ₱ 200 and the travel time is 1 hour (to San Jose Port).
Things to know about Dinagat Islands
Dinagat Islands is one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines and only has an area of 1,036.34 km², smaller than the whole of Surigao del Norte. The people in the province predominantly speak Cebuano and Surigaonon (in some areas of Dinagat and Cagdianao), and they can also speak Filipino and English (for foreign guests).
The cellular signal on the island is quite poor to none, especially for Globe and TM users. Smart and TNT users can have poor to fair signals in some areas and in the island resorts found within Basilisa and Libjo. To address the scarcity of cellular signal in the province, “Piso-WiFi” is also evident in the municipalities’ poblacions. You can connect to someone’s Piso-WiFi for as low as ₱ 1 for 10-15 minutes.
The mode of payment in Dinagat Islands is cash only. I advise you to bring enough cash before visiting the province. The main currency used in Dinagat Islands is the Philippine Peso (PH₱).
Exploring around Dinagat Islands
Getting in and around the Islands is challenging as they have a limited transportation system. Only bao-baos, tricycles, motorbikes, and motorboats are the modes of transportation in the province. Traffic congestion is not a problem here as their highways are wide and only a few people travel within the seven towns of the province. The minimum fare around Dinagat Islands is about ₱ 20-35, depending on the destination.
If you want to explore the rest of the Dinagat Islands, read here and know how you can enjoy the islands!
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