We left the Crystal Cave around lunch time and made a number of stops before finally returning to Socorro. Because Bucas Grande’s terrain makes it impossible for an island-wide road network to be constructed, we had no choice but to go to and from Sohoton by boat. On the way back to Socorro, we stopped by some spots that we passed by going in the other direction in the morning.
The first of these stops is Tiktikan Lake – an inland freshwater lake which can only be reached by entering a minor cove and then hiking up and down a trail in between the hills from the rocky shore. If you have ever gone to Kayangan Lake in Coron Island, this is like a much easier version of it.
At less than half a kilometer in diameter (by my estimate), it’s not very big and has no impressive features either. The vicinity however is very serene and one can simply go here to relax and be at peace with one’s own thoughts. When we were there, there was apparently a group of scientists doing field research on the lake’s ecosystem.
Nobody really expected tourists (us) to show up because it was the low season, so what was supposed to be a nice view deck was littered with all of their belongings – bags, clothes, towels, plastic soda bottles, etc. One of them apologized for the state of the view deck. We didn’t mind. We’re travelers ourselves.
There was a small paddle boat by the lake shore that can be used by tourists in exploring the lake and naturally, the girls wanted to ride on it. Although our guide claimed that it could safely seat 6 people, I declined to join them as I wasn’t confident that the boat could still stay afloat with me in it. There were 5 of us and the guide had to be on it too to row the boat. And the boat looked like it could hardly support 4 people.
And true enough, when the 5 of them were already seated, the sides of the boat showed just 3-4 inches above the water’s surface and half of the outriggers are already underwater, as this picture shows:
So I just contented myself with shooting stuff by the lake shore, as well as taking shots of them as our guide (who acted as their boatman) paddled around the lake.
Some 10-15 minutes later, they were back. After hanging around for another 30 minutes or so, we decided to proceed to the next destination to finally have lunch.
We never got to find out why this island was named as such. Nothing on it would remind anyone of cinnamon. The island was, for the most part, rocky and overgrown, like most of the smaller islands surrounding Bucas Grande, except for a stretch of shoreline 30 meters long covered with white sand. The island has a nice modern beach house and even a dirty kitchen. It was quite a nice and comfortable place to hang around, actually. It even had a hammock installed at the porch.
One of our guides told us that Cinnamon Island and its vicinity was where some scenes of an old GMA TV show were shot. Treasure-something. The names Marvin Agustin and Robin Padila were mentioned.
As far as I know, we didn’t pay anything to dock at this beach and have lunch at the beach house. Or maybe it was part of the package that we were to pay Elvis. Anyway, a framed document on the house’s wall indicates that it is owned by a grassroots organization of tour guides in Sohoton who were former dynamite fishers. It’s really good that they have been given a viable alternative to their formerly destructive fishing practices.
We spent not more than 2 hours here. After having lunch, we rested a bit, took photos and even took a dip in the water. I didn’t think beach bumming was part of the itinerary, but since the beach was already under our feet, and since we realized that this is probably the only beach we will ever visit in this 6-day trip, we grabbed the opportunity.
Before long, it was time to again board Elvis’ boat for the next destination.
Club Tara is a high-end, Korean-owned resort at one of the minor coves of Bucas Grande. It’s about halfway from Sohoton to Socorro. It lacks a sandy beach and the owners instead compensated for it by building modern high-class beach houses on stilts by the shore.
On the way here, we did notice that the waves had gotten worse. It’s a good thing that it was sunny because it would have really looked a lot more scary had it been cloudy as well. With some effort, we were able to dock. Again, there was no charge in docking here and the Filipino caretaker of the resort allowed us to roam around. She even allowed us to inspect one of the houses.
The style of the beach houses are uniform and look like what people describe as “Balinese”. As I’ve never actually been to Bali, I don’t know for certain. It all looks visually appealing though. I’d imagine this place to be packed during the summer. But when we were there, there were absolutely no clients.
A boardwalk separates the inner and outer area of the resort. When I say “outer”, I mean the area nearer the open sea. I’d imagine the less-expensive units being at the outer area because aside from being less-picturesque, they also don’t have the benefit of being shielded by the boardwalk and are the first units to be battered when waves get stronger. The inner units, on the other hand, always face much calmer water.
When it was finally time to leave, Elvis had a very difficult time picking us up. He initially attempted to dock at another part of the boardwalk nearer where we were, but abandoned the attempt when the outriggers of the boat got entangled with that of another. It was harder to control both boats because they were constantly being nudged by the waves. So he got back to where we first docked and just asked us to proceed there. Meanwhile, the owner of the other boat had an argument with Elvis’ assistant over how his boat was handled when it was being disentangled from Elvis’ boat.
ONE FINAL SCARE
When we were all finally aboard, we all wore our life vests and Elvis’ assistant briefly gave us a short talk. He said that the waves were already much stronger at that moment (yeah, we can certainly tell) and that it was important for us not to panic. Ironically, this instruction only made us a lot more nervous.
But he was right. The waves were indeed a lot stronger barely outside of Club Tara and there was almost no instance where we weren’t bobbing up and down a few feet while moving forward. I’ve experienced more violent waters before – particularly on the way to Biri Island in Northern Samar – but I was in a much larger boat then, and so it wasn’t as scary. This time though I was in a boat that I suspected was overloaded. The surface of the water was less than an arm’s length away from where I was sitting.
So I heeded the instruction, and so did the girls. We tried not to panic. To further lessen the tension, we laughed at every particularly strong wave that hit the boat. And while we were probably wetting our pants with nervousness, Elvis’ assistant was just sitting at the stern and even texting from time to time as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
Eventually, the waters became calmer and this was because we were already near Socorro Port. Before long, we reached the port, disembarked, and I remember wanting to have a shower so badly because of all salt I’ve accumulated. After setting the bill, we gave Elvis and his assistant our thanks and headed back to Balanghai Hotel.
And that ends our Bucas Grande Island adventure.
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This entry is part of the Surigao & Butuan series dated September 22-27, 2011:
1. The Ugly Side of Surigao del Norte
2. Preview: Surigao del Sur’s Twin Gems
3. The Surigao & Butuan Series (prologue)
4. Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cove
5. A few stops between Sohoton and Socorro
6. The Long Road to Bislig and Tinuy-an Falls
7. An Afternoon in Hinatuan
8. A Heritage Tour of Butuan