Our boat drove that sunny morning along the western coast of Dinagat, making for the islands off the coast of Libjo town. It was the second day of our island-hopping tour and after exploring the beaches, islands and Lake Bababu of Basilisa the day before we were on the move north towards the karst-dominated landscape of Libjo.
On the way we passed by numerous karst islets, white sand beaches and coastal barangays surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, all sitting on crystalline aquamarine and turquoise waters. Such is the topography of Barangay Magsaysay in Libjo town. It was tempting to stop and visit these petite packages of paradise but our itinerary for the day didn’t leave us enough time to do so.
Instead our boat swung around towards an island called Pangabangan and docked at a pier that juts out from a white sand beach. Towering karst formations hemmed in the beach from all sides – a landscape one could easily mistake for that of Coron or El Nido in Palawan.
Walking on the pier towards the beach we couldn’t help but notice the corals easily visible beneath the turquoise waters – something that’s so common as to be taken for granted here in Dinagat.
The scene-stealer at Pangabangan, however, is a deep tidal pool surrounded by a ring of karst towers at the back of the northern edge of the beach where we had just landed. It’s just a short walk from the beach to this tidal pool, more commonly referred to as the Blue Lagoon by the locals.
The waters leading to the Blue Lagoon are shallow and we could wade almost all the way to the edge of this tidal pool, at which point the sea bed drops down very abruptly resulting in the deep cyan color it’s famous for. The color becomes more pronounced during low tide which our guides had timed perfectly on this tour.
Our guides and boatmen encouraged us to climb up a huge karst formation on the beach to give us an impressive overhead view of the Blue Lagoon and its surrounding waters. Not satisfied with this view we scrambled further up – this part of the climb was almost vertical and a bit dangerous for older people like us. But the view from the top was something to die for:
From the very top of this karst formation it was also possible to view a group of rock islets in the distance called the Kisses Islets, so named because of their resemblance to the chocolate candies. A boat ride to these islets is normally included in the island-hopping tour but our boat mates were in a hurry to get back to Surigao City so we had to bypass them.
Pangabangan Island and its Blue Lagoon are further proof that Dinagat is yet another underrated destination in the Philippines. And to think that this province is located quite close to world-famous Siargao (the boat ride to Dinagat from Surigao City is actually shorter than that to Siargao.) There is no luxury resort in the province that we know of and most of the accommodations are either basic resorts or homestays. For instance, there are cottages, comfort rooms and two stores selling drinks and snacks at Pangabangan but there are no facilities for overnight stay other than a provision for camping on the beach under the coconut palms and no restaurant or food stall. But if you’re in search of raw natural beauty and are not choosy about where to stay then Dinagat is the place for you.