One of the cave openings at Tayangban Cave
One of the cave openings at Tayangban Cave

Siargao may be known as one of the country’s main surfing haven, but for a casual to non-surfer like me, I’m more interested on what other places I can visit on this island. I dedicated a day for exploring Siargao by road and hired a habal-habal to take me around. Upon checking out of Buddha’s Surf Resort, I transferred to another hotel near Dapa port so I can be early next day for the boat to Socorro. Left my other bags and immediately started for our first destination – the Tayangban Cave in Pilar. I really have no idea what the cave features are which made it more exciting.

Tayangban Cave

Found at the Siargao Circumferential Road in Pilar, Tayangban Cave was formerly known as Kantoloi Twin Cenotes. Named after Siargao cave diver, Bartolome “Toloi” Daclan, who is part of the Filipino Cave Divers group who were the first to explore and measure the cave which they categorized as a cenote. A cenote is a natural sinkhole where the collapse of the limestone bedrock exposes the groundwater. Tayangban Cave is a gem as it has twin cenotes and cave water depths reaching up to 120 meters based on its initial look-see penetration.

The cave and pool is located in a private property. Visit is open for the public and is managed by the family who owns the property. Set-up is basic and small. A simple hut with a small sari-sari store serves as the registration area. Entrance fee is P70. Then you hire a guide with no guide fee up to your discretion. A guide is a must as well as a powerful torch light when exploring the cave.

Kids hanging out at the entrance of the cave
Kids hanging out at the entrance of the cave

Exploring the Cenote

A few minutes of a descending rocky stairway, we found ourselves at the entrance of Tayangban Cave which is also near a mangrove area. I knew I had no choice but to get wet here. Left my bag with my driver and used my dry bag with me. I insisted to bring my camera and tripod so I could take photos inside. As we went in, a snake was squirming through the entrance with us. My guide said it was a snake they locally called “tangke” and lives in the mangroves. It was harmless so I let it squirm ahead.

It was like a giant cave pool. There were some bamboo bridges but once inside we had to cling on the side walls. The water was cool and looks clean which made it easier to explore. I’m quite impressed that they managed to keep the cave pristine. The formations are intact and no vandalism inside. My guide said the family are strict on taking care of the cave. There were some bats and swiftlets flying around on one of the chambers.

It wasn’t hard to explore the cave because of the water. It was a lot of fun actually, feels like canyoneering but inside a cave. Exploration can be done in half an hour or less. It took me longer as I was taking photos.

Pristine state of the cave
Pristine state of the cave

The Gorge and Spring Pool

The exit was more dramatic with light beaming down in the cave from a cavity. Then a rounded cave exit leads to a short gorge where water feeds a spring pool. The pool is swimmable and is said to be around 15–30 feet. A favorite spot for cliff diving after caving. Certainly spent my time enjoying the place. A great start for my in-land tour of Siargao. It may have soiled my white tank top early on my trip I really don’t mind especially if the exploration was fun. Points where they can improve on is maybe provide helmets or lifejackets. Not everyone can swim. Climbed back up the main road and found myself on the other side where we first started. Now who would have known a cenote existed under this highway.

Cave light leak
Cave light leak

Tayangban Cave and Pool
Siargao Circumferential Rd, Pilar, Surigao del Norte
Entrance Fee: P70
Guide Fee: Visitor discretion but I gave mine P100

Caving Tips:

  • You will get wet so better wear swim wear
  • Aqua shoes or slippers a must
  • Dry bag for essential gadgets
  • You can leave some items at the sari-sari store or hut
  • Bring flashlight
The Tayangban Cave entrance
The Tayangban Cave entrance
Cave entrance is near a mangrove forest
Cave entrance is near a mangrove forest
Swimming at the natural swim pool
Swimming at the natural swim pool
Two cenote cave openings
Two cenote cave openings
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Ferdz
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.