Discover Mindanao – Ayoke’s up Raf!

Would you like to visit a perfect tropical island full of friendly, warm locals? Do you want to hike up to a beautiful viewing point over Lanuza Bay? Can you handle a few days on an island without the trappings of civilisation? Look no further than the paradise island of Ayoke. While many tourists visit Siargao and Camiguin Islands in the north, few venture south to Ayoke. This amazing island really should be on everyone’s must-see Mindanao itinerary and only takes forty five minutes to reach by pump boat from Cantilan, Surigao Del Sur. 

Approaching Ayoke, from Cateel

Our family journey along the Eastern seaboard of Mindanao had begun three weeks earlier in Davao, where we had a family photo shoot in People’s Park. From there, we headed to Mati by bus for a few beach days at Dahican. Then, we moved further up the coast to the amazing white beaches around Baganga. After that, we stopped at Cateel to visit Aliwagwag Falls. Therefore, Ayoke was the final stop on our amazing family trek through Mindanao.

From Cateel, we rose early to catch the once daily bus to Bislig City. The incredibly crowded bus creaked its way up huge hills and provided spectacular clifftop glimpses over the Pacific. Three and a half hours later, we arrived at Bislig bus station. An argument about luggage charges left us stranded without an onward bus, so we upped our budget and negotiated with a van driver to take us all the way to Tandag. While we shared with others, a special trip fare gave us extra space and swift passage to our destination. At Tandag we rode atop a traditional jeepney, which provided sweeping views over coconut plantations near Lanuza Bay. Nine hours after departure from Cateel, we arrived in Cantilan.

Gliding Ayoke

It was a short walk from Cantilan Bus Station to its riverside pier. Our host on Ayoke, Aimer Bou, had been waiting for us all afternoon. He helped us load our stuff on his pump boat and we chugged out of the river towards the open sea. The high tide allowed us to head directly into Lanuza Bay and position the boat due north towards Ayoke. The closer we got to the island, the more its beauty became apparent. Covered in swaying palms, it looked like something out of a Caribbean holiday magazine sans expensive hotels and visitors. After forty five minutes, Aimer carefully negotiated the reef and glided straight into the sandy beach in front of the elementary school. A hoard of kids greeted us. Our son Rafael immediately knew he would have friends for the entire stay. Seven days in paradise awaited us!

Living the Ayoke Dream

The Bou family took us into their home for seven amazing nights. Their rustic home stay consists of their home linked to an open courtyard and some upstairs rooms for rent. While solar power provides enough energy for basic lighting, it’s more or less off the grid living. The accommodation transformed our lifestyle. It brought a unique sense of happiness into our lives. Raf played with chickens and neighbourhood kids every day. Whatever the Bou family caught at night became our food too, supplemented with milo-topped rice for Raf. We even visited Ayoke’s chapel for mass on Sunday and felt a real part of the island’s wider community. All four corners of the island offered us great options to explore. On the eastern shores, Raf rummaged through and bathed in a variety of rock pools. In the north, we climbed up a lighthouse viewing platform and enjoyed incredible coastal vistas. Raf surfed the western shores every day on his long board. He loved the long, gentle breakers surrounded by the most pristine tropical scenery. In the south, we walked up a kilometre-long staircase to another viewing platform back towards Cantilan and General Island. 

Straight out of a Robinson Crusoe novel, we left this magical island with unforgettable experiences. The hospitality of the Bou family unsurpassed in the whole of the Philippines. Ayoke is definitely one of the most beautiful islands in the world. We’ll be back sooner rather than later to relive the Ayoke dream.

Rafsworld Video Highlights


Follow in our footsteps

– To arrange a boat to Ayoke, go to Cantilan riverside pier. Expect to pay at least P1500 for the 45-60 minute pumpboat trip to the island.

– If you want to stay overnight, ask to speak to the Bou family on arrival and they will accommodate you. They provide basic seafood and a room. They will ask you to pay what you wish at the end of your stay. Make sure you are generous when deciding what to pay.

– If the Bou family already have guests, other families take in guests too on the same basis.

– The best weather on Ayoke Island is from April – October. From November to March, rainy days and stormy seas are possible off the NE monsoon.

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