Philippines Travel Guides

Padre Burgos: Travel Guide

Welcome to our complete Padre Burgos travel guide. The little known town of Padre Burgos can be found in the Sogod Bay region of Southern Leyte in the Philippines, and is a relatively unheard of dive destination. Possibly one of South East Asias’s best kept secrets, Padre Burgos and it’s surrounding areas offer some of the worlds finest coral reefs and outstanding night diving, not to mention the chance to see whale sharks.

Reaching Padre Burgos is an adventure in itself, and getting there involves travel over land, air and sea. Perhaps this is why it is a path less trodden, but  for intrepid travellers seeking a peaceful, non-touristic location with exceptional diving, this is it. Our Padre Burgos travel guide will help you find the best things to do, places to dive + snorkel, when to go, where to sleep, how to get there and how you can save money.

The best things to do in Padre Burgos

  1. Dive dive dive – With a huge variety of topography, diving in Padre Burgos offers something for everyone. The reefs here are pristine and the best bit is you’ll have them all to yourself. Go now before it gets discovered.

  2. Snorkel with Whale Sharks – Whale Sharks have been migrating through the bay on and off since the early 2000s, so a sighting is by no means guaranteed. But you will experience seeing them in their most natural state if you get lucky. We did, and got to snorkel with six Whale Sharks in just one day!

  3. Night dive at Padre Burgos pier – Welcome to the dark side. The pier at Padre Burgos offers world class night diving. The variety of critters to be found in the muck here is simply astonishing. An underwater photographers dream.

Other things to do in Padre Burgos

  • Explore Limasawa Island – Neighboring Limasawa is a tropical delight both over and underwater. It can be reached by boat from Padre Burgos in an hour an offers sand and pebble beaches, beautiful hiking, camping, snorkelling and a taste of simple Filipino life.
  • Brush up on your diving skills – With a number of highly rated dive schools to choose from in Padre Burgos, it is a great place to extend your skill set. And with so few divers around, you won’t be distracted or feel under pressure.
  • Relax on Tangkaan Beach – If you need a chill day from all the diving, Tangkaan Beach is a great place to head. With the clearest aqua waters and interesting rock formations great for climbing, it is a relaxing spot for a dip in the sea, maybe even beers and a barbecue on the beach.
  • Rent a Kayak – The calm shoreline of Sogod Bay stretches for miles, and can easily be enjoyed by kayak. Explore deserted beaches, stop off for some snorkelling, and keep a look out for dolphins and flying fish!

Top 5 Dive Spots

  1. Padre Burgos Pier – This famous night dive is a freak show of weird creatures including stargazers, seahorses, giant frogfish and even blue ringed octopus.
  2. Napantao II – Napantao can easily be compared to the likes of Komodo, with exceptional visibility and a super quick current, it offers a whirlwind dive packed full of fish, coral and color.
  3. Adrian’s Cove – This dark and eerie wall reaches depths of 50 metres and has spectacular gorgonian fans, black coral and huge tables.
  4. Gunters Wall – This bottomless wall stretches down endlessly into the deep blue, you are never quite sure what is going to pass by. The strong currents from Limasawa Island bring pelagics such as eagle rays, mantas and sometimes even hammerheads.
  5. Napantao I – The pristine reef of Napantao sweeps vastly around in a horseshoe shape. The volume of anthias surrounding the coral here is simply breathtaking and can be enjoyed dive after dive.

Top 3 Snorkel Spots

  1. Padre Burgos House Reef – The house reef stretches for nearly a kilometer along the coastline and offers gentle slopes, deep drop offs, beautiful anemones, hard and soft corals and many schooling fish.
  2. Sunok Point – This is not only a great site for Whale Shark spotting, but has also recently been made into a fish sanctuary. Expect to see soft corals covering the top of the wall as well as scorpion fish, frog fish, and plenty of fusiliers.
  3. Napantao I – The top reef here offers some fantastic snorkelling opportunities, with hard and soft corals, turtle encounters and lots of parrotfish.

Top tip – Need help preparing for your trip to Padre Burgos? Don’t forget to read our essential snorkelers packing list.

Where to stay in Padre Burgos

There really isn’t a great deal of accommodation on offer in Padre Burgos, but since it tends to be a bit of a ghost town on the tourist front, you won’t find it hard getting a room. In fact most resorts will be fighting for your business.

There are five main dive resorts offering similar standards of accommodation, price and reviews. Quite honestly it was hard to choose, but in the end we opted for Peters Dive Resort as we were able to negotiate a good price for our PADI Open Water and Advanced courses.

Our Recommended Accommodation

Peters Dive Resort

Situated on a pebble beach overlooking the aqua waters of Sogod Bay, Peters is the furthest resort from Padre Burgos. The town can be reached on foot via the road of Bato Bontoc in about 30 minutes. Peters are a certified PADI dive resort offering a range of courses in an excellent environment, with a swimming pool and classroom, and an immaculate Dive Centre. They run a slick operation, with two beautifully equipped outrigger boats and a fantastic crew. We completed our Open Water and Advanced PADI here with the Dive Master Klaus, which was amazing from start to finish.

The house reef is accessible from shore, and with over 30 marine protected areas in Southern Leyte, several within a short boat trip from Peters, there are plenty of dive sites to keep you busy. Diving with Whale Sharks is strictly prohibited, therefore all tours are snorkelling only.

Single dive with rental equipment P1,600
Whale Shark tour P2,500

There are a number of room options including dorms and private cottages – which are some of the cheapest in Southern Leyte. Meals aren’t included in the rates, but food is affordable and delicious.

Prices start at P400 for a dorm room up to P3,300 for a deluxe condo.

Padre Burgos Castle Resort

If you are looking for a little more luxury, then Padre Burgos Castle Resort is a good option. With only 5 rooms and a beautiful private beach in a quiet location, it is a perfect choice for somewhere more intimate to stay. We have heard rave reviews about the food, and they also have a catamaran – one of very few sail boats in Sogod Bay.

Prices start at P2,000 for a divers economy room up to P5,200 for a superior room.

Where to eat in Padre Burgos

For the most part you will be eating in your resort, as there simply aren’t any restaurants in Padre Burgos or surrounding areas. But if you do fancy a change from the in-house menu, there are a couple of places we recommend.

Alma & Jerry’s Kitchen

Alma and Jerry’s is just a 5 minutes walk along the road from Peters and the Sogod Bay Scuba Resort. This friendly family run kitchen is a low key affair, offering freshly cooked Filipino classics. Often you will find Jerry outside grilling up seafood.

The prices here are comparable to the resorts, so you won’t be saving any money particularly by eating here. More just a change of scenery! And as the seating looks out over the bay, it’s a lovely breezy spot to enjoy a freshly squeezed fruit juice and lechon.

Padre Burgos town

It is possible to take a long walk, or a somewhat infrequent tuk tuk ride from the main highway of Bato Bontoc directly into Padre Burgos town. There honestly isn’t much to see, but we did find a couple of food stalls and famous Filipino bakeries if you are craving something carby.

We found a place selling cheap roast chickens and crackling pork. Be aware though,  after 7pm everything shuts, and it can be tricky to find a driver to take you back to base.

How to get to Padre Burgos

Map of our Padre Burgos travel guide
There are a number of ways to get to Padre Burgos, but none of them are direct, and all are an adventure. Get ready for a lengthy and unpredictable journey!

Flights to Padre Burgos

There are two main flight options when traveling to Padre Burgos:

Option 1
Fly from Manila to Cebu, and then take a ferry to Leyte Island from there.

Option 2
For a more direct route, fly from Cebu or Manila to Tacloban on Leyte Island – There are daily flights to Tacloban from both Cebu and Manila with Cebu Pacific.

Getting from Cebu to Padre Burgos

There are several ferry routes to choose from, and some will get you to Padre Burgos quicker than others. Ferries in the Philippines are notorious for late notice cancellations so be prepared, your journey may change at the last minute.

Recommended route: Cebu to Maasin

Via the Weesam Ferry leaving from Cebu Pier 1 / Terminal 1

The ferry crossing takes approx 2 hours. The current Weesam schedule is as follows:

Cebu – Maasin 6am daily
Maasin – Cebu 9.30am daily

Top tip – Check before you travel, as Weesam are renowned for changing their schedule. The best way to keep up to date is via their Facebook page.

Maasin is the closest city to Padre Burgos, hop on a jeepney or a public bus which takes you to directly to Burgos within 45 minutes. You may also be able to arrange a transfer with your resort.

Ferry ticket prices: FIRST CLASS – P800, TOURIST – P700, ECONOMY – P600

The compromise: Cebu to Hilongos

Via the Roble Ferry and the Gloria G1 which leaves from Pier 3 in Cebu, taking around 4 hours.

Cebu – Hilongos Hilongos – Cebu
Day Trip at 12:00 NOON Day Trip at 11:00 AM
Night Trip at 9:00 PM Night Trip at 11:00 PM

Day Trip Ticket: Economy A – P275, Economy B – P265
Night Trip Ticket: Economy A – P276, Economy B – P265

The land transfer to Padre Burgos from Hilongos takes an hour and a half and can be reached by shared taxi, van, or jeepney.

The last resort: Cebu to Ormoc

This is the route we took to Padre Burgos, as the Weesam Ferry was cancelled at the last minute. We had no idea where we were going (we’d never even heard of Ormoc) but that was all part of the adventure!

There are a number of ferries running from Cebu to Ormoc. Purely out of convenience (and general lack of information) we took the Supercat 2GO which is a fast ferry that takes 2hours, and runs to and from Ormoc daily:

CEBU – ORMOC
5:15am, 10:25am, 12:00pm, 5:00pm

ORMOC – CEBU
7:15am, 8:30am, 1:45pm, 4:00pm

Ferry ticket price: P740

Top tip – Expect to pay a terminal fee of P25 on top of your ticket price for outgoing trips from Cebu.

To reach Padre Burgos from Ormoc takes around 3 and a half hours. At the ferry port, you will find numerous transport options, including private air conditioned taxi vans, open back jeepneys, and coaches. It is chaotic, but shop around.

We opted for the cheapest mode of transport to Burgos which was a public coach. It was pretty ancient, but comfortable. At each stop, snack sellers come on board, so if you need sustenance this is easily obtained. The journey from Ormoc to Padre Burgos is really scenic, and people watching is fun! It is a pretty relaxing three and a half hours.

Coach ticket approx: P50

Getting from Tacloban from Padre Burgos

From Tacloban airport it takes 3 and a half hours to reach Padre Burgos. Some resorts are able to arrange transfers, however it is possible to take a taxi van, jeepney or coach.

Best time to visit Padre Burgos

Padre Burgos is just outside of the typhoon belt, and enjoys good weather all year round. There is considerably more rain in January and February but this does not affect diving. Whale Shark season runs from late October until early May, but this has a tendency to shift. Visibility is excellent and the water temperature is around 30 degrees throughout the year.

Money Saving Tips

  1. Take the ferry from Cebu – It is far cheaper to travel via ferry to Leyte Island rather than flying to Tacloban airport. As long as there are no cancellations, we recommend the Weesam.
  2. Use public transport – Travel like a local and take the public bus, coach, or jeepney to and from your chosen ferry port (the public bus from Padre Burgos to Maasin is quite the experience!)
  3. Opt for the cheapest accommodation – Peters Dive Resort offer great rates on their budget dorm rooms.
  4. Negotiate your stay – Prior to our arrival, we spoke to a number of resorts in Padre Burgos, and were able to score an excellent deal on our PADI since we decided to do the OW and Advanced courses back to back. Check with your chosen resort and see what they can offer you. If it is low season, there may be more room to maneuver.

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We hope that our travel guide gives you an insight into Padre Burgos. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our Padre Burgos Travel Guide then please let us know in the comment section below. Subscribe (below) or follow us on Facebook and we’ll keep you up to date with all our latest posts.

For travel blog posts and stories from our adventures in Padre Burgos and the Philippines, click here.

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