The City of Surigao was formerly known, according to Fray San Juan Francisco de San Antonio as Banahao, San Antonio, in his “Chronicles” written in 1738, described Banahao as located at the northern head of Mindanao within there is a good port for ships called Bilan-bilan.
Banahao was part of the old district of Caraga which became the Politico-Military District of Surigao with Tandag (presently, the capital of Surigao del Sur) as its capital. In its original size during the Spanish era, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte up to Gingoog River in Misamis Oriental according to the Philippine Commission Report of 1901, Surigao was ten times bigger than Rhodes Island and three times bigger than Connecticut. Because of repeated attacks by Moro pirates, the provincial capital was within the defensive perimeter of the Spanish Naval Squadron in Cebu and Ozamis.
Surigao officially became a town when it became the permanent residence of the Recollects on February 1, 1751 when all the canonical books were moved from Siargao to Surigao. “The first canonical books bore the signature of Fr. Lucas dela Cruz.” Previously, the place was Justa “Vista” of the Parish in Caolo (Siargao).
Surigao is named after the old province (district) of the same name (Surigao). There are many versions regarding the meaning of Surigao: how this was derived. Like Sulo which names current (Sulog). Surigao probably came from Spanish word Surgir, meaning swift water or current. With the division of Surigao into two province, Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte, the municipality of Surigao became the capital of Surigao del Norte. It became a chartered City on August 31, 1970.