SIX OF TWELVE:
This trip has a fascinating story.
After I went to Surigao last year with some of my childhood friends, I found myself a travel buddy.
Mae and I started as acquaintances and turned out to be good friends. After our Surigao trip, we had this urge to go on another trip. We wanted to go international but it took us some time to decide where to go (I’ll share this with you some other time), so we narrowed our choices within the Philippines.
Siargao has been on top of our list since we weren’t able to do a side trip last year. The tear-shape island in Mindanao is considered as “THE” surfing mecca and hailed as one of the best in the country.
How to get there
First things first! How to get to the Philippines’ Surfing Capital?
✈️ By Air
Siargao’s Sayak Airport caters to commercial flights. Currently, only Cebu Pacific flies to and from the island regularly.
Update: Philippine Airlines and SkyJet offers direct and connecting flights to and from Cebu and Manila.
🚌 By Land
There are several buses to and from Surigao City from Butuan, Davao, Southern Leyte, and RoRo buses from Manila.
🚤 By Sea
Surigao City is another jump-off point to Siargao Islands. Ride the trigger boats or RoRo ferries to Dapa Port, Siargao.
We decided to go to Siargao last June. We were not sure if we can still find a great deal for the airfare. Luckily three months before our planned trip, fares went down half the price. We got our return tickets for 2,361.86 PHP (50 USD). Normal flight fares (for one way) could cost more than 3,000 PHP.
Where to stay in the island?
There are lots of resorts, camps, guesthouses on the island. Most tourists stay in General Luna where the real action happens. You can choose rooms with rates that vary from 500php to 100,000php a night. I strongly suggest you read the reviews of the place before making any reservations.
We reserved our accommodations even before booking our flight because what better excuse can you make just to push through with this trip? We stayed in three different places: Turtle Surf Camp, Wayfarers, and Cherinicole.
Originally, we only booked the first two places but something came up. (Wait for it…)
We had the best time staying in Turtle Kite & Surf Camp for our first night. The owner was so warm and accommodating. She even offered to arrange us a tour which we politely declined because we already had plans. I never expected the room to be so cozy and pretty. The bathroom was exquisite. The place is perfect! Sadly, we had to transfer to Wayfarers the following night because TKSC was fully booked.
This serves as a warning to those who plan to stay in Wayfarers – DON’T! (Rant alert!)
Though it is just a walking distance from Cloud 9, the place is not secure. It is along the road without any gate or fence. We all know that resorts, hotels, and other guesthouses must have spare keys for the rooms but this place is different. The owner or his staff can go in whenever they want. We were pretty sure they checked our room while we were out to know if someone was inside. When we went to the beach which is just a few meters away from the place, we left the air cooler on. When we came back, it was already turned off. I also remembered waking up to the sound of the door opening and we were sure we locked our door. It was a really scary experience.
We booked the air-conditioned room and to our surprise we got a room with an air cooler. It doesn’t even make the air cool-er. Their posting in Agoda was very misleading. We tried to ask for another room but they gave us no choice. Aside from the room being so hot, the bathroom was also dirty and most of the fixtures were rusty. When we came back from the beach, the owner almost hit us with his car without even saying sorry. He was just so rude!
We transferred to Cherinicole immediately without asking for any refund. Good thing Cherinicole was way better than Wayfarers. It is a beachfront resort with a swimming pool. The rooms are affordable, spacious and very decent. They even served us welcome drinks.
Other affordable places I can recommend are the following:
- Bravo Beach Resort Siargao
- Buddha’s Surf Resort
- Isla Cabana Resort
- Kermit Surf and Dive Resort
- La Luna Island Resort
- Matanjak Guesthouse
- Patricks on the Beach
- Viento Del Mar
- Arka Hayahay
We went resort-hopping (more like restaurant-hopping) that’s why I can recommend these places.
🏄🏻♀️ Surfs up!
The mere mention of Siargao Island associates images of surfing. There are several surfing spots on the island including:
Cloud 9 – The most popular surf beach in the Philippines. It has a powerful high-tide reef break and is recommended for advanced surfers only.
G1 – Beginners and locals flock this surf spot so it can get crowded. It is a 15-minute motorcycle ride away from General Luna.
Guyam Island – It is a 5-minute boat ride from General Luna. It is a perfect location whenever you’re tired of competing for waves at the nearer beaches.
Pilar – Generally not nearly as crowded as General Luna surf spots. It is a 1-hour motor ride or 1 1/2-hour boat ride from General Luna.
Quicksilver – Located next to Cloud 9, this surf spot has smaller (right-hand) waves but breaks on the same shallow reef. It can often be crowded.
Tuason’s Point – It is located next to Cloud 9 along with other surf spots.
🏝 Island Activities
“I’m not a surfer and I don’t have the courage to try surfing. What can I do aside from surfing?”
Siargao is not all about surfing. More than its famed waves, there are other attractions dotting the island. Here are some of the things you might want to do or places you might want to see when you visit the island:
Go Island Hopping – Siargao is home to some of the postcard-perfect beaches in the Philippines. If you have plenty of time, arrange a boat to take you to Daku Island, Naked Island and Guyam Island. Some resorts offer to arrange trips like Kermit Surf and Dive Resort, Turtle Kite & Surf Camp, and Bravo Beach Resort. Boat rental rates ranges from 1,000php to 10,000php.
Visit Pilar’s Magpupungko Beach and Tidal Flats – Siargao boasts of many interesting attractions including the small stretch of white sand beach in Pilar. It takes an hour or two to reach Pilar from General Luna. You can either hail a habal-habal or rent a motorcycle for less than a thousand pesos.
Magpupungko is no usual beach. During low tide, the enclosed underwater cracks on the shore creating natural water pools that seem like infinity pools. The wide underwater boulder serves as a wall that separates the placid green pools to the crashing waves of the Pacific. The spot is decorated by amazing rock formations created by nature itself.
Drop by Tayangban Cave Pool – It is the newly found tourist spot on the island. If you are heading to Magpupungko from General Luna, drop by Tayangban on your way back. It has a cave entrance surrounded by water where you can enjoy swimming in a fresh water cave. Locals say the name Tayangban was derived from the phrase “Bata ug Tiguyang Nagtaban“.
Visit Sugba Lagoon – The lagoon got its name “Sugba” from how it appeared to visitors when it is covered with fog, making it look like a smoke is coming off the lagoon. They say you can have a meal of freshly caught fish and relax at one of the most peaceful and truly stunning places in Siargao. I still have to go there myself to share with you more about it since we skipped visiting this lagoon to go surfing.
Update: I already went to Sugba Lagoon! Read my latest Siargao trip: DIY Trips: Siargao, The Second Time Around
Visit Bucas Grande Island (Sohoton Cove) – If you have more time, you can hire a boat to take you to Bucas Grande in Socorro, Surigao del Norte. It is compared to the archipelago in Palawan but it is beautiful in its own way. The cove is accessible only during low tide. It is a home to hundreds of stingless jellyfish. There are also several caves and sand bars in the area including Hagukan Cave, Magkukuob Cave, Bolitas and Crystal Cave.
Rent a Bike or a Scooter – Getting lost and finding your way back is one of the most exciting experience in traveling. Is it not? There are plenty of bike and motor rentals around General Luna. Rates vary from 100php to 400php for bicycles and 350php to 2000php for motorcycles. Discover the villages, meet the locals and see how they live.
Food trip! – There are LOTS of good food places on the island. You will never go hungry especially in General Luna. It depends on what you want or what you are craving for. Kermit Surf and Dive Resort serves the BEST pizza (ever). Bravo Beach Resort’s menu will never fail your taste buds. Patricks on the Beach’s breakfast will keep you full all day. Chicken TV in Matanjak Guesthouse has the best roasted chicken on the island. For those who try to eat healthy, try Shaka’s healthy fruit bowls and smoothies! And finally, wrap your Siargao trip by eating in Mama’s Grill.
They say Pleasure Point Cafe serves delicious meals, desserts, and smoothies too. I’ll check it out next time. UPDATE: I already tried Pleasure Point Cafe! Read What’s New [in] Siargao?
Party with the Locals – Nightlife on the island revolves mostly around two things: music played at full volume and lots of booze. Locals are very warm in Siargao. They’d invite you to drink and dine with them the moment they know you’re a tourist. Friday is usually the best day to party. You can start the night in Viento Del Mar and finish at The Jungle. You won’t get lost finding these places, just listen to the loud music.
💡 WWDD – What Would Dee Do?
Here are some tips which may be useful…
- Bring (enough) CASH – There are no ATM machines in General Luna. You have to travel 30 to 45 minutes to get money in Dapa. Though there is a restaurant in GL which allows swiping your ATM card for a small fee, it would still be better to bring enough money to avoid delays. Many resorts do not accept credit cards too.
- Use Sunblock – Unless you want to get super tanned, then go! But if you want your friends back home to still know you, apply some! It’s basically for your skin.
- Don’t be a Rude Chaffer – It’s okay to haggle as long as you don’t push too much. Remember, it is their way of living. Support them by giving what is enough.
- Be a Girlscout– It’s okay to have scratches and bruises for it is the best souvenir you can get for free. It was a relief to find a mini convenient store which sells medicines and first aid stuff. Lesson learned – be prepared, bring your own first aid kit.
DAY 1 – P1,940.00
Turtle Kite & Surf Camp 1950/2 975.00
Van (Sayak-General Luna) 300.00
Food and Beverage 640.00
Habal-habal (Kermit to Turtle) 25.00
DAY 2 – P3,741.00
Wayfarers 1500/2 750.00
Surf Session 500.00
Motor Rental (Cloud 9 GL-Pilar-GL) 810.00
First Aid 121.00
Entrance to Magpupungko 50.00
Entrance to Tayangban Cave 20.00
Dinner and Booze 920.00
Habal-habal (Bravo to Cloud 9) 30.00
DAY 3 – P1,455.00
Cherinicole 1360/2 680.00
Bike Rental 150.00
(hair tie, chips, water)
DAY 4 – P786.00
Terminal Fee 150.00
Food, Activities and Accommodation P7,922.00
P.S. This is not a budget trip. We really wanted to experience Siargao’s cuisine hence the expenses on food.
I will definitely go back! I don’t mind having many scratches or bruises, I am definitely going back! Upon posting this I am already planning and looking for deals so I can see the paradise once again.
I left my heart in Siargao, for real…