Siargao Island, A Surfing Destination in the Philippines
The most eastern island of the Philippines: Siargao Island
By Alexandra Wagner
Having been backpacking for 12 months I longed for some rest on a beautiful island. I found a video of a Swedish girl who opened a hostel on an island called Siargao.
She said the island is full of lush palm trees, the locals are genuine and the food is yummy – that sounded like my place to be!
I flew to Manila and from there with Cebu Pacific onwards on two connecting flights, to Cebu and Siargao Island (less than $100). The promise of the palm trees was not understated – the landing on Siargao Island airport is a scene to remember!
The 45-minute drive to Paglaom Hostel in General Luna takes you through the jaw-dropping tropical land. The heartfelt welcome of the owner and the intake of the other guests made me feel like I arrived home. Everything was pretty laid back and chilled. I was sure to easily spend my one month here.
Siargao is famous for its surfing, especially Cloud 9 area. You can find plenty of local surf guides for approximately 5USD per hour.
Renting a surfboard is $5 for the day. There are annual surf competitions, check them out to be sure to be there, if that is what you want, or to avoid them, if you don't.
The place gets really packed when these events are on and the atmosphere obviously is different as well. If you are looking for a unique surf camp check out The Island Life (link below) on Anajawan, a secluded island off General Luna.
Hip Cafes and Restaurants:
There are lots of relaxed cafes and restaurants of all kinds and tastes. You can relax in Cafe Loka with a view onto the famous Cloud 9 pier or rest at The Pleasure Point in the middle of General Luna. Have lunch at Kitya's Place with her unique menu and loads of healthy options.
Mama's Grill is the place to be in the evening, that is, if you are not a vegetarian. WiFi is available in all of these places. The easiest is if you get a Philippine SIM card (eg. SMART), the rates are cheap and reception is good.
Magpupungko Rock Pool:
Rent a scooter (about 5USD per day, excl. petrol) and drive up to the natural Magpupungko Rock Pool.
The pool is just beautiful, relaxing, exciting (jump down from a rock into the pool if you dare!)
Make sure you are there when it is low tide. Parking your scooter is less than 2USD and entrance is 2USD. There are also restaurants. You can walk around the pool and find some secluded beaches and interesting rock formations.
There are lots going on in the evenings. Stop by at the Sabali Art House in General Luna and make friends with the locals.
Their band usually has gigs in the evenings and invites their guests to jam with them. Everything is really relaxed, just enjoy yourself.
There are usually parties going on around the island, beach parties, campfires, fire-shows, pub-parties, local weddings.. you won't be bored!
Other parts of the island
I hired a scooter for my full month there and got a really good deal. Bargain for it, especially if you take the scooter for a week or longer.
One day we cruised around the whole island and stopped where ever we pleased: The Famous Bollox Bar on Baybay Burgos (White Sand Beach), Alegria Beach, Taktak Waterfalls, hang out with the locals in San Benito and Del Carmen and enjoyed nice food in Dapa.
Get used to getting plenty of waving hands and hellos from kids when passing them on the scooter, not too many tourists make it around there yet!
Find friends and share a boat for the day with a guide and cruise around the little islands just off-shore General Luna. Guyam Island is a picture-perfect tiny island and you can hug it, literally, if you stand at the right angle from the ocean. On Dako Island the local kids won't let you off their hook, they love to learn from you and as a reward, they share their happiness with you.
Good to Know:
Bring cash to General Luna and Cloud 9 as there are no ATM's yet. The only ATM is in Dapa, a 30 minutes drive, and you need to be there early, between Mo-Fr. Monsoons usually spare Siargao, but check some local weather forecasts anyway.
Paglaom Hostel: website
FAQ's Surigao: website
Cloud 9 Surf League: website
The Island Life: website
Alexandra Wagner is a freelance writer who was backpacking around the world for two years just recently and visited 23 countries in that time. She continues to travel whenever she gets the chance.