Siargao is a tear-drop shaped island in the Philippine Sea and is part of Surigao del Norte and the Mindanao group of islands. It’s known for surfing and for the beautiful white sand (smaller) islands that surround it. Siargao ,although a less well known fact, boasts the largest mangrove forest reserves in Mindanao and is home to some 3,000 Indo-Pacific saltwater crocodiles. Don’t let its size fool you either, it will take a good part of your day ride around the island and you will need more time than you may think to see everything.
Surfing is probably the top reason why people go to Siargao and surfers of every skill level have plenty of spots to choose from. There are those who say there is surfing all year round, however, the more experienced surfers and local residents will agree that from March to August it is more or less flat and that the real period to surf falls between September to March, with the peak falling on the months of November and December. Some international surfing competitions are held in Cloud 9 during this time. There are a number of different surf spots around the island, some of which are accessible from the shore and others by bangka.
Cloud 9, the most popular break on the island has a coral bottom and powerful waves and most ideally surfed a couple of hours after the tide has started to rise. This spot is best for advance level surfers and should be avoided by beginners, who can surf in Quicksilver, which is a stones throw away from Cloud 9.
Another spot for the highly skilled is Pacifico located in the northern part of the island and away from the crowds of General Luna, here the waves can get big and crazy but also a lot less crowded than Cloud 9.
Worth a mention, are the offshore breaks of Daku Reef and Cemetery, for beginners and experts, which are accessible only by bangka. The bangka ride costs about Php 250 per person.
Some other activities that can be enjoyed while in Siargao inlcude:
Island hopping to Daku, Naked and Guyam Islands. A less well known option is Mam-on Island, located a bit further out but this means less crowds while having full access to a beatiful beach.
The clear waters of Magpupungko Tidal Pools in Pilar, are another favourite among visitors, and is best during low tide.
A quick ride from General Luna brings you to Del Carmen where boats go to Sugba Lagoon. The 30-minute ride takes you through mangroves which are the home to saltwater crocodiles but once past this the sea color changes from brown to aquamarine. Entering a natural enclosure of jagged rocks, the lagoon has a floating structure which houses a restaurant, SUP and kayak rental and plank to jump off from.
Food is another thing that Siargao has a good handle on. The small island is filled with restaurants that can cater to anyone’s palette. Vegetarians and vegans will also be happy as some places give this option for their dishes. Bravo, is a resort with a very good restaurant offering some tradional Spanish dishes such as Albondigas (Meatballs), Tortilla de Patata, Boquerones and more. Kermit serves some pretty mean authentic wood-oven baked pizzas, really good pasta and some amazingly tasty desserts. Another place serving authentic Italian food is La Carinderia which can be found along the main road across from Mama’s Grill. Healthy shakes and breakfast options are available in Shaka Siargao located across the street from the entrance to Cloud 9. A little distance from the other restaurants is CFC which serves big sized burritos and australian beef hamburgers.
Hotels occupy most of the prime properties along the beach. There are more than a few to choose from and depending on your budget and preference. Seaside properties usually mean higher rates as well, resorts along the coast are Bravo, Isla Cabana, Arka Hayahay, Siargao Bleu, Romantic Beach Villas to name a few. Kawayan and Kermit are also good options for places to stay although not along the beach. For the budget conscious Paglaom Hostel offers very clean accommodations and the opportunity to make new friends. Pacifico Beach Resort in Pilar, which has it’s own surf spot right in front, is the perfect hideaway from the noise and crowds. If money is not an issue, then Dedon is a little slice of paradise and exclusivity.
Siargao used to have a super laid back and backpacker feel to it with unpaved roads. Now, with paved roads, exploring areas outside of the very busy General Luna, one can stil find peace and quiet among towering coconut trees along the shore of virgin beaches.
At the time of writing, Loose Keys Moto Culture were about to open their shop, right next to La Carinderia. Check them out if you want to grab a bite, a drink, or if you need a surfboard or even get new items for your wardrobe. Did we say they have a really nice fleet of small motorcycles built by the guys from 3B Customs in Surigao City???