Siargao, Philippines: surfing in paradise

Unlike the rest of the Philippines, where you are overwhelmed by beautiful dive and snorkel spots, Siargao Island is all about surfing. Known for the spectacular Cloud 9 surf break, the island has become a true hotspot for surfing pros. Beautiful surf spots for beginning as well as (very) advanced surfers surround the island, but there’s more! With the most gorgeous beaches you’ve ever seen, green lagoons and unique rock pools, Siargao is a true paradise! If you’re going to the Philippines and have an interest in surfing or kite surfing, then Siargao is an absolute must-visit when you’re traveling through the Philippines. And the island also has plenty to offer to those who aren’t into surfing that much.


The Siargao-feeling in General Luna

Most travelers stay in the town of General Luna, which also means it’s the place where there’s a lot to do. It’s a long road surrounded by palm groves and small surf camps on each side, a few hostels and a variety of restaurants. You’ll have a chat here and there while walking along the street, because the super social atmosphere means you’ll get to know quite a few people after only a few days. Scooters with surfboards in the carriers and tricycles with surfboards on the roof dominate the scene, along with a pack of street dogs and the occasional stray cow. The atmosphere is relaxed and life is easy.


Surfing the barrels in Cloud 9 and Pacifico

If you’re one of those die-hard surfers who want nothing more then to take on the biggest waves first thing in the morning, then you can also stay in the neighboring Cloud 9. Less than 10 minutes away from General Luna by scooter, you’ll find the famous surf break and town of the same name. Although, you can’t really call it a ‘town’, because Cloud 9 is really just an extension of General Luna with a few Surf resorts, a surf shop and a few restaurants. There’s a beautiful beach here, framed by tall palm trees and clear turquoise water. A long pier juts into the sea, from where you have a good view of the famous surf break for pros. Experienced surfers can go to Pacifico, located to the north of Cloud 9, where, as in Cloud 9, they can surf barrels.


Learning to surf on Siargao

Beginning surfers can also get their fill on Siargao, because right next to cloud 9 is Jacking Horse. Though this is a reef break, it’s a perfect place to learn how to surf. You can book a lesson at Ocean 101 Beach Resort for approximately 10 euros an hour, organized by an experienced surf instructor. You can also find your own surf instructor on the spot, but these are sometimes tricycle drivers pretending to be surf instructors, so beware of who you team up with. If you’re staying in one of the island’s surf camps, then it’s more convenient to organize surf lessons through your accommodation. Your surf instructor will check where the best swell for your level is located each day. Because Siargao is surrounded by a variety of surf breaks, you’ll always be able to find a good spot. Examples of nice surf spots are the dazzling Daku Island or the secret surf spot. Transportation to and from the surf spot is often included in the price for the surf lessons. If you’ll be heading out to surf on your own a lot during your stay on Siargao, then it’s best to rent a scooter with a carrier for your surfboard for the entire duration of your stay. This is also the perfect way to explore the green island.


Kitesurfing on Siargao

Siargao isn’t just a paradise for surfers; it’s also a delight for kitesurfers. When there’s enough wind, you’ll see various kites in the air right in front of Viento del Mar and Bravo resort. There’s loads of space for reaching high speeds and making high jumps. This is also a great place for those who want to learn how to kitesurf! Both Viento and Bravo offer lessons in kitesurfing.


Island hopping along white sandy beaches

You’ll find numerous dazzling little islands with white sandy beaches around Siargao. Naked Island and Daku are some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. They’re like pictures coming straight out of a catchy Maldives magazine. During my visit, the sea was so blue that I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. Add to that a broad white sandy beach rising up from the clear water with swaying palm trees, a few huts, colored boats and hardly any people to be seen. As you enjoy a fresh coconut and some fresh fish on a sunny day, while bathing in the warm seawater, you’ll know you’ve found paradise. If you want to explore the most beautiful little paradises around Siargao, you can go island hopping with My Siargao Guide (to be booked at Bravo resort). Unlike on any of the other island hopping tours in the Philippines, you’ll be able to enjoy a full day of sun, beach and sea. It’s pure bliss, especially when shared with good company.


Magic in the Sugba Lagoon

From General Luna it’s about a 45-minute drive to the edge of the Mangrove Forests in Del Carmen. You can get on a rangers boat here that will take you through the mangroves to the magical Sugba Lagoon. A bright green lagoon that rises up among the rocks in front of you after a boat ride of about 45 minutes. They’ve built a house in the middle of the lagoon where you can spend the day enjoying stand up paddle boarding (SUP), snorkeling, swimming and relaxing while having a drink and a delicious fresh fish lunch. A day at Sugba lagoon can best be arranged through My Siargao Guide, which can be booked at Bravo resort.


Siargao is also surrounded by a reef, which creates unusual rock formations in some places. You should therefore also visit the rock pools, where the seawater has formed natural baths in the coral rock. You go on an organized trip here too, but you can also easily undertake this trip on your own.

Dancing till the sun comes up

Wherever there are surfers, there are great parties. This goes for Siargao too. There’s a party going on somewhere every night. The nice thing about Siargao is that parties only take place in one place at a time. This way, everyone meets at the same bar and you to get to know people very quickly. Mondays are in the Rumbar, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Octopus and on Fridays the Viento Fridays in Viento del Mar are an absolute highlight. The atmosphere is incredibly sociable and open. Everyone chats and dances with each other and there’s always a DJ playing well into the wee hours. Siargao isn’t your typical party island, like Boracay for example, but still every evening ends up somewhere late at night after drinking a lot of rum. Whether it’s the type of traveler, the super cheap beer and rum & cokes (1 euro), the music or simply all of these things together, whatever it is, the atmosphere on Siargao is one that stays with you. And many travelers do stay much longer than planned!


Italian coffee and barbecued chicken

Besides the nightlife, the food on Siargao is also excellent. The surf scene has brought many international influences to the island. You can eat excellent Italian food at Kermit for instance (must-eat!), but you can also enjoy an authentic Italian coffee in General Luna and sometimes even homemade pistachio ice cream! You’ll also find Spanish tapas, Fusion and even a little Moroccan restaurant. And if you appreciate Philippine cuisine you can go to Mamma’s for a super cheap meal consisting of chicken, vegetables and grilled fish.

Staying overnight on Siargao: tips for accommodations

Are you going to Siargao and looking for tips to stay overnight? Naturally, your choice of accommodation depends on your budget and wishes, that’s why we’ve listed a few accommodations in Siargao.

Low-budget accommodations on Siargao

Most of the accommodations on Siargao are mid-range, but there are a few options for the budget traveler too. You can find a few cheaper, but very basic hostels on the spot, such as the Smiling Pig hostel. But many of the surf resorts also have budget options. These get fully booked quickly though, so make sure you book early! I stayed in Viento del Mar. It’s a villa on the beach where you can also do some good kitesurfing. Viento del Mar has a few private rooms as well as a 4-person dorm with bathroom. It’s a great choice for someone on a slightly tighter budget that wants to spend the night a little more luxuriously. The surf shack at Kawili resort is another good low-budget option. Or the neighboring Bravo beach resort, which has an affordable dorm, just like Viento del Mar does. In Cloud 9, the beautiful 101 Beach resort offers simple, cheap rooms for the low-budget traveler.


Viento del Mar

Surf camps and surf resorts on Siargao

Are you traveling together and would you prefer a double room on Siargao? You can still stay at the resorts mentioned. Kermit resort is outstanding. Besides surf lessons, they also offer yoga and serve delicious Italian cuisine, as mentioned earlier. The resort is beautifully situated in General Luna’s lush jungle and has both budget and luxury bungalows available. Bravo resort is located along the kitesurfing beach and has bungalows in several different price categories and a good restaurant, just like Kermit and the neighboring Viento del Mar. Closer to cloud 9, you’ll find Buddha’s surf resort and Turtle Surf camp. In fact, all of these are good locations for those who want to enjoy surfing, yoga and a relaxed island vibe. Accommodations on Siargao quickly get fully booked during the high season; so booking ahead of time is advisable.

Staying overnight in Cebu

Are you going to be spending the night in Cebu before or after your visit to Siargao? I stayed at the Southpole hotel. You can book a great hotel room here at a very reasonable price. If you want to stay closer to the airport, then the Eloisa Royal suites are a good choice. Slightly more expensive, but it does include airport transfer and an elaborate breakfast and saves you loads of travel time. The hotel also has a swimming pool and gym. A relaxing stopover!

How to get to Siargao?

There are daily direct flights between Cebu and Siargao. You won’t find these on Skyscanner, so you need to have a look on the Cebu Pacific Air website. If you want to fly from Manila, that’s also possible. You’ll have to make a stopover in Cebu. You can also take the ferry to Siargao. To do this, you travel from Cebu to Surigao first, then take the bus to the other side of the island and cross over to Siargao. It’s quite a trip that will take at least two to three days. So flying is a better idea! And it’s not necessarily more expensive, especially if you can be flexible about days. Once you arrive on Siargao, you can travel to General Luna or Cloud 9 by minivan in half an hour.


Looking for another beach paradise? Try Bali (article in Dutch)!

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