Did you know that the Philippines has over 7000 islands?! 😵 When we were planning our week-long trip to the Philippines, we were so overwhelmed about choosing which ones to visit. Finally, after lots of online reading and research, we decided to travel to......... CORON and SIARGAO - both of which are named in the Top 5 Island Destinations in Asia by Condé Nast Traveler! 🏝️
This article is a complete guide on traveling within Siargao. If you would like to read about our travels in Coron, click here!
Siargao, named as the 'surfing capital of the Philippines', has created quite a 'wave' in the recent years, thanks to Instagram travel influencers. 🌊 But the island is a lot more than its waves. Siargao gave us some major 'Baywatch' feels - the island is super laid-back, extremely hep, and ticks all the boxes of a beach bum:
🏖️ Spectacular beaches and mangrove forests
😎 Laid-back reggae vibes
👙 Snoozing in hammocks while getting that sexy suntan
🏄 Water sports and sea-adventures
🍸 Excellent food and drinks at beach shacks
🥂 Exciting nightlife....
So first, let's start with some Q+A...
Where is Siargao? How do I get there?
Siargao is located 800 kilometers southeast of Philippines' capital Manila. It belongs to the province of Surigao del Norte, situated at the northeastern tip of Mindanao.
TIP - Don't be confused between Surigao and Siargao! 🙊 Surigao is a city on the mainland and Siargao is the island (approximately 2-3 hours ferry ride form Surigao).
VISAS - This link to the Republic of Philippines - Department of Foreign Affairs website gives all necessary information on tourist visas to the country based on your nationality.
FLIGHTS - Siargao has a domestic airport called Sayak. Skyjet Airlines operates direct flights from Manila to Siargao, and Cebu Pacific does the same from Cebu. Once you reach, there are vans available right outside the Sayak airport to get to General Luna or Cloud 9 ( the town center). The fare costs about 300 PHP (approx 6 US$) per person.
When should I visit Siargao?
We visited Siargao in the month of November but you can do so any time of the year! The peak season is the dry season between March and October. September is also quite popular with surfers because of the annual surf competition held here.
Where do I stay in Siargao?
We highly recommend staying within General Luna, the center of Siargao town. It has all the restaurants and markets you would frequently want to visit. We were on a relatively tight budget so we stayed at 'Riad Masaya', a Moroccan-inspired hostel that offers simple, clean and affordable accommodations. It is a quiet hostel, unlike the wild party ones which we always try to avoid. The caretakers were also very helpful with recommendations and advice during our stay. 🙂
How do I get around in Siargao?
In a scooter and with Google Maps on your phone! 🛵 Seriously, this is the BEST way to explore the island considering Siargao has got excellent roads with some stunning views. You can always inquire at your hotel/hostel help desk and they will arrange a scooter for you. A word of caution though - Do NOT forget to ask for helmets and please wear them at ALL times on the road. You really want a safe holiday if not anything. 🙂
On another note, we do understand that some of you might be traveling with children. So in that case, you can join one of the many hassle-free group tour activities that organize pick-up and drop-off services at your hotel and include food and beverages in their package too!
Now...let's begin with our itinerary! 🙌🏽
1. Watch the sunset at Cloud 9
Cloud 9 is the best surf-break in the Philippines. Whether you're into surfing on not, you WILL fall in love with the stunning sunset views from the Cloud 9 sundeck. ❤️ The vibe is AMAZING! You can spot tourists having a great time sunbathing and snoozing to the sound of the waves, just super laid-back. During our trip, Arjun would drive to Cloud 9 in the wee hours of sunrise (while I would be catching on my sleep 😜) for his photography sessions. He also recommends it to be the best time for surfing.
COST: There is an entry fee of 50 PHP (approx. 1 US$) to the boardwalk.
2. Dine in one of the many resto-bars at Tourism Road
Siargao might be a small island, but we were amazed with its food scene - there's something for EVERYONE. Seafood lover or vegan, Tourism Road is the place to go! 😍 The food quality is top-notch, and so is the ambiance with all the live music and cheer. We have listed below some of our top picks :
Bravo has some of the best Spanish cuisine on the island. The Philippines is highly influenced by Spanish culture because of its colonial history, so no surprises there. Hit Bravo for some Spanish Tapas or Paella and enjoy the fantastic live band by the sea.
La Carinderia is unique for its Italian-Filipino fusion food, and before you make assumptions, the combination is actually worth a try! You cannot miss spotting this restaurant as it's right on Tourism Road. The open-to-sky ambiance with fairy lights and wooden interiors fetch it extra points.
Ono Poke Shack serves some really good Poke Bowls!
Miguel's Tacqueria is that little hole-in-the-wall taco bar where you can feast on fresh tacos or burritos with chilled beer on the side. The owner of this bar, originally from California, has found a new home in Siargao and can be seen today at his taco-bar bonding with tourists over his food.
Group-fie at Miguel's Tacqueria at General Luna
3. Learn Surf-Boarding at Jacking Horse
Siargao is a surfer's paradise! And if you are a newbie (just like us) then Jacking Horse is the place to go! 🏄 The waves are gentle, but perfect enough to give you that adrenaline rush! There's a huge queue of surfing instructors at the Cloud 9 deck all day long waiting to teach new students. Always ask for their IDs to check if they are 'certified' coaches' before you begin.
COST: An hour of surf-boarding lessons cost 500 PHP (approx. 9.8 US$) only!
4. Catch the Magpupungko Rock Pools at Low Tide
The tidal rock pools of Magpupungko (bit of a tongue twister there 🤓) is nothing less than a miracle. These are stunning emerald green pockets of water at the shore of a beach, flowing through magnificently shaped rocks. But what's extraordinary is that they are exposed only during low tide! So if you get to the spot an hour later, chances are the rocks have all been submerged! (So click here for tidal timings. We suggest reaching an hour before low tide.)
Magpupungko is in Pilar, about an hour drive from General Luna. You can visit as part of a tour in a shared van, or ride a motorcycle like we did. Either ways, the journey is fantastic! The roads are excellent, lined with unending rows of coconut palm trees and lush green fields on either sides. Simply perfect! 💙
COST: Renting a motorcycle costs 350 PHP (around 6.8 US$) per day. There is a very tiny entrance fee of 50 PHP (approx. 1 US$) to the pools.
5. Island Hopping – Naked Island, Guyam and Daku
For a beach bum, this is the ultimate experience! 💙 Book a full-day island hopping tour either from Kermit or Bravo (we recommend comparing the prices, one can be cheaper than the other). The tour hops you along Naked, Guyam, and Daku Islands - every single of them incredibly stunning! Just kick back and relax under the sun, laze on a hammock, sip on that tender coconut water, and slide into oblivion. 🏖️
6. Kickstart the Day with a Smoothie Bowl at 'SHAKA'
A stay in Siargao would not be complete without trying something at SHAKA CAFE. Just a few steps away from the famous Cloud 9 surf-break, this breakfast bar has a very beach-y, laid-back, instagram-worthy vibe. We've had some of the best smoothie power bowls and cold-pressed juices at Shaka! 😍
COST: We had ordered their signature ‘Bom Dia açaí bowl’ and ‘Cloud9 Cook’. All their smoothie bowls are priced at 250 PHP each (around 4.8 US$).
7. Take the plunge at Sugba Lagoon!
Sugba Lagoon, tucked in a little corner within the mangroves of Caob Island, has become the tourism icon of Siargao. We have never seen such stunning, dense mangroves ever before. 💚 The best thing to do in Sugba is to jump off the famous diving ledge into its emerald waters, or simply go kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding rowing aimlessly through the still waters. 🙂
Getting to Sugba is quite a journey, but totally worth it. It is a 20-minute boat ride from Del Carmen which again is about an hour drive from General Luna. You can either choose to go with a tour group or simply drive yourself as the roads are in pretty good shape.
TIP: We recommend visiting here as early as 8 in the morning to enjoy the place in its utmost serenity before it gets packed with all the tourists.
COST: There is an entrance fee of 100 PHP (approx. 2 US$)