EDIT (April 2017): Here is your most updated Siargao travel guide!
I came back to Siargao last February 2017 (my fourth visit), this time around with Tobias (in case you’re new here, Tobias is my beloved giant 😀 ). We did a lot of new things on the island. And Siargao, as a tourist destination, has rebranded itself. Six years ago, Siargao Island had this laidback and backpacker feel. Most of its shores were covered with towering coconut trees. Now, fancy hotels eat up a good amount of space. Restaurants, from gourmet French to Mexican, are everywhere too!
I got fascinated with the changes.
One night, we had a dinner schedule with a fellow traveler, and I told her to meet us at this particular restaurant because their food is cheap. To my surprise, they did not only overhaul its feel and ambience (they removed eggplant-corned beef torta from their menu! I was soooo looking forward to having it!), but also its target market. (And the food sucks for its price! Big time!)
But anyway, you’re not here for my notes for a lengthy travel narrative. And if not for the traffic, I won’t spend ten effing hours writing this!
And yes, surfing in Siargao is one of the many things you can do on this lovely island! Here are 33 things to do in Siargao! 33rd is surfing! 😛
FUN FACT: Siargao is part of Mindanao–the place your country of origin warned you about. 😛 So many miseducation on geography going on in mainstream media. If you want to know more about the archipelagic Philippines (issues on terrorism and our mad president) feel free to read my Philippines Travel Guide 2017
BUT BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE, LET’S START WITH THE FLIGHTS TO SIARGAO:
Cebu-Siargao Direct Flights: Cebu Pacific Airlines is the only courier that flies every day to Siargao. Be warned though, CebuPac is notorious for its flight delays and cancellations.
Manila-Siargao Direct Flights: Yes, there are now direct flights from Manila to Siargao. Skyjet launched this service last February! According to Tobias (haven’t tried the service), landing was constantly bumpy. He booked his Siargao-Manila-Coron flights through Skyjet.
When you don’t book flights in advance like I do, chances are, the flights skyrocket (around Php4000-Php6000 one way) on the day you are flying to Siargao. The cheapest option is to take the overnight ferry from Cebu City to Surigao City and then take a fastcraft to Siargao. There are at least two ships leaving Cebu City to Surigao every night at 7PM and arriving in Surigao around 5AM. The boat ride from Surigao to Sirgao takes around 3 hours. Here is the complete Surigao-Siargao boat schedule and vice versa.
Now, I subsectioned this Siargao Travel Guide 2017 into six compartments: Island Hopping in Siargao, Where to eat in Siargao, Siargao Island Road Trip, Nightlife in Sirgao, Falls and Beaches in Siargao, Things to Do in Siargao, and Where to Stay in Siargao as a filler. Just Control+F (or Command+F), if you are looking for a specific subsection. The article is around 3500+ word, yeah! Buy me coffee! Head over to the Donate button. 😀
ISLAND HOPPING IN SIARGAO
1. Escape to Sugba Lagoon
Think of the calm waters in Coron. Sugba Lagoon reminds me of Coron’s turquoise calm sea. Lovely place to SUP!
Sugba Lagoon Travel Guide:
Hotels can always organize it, but if you want it cheaper, you can always go to Del Carmen’s marine protection office (about an hour away from Cloud 9 area) and share a boat with other visitors. Boat costs Php1600 and it is good for up to six people. Entrance fee is Php100/head.
Pack lunch with you. There is a wet market near the office. So we bought a big fish and have it grilled and paid about Php150.00 for it. We also bought some cooked vegetables and rice from the nearby carenderia (a family-owned food stall.) In the lagoon, SUP boards’ rent starts at Php200 for an hour, and Php500 for the entire day.
The boat ride from del Carmen to Sugba Lagoon takes about 40-50 minutes depending on the waves condition.
ALTERNATIVE BOAT TOURS TO SUGBA LAGOON:
Smiling Pig – Php 1,500/head or Buddha’s – Php 2,000/head
2. Laze Away in Kawhagan Island
After some huge lunch, SUP adventures, and making splashes after splashes in Sugba Lagoon, the boatmen suggested that we should go to Kawhagan Island, of course for an additional charge of Php400. So Alex (a Filipino nurse working and living in New York), Tobias, and I said yes.
It was a beautiful island, and we tasted some of the best coconuts fresh from the tree! No kidding!
3. Hop Guyam, Naked, and Daku Islands
Notes from my first trip: Together with two Fil-Am brothers I met at the resort where I stayed, we decided to hop the
islets fronting General Luna. Our country is graced or cursed—depending on whom you ask—with too many islands. Naked, Guyam, Daku are just three of the many similar-looking islands in the country. They are beautiful, touristy. So despite their expected postcard perfect atmosphere, why do we still visit them? Perhaps because we hope to find something different or see an epiphany of sorts. We visit these similar-looking islands because, really, no experience is ever the same.
During our recent trip: Nope, we did not do this.
Island Hopping Rates in Siargao:
For an island hopping (Daku, Naked, and Guyam), boat tour costs Php1300.00 for two people. It costs Php1500.00 for up to six people. Lunch is not included, and the jump-off point is in GL. If you want it easy, you can always head to Kermit Resort, they organize island hopping trips for Php750 (USD17)/head or with Smiling Pig for Php650/head. Inclusive of lunch.
4. Go for Bucas Grande and the Sohoton Caves Boat Trip
This remains unticked off in my bucketlist! You should include this on your trip. From my friends’ recounting, it is one of most beautiful travel experiences they ever had. Tojoman Lagoon is where you can see the stingless jellyfish. Swimming with these fragile creatures are not permitted anymore. Hagukan Cave is where you can experience swimming with bioluminescent planktons! And practice your cliffjumping skills in Magkukuob Cave.
Bucas Grande and Sohoton Caves Island Hopping Rate:
This is the reason I did not make it to this place! During my past three trips, I traveled solo, and I could not find anyone to travel with. The boat tour to Bucas Grande and Sohoton Caves costs Php5000.00, but it is good for 8 people.
WHERE TO STAY IN SIARGAO?
During our recent trip, we stayed in Kokai Resort Bar and Restaurant. The beachfront property is fully booked, so we stayed in their new extension located in a local community, which I actually liked. I could snoop into my neighbor’s affair. The place is spacious, has its own equipped kitchen, and huge fridge. The bathroom has a cold-and-hot shower. The place is enlisted on AirBnB for Php1770/night. The room has a double and a single bed. If you want some quiet times outside the tourist belt, try staying here at Siargao Island Bungalow Cee2.
We had one funny incident here. The stove needs an igniter, so I told Tobias to borrow a lighter or matches from the neighbor. And the neighbour said no and asked what would we do with a lighter? She must have thought, we were druggies?! Haha! But we got everything cleared up, and she lent us a lighter!
And during rainy days, expect the motorbike rides to your bungalow to be more adventurous. 😉
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/Kokairesortsiargao/
Phone number: +63 908 704 6861
WHERE TO STAY IN SIARGAO ISLAND, PHILIPPINES
All right, these are affiliate links to Booking.com. If you book through these links, Booking.com will give me a commission. Say, a $1 or so per booking. Nope, you don’t have to pay extra if you book your hotel through here. Booking.com splits its commission with us. That’s all. The same goes with AirBnb.
SIARGAO ISLAND ROAD TRIP
5. Motorbike the whole island
I’ve been wanting to do this since my first trip to Siargao, but going solo can be a pain in the ass financially, especially if you don’t know how to drive a motorbike. But this time around, I traveled with my personal driver, aka boyfriend, so it was much easier and cheaper to go around the island.
How much does a bike rental costs in Siargao? And where can I rent?
Motorbike rental in Siargao costs Php350/a day. You can see signs everywhere. The common motorbikes are Honda XRM 125cc.
#6 to #11 are the typical road trip destinations in Siargao. You’re not bored reading my Siargao Travel Guide yet?
6. Marvel the Magpupungko Rock Pool
During my past three trips to Siargao, I never made it to Magpupungko Rock Pool! I know! Some five years ago, the entrance fee was Php10.00, now it has ballooned to Php50.00/person. Parking fee for motorbike starts at Php20.00
But still this place is marvelous. It is best enjoyed during low tide. The water in the pool is so flat and calm, a stark contrast of the Pacific exploding nearby. If you got some snorkeling sets, bring them! This place has some vibrant fishes! And don’t forget to jump off from the rock!
FALLS AND BEACHES IN SIARGAO
7. Enjoy a wide stretch of white sand at Alegria Beach
Some notes from my first visit: Siargao’s other side never seems to run out of beaches. Whereas Cloud 9 can be considered the place for tourists, the other side—Alegria Beach—remains unspoiled and has preserved its local flavor. This part of the municipality of Santa Monica is a wide stretch of immaculate sand.
“There were no foreigners in sight, which I took as a good sign that tourists have not flocked here yet. There were only kids playing on the rocky part of the beach. When I walked towards them, my feet sank into the plush sand.
Nothing much has changed here! So if you are for some quiet moments, this is the place!
8. Check out Burgos Beach
Some notes from my first trip: “It has not recovered from the typhoon yet,” informed the driver, who has not recovered from last night’s partying either. He complained about sleeplessness and headache while driving us around. I caught him half-asleep driving, but oddly I found it more amusing than alarming.
Siargao, just like the rest of Surigao, directly faces the Pacific—where most destructive typhoons originate from. The beach itself was in utter disorder. Debris was everywhere and the sand was muddy. It did not bother the kids who found delight in simple fun on the beach: playing with mud, catching small fish, or simply laughing the whole afternoon away.
During the most recent trip: the beach was not as unkempt as it used to be. Indeed some debris scattered here and there. It seems like this beach is a favorite hangout for local kids.
9. Pacifico Beach is another great spot for swimming
Some notes from my first trip: Our driver left us to our own devices when we reached the third beach. He made a good bed out of the sand and snored his hangover away. While the couple took turns taking pictures on my left, I walked around the right bend.
At 4 p.m., the beach looked calm.
I’ve had enough of beaches for the day. I found a good shady spot near the driver, got a book from my tote, and immersed myself into a different world with the driver’s snores and shy hissing of the waves became my afternoon lullabies.
During our recent trip: we just ate mangoes, took some cheesy couple photos, and that’s it. And yes, the beach was empty.
10. Cool off at Taktak Falls
Some notes from my first trip: When the locals had enough of saltwater, I assumed, they headed to Taktak for a dip in its freshness. The fall is an antithesis to the thunderous Cloud 9 waves. Whereas I find the sounds of the waves threatening, the sounds of the water falling are soothing. Always.
During our recent trip: I did not take a dip, Tobias did. And crazy as he was, he climbed the rocks where the water drops!
Exploring beautiful Siargao. #philippines #instatravel #travelgram #travel #watchthisinstagood #lifeofadventure #travelphotography #traveltheworld #vacation #photooftheday #instago #passportready #wanderlust #ilovetravel #instatravelling #instavacation #postcardsfromtheworld #travelstroke #travelling #traveltheworld #igtravel #travelpics #wanderer #wanderlust #travelphoto #arountheworld #ig_worldclub #worldplaces #waterfall #superphoto_longexpo
11. Walk around General Luna (GL)
Notes from my first trip: Boulevards are great places to take a walk but General Luna’s take it a notch higher—it is an awesome place to take a dip. It is a stretch of creamy sandy shore, a beautiful beach with resorts out of sight.
Right in front of the boardwalk is Guyam, one of the islets in front of General Luna.
On the left of the boulevard is a short wooden bridge connecting to a village where kids found the camera as fascinating as it was intimidating.
SIARGAO TRAVEL GUIDE: OTHER THINGS TO DO IN SIARGAO
12. Stand-up paddle
Stand-up paddling is not as hard as surfing. It is a comfortable introduction to water sports. You can have it done in Jacking Horse, where surfing lessons take place, just right beside the famous Cloud 9 boardwalk. Or you can do it in Sugba Lagoon!
13. Climb a random hill
I did not do this, but Tobias did. I had to go back to Cebu to attend some errands, and he stayed in Siargao. Heclimbed a hill in del Carmen to have a different landscape for his sunset long exposures.
Beautiful view over Siargaos Mangroves. And another sunset. 🙂 #philippines #instatravel #travelgram #travel #watchthisinstagood #lifeofadventure #travelphotography #traveltheworld #vacation #photooftheday #instago #passportready #wanderlust #ilovetravel #instatravelling #instavacation #postcardsfromtheworld #travelstroke #travelling #traveltheworld #igtravel #travelpics #wanderer #wanderlust #travelphoto #arountheworld #ig_worldclub #worldplaces #beach #sunrise_sunsets_aroundtheworld
14. Eat coconut fresh from the tree
It will be odd to be surrounded by countless coconut trees and not be able to drink fresh coconut juice and fresh coconut meat! Resorts usually have it at Php50.00. Too expensive, if you ask the Filipino me.
15. Pitch a tent somewhere and stargaze!
I haven’t done this! But I would definitely want to do this someday. Siargao still has a lot of quiet places, and if you’re traveling with friends, why not do something adventurous and daring? Be mindful of your noise at night though. You might be Mama Nature’s visitor, but you don’t own her. 😛
16. Enjoy the sunset and the after-sunset
Well, if you are a sunset romantic like Tobias, you would not miss any sunsets. The best place in Siargao to experience the sunset and the after-sunset (blue hour) is the Jacking Horse area, where Ocean 101 is located. If it is low tide, Cloud 9’s boardwalk creates a beautiful silhouette too. Ready your zoom lens!
17. Photograph your beautiful moments
I am rather lazy in uploading all our travel photos, but believe me when I say, I take around 400-500 photos a day when we are out! I know, crazy! We are Lumix GX7 users, and the lightness of our cameras makes it easier and convenient to take photos whenever and wherever we are. Yep, all photos uploaded on this travel guide are all taken by Panasonic Lumix GX7.
18. Lounge by the beach
Because you should. So many beaches around Siargao, and it is a waste if you don’t lounge on one. If you need a beautiful mandala for a photographable moment on the beach, you can always get it on Yanni’s Quaint Accents—an online shop I seeded for my senior high sister. Yep, it is her allowance! And don’t forget to bring a good book with you!
19. Wade through the low tide at Cloud 9
Notes from my first trip: It was the waves sounding like a tsunami that never arrives that I found ominous. But I could not leave Siargao without conquering my fear of those waves sweeping the whole island away.
Surfers wait for the waves during the swelling of the sea. Once the sea recedes, the crowd empties out Cloud 9, making the waves more resounding to the ear. So I walked around with the Pacific greedily lapping the shore a few feet away from me.
My feet brought me to a glass house with a person sleeping inside, to a family of five, to a family hounding the shore for dinner, to a rocky shore beyond the cliff. I walked the entire afternoon before the sea swelled again. And when I got back at the boardwalk, the waves were not as imposing as I thought.
20. Witness a cockfight
Errr, one of the first things I’ve experienced in Siargao, Sorsogon, and Malapascua. I don’t know why. The locals may have this impression that I am a seasoned gambler that they often tagged me along. I find this whole cockfighting thing brutal, but it is the culture we “inherited” from our 3oo+ Spanish colonization. It is the Sunday mass for many local men. It is worth checking out. You can bet if you know how, (I don’t). And if you are a softie like me, get ready to cringe and ready yourself for a heartbreak.
21. Bicycle a portion of the island
If you don’t know how to drive a motorbike like I do ☹, cycling a portion of the island is a welcome respite. The road is now well-maintained unlike five years ago. The road is very scenic, and since cycling is slower, you can experience a side of the island that only reveals itself to those who take their time.
WHERE TO STAY IN SIARGAO
ARKA HAYAHAY. After our two-night stay in Kokai Resort Bar and Restaurant, we transfered to Arka Hayahay. This beachfront resort is an architectural delight. Its front take the shape of a bowsprit and stem (I really googled the ship’s anatomy!). It is a lovely place, and I appreciate it a lot that all rooms come with a sturdy laundry rack (most resorts forget this very important amenity). Rates start at Php2000.00 a night.
For inquiries and bookings, contact email@example.com or thru SMS (+63 922 896 6365
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ArkaHayahay/
22. Talk with the locals
Constant walking and talking with the locals during my first visit afforded me a glimpse of the Siargao that only those who’ve been there will be familiar with. If you are surfer, there are many surfing spots that you cannot find online. Connect with local surfers (they are some of the best), and you will surely know a side of Siargao that others don’t.
NIGHTLIFE IN SIARGAO
23. Ask about the “benefit dance”
Notes from my first trip: At night, young, sexy workers from different resorts gathered and went to a communal dance they call benefit. It actually befuddled me at first since back at home, we simply called it disco or bayle in the countryside.
Benefit dance, I would say, is the only communal entertainment in Siargao aside from the predominantly male cockfighting sessions. When I say communal, that does not exclude foreign tourists. It was very entertaining to see foreigners drinking mestiza (a rum and soft drink concoction) and dancing in the middle of a well-lit basketball court with the locals.
During a benefit dance, a person can sponsor a dance for Php20 or Php50 and the whole community can dance to it.
Seeing a multicultural disco on an island, which has a small airport with a carabao grazing nearby was beyond my imagination.
24. Ask for the party schedule
Well, some years ago, the only nightlife in Siargao was some drinks in a limited number of bars and the benefit dance. It has changed! According to Sandy, the owner of Kokai Resort Bar and Restaurant., there are now parties everywhere. There is the reggae night, the dance night, whatever night (not a party animal 😛 ) If you don’t want to miss the parties, ask your hotel staff or some locals, I’m pretty sure they know the schedule.
SIARGAO TRAVEL GUIDE: WHERE TO EAT IN SIARGAO?
25. Try Kermit’s Pizza
I haven’t tried Kermit’s pizza, but I’ve heard a lot of good words about it. So give it a try whenever you’re on the island. A fellow traveller said, that you might need to call in advance to have your seat reserved in the restaurant. Yeah, they’re that popular.
26. Try Kokai Resort Bar and Restaurant’s Mexican Restaurant
This, we have tried. And, we enjoyed it a lot! Price range from 100-250 a meal! I forgot the names of the food we ordered.
27. Have a meal at Ate Laida’s
Ate Laida’s place, located in the main road before you turn right to Cloud 9’s boardwalk, is one of the oldest establishments on the island. Five years ago, during my first trip to Siargao, their house looked like it was about to fall down. They served the cheapest meals around Cloud 9 area, and they still do. The rundown house is now concrete, and they now have rooms for rent. The family also rents out surfing boards.
28. Dine at Mama’s Grill
The most popular barbecue place for dinner on the island. The place is mostly packed. For a meal for two, we paid around Php200-Php300. Ate Laida’s is still \ cheaper and more delicious by a long shot.
29. Have coffee at Café Loca
Café Loca is the only café you can find right next to Jacking Horse. I’m not sold out with their shakes—bland and watery. But their coffee and pastries are good. This place tends to be crowded on the afternoon.
30. Have a tasty and healthy breakfast at Shaka
Haven’t tried this place, but it is quite popular among travelers. So must be good. Give it a try, and let me know.
31. Try a fusion of Italian and carenderia at La Carenderia
We had dinner here, and there is nothing carenderia about the price at all. The food tasted okay, but their rice portion is unbelievably small! This is a popular dinner place among foreign travelers.
32. Experience Kawayan Gourmand Patisserie
Yep, it is as gourmet as it gets. A lot of French bread and pastries I could not pronounce. Hehe. We enjoyed our croissant, coffee (me Americano, Tobias cappuccino). The place is not cheap. But it is worth it!
33. Try Surfing
Ha! I almost forgot it! In front of the boardwalk are intimidating waves—the rightful place for those who are comfortable riding those Pacific giants. But I badly wanted to try it. I desired the feeling of riding the waves. Luckily, Siargao is not only for the serious surfer but for the hopefuls as well. On the left of the boardwalk (Jacking Horse) are smaller waves fit for a newbie. A surfing tutorial costs an arm and a leg to a cheapskate. If you want to try surfing after the tutorial, it is better not to get the Php500 package (long board+tutorial fee). Rent a separate surf (for Php200-300), good for the entire day. Tutorial fee is Php300/hour.
“You must read the waves for you to ride them,” the tutor said. But the waves all looked the same to me. Perhaps it takes years to master an eye for good waves.
Got questions that I did not cover. Surf Siargao answered all the possible questions foreign travelers may ask, say, can an old and fat foreigner find a girl on the island? That, and more frequently asked questions on Siargao. If you find this Siargao travel guide useful, do let me know!