Last Updated Jan 2020: This Siargao Travel Guide 2020 covers all the things to do in Siargao. It covers all the essentials you need to know to fully enjoy your trip!
Siargao, as a tourist destination, has rebranded itself. Some years ago, Siargao Island had this laidback and chill 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, tainted with a bit of sadness.
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!)
And yes, surfing in Siargao is one of the many things you can do on this lovely island! Here are 38 things to do in Siargao for non-surfers like me! 33rd is surfing! 😛
Often, Siargao Island is described as a tear drop-shaped island. But, meh, I don’t buy it. It is more like a rough diamond cut, which was really the case some years ago.
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 2019
Siargaonons speak the Surigaonon language, which is a language spoken in Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Sur, and some portions of Agusan del Norte especially the towns near the Mainit Lake, Agusan del Sur and Davao Oriental. Fun fact: the Philippines has more than 150 languages. The language is an offshoot of Binisaya language, so if you’re from neighboring islands, they can understand your Bisaya, but they can make fun of you without you knowing :P.
And just like the rest of the country, Siargaonons have a grasp of the English language, so communicating with them should not be a problem, however, you can learn the Surigaonon basics.
Good = MarajawTranslations are provided by Surigaonon friends Jondy Arpilleda and Ka Jose Minglana
Good morning = Marajaw na buntag
I like you = Nakahimaya ako sa imo.
Nakaangay ako sa imo. (Often used to flirt )
Where are we heading? = Haen sa kita pasingud?
Let’s go! = Mokadto na kita.
I don’t know = Wara ako kasayod.
Where are you (at or now)? = Haen kaw kuman.
Thank you very much. = Salamat karajaw!
Let’s eat! = Mangaon ta!
Come in = Dajon kamo.
The Philippines uses Philippine Peso. As of June 2019, the following is the rate. Most basic establishments prefer cash. So bring a wad (joke) with you.
1 USD = 52PHP 1 EURO = 58PHP 100KRW = 4.39
Three Banks with ATMs in Siargao Island, two in Dapa (Cantilan Bank and East West Rural Bank) and one in Del Carmen. They work with foreign ATM Credit cards (VISA or MasterCard only). Since Siargao is a small island, ATMs easily run out of cash. So it is advisable to withdraw cash in your point of departure.
You can experience Siargao for as low as Php1000 (20USD) a day or less, depending on what you want to experience and to eat. So, $100 for five days should cover the basic excluding flights.
Personally, I spent 10000K (200$) during my last visit. I love food. Period.
Just like the rest of the Philippines, it sucks. I once entertained of living in Siargao while working online. But the state of the Internet simply sucks that anyone who works online cannot have any decent productivity. But if you’re only there for some days, sure, you can stomach the state of our Internet.
Like the rest of the country, it is Type A.
While we, Filipinos, love saying it is summer all year round, the truth is it can be a floody and stormy summer at times. Sunny days can be punctuated with rain from June to November. But based on experience, any day, any month will surely offer you a nice Siargao experience. And our summer, the hottest months of the year that is, is April and May—so expect a bigger volume of Filipino travelers during this month.
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 someone (haven’t tried the service), landing was constantly bumpy. He booked his Siargao-Manila-Coron flights through Skyjet.
Check the available flights and their respective fare from
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 [Read my Cebu Travel Guide if you’re looking for some cool things to do in Cebu city before ferrying your way to Surigao.] to Surigao City and then take a fastcraft to Siargao. There are at least two ships leaving Cebu City to Surigao every night at 8PM and arriving in Surigao around 5AM. The boat ride from Surigao to Siargao takes around 3 hours.
Depending on where you wanted to stay, Siargao caters to different budget and locations. I collated some of the best and most affordable accommodations in different landmarks and preferred locations.
Boasting a private beach area, Isla Cabana Resort features an outdoor pool, a hot tub and a sun terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This 4-star resort is within 2.2 mi from Cloud 9 Surfing Area and 22 mi from Magpupungko in General Luna. Free WiFi is also available in all public areas of the resort.
Palaka Resort in General Luna has 3-star accommodations with an outdoor swimming pool and a garden. With free WiFi, this 3-star hotel offers a shared kitchen. A tour desk can provide information on the area. The rooms in the hotel are equipped with a electric tea pot. Palaka Resort has certain units that have pool views, and the rooms come with a private bathroom with a shower. Guest rooms will provide guests with a fridge.
Romantic Beach Villas
Located on the beautiful Siargao Island, Romantic Beach Villas features a large, infinity pool and a sun terrace facing the Pacific Ocean. It offers charming villas fitted with hardwood flooring and free Wi-Fi access.
Located just steps from the best beach area of the island, guests enjoy easy access to world-famous diving, fishing and surfing spots around the island. The Romantic Villas also provides scuba diving, speed boat trips, wakeboarding, surfing, kayaking amongs other activities. Massage services and island hopping trips can also be arranged.
Surfing Carabao Beach Houses
With a garden and a terrace, Surfing Carabao Beach Houses is located in General Luna and provides free WiFi. Some units include a seating area and/or a balcony. Snorkeling can be enjoyed nearby. This property also has one of the top-rated locations in General Luna! Guests are happier about it compared to other properties in the area.
Kawayan Siargao Resort
Located in General Luna, Kawayan Siargao Resort has an outdoor swimming pool, a garden and a terrace. With free WiFi, this 3-star resort offers room service. The restaurant serves Asian cuisine. You can play pool at this 3-star resort, and bike rental and car rental are available.
Kokai Resort Bar and Restaurant
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.
PERSONAL ANECDOTE: 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. 😉
Amihan Bungalows features free WiFi and views of garden in General Luna. Guests can use a garden. At the guesthouse, every room includes a balcony. Complete with a private bathroom, guest rooms at Amihan Bungalows come with air conditioning, and some rooms will provide you with a seating area. The rooms have a closet.
Located in General Luna, Dahun Villas Siargao offers free bikes. The property has airport transportation, while a bicycle rental service is also available. An Asian breakfast is served every morning at the property. We speak your language
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 group tours to Sugba Lagoon:
Smiling Pig – Php 1,500/head or Buddha’s – Php 2,000/head
Another Option: You can always check Trip Advisor for many Siargao tours. >>> CHECK HERE <<<
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.
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.
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!
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!
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
34. Be Woke at Wakeboarding
Located in General Luna, Surigao Del Norte, Siargao Wakepark provides wakeboarding in the surfing capital of the Philippines. It is the newest boardsport on the vibrant island of Siargao. Next to surfing, island hopping, kitesurfing and Stand-up-paddling, it is one of the stand out activities which can be practiced on a hidden lake in between the palmtrees.
35. Cool Down at Tayangban Cave Pools
36. Go River-cruising
37. Climb the Bent Coconut Tree
38. Chill at the “Secret Spot”
There is no such thing as ideal. The sooner you realized the better. Once you are in Siargao, your days will be fun-filled and adventurous. Yet, once you leave you realized, dang, there are many other things you want to experience. And that’s fine. I’ve been to Siargao four times, yet I feel that I haven’t done a lot in Siargao. Just cover half of the must-dos I listed above.
Depending on your spending habits, you can survive in Siargao at Php500 ($10) a day. But if you want to do the island-hopping trips, prepare Php1500 ($30) a day.
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!
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