IMAGE Bernard Supetran

The SPOT.ph Guide to Siargao Island

Must-sees and must-dos at the Surfing Capital of the Philippines.

(SPOT.ph) The charming island of Siargao in the country’s Pacific seaboard is synonymous to surfing—and for good reason. It is regarded as the country’s surfing mecca with its signature surf site Cloud 9, noted for its barreling waves. It's been welcoming surfers from all over the world since the Siargao International Surfing Cup started in September 1994.

 

But first, a geography lesson. Siargao is not a tiny speck in the ocean, but an archipelago of about 100 islands belonging to Surigao del Norte. It has nine towns spread out over 437 square kilometers, so imagine the many wonders it can contain in such a vast area. Here's your guide to the must-sees and must-dos when in that part of Mindanao.

 

WHERE TO GO

 


 

General Luna Islands

Lounge around the Naked Island sandbar which has a contour shaped by the changing tide. Guyam and Daku Islands have vegetation and are lined with coconut trees and native picnic cottages. At dusk, you can witness the sun dramatically setting behind the mountains. Ask your resort to refer island-hopping tours. You can also request kayaks and stand-up paddle boards and explore.

 


 

Del Carmen Mangrove

Del Carmen town hosts a natural wonder found only in this part of the archipelago—a 4,000-hectare mangrove forest which extends as far as your eyes can see. This expansive ecosystem maintains ecological balance by providing rich breeding grounds for aquatic life, including a rare species of saltwater crocodile. Tucked in the interior limestone cliffs is Sugba Lagoon which is ideal for kayaking, paddling, snorkeling, and platform diving. The municipal government operates boat tours from its Mangrove Propagation and Information Center at the town port. Upon returning, cool off with the great-tasting halo-halo at the nearby Krokodeilos Restaurant.

 


 

San Benito Islands

The islands off General Luna can get crowded at times, so it’s best to visit nearby towns. San Benito has lesser known, but equally idyllic islands—Caob, Pagbasayan, and Poneas, and a stunning sandbar as wide as a football field which appears at low tide. Pagbasayan, the biggest isle, has the modest Casa Desideria where you can spend the night for a back-to-nature stay.

 


 

Magpupungko Rock Formations

A rare geological attraction in Pilar town, the Magpupungko Rock Formations create a natural crystal-clear seawater pool at low tide that's ideal for rock diving and snorkeling. It is best to visit before noon, when the tidal flat appears, so you can enjoy the natural pool at sea level and walk or wade to the massive rock. You can find a stretch of beige fine sand beach and picnic cottages nearby for a simple but sumptuous lunch.

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Bucas Grande Island

After visiting all the spots on Siargao Island, hop to Bucas Grande Island in Socorro, Surigao del Norte. It can be reached by regular passenger pumpboats from Dapa Port. The island takes pride in its pockets of fine beaches, a lagoon of stingless jellyfish, a hilltop zipline, cave pools, subterranean waterways, and the mesmerizing Sohoton Cove which is framed by limestone cliffs.

 


 

Taktak Falls

Rinse the seawater from your body and take a dip in the refreshing icy waters of this scenic waterfall in Sta. Monica town. With a natural basin, it is a perfect alternative for winding down after seemingly endless beach-bumming. The town has a spic-and-span Instagrammable public plaza called Luneta Park, which features an old bronze cannon and ruins of a fortress wall that date back to the Spanish era.

 

WHAT TO DO

 


 

Surfing

Get initiated in surfing at Cloud 9, the world-famous surf spot in General Luna town which hosts international competitions. Named after the chewy chocolate candy bar on which foreign surfers subsisted when it was still mostly undiscovered, this spot lures the world’s best in the annual International Surfing Cup every September to wow the crowd as they compete for handsome cash prizes. The long Pacific coastal village also has scores of hidden surf spots which are ideal for newbies.

 


 

Skimboarding

A cousin of surfing, this sport rides the waves in a different fashion using a shorter board. The village of Pacifico in San Isidro town is noted for small waves ideal for skimboarding. It also has a long beige powdery beach dotted by quaint and cozy resorts.

 


 

Scuba Diving

Siargao’s lush marine life makes it an ideal dive spot. Plunge into depths of the Blue Cathedral, the island’s top site 100 feet below the surface. Visit Palaka Dive Center at the General Luna boulevard so they can take you to the unheralded, uncrowded but amazing underwater world.

 

WHERE TO EAT

 


 

Aventino’s Pizza, Pasta and Vino

Dapa-gen Luna Road, General Luna

Contact: 0918-338-8961

E-mail: aventinospizza@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/AventinosPizzaPasta

Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

The island’s homegrown brand has affordable but flavorful pizza and pasta. It is ideal for small groups who love Italian-style dishes.

 


 

Warung

Barangay Catangnan, General Luna

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Contact: 0921-488-6765, 0916-204-3782

Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

This restaurant stands out because of the authentic Indonesian delights it serves. Dining at Warung is like traveling to Bali with its ambience and piped-in music.

 


 

Kermit Surf Resort and Restaurant

Purok 5, 8419 General Luna

Contact: 0977-856-3321

E-mail: info@kermitsiargao.com

www.kermitsiargao.com

Open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

 

Aside from offering aqua sports, this native-themed getaway is also noted for its sought-after pizza, kinilaw, vegetarian dishes, and Filipino classics.

 


 

La Luna Bar & Restaurant

Barangay Catangnan, General Luna

Contact: 0910-752-1262

Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

A fusion restaurant with a wide range of dishes: pancakes, pork chops, tortang talong, fresh snapper with vegetables, veggie burgers, and dessert crepes.

 


 

Mama’s Grill

Barangay Catangnan, General Luna

Open daily from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

 

Mama’s Grill is the quintessential carinderiajazzed up a little. It is almost always packed with Pinoy and foreign tourists thanks to their selection of barbecue fare—pork, chicken, tuna, squid, shrimp—which is characteristic of traditional island cuisine. The fun part is you can eat with bare hands and get generous servings of rice.

 

WHERE TO STAY

 


 

Siargao Bleu Resort & Spa

General Luna

Contact: 0917-772-4188, 0948-869-0977

E-mail: info@siargaobleu.com.ph

www.siargaobleu.com.ph

Rates start at P6,500++

 

Siargao Bleu Resort and Spa, a triple-A accommodation with an Asian motif, was where Miss Universe 2016 contestants stayed during their pre-pageant tour. It features floating cottages, garden rooms, a 1,000-square meter swimming pool, a fitness gym, tropical-themed spa, a seafood dining outlet, a bar, and a number of recreational activities to keep checked-in guests occupied. Try “glamping” or the butler-assisted glamor camping where you can rough it out but still have the comforts of a mattress and a clean bathroom.

 


 

Ronaldo’s Inn

Poblacion 3, General Luna

Contact: 0946-182-8877, 0998-853-0968

E-mail: sarmientoenrico@ymail.com

www.facebook.com/ronaldos2008

Rates start at P900++

 

Ronaldo’s Inn is a notch higher than the typical backpacker’s haunt. It has spacious and clean rooms and a grill restaurant for reasonably priced meals. It’s a popular spot even among guests from other resorts for their no-frills but tasty seafood lunch and dinner options.

 


 

Bakhaw Bed and Breakfast

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Siargao Airport, Barangay Sayak, Del Carmen

Contact: 889-7140

www.facebook.com/Bakhaw-Bed-Breakfast-Siargao-452007218285472

Rates start at P1,600++

 

This bed and breakfast is a luxurious mansion-turned-pension house just across the airport in Del Carmen. Aside from being an ideal base for exploring the northern towns of the island, it is a convenient place to spend your last night so you won’t have to wake up early and do the 45-minute road trip from General Luna to the airport.

 


 

Jafe Surf and Sail Camp

Pacifico Beach, San Isidro

Contact: 0919-991-2685, 0917-321-5622

E-mail: info@jaferesortsiargao.com

www.jaferesortsiargao.com

Rates start at P300/head

 

This cozy resort in San Isidro is like a museum and art gallery because of its assortment of curious items and what-have-yous sourced from all over the world. Run by an amiable couple, it is the proverbial home away from home for both local and foreign budget travelers who want a unique place to stay.

 


 

Club Tara Resort

Bucas Grande Island, Socorro

Contact: 0917-522-5500

E-mail: clubtara_rsvn@hotmail.com

www.clubtara-surigao.com

Rates start at P4,800++

 

Club Tara is a Balinese-themed resort in a secluded cove in Bucas Grande Island. It has a private lagoon for snorkeling, kayaking, and SUP paddling. The floating cottages have spacious rooms, hot tubs, and a veranda overlooking the lagoon.

 


 

Bayud Boutique Resort

Dapa-Union Road, General Luna

E-mail: bayudboutiqueresort@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/bayudboutiqueresort

Rates start at P1,900/head

 

Bayud's beachfront location is so enticing, you may never want to leave. The swimming pool, mural-filled walls, and spacious villas are hard to resist. Bayud means "wave" in Surigaonon and, for sure, you'll always wake up to the sound of distant waves when you check in at this resort.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

You can get to Siargao from Manila via daily flights from SkyJet Airlines, or from Cebu via Cebu Pacific Air. You can also take a three-hour boat trip from the ports of Dapa or Del Carmen from Surigao City which has daily trips at 5 a.m. and 11 a.m.

 

HOW TO GET AROUND

Since public transport around the island isn't very reliable, consult your resort for car or van rentals. A cheaper alternative is the single motorcycle or habal-habal, which can be rented on a daily rate.

 

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