The vast archipelago of the Philippines (7600+ islands) is a gigantic playground for those who love the outdoors and adventure sports. The options are endless. Between diving in Malapascua, hiking in Luzon, snorkel in Palawan and driving motorbikes over the rice fields in Banaue, you won’t get bored. The national payoff “It’s more fun in the Philippines” exist for a reason!
Even if some of the most famous islands are becoming a bit touristy, the archipelago hides many secret gems yet to be discovered by mass tourism. One of these is lush Siargao, a tropical paradise for surfers, kite surfers and island lovers in general.
If you’ve never heard about it, here are some reason why you should definitely add it to your bucket list.
Siargao is mostly known as the surfing capital of the Philippines. Home of some of the most powerful breaks in the country, the island hosts every year the WSL Siargao International Surfing Cup in Cloud 9. Surfers come from all over the world to enjoy this tropical paradise with warm waters, consistent breaks and epic waves.
Famous Cloud 9 might not be for everyone, but the area around General Luna is surrounded by surf breaks for any level. Stick to Giwan, Paradise and Secret Spot if you are a beginner. Head to outer reef breaks such as Salvation and Daku if you can handle overhead waves and have fun in crazy Cemetery, Stimpy’s and Rock Island if you don’t mind massive walls of water. Some of the surf breaks are tidal while others depend on the wind.
While we’re working on Rad Season’s surf guide to surfing Siargao, please refer to Magicseaweed to choose the break that works best for you. On the island, you will also find surf instructors and surf guides that can help you get your bearings in the Ocean.
Surfing is not the only water activity that you can practice in Siargao. Kitesurf is pretty big as well, even if the conditions are not consistent. The best time to kite in Siargao is during the rainy season (November to March) when typhoon swells and strong winds hit the eastern coast. Beginner kiteboarders can also have fun in smaller days on the flat water grounds of General Luna Lagoon.
Diving is also an option on the Island. Siargao’s pristine waters are filled with colourful aquatic life, underwater caves, mounds and pinnacles. You can explore the underwater rock formations and coral slopes with a couple of operators: Siargao Divers and Palaka Dive Center.
On the Island there’s a lot to do for non-surfers as well. Mapupungko Pool is a tidal pool that is shielded from the Pacific Ocean by a reef barrier. The waters are crystal clear and there’s a lot to see if you bring your snorkelling gear with you. Make sure to go there on low tide to see this natural pool at its best.
You can also go island hopping and see other small islands scattered around the main island of Siargao. Guyam Island is secluded and uninhabited, with a sandy beach on one side and a rocky beach on the other. Naked Island is completely bare, has the name suggests. Nothing more than a strip of sand in the middle of the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Daku Island is bigger and hosts a community of fishermen. Here you can have a proper lunch and also a great surf session on the outer reef if you feel like it.
On the west of Siargao, in the town of Socorro you will find Sohoton Cove National Park (aka Bucas Grande). Accessible via ferry from the Dapa port (100 pesos), Bucas Grande is a small archipelago of limestone islands, some of which are still unexplored. The virgin mangrove forests, the clear blue waters and the white sand beaches are everything that you can dream of a tropical island. Some islands house limestone caves with a resident cluster of bats. Sohoton Cove is also famous for its lagoon filled with stingless jellyfish that offer a pretty special underwater show.
Several operators work on the island proposing island hopping and the tours to Mapupungko Pool, Sugba Lagoon and Sohoton Caves. My Siargao Guide is a tour operator specialised in day trips for backpackers. Their packages include transportation, fees, island lunch buffet, snacks, drinks, snorkel gear and the use of Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boards in Sugba Lagoon.
Siargao is one of the easternmost islands of the Philippines. Located in the Province of Mindanao, you can reach it with a 45 minutes flight from Cebu City or one hour flight from Manila.
Ferries are also an option, they leave daily from Cebu and Surigao.
If you are looking for the best waves, definitely go in the rainy season (November to March). That’s when the swell is most powerful and the waves bigger. Just be aware that the tropical storms and typhoons that pass by the Island during the wet season can upset your travel plans.
Plan a couple of buffer days in Cebu City or Manila on your way back, especially if you have to connect with an international flight. Last minute flight cancellations are pretty common in Siargao, due to weather unpredictability. If you don’t come for the waves, then definitely come in the dry season (May to September) but mind that the temperatures can be pretty high in those months.
Feature image credit: Kawayan Siargao Resort
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