Known as “The Surfing Capital of the Philippines”, Siargao Island is one of the most laid-back islands in the country. This tear-drop shaped island, located in the province of Surigao del Norte, is famous among surfers from all over the world. You don’t need to be a surfer to experience a fantastic holiday in Siargao because it offers plenty of jaw-dropping white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and natural attractions. While it’s almost impossible to experience everything, even if your trip lasts more than a week, this itinerary is designed to allow you to visit Siargao’s most famous attractions. Read on for suggestions on how to make the most of your time in Siargao.
Things to know before travelling to Siargao:
Language – The national language was labeled Filipino to acknowledge and embrace the existence of many English and Spanish-derived words. In Siargao, the locals speak Surigaonon which is a dialect of the Visayan language (like Cebuano and Boholano). English is emerging, so you can get by without learning the language. However, speaking at least some Surigaonon/Filipino or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by locals.
Currency exchange – The official currency of the Philippines is the Peso (₱). Exchanging money in the Philippines is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Asia. Before your trip to Siargao, make sure to bring enough cash because there are no ATMs on the island. Ask your hotel if they accept credit/debit cards and how much is the transaction fee.
Social norms and etiquette – Filipinos are extremely tolerant people, and are generally happy, generous and gregarious. Being a Spanish Colony for over three hundred years and being under the United States for 50 years, foreign values have been adapted by Filipinos in their own peculiar fashion. For a foreign traveler, it is important to know that Filipinos, like most Asians, stress public harmony and overt conviviality. Any indication of conflict is readily buried and confrontation is frowned upon.
Getting to Siargao
From Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, book a flight on Skyjet Airlines Siargao’s Sayak Airport (IAO) – the service just began in February 2017. Expect to pay about 140 USD per round-trip ticket.
From Mactan–Cebu International Airport (CEB). Then, take a direct flight with Cebu Pacific Air to Siargao’s Sayak Airport (IAO). It is best to schedule an early morning flight to Cebu so you can take a flight to Siargao departing at 12:45 in the afternoon. There are only two flights every day so if you miss them, you can stay overnight in Cebu. Expect to pay about 55 USD per round-trip.
Accommodation – Siargao Island has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget. Budget surf hotels, bed and breakfasts, youth hostels and guesthouses, luxurious beach front resorts and villas are aplenty in the island. Some resorts offer a “learn to surf” package (like Kermits Siargao’s Sleep, Eat and Surf package) which include a 7-night accommodation, daily surf lesson with the best surf instructor, daily transfers, surf equipment, island hopping tours and big breakfast every morning.
Where to stay on Siargao Island:
Reef Beach Resort (Tourism Rd, General Luna, Mindanao 8419, Philippines)
DEDON Island Resort (Malinao | General Luna, Mindanao 8419, Philippines)
Siargao Bleu Resort and Spa (Barangay Catangnan, General Luna, Mindanao 8419, Philippines)
Siargao Paraiso Resort (No 88 Santa Fe Boulevarde, General Luna, Mindanao 8149, Philippines)
Sunset Bay Villas (Kapu Tiki Tourism Road, General Luna, Mindanao 8419, Philippines)
Getting around – General Luna, the town near the popular Cloud 9 surfing area, is quite compact so visitors can easily explore on foot, habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) and tricycle. If you want the most flexibility, rent a motorbike for about 350 pesos (7 USD) per day and explore the island yourself.
Detailed Itinerary: Sleep, eat and surf – one week on Siargao Island, Philippines
Day 1: Arrival
Assuming you arrive in Siargao Island early in the afternoon, you will probably be able to check into your preferred accommodation at around 3 PM. Allow yourself to rest then arrange your island hopping tour for tomorrow. Later this afternoon, make your way to the boardwalk at Cloud 9 and be amazed with the well-known surfing waves of Siargao. For dinner, try Kermit Siargao (located at: Purok 5, General Luna), one of the most popular places to eat in the island. Then, head back to your chosen accommodation and sleep early for your tour the next day.
Day 2: Three Islands off the coast of Siargao
On the morning of Day 2, get set to experience the glories of Naked Island, Daku Island and Guyam Island, the three spectacular islands just off the shore of Siargao. If you are a surfer, do not forget to bring your surf board so you can catch some waves during the tour. Island hopping tours in Siargao costs 1,500 pesos (30 USD), which you can split if you are traveling as a group. The tour departs early in the morning, normally at 7 AM. Tours arranged with locals do not include lunch, so you can ask your guide to take you to the market to buy supplies. After a whole day of island hopping adventure, go to Bravo Restaurant (Tourism Rd | Barangay 5) for a relaxing dinner.
Day 3: Magpupungko Tidal Pools
For one of the most memorable sunrises you’ll ever see, take a motorcycle and take a walk at the boardwalk in the early morning. For breakfast, try Cafe Loka (located on Tourism Rd, as most of the tourist points of interest) and enjoy their best tasting coffee. Then, make your way to Magpupungko Tidal Pools situated in Pilar, Siargao about an hour away from General Luna. Magpupungko Tidal pools are natural pool separated from the ocean by a large number of coral reefs. No one will be able to resist its incredibly clear waters! After lunch in Magpupungko Beach, head back to Cloud 9 for your basic surfing lesson.
Day 4: Sohoton Cove National Park
On day 4, embark on one of the most exciting day trips by heading to Sohoton Cove National Park on Bucas Grande Island, where you will encounter thousands of non-stinging jellyfish. Swim and feel the delicate bodies of the jellyfish swimming against your skin. To get to Bucas Grande, take a 2-hour boat ride from General Luna. Locals charge about 3,000 pesos (60 USD) for the tour so you might want to travel with a group to keep costs down. For dinner, head to Mama’s Grill, one of the most popular grill restaurants in the island. You can order a big grilled fish with rice for only 150 pesos (3 USD)
Day 5: Sugba Lagoon
On your 5th day in Siargao, experience snorkelling and paddling in Sugba Lagoon. Located in one of the biggest mangrove forests in the Philippines, Sugba Lagoon is famous for its biodiversity and beauty. There is a two story nipa building inside the lagoon which can be used by tourists for cooking. This tour can be arranged with surf resorts in General Luna. Buddha’s Surf Resort offers the tour for only 2,000 pesos (40 USD) per head (minimum of 4 people) inclusive of air conditioned van return transfer, local guide, boat, lagoon entrance fee, lunch and stand up paddle board rental.
Day 6: Alegria Beach
On day 6, enjoy breakfast at Shaka Siargao located in Cloud 9. They are famous for vegetarian breakfast bowls and specialty coffee. After breakfast, rent a motorbike and discover the lesser known beaches on Siargao Island. Alegria Beach in Santa Monica, located at the North East side of Siargao, is a remote beach with no infrastructure in place for commercialized tourism. You won’t find any restaurants or bars either so you have to pack food and drinks. But because it is secluded and not many tourists know about this beach, it is almost guaranteed that you can enjoy the place all to yourself! Be amazed with its stunning white beach and clear aquamarine waters with pristine corals. Head back to General Luna in the afternoon if you would like to surf in Cloud 9.
Day 7: Departure
Savor your last morning in paradise with a relaxed breakfast in your room or at a nearby restaurant. You can also spend a few hours in the beach before you prepare for your departure. Head to the airport in time to check in for your flight back to Cebu or Manila.
This is the end of our 1-week suggested itinerary. The sequence of activities and attractions above are just a guide and you can definitely change it to suit your interests. You may opt to continue traveling independently, or extend your stay in Siargao. The decision is all yours!
Have you been to Siargao Island or anywhere else in the Philippines? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.