This in popularity increasing Philippine island Siargao (shar-gow) is most famous for the surf and palm trees. These two really appeal to me, so perfect to visit this place for six nights. I booked this lovely and hippy style island in the beginning of my trip in January. Why? Because in Siargao it is rainy season in January and February and I didn’t want to end my holiday in the rain. But the rain should not hold you off to visit this popular and divers island. I liked the vibe in General Luna and Cloud Nine area the best of all the places I have visited in the Philippines; and not only because of the surf. I slept in the most incredible accommodations and you can choose of many of the good restaurants here. A lot of Western influences with the Asian touch makes it all a real appealing place. See below more tips and inspirations on things to do here at Siargao!!
Transport to and from Siargao
Siargao has a direct flight connection with Manila and Cebu (second biggest city in the Philippines). I flew with Cebu Pacific, but I saw planes of Philippines Airlines as well. The flight time from Manila to Siargao is 2,5 hours and all went perfectly on time (like all my flights) and the price is ±4000PP/80 USD. My next destination after Siargao was Bohol, with a flight to Cebu. The flight time to Cebu is only 1 hour and ±1500PP/30 USD.
Tip: Book in time and a flexible plane ticket so you are able to change due to unforeseen circumstances.
At Siargao airport, tourist vans are waiting to bring you to your accommodation in the touristic area: probably between General Luna and Cloud Nine in 30-45 min for 300PP. They drop off multiple tourists at different accommodations, a nice and cheap way to see the town already upon arrival. Drop off to the airport you can book via your accommodation for the same 300PP.
On the island you can rent a motorbike for 400PP per day including helmet (fuel is 60PP per liter). On Siargao you really need a motorbike to explore the island, see below. In the first days I walked a lot and took the tricycle between the hot spots in General Luna and my accommodation behind Cloud Nine (±50-100PP) per ride. Very easy!!
What to Do on Siargao?
Siargao is famous for the world class wave called Cloud Nine. This attracts the international surf crowd, like me, to this upcoming surf destination. That is why Siargao is called the new Bali! All year good surf conditions, chill vibe, good food, friendly people, uncountable palm trees, beautiful landscapes, perfect beaches and cheap living; what do you need more!! Check below the 5 tips and inspirations on how you can spent your days in Siargao:
1. Go Surfing!!
As said before, Siargao is known for the consist surf all year round, from August to November are considered the best months due to typhoon winds. The surf break Cloud Nine is world class and many contest are held here. Not for me, too ambitious, but there are many spots around the island where you can surf as a beginner or a pro. With the help of the locals you will find your spot. My accommodation and surf camp Mao Mao Surf, hooked me up with a surf tour (1300PP) to Santa Fe.
All morning surf including surf guide, motorbike transport, board rental and a professional surf photographer went with us. On my own I would never have found this spot, you definitely need the local help here and the Filipinos are very helpful. Other spots good for beginners are Jacking Horse and for the more intermediate surfer the break behind which is called Quiksilver.
During my motorbike trip I ended up at Secret Spot, that was not so Secret (close to Dapa) but good for surfing when there is too much wind at Jacking Horse. You can rent surf boards (200PP per hour, but negotiate when renting longer) everywhere except Santa Fe. On another motor trip I went to the surf spot Pacifico, but this is a real advanced surf break and far from the center of Siargao.
Tip: You can kite surfing here as well; the wind is really strong now and then, at Bravo you can rent your kite gear and they offer surf camps as well.
2. Explore the Island by Motorbike
The best way to discover the island is per motorbike. The rental is so easy, at my accommodation I rented one for 400PP per day including helmet. Finding the way in Siargao is easy, there are not too many roads and with the help of some printed paper maps and/or Map.me it was easy to get around. All the highlights of Siargao are on one road, just follow the crowd and road or ask the locals!
First highlight is the viewpoint over the Coconut Palm Valley; which is spectacular. I love palm trees and here are uncountable! As far as you can look you see palm trees. Next is driving through the coconut valley to the Maasin River. Here you can climb up to a coconut tree and swing into the water. The photos are prettier that in real life I must admit with a lot of tourists, but it was a good stop drink a coconut and stretch the legs.
Next point of interest is the Tayangban Cave Pool. I didn’t stop here my next stop was the Magpupungko beach. I was not lucky, the beach with natural rock formations and high tide pools was closed! Hmm already drove for some hours and km and was getting hungry. I was recommended to have lunch at the Pacifico Beach Resort. And indeed this was a cool place to chill and eat a good chicken wrap, you can book accommodation here as well.
You can use the sunbeds on the beach and see the surf break Pacifico right in front of you. Be careful swimming in the ocean, the currents are very strong. When heading back to General Luna you pass the town of Pilar, a town build on stilts over the mangrove. You can go further up after Pacifico to Burgos but for me this was already a long ride on the motorbike, especially in the rain…..
3. Go Island Hopping
A very popular island hopping tour is to the three islands: Guyam, Daku and Naked island. You can book this tour at almost every accommodation and travel agent in the center. The route of the tour depends on the tide of the water and will last a full day for 15-20USD including lunch. I haven’t done this tour, I visited another small island by myself and I will do more boat tours on the coming islands Bohol, Siquijor and between Coron and El Nido. Siargao was all about surfing for me.
4. Rent a Sup or Kayak
My accommodation SoulTribe Beach Retreat offered sups and kayaks, so I made use of that. It was fun to do an activity like this here in the Philippines beside the surfing and do on your own. I supped and walked to the Janoyoy Island close to the shore of Siargao.
Tip: Finish the workout with a massage for ±500PP per hour in town.
Tip: Take the rentals when it’s high tide, the level of the water could get very low so you will stuck with the fins peddling out!
5. Chill at the Beach and Watch the Sunset
Of course one of the best things here in Siargao to do is chill at the beach. There are several spots where you can work on your tan. I went to: Cloud Nine beach area, in front of Bravo, Secret Spot at Union Road close to Dapa and the beach in front of my accommodation Soultribe Beach Retreat. The perfect spot to watch the sunset is to walk the boardwalk at the pier at Cloud Nine.
Where to stay on Siargao?
My first three nights I booked at the cool and perfect looking jungle huts at Mao Mao Surf. The place is a bit off road behind the Cloud Nine area. The vibe is perfect in-and outside the turquoise huts with perfect styled bedroom and open outside bamboo shower! In the main building they serve great breakfast bowls and delicious sweet Brazilian omelet. The owners are so friendly and helpful and make you really feel at home. They even organized a tattoo evening and hooked me up for a great surf trip including professional surf photographer. All in all a great stay, so if you are lucky you can find a hut to sleep here (±1900PP per night)!!
Tip: Follow Mao Mao Surf on Instagram, they are very active and you will get a good impression of Siargao and rest of Philippines.
The last three nights I slept in a glamping tent at Soultribe Beach Retreat. This accommodation is a bit further from General Luna, which is very stretched anyway to Cloud Nine, so needed a motorbike not only for discovering the island but for normal transport too. I loved it here too: again great vibe, nice tent, clean shared areas, good kitchen, right at the beach, pool and yoga classes available.
I went to one yoga class (400PP) at the upper deck with a nice breeze. Reminded me of the yoga setting in Mexico (Puerto Escondido). I joined the community dinner BBQ buffet, which was overwhelming and delicious; chicken, fish and different salads including cocktails and dessert (750PP). The breakfasts and lunches were great as well; chia pudding, pumpkin soup and hummus. You can use the sup boards and kayaks for free. Next to the luxury tents they offer villa’s right at the beach as well. All in all a real retreat vibe here at Soultribe!
Where to Eat and Drink on Siargao?
In Siargao you have many choice of restaurants for any meal of the day. I had great food and drinks everywhere below and in both of my accommodations. For every budget and cuisine you have great options. Here are my favorites:
Shaka Cafe: This is my favorite spot in Siargao or even in the Philippines! They serve healthy food like delicious fruit bowls, smoothies, pancakes and good coffee. A good deal is the combo for 300PP, you can choose a fruit bowl and your coffee.
Bravo Surf Resort: this place is a hot spot in General Luna, chill place with nice accommodation and good restaurant with a Basque Chef. I told the tricycle driver to drop me of here, this is in the center between General Luna and Cloud Nine.
Loose Keys CEV Ceviche & Kinilaw: I love ceviche, in the Philippines it’s called Kinilaw. At CEV they offer great variations of this fish dish including vegetables (±280PP). The place is changing into a bar later at night and serves great cocktails! I went twice to this place…that says enough right?!
Wok for Wok: This very popular small place, with only five seats, serve the best wok meals in town. The price is cheap; 190PP for rice and chicken. Be patient for a spot at the bar or ask for an extra chair.
White Banana: I went here to drink a cocktail (330PP) before heading to the restaurant below. I loved the vibe of this bar/restaurant; probably because there was live music playing and the white cozy interior. People were sitting on pillows on the floor and before entering the place you have to take of your shoes/sandals.
L’Osteria Restaurant: This place is known for the Italian cuisine and they offer good wines too; I had the seafood spaghetti (480PP). The interior of this place is a bit cool and not very cozy, but the food made up for that.
Zicatela: This Mexican place is located in a very cool three stories high building with a perfect rooftop bar. Nice to see the sunset and enjoy the happy hour mojitos with ceviche and fish tacos!
Halika: Perfect to cool off with the delicious fresh ice creams in many flavors. For two scoops you pay 150PP and 100PP for one scoop…Ideal for dessert or just a treat during the day!
Are you convinced that you can’t miss Siargao on you travels through the Philippines?! I loved this place and will definitely come back one day.