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Siargao Island

Posted by on Jun 20th, 2009
Filed Under: Featured, Siargao

Siargao Map
Siargao

Siargao Island is the premier surfing destination in the Philippines nestled in the pristine and preserved backdrop of the Surigao del Norte paradise. Fed by the mighty waves of the Pacific Ocean, this island presents itself as the Philippine alternative to Oahu and Tahiti.

Siargao Island is situated west of Surigao del Norte and is the biggest of the islands belonging to the province. It is approximately 800 kilometers southeast of Manila. This island of roughly 200,000 people boasts a well-preserved wetland of mangroves (the largest in Mindanao) in the west and south, and a sprawling coastline composed of white sand beaches and unspoiled lagoons in the east which faces the Pacific Ocean. The most important town and port of entry is Dapa located south of the island. Other municipalities include General Luna, Pilar, Del Carmen, Burgos, San Benito, San Isidro and Santa Monica.

The island maintains a simple and laid-back economy, lifestyle and culture. The locals rely mostly on copra farming, seaweed propagation and tourism as their sources income. They speak Surigaonon, just as the rest of the province, but English and Filipino are very well understood. Being a haven for surf-loving tourists, the locals are very friendly and hospitable, and have remained loyal and pious in their local traditions and belief systems. With the development of its road network, jeepneys can now take locals, tourists and goods around the island, but the ingenious invention called habal-habal (a motorcycle fitted with iron grills at the sides) still continues to carry passengers between towns. For those who want to hop on the island’s assortment of islets, boats are available to take you one island at a time.


Philippines Siargao Island
Siargao Island
Photo by stephencuyos

The birth of tourism in the island came with the publishing of Surfer magazine in the United States on March 1993 when American photographer John S. Callahan wrote a feature on the island after a visit the previous year. His various photos and awesome description of the island’s excellent surfs and breaks has helped place the island in the international surfing scene. Prior to Callahan’s feature, various surfing enthusiasts such as Steve Jones, Tony Arroza and Mike Boyum have made extensive explorations of the island’s breaks and surfs.

The town of General Luna in the southeast tip of the island is the prime destination of surfers in the island. To the north of this town are a dozen of breaks that have become popular in recent decades such as Cloud Nine, Tuesday Rock, Ventura, Tuason Point and Pilar Point. New surf sites have also popped up, with names that show the creative side of the surfers who named them: Cemetery, Stimpies, Pacifico, etc. Most of these breaks cater to both right and left handed surfers. The provincial government sponsors the annual Siargao Cup to the delight of local and international surfers.


Philippines Siargao Island Sunset
Siargao Sunset
Photo by Kotsch

But aside from surfing, the island also offers other tourism spectacles and water-related activities. Spelunking enthusiasts may want to try the luminescent Silop cave or the labyrinthine tunnels of Mapawa. The submerged Suhoton Cave in Bucas Grande Island (southwest of Siargao) leads to an enchanting lagoon of islets and can be accessed only at low tide. The mangroves that cover the west and south of the island create unique water-streets, perfect for boating and kayaking. The waves being fed by the Mindanao current to the east of the island are not only perfect for surfing but also for sailing, parasailing and kite surfing. The Santa Monica Falls in the town of the same name has crystal clear waters flowing from an unspoiled, virgin forest source. Snorkeling and scuba diving sites include Guyam and Daku Island just off General Luna. The islands are also rich in marine life which makes it a game fisher’s haven. Large game fish such as sailfish, blue marlin, tangigue, yellowfin tuna and morang are abundant in the area.


Why Not Go


If you’re the type who is irked by long hours of land, air and sea travel, then I suggest you go to La Union or Camarines Norte for your surfing needs instead. There are no direct flights from Manila to the island. Tourists will have to take a flight from Manila to Cagayan de Oro City or Butuan City then travel by bus to Surigao City which is the only access going to the island via ferry boat.


Why Go



Philippines Siargao Island Surfing
Surfing at Siargao
Photo by thejerk

It is the center of the center of the surfing scene here in the Philippines (and probably in Southeast Asia). If you are keen on getting along with the professionals in the surfing industry and experience the euphoria of Cloud Nine, then Siargao is the place to go. And even if you’re not a surfing enthusiast, the assortment of activities being offered to you within the island is limitless.


Best Time to Visit


The best time to go surfing in Siargao is from July to November, when the easterly Mindanao current feeds the islands with waves that come from one of the deepest parts of the Pacific. This is the height of the surfing season in the island. If you want to get a glimpse of the other islands around Siargao, then extend up to March or May to get the perfect conditions for island hopping. For game fishers, game fishing season is on August. An annual game fishing competition is sponsored by the provincial government during this month.


Where to Stay


Philippines Hotels and Resorts

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With the influx of local and foreign tourists, the island has seen a fast and massive development of tourism infrastructure that caters to both economy and first class tourists. Most of these resorts and hotels are situated in General Luna.


Philippines Siargao Sleeping La Janosa
Sleeping at La janosa
Photo by Kotsch

Pansukian Tropical Resort (+63 920-901-2072) in General Luna is highly recommended for its Asian inspired cottages and villas and excellent amenities for surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and game fishing. Their dining and relaxation facilities are top of the line. Rates begin at $120-$240/day. There are additional charges if you want to get to Pansukian via chartered flight from Manila or Cebu. Visit them at www.pansukian.com or email them at pansukian@gmail.com.

Bayud Beach Resort (+63 919-485-5890), also in General Luna is a Filipino-Mediterranean inspired haven for tourists. It has both pool and beach facilities, elegant and spacious suites, and satisfactory provisions for various water sports, nightly entertainment and fine dining. This place is perfect for weddings and honeymoons. Rates are between $120-$400/day and are inclusive of airport/seaport transfers, daily breakfast buffet and free one day island hopping. Visit them at www.bayudbeachresort.com

Cherinicole Beach Resort, (+63 928-609-8963) in Pisangan, General Luna offers satisfactory accommodations, complete with air conditioning and dining. The resort comes with a fresh water swimming pool, a beach front facing the Pacific Ocean, a coffee shop, a beach resto bar and other assortment of services. Rates range from P1000 to P3250/day. Visit them at www.cherinicoleresort.com


Where & What to Eat


Food is inclusive of rates in most resorts, hotels and lodging houses in the island. But if your palate is looking forward to different tastes then explore the island’s variety of restaurants. thePUB located near Cloud Nine in General Luna serves good quality food at reasonable prices. They serve the best prawns and fish steaks, along with great music and great company. Along the main street in General Luna, Maridyl’s and Lalay’s serve Filipino food and beer. Between them is Ruth’s which serves delicious chicken and pork barbecue. Dajon Restaurant Bar and Grill (+63 910-876-8597) is Siargao’s finest restaurant. They serve Filipino and Western cuisine at affordable prices, accompanied by live entertainment.


Nightlife


Siargao’s nightlife is concentrated along General Luna, especially near Cloud Nine where local and foreign tourists gather for annual surfing and other activities. Bars and discos thrive along its stretch of beach and come alive at night. Bars such as El Nino Loco, Seven Eleven, 5 Lyns Café and San Miguel Beach Bar offers local and imported beer, pulutan, and good karaoke music. For sweaty, heart-thumping dancing, it’s best to try Melvinbo Disco also along the area.


My to do List


1. Explore and compare all of the island’s breaks and surfs from Cloud Nine up to Pilar.
2. Experience the thrill of game fishing around Guyam and Daku Islands.
3. Experience Venice in the Philippines by kayaking around the water-streets created by sprawling mangrove forests.
4. If you’re a beginner at surfing, try you luck at learning a few basics and tricks from professionals in Cloud Nine.
5. Hop into various islands just outside of General Luna from Guyam and Daku Islands to Bucas Grande and Mamon Islands.
6. Try out the local habal-habal for an exhilarating ride around the island.
7. Find the entrance to Suhoton Cave in Bucas Grande Island and marvel at its spectacular beauty.


Stay Away From



Philippines Siargao Island Surfing
Cloud Nine in Siargao Island
Photo by stephencuyos

It is a general rule for all surfers to beware of rocks and reefs along the coast of Siargao near Cloud Nine and up to the north. If you are an amateur, you must have a professional to accompany you as going alone has been proven disastrous for some. Some breaks are accessed by boats so arrange to be taken their by your local boat driver. Bring enough pesos in the island as there are not so many banks there to exchange your foreign notes. There are reports of saltwater crocodiles in the island’s mangroves so be sure to kayak with an official guide or with someone who knows the ins and outs of the mangrove forests. Habal-habal rates can change without notice especially night. The usual rate is P20 but some drivers charge P50. At night, it goes up to P75 so beware. Agree on a price with your driver before boarding.


Getting There


As I said earlier, it takes hours to reach Siargao via land, air and sea from either Manila or Cebu. Here are the best routes to take.

CEBU to SIARGAO: SeaAir has direct flights from Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Sayak Airport in Del Carmen on Tuesdays and Saturdays. From Sayak Airport to Del Carmen, Dapa or General Luna, you can take a jeepney. Jeepney fares start at P10.00

MANILA-BUTUAN-SURIGAO-SIARGAO: Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific has weekly flights to Butuan City in Agusan del Norte. You can also take an interisland ferry like Superferry or Sulpicio Line to Butuan. From there, you’ll have to take a private van, bus or jeepney to Surigao City (2 ½ hours). From Surigao City, ferries by Montenegro or Fortune jet, or motorized bancas can take you to Dapa (2-4 ½ hours).

MANILA-SURIGAO-SIARGAO: Zest Air (formerly, Asian Spirit) flies to Surigao every Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. From Surigao, you can take the usual ferry or motorized banca to the island.

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Epi Fabonan is a history teacher with a wide array of background on local history and geography. He loves to travel and document his adventures through photo-essays, slideshows and short films.

Tourism Philippines thrives on the knowledge of the community. Got a tip, photo or even a guide on a place you been to in Philippines? We will love to hear from you!

24 Responses to “Siargao Island”

  1. Cebu Philippines Expat says:

    Good information about Siargao and surfing opportunities in the Philippines. Great photography also!

  2. Ryan says:

    On why not go: La Union is at least 6 Hours from Manila and Camarines Norte is about 7 hours land travel as there are no direct flights to these places You can fly into Naga but that is still 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours by buses or vans. They are not easy travel either.

    Any word on the underwater chocolate hills in Siargao? Kinda want to check that out. Thanks.

  3. FlyBoy says:

    Only Cebu Pacific flies directly to Siargao (from Cebu). It’s the fastest way to get to Siargao’s waves. No need for pumpboat.

    SeaAir does not fly to Siargao anymore. And there’s no Manila-Surigao service by Zest Air. Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific fly to Surigao….

    • Ryan says:

      Thanks Flyboy,

      That’s excellent information. Yeah I thought that SEAIR and Zest Air flies to Siargao as from the info on this article. Great help mate!

      Cheers!

      Ryan

  4. dondi cinco says:

    i’ve been in siargao every year for a vacation for the past 10 years. and i enjoy there a lot. i just wish to inform you that there are information in this add that needs update. e.g.: 1. the new connecting flights from manila to cebu – cebu to sayak, siargao. 2. in nightlife add, the el nino loco, seven eleven and san miguel beach bars were already closed long time ago. please include also in this add, new events like: the international womens surfing competition and international game fishing competition. these are also big events in siargao that has been on for the past 3 to 4 years now. thank you.

  5. tata g. says:

    Yap! cebu pacific travel all the way to siargao;monday, wed, and Friday; Air Philippines fly to surigao city daily;you have plenty of time to catch the boat to siargao;Dajon Restaurant Bar and Grill has a Internet Cafe for easy access of your email;they have lots of fun going on start August disco and live band;you can even request a movie to watch for free. English Movie only.

  6. ric bunga says:

    mabilis talaga mabago ang information mga tsong. di na siguro fault ng writer un. malaking tulong. @dondi: binanggit naman na niya yung tungkol sa international game fishing competition. @ flyboy: pakicite naman kung saan mo nakuha yung information.

  7. don cinco says:

    i did not blame the writer, my intention is for him to correct the information posted in that add. it is important that the information is accurate and updated since we are selling siargao as a destination for both domestic and international tourists. i am a technical staff both in billabong cloud nine international surfing competition and in the internation game fishing competition.

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Don,

      I am sure the writer and the editor will correct the information- and I agree with you, information especially when it comes to travel guides should be accurate and updated all the time, and usually the only way you could do it is to actually travel to the destination yourself quite regularly (or at least have traveled there in a very recent past).

      Right now, unfortunately, our editor is on leave from work to attend to some very pressing matters. I will call his attention and that of the writer as soon as he gets back on board.

      If there are further information that this article may have missed please do not hesitate to post it here – we would really appreciate it , as well as our other readers who might be planning to head out to Siargao.

      Looking forward in going to Siargao myself in the coming months. :)

      Cheers,

      Ryan

  8. Juni says:

    It’s always good to research the most current info from airlines and from “da locals” in General Luna/Cloud 9. I’m balikbayan from California west coast and also lived in Hawaii. We’re going back again to cloud 9 and this time bringing our own surfboards. Definitely worth another visit to this lovely isle!

  9. FlyBoy says:

    Dis the press release of CebPac about their Cebu to Siargao flights:

    http://www.cebupacificair.com/aboutus/press/2009/03042009.html

    AirPhil has a daily Manila-Surigao. Cebu Pacific and PAL have multiple flights to Butuan.

    Each of the airlines have their schedules on their websites, so easy to see what’s the cheapest, most direct way to get to Siargao (airport code: IAO). For now only CebPac flying straight into Siargao island….

    • Ryan says:

      Thanks FlyBoy, I think this is the same flight that flies from Manila and then stops over at Cebu on their way to Siargao. It’s not that cheap though.. I hope they can cut it down further. Still thinking if I am going to push through my trip to Siargao and Dinagat end of November. Plans are quite hazy still – funds are a bit tight since we are going to Hundred Islands + Bolinao next week, then Camarines Sur (Naga, Caramoan), Camarines Norte (Daet, Bagasbas and hopefully Calaguas) and part of Quezon Province (Maybe Padre Burgos) the week after. First assault on Mindanao in September – Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte and Bukidnon. November is still a blank slate but December would see Puerto Princesa, Port Barton and El Nido.

  10. Nikolas says:

    Hi!
    Thanks for the update info about the flight connections!

    Since there’s a lot of Siargao experience here, it would be greatly appreciated if somebody could advice me on the weather and surfing conditions during the time period of late October till end of November? My perception is that there is little sunshine, lot of rain and clouds but the waves are excellent!! I’m going with my buddy from Finland and neither of us has never surfed so is this a good time and location to execute 4 weeks of rigourous training montage?

    Other thing that I would love to get unbiased info is the right price of accommodation… I contacted patric’s on the beach and 101 and got offered figures like 9-10 000pesos/week for a package deal of 4 weeks, one ac room, breakfast and surfboard rental. Am I being robbed with those prices? I’m so suspicious, cause at least in Cebu, with a white face the price is always 50-100% higher then to a local =(

    Paljon kiitoksia,

    Nikolas

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Nikolas,

      I spoke with some of the people from Surigao today. 1300-1500 a day would be a good deal, A/C room, surf board rentals, meals. Please check with the tour agent if meals are included. If you are still unsure about the rates, and your gut feel tells you to not take it, please don’t – please check this website – http://www.surigaodelnorte.gov.ph, email- ppdosurigaonorte@yahoo.com; call (+6386)2319271. Surigao del Norte Tourism Office.

      Cheers,

      Ryan

  11. Pei says:

    Hello ! Thank you for the latest info. Does anyone know of the wind condition for kiting please, for the period between Oct – April ? Thanks, Pei

  12. Dan says:

    Hi Guys,

    I am wondering if someone could fill me in on a great place to stay, with reasonable prices, in Burgos, Siargao. We have a couple of kids and are wanting a place within walking distance to the beach on the surf side? I’ve, so far found two places, Marcos & Bohemian Bungalows. Marcos seems way too pricey and bohemian haven’t replied, so I am wondering if there are any alternatives for accommodation.

    Thanks,
    Dan

  13. casey says:

    Hi, i,m trying to find info on wind conditions for kiting, same as the guy above. Specifically Siargao island. I,m sorry but i cant make head or tail of the above link. oct-april does it reach 20-30knts at anytime? Thanks, Casey.

  14. dhexter says:

    hello…..

    every time i visit siargao island,,, always thrills my self,,,the waves,the rides,and the people that welcome open arms……but most of all the fresh air and sea foods served….and the relaxing ambiance of the beach…..it pulls out stress…..
    i love to see you more siargao…..

  15. april says:

    we are planning to go to siargao at the end of may. what could be the possible weather condition during that time?heavy rains?

  16. babes says:

    hmmmm….am coming soon siargao. does anybody knows about a nice place to stay now in siargao in a very reasonable price? i know, a lot place to stay are coming out this time and when i checked on internet am confused. pls. help.

  17. Joshua Fink says:

    Writer from California; Siargao Island is paradise for sure however be aware there are some drawbacks even in paradise. First bring your own surfboard because there is a limited supply of quality boards for rent. Second, bring plenty of mosquito repellent and lotion to sooth the itch.
    Not to worry about accommodations, but for sure make them ahead of time. Rooms range from primitive for a few dollars a day to first class for over a hundred dollars a day. Travel is easy from Cebu.
    A couple of other hints is that electronic money isn’t readily available nor is a hospital. If you have a serious injury expect to travel a distance for proper care. The food is excellent, the people are friendly and the island is…paradise. Enjoy!

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