Have you ever dreamt about getting lost in a beautiful island, with white beaches and palms all around? Or maybe surfing uncrowded perfect waves?
Siargao is the place: a tear-drop shaped island, that extends for approximately 473 square kilometers in the Philippine Sea, located in the Surigao del Norte Province, separated from Mindanao Island by the Hinatuan’s Channel.
It’s known as the surfing capital of Philippines, but it’s not just about that.
I’ve recently been there a month for a surf trip, but I have found out that there’s much more to do there apart from surfing.
I have fallen in love so easily with Siargao: the food is awesome, the smiles of the people just make you understand that you don’t need that much to be happy, the nature is wild and you can both relax or explore, depending from your mood.
The majority of turists stays at General Luna, that’s the heart of the life of Siargao, where you can find everything you need (and, trust me, you wouldn’t need that much). From GL you will be able to reach all the places of major interest just by a short car or bike ride.
In this travel guide you will find the top things to do in Siargao, that, in my opinion, you cannot miss!
1. Surfing world class waves
Siargao is a surfers paradise!
The waves are just uncrowded perfect barreling waves, breaking on the reef. The most famous one is the legendary Cloud 9, where every year in September takes place a stop of the Qualifying serie of the World Surf League. This wave is just for expert surfers, cause of the sharp shallow reef on which it’s breaking, and even the best ones sometimes get hurt. If you are not a surfer, have a walk on the outstanding surfers’ boardwalk of Cloud 9 and reach the water tower from which you can watch the surfers ripping and get barreled.
If you wanna take a boat ride, you can find a very long left hander at Stimpys and, opposite to it, the amazing right hander of Rock Island (intermediate/advanced surfers only).
If your level is not that good, there are still heaps of waves, perfect to learn, in Daku, Giwan, Salvation and many more spots.
2. Sunbathing on a desert white beach
Siargao is a succession of beautiful white beaches. You don’t need to look for them: walk in the direction of the ocean and you will find a beach just for yourself. You can get some shade under a palm tree or tan close to the shore. No noise and no people: only you in paradise.
3. Motorbike ride
Rent a bike and get lost around the island, surrounded by thousands palms. From General Luna drive north to Pacifico and you will find marvelous desert beaches, caves, rice fields; have a stop in the local villages, get in contact with the locals and make new friends!
Renting a bike is around 450PHP per day. If you want a bit more of adrenaline some places are renting also endure bikes to go off-road.
4. Taste the excellent Filipino food
There is no better way to introduce yourself to the local culture than tasting the Filipino food.
In my opinion the best way to do it’s always to try the local street food. You can find heaps at General Luna.
At the local market, near the pier, women are selling banana sticks and choco rice rolls.
My favorite is definitely pan de coco. For just 5PHP you can get one bread filled with coconut, cooked in rudimental ovens, that burn with the coconuts.
For the boldest ones, try the balut, a developing duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell.
If you fancy a typical filipino bbq, go to Mama’s Grill on the main road that connects General Luna with Cloud 9. Try to arrive early cause it gets full very quickly. Very cheap and great food!
If you prefer a proper restaurant instead, you cannot miss Kermit Surf Resort. Both if you wanna try the awesome Filipino food, fresh fish and seafood or if you prefer an Italian speciality. The pizza, cooked in a brick oven imported from Italy, is probably the best one in all Philippines and, in my “Italian” opinion, is even better than in lots of Italian restaurants in Italy. All the ingredients are imported from Italy, the pasta and the bread are homemade and the menu is very various and it changes every day.
Try the mango daiquiri during the Happy Hour (4pm-7pm saturday to thursday/starting at 4pm and going on all night long on friday) and enjoy the tropical vibes of Siargao.
The atmosphere in Kermit is really special: Gianni, the italian-swiss owner, and his filipino wife Rose are really nice and friendly and they always help you in find the best spot for the day; furthermore over there all the locals come to hang out, so it’s a good opportunity to meet persons from Siargao and learn from them how to play Chikichà, the most popular card game on the island.
5. Cock Fighting
Even if I am not at all a fan of cruelties against animals, this show is a must in Siargao, because it’s an ingrained part of the local culture.
Every sunday, just behind of Kermit Resort, join all the locals at the cock fighting arena. The cocks are equipped with a big and sharp spur on one leg to kill the antagonist chicken during the fight and they are trained daily to endure the pain and be strong for fighting.
Watch out not to move your arms too much or you would find yourself betting on a chicken.
Entrance in the arena is 40PHP, but you can still find lots of fights taking place in the courtyards of the filipinos’ houses and watch cock fighting for free.
6. Go Island Hopping
Majority of resorts organize island hopping every day. You depart from General Luna Boulevard and by boat you reach three magical islands: first, Naked Island, a lonely tongue of white sand surrounded by turquoise water, where you can snorkel around, looking for huge starfishes; then you move to have an amazing fish bbq in Daku Island, a palms and white sand paradise, where you can relax and sunbath (there’s the possibility to sleep overnight there in wood cabins on the beach, but be aware that there’s no electricity on the island); last you go to the desert Guyam Island, an uninhabited atoll that is just perfection. Watch the sunset and contemplate the charm of mother nature from there.
One day trip is around 750PHP, including transportation and lunch in Daku.
7. Magpupungko Rock Pools
These gorgeous naturale pools of clear crystal water in all shades of blue and green, surrounded by rock formations of different shapes and separated from the ocean by a reef, are just north of the village of Pilar. You can drive over there (around one hour from General Luna) or take a boat from Cloud 9 or Salvation. Take with you your snorkel gear to have a look underwater at the colorful sponges or have some fun jumping from the rocks.
Best time to go is during low tide.
Watch out for urchins; better to wear reef boots.
Entrance fee 50PHP.
8. Jungle Disco
Every Tuesday and Friday night join the crazy party at Siargao famous Jungle Disco. A mix of commercial and techno full volume music from a local Dj, in the middle of the jungle in General Luna. Try the Jungle Juice, made with Tanduay Rum, and go dancing all night long with the locals! There’s not better way to end you day