Siargao Island: Things to see and do in PH’s Surfing Capital
Siargao Island: Sights and sounds found in PH’s Surfing Capital
Siargao Island, Surigao Del Norte – Being the 39th province I have visited in my personal quest for #Project81, the island of Siargao is one of the places everyone dreams of visiting and ticking off their bucket lists. I have personally been worried beforehand because the island was struck by Typhoon Rai in December of 2021, 3 months before my scheduled visit. All the popular tourist spots on the island have been destroyed and they are still on the road to recovery.
The island has been open since March 2022 and honestly, its natural beauty has yet to be restored. When I was there, I celebrated my 30th birthday on the island and discovered the beauty of what is left after the devastating typhoon last December 2021. Traveling in the new normal is much easier now in Siargao, as the S-Pass and RT-PCR requirements have been lifted. There are also numerous options in exploring the island – you can avail of land tours, or you can rent a motorbike in exploring Siargao.
Named after a native Mangrove, Siargao is also known as the Philippines’ Surfing Capital – with its famous waves in Cloud 9 and other shores in the island. It was also named as the best island in Asia in 2019 by Condé Nast. This haven for surfers and sea lovers is the perfect scene in experiencing the tropical vibe when visiting this part of Surigao del Norte.
Top things to see and do in Siargao
Siargao island is more than just surfing. The island is also full of off-the-beaten-track tourist spots that can be explored in a day or two and experience the island life on its very core. As it is my first time visiting, I have tried several activities and have seen some popular tourist spots on the island! Here are some of the things I did!
1) Go Island hopping – Naked Island, Daku Island, and Guyam Island
One of the main highlights when visiting Siargao is the island-hopping tour. Three islands will be visited in one go and each island has a different story to tell. When we started the tour, the rain incessantly poured and made the experience more fun (for us, at least!) Travel time to each island is 15 minutes, and you can stay for at least an hour or so, depending on your tour.
The first island on our itinerary was Naked Island. Need we say more? The place is just a small piece of land with nothing but sand and a 360-degree view of nearby General Luna Port and Daku island. You can busk in the island’s fine white sand and crystal blue waters. Note, too, that weather in Siargao is generally erratic as you can experience sunny weather in the morning and scattered rain showers in the afternoon and evening can also visit.
The second island is called Daku and is the main island where you can munch some food. Not just that, the food is choreographed in a way that your eyes eat first! As I celebrated my 30th birthday in Siargao, to my surprise, our tour guide had a little surprise for our food! Since we were late for the joiner tour as our flight was moved to a later time, our local guide, kuya Noy, had a more personalized grazing table for us! (Which made my birthday more memorable!)
Guyam island is, for me, the most Instagram-worthy Island of the whole tour. Every corner of the island is picture perfect, and the view of the sunset is also one for the books. I personally love the activities that can be done in Guyam as there is a mini café, you can play beach volleyball, and you can also experience snorkeling in your free time. The swing is also cool, and the background of the sea is just breathtaking.
2) Sightseeing at the Siargao Mountain View
For the land tour, our first stop was a visit to the mountain view of the coconut trees before heading to Magpupungko. The vantage point gave us a 180-degree view of the coconut trees (which were unfortunately destroyed by Typhoon Rai in December 2021). Though the view of the trees is still great, the island is still on its way to recovery.
3) Exploring Magpupungko Rock Pools and Flats
One of the most interesting tourist spots in Siargao Island is the Magpupungko Rock Pools in Pilar. The rock formations are interesting, and the water just gives color to the rock formations, especially in the morning. It literally forms mini pools for tourists and visitors to dive in and take photos or just relax while enjoying the soft waves going to the shore. This is also the place where I got to taste a local delicacy called “salbaro.” This delicacy is made of ground cassava and is topped with coconut syrup. The final product is like a thin sheet of paper, and the crispy texture of the food makes it more interesting.
4) Beach-bumming at Pacifico Beach
One of the main attractions in Siargao in the Pacifico Beach. The shoreline is usually packed with cottages and resorts while enjoying the tropical vibe of the island. Unfortunately, again, the place was totally wiped out by the typhoon last December 2021 and the scenery is quite heartbreaking. Hopefully when all comes back to normal, they can rebuild this haven and regain the natural beauty of the place.
5) Take a stroll along the Coconut Road
The scenic canopies of coconuts along the “coconut road” is also one of the must-see attractions in Siargao. Lush greens can be seen lining up the straight road and is better scene during midday to near sunset. I personally hope that these trees would regain its natural beauty in the future because everything has been wiped out post-typhoon.
6) Have a dip in Sugba Lagoon
If you love a different kind of adrenaline rush, Sugba Lagoon is the place for you. After a 30-minute boat ride from the drop off point, you will see lots of mangrove plantations along the way (where “Siargao” got its name) and the landscape is just breathtaking. The Sugba Lagoon also offers kayaking aside from its usual platform diving.
7) Have your skin be sun-kissed in Maasin River
Known for its famous river swing, Maasin River is one of the most sought-after tourist spots in Siargao Island. Of course, the rain did not stop us in exploring this beauty in the wee hours of the afternoon and the sunset offered us a view of the river from a different perspective. You can also rent a kayak in the river for a fee or have a more relaxed basking along the river through a bamboo raft.
8) Learn how to surf in Cloud 9!
What is Siargao if there is no surfing? Known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, the island is home to one of the most popular surfing competitions in the region. As surfing season is best during the “-ber” months, learning how to surf during the dry season is also better for surfing beginners like me! Surfing instructors are almost everywhere near Cloud 9 and learn how to surf the Pacific waves for only P 500 / hour.
You can also have a different vantage point of the surfing area from the Cloud 9 observation deck (which is under reconstruction as of this writing) and enjoy the waves and sea breeze! Do not worry, I will be back by September for this! I recommend that you book your surfing lessons through kuya Jayson Sollo at +63 916 558 6313.
9) Bask at Local Souvenir Shops for trinkets
As a traveler myself, I always associate my travels and memories through trinkets and souvenirs that I can bring home to Baguio. Several souvenir shops are found in Siargao and all can be bought at reasonable prices. From keychains, fridge magnets, shirts, and everything in between, I am sure that you will remember Siargao through these mementos.
10) Chase the sunset at Sunset Bridge
Found near the Cloud 9 surfing area, the sunset bridge is one of the newest tourist attractions in General Luna, Siargao. Seeing the sun set from a distance is breath-taking and your Siargao trip would not be complete by not topping it off with some food and booze after – which can be found just along the shores of General Luna!
*Places yet to be discovered (on my next visit!)
– Sohoton Cove
– Hagukan Cave
– Diving Cave (Cliff Diving)
– Non-sting Jellyfish Lagoon
– Bolitas Cave
– Crystal Cave
– Tiktikan Lake
– Bubon Group of Islets
– Club Tara
– Marka-a Island
– Corregidor Island
As part of my 30th birthday, I have traveled to the island during the recent reopening of the Local Government Unit to fully vaccinated tourists. Our trip was short and sweet but I promised myself that I will be back sooner to experience more of the island life and get to know more about the people and their way of living! Stay tuned for a more detailed “things to see and do” blog in the coming months!
Special shoutout to our local tour guide, kuya Noy Cartatibo for making my birthday a memorable one! You can contact him through Facebook or through his personal number at +63 966 971 9236. Shoutout, too, to my newfound friends during our trip! On to the next destination!
We’re born to travel!