Located in Surigao del Norte, Siargao is a beautiful island that has been luring tourists all over the world. Its shores of powdery white sand, translucent waters, and palm trees are always a lovely sight, and the coastal communities make it everything tourists desire in a tropical paradise—simple, laidback, but enchanting. The coy energy of the island, however, is unleashed when divers hit the shores to ride its powerful waves.
Siargao is one of the country's premier surfing destinations. The waves are huge all year round so the island is packed with both Filipino and foreign divers all the time. Cloud Nine is the most famous area for surfing and it hosts several international surfing tournaments. The Siargao Cup is one of the largest competitions and attended by thousands of spectators every year. Though a haven for professional surfers, beginners will also enjoy Siargao because of the numerous surf shacks that offer lessons and board rentals.
Swimming, sunbathing, and walking on the gleaming sands are some of the fun ways to appreciate the serenity of Siargao. Island-hopping is another great activity where tourists will be able to explore the hidden beaches in Naked Island, Guyam Island, and Daku Island.
Another hidden attraction in the island is the Magpupungko Beach. It is best visited during low tide, when charming tide pools appear on the shores located in a hidden area on the beach. The clear turquoise waters can entice anyone for a swim and the surrounding rock formations give this isolated pool an otherworldly but relaxing atmosphere.
By Air, Sea, and Land
Travelers can fly directly from Manila to Siargao Island via Cebu Pacific. The flight lasts for about 50 minutes before landing at Sayak Airport, which is located in the town of Del Carmen.
Another option is to fly to Surigao City. Upon landing, head to Surigao Port where fast crafts are available to ferry you to Dapa Port, located at the southern end of Siargao. Air travel lasts approximately an hour and 40 minutes, while sea travel is about two to three hours long.
Additionally, if you’re coming from Butuan, Davao, or Cagayan de Oro, you can take a bus to take you to Surigao City. Afterwards, a fast craft is available to take you to Siargao.
How to Get Around
Public jeeps are available in Siargao to take you from one place to the other. There is also the habal-habal, which is highly recommended especially for those who will be traveling to remote areas. If you know how to ride a motorcycle, you can choose to rent one for the day so you can freely explore the island.
What to See
Siargao is located at the northeastern tip of Mindanao. It is a teardrop-shaped island known for being the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines.” While the island is a famed destination for surfing enthusiasts, you don’t really need to be a surfer to enjoy its magnificence. The island is home to quite a number of attractions for nature lovers, beach bums, or anyone who just wants to be in the middle of paradise.
It is almost impossible not to come across Cloud Nine when doing research about Siargao. It is the name of the area that has placed Siargao on the map of the international surfing circuit. While there are many spots on the island that surfers can enjoy, Cloud Nine is the most prominent due to its accessibility.
Natural Attractions and Activities to Try
On your upcoming trip to Siargao, island hopping is highly recommended to see some of the hidden natural wonders of this place. There are local tour companies that offer island hopping but you can also choose to DIY it. Make sure to include Naked Island, Daku Island, and Guyam Island on your list.
Naked Island is located off the coast of General Luna, about six kilometers away. Also known as Pansukian, the island is naked in the sense that there is nothing on it except for its pristine white sand and the surrounding blue waters. Because there is no shade, Naked Island is perfect for those who want to work on their tan. If your timing is right, you can have the whole island to yourself, and get a feel of what it’s like to have your own piece of paradise.
Daku Island, on the other hand, derives its name from being the biggest (dako) among the three islands. Like Naked Island, Daku is marked by fine white sands and crystal clear waters, but there are palm trees around where you can enjoy the view while staying in the shade. The island is also a perfect spot to enjoy fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking.
Guyam Island is also as lovely as the previous islands but it is actually privately owned. Set aside an entrance fee of PHP 10.00 when you arrive. The island boasts fine white sands and clear, refreshing beach waters where you can swim, snorkel, or catch a spectacular sunset view at the end of the day.
Located north of the town of Pilar is Magpupungko Beach. This unique natural attraction is actually a swimming hole that resembles a man-made infinity pool. During low tide, visitors can enjoy a refreshing swim in its refreshing waters while admiring the rock formations in your surroundings. If you want a change of scenery, check out Taktak Waterfalls where you can swim in fresh mountain water. Nature lovers and bird enthusiasts will also surely find the place a welcome treat, given the variety of birds that are flying near the falls.
In Bucas Grande, located in the town of Socorro south of Siargao, the impressive Sohoton Cove and Lagoon awaits. It is a maze-like attraction that features limestone islets that you can navigate through only during low tide. It is also where the jellyfish lagoon is found, home to friendly jellyfishes that won’t sting you even if you go near them.
Other interesting attractions in Socorro are the Crystal Cave and the Bolitas Cave. These natural wonders with stunning rock formations are guaranteed to take your breath away. Both caves are also ideal for caving enthusiasts who want to go spelunking and marvel at mystical limestone formations.
Diving is also fast becoming a favorite activity on the island because of its impressive coral gardens. Pilar Twin Rocks, Shark Point, Seeco Reef are just some of the impressive dive spots in the area, but the most popular is the Blue Cathedral.
Events and Festivals
Around September or October of each year, Siargao hosts one of the largest international sporting events in the country: the Siargao Cup. It is a grand tournament where surfers from all over the world gather together in this magnificent island to ride the waves at Cloud Nine. The even draws in thousands of spectators, both local and international. Meanwhile, Filipino surfers battle it out during the Filipino National Cup, which is usually held a week before the Siargao Cup.
Where to Eat
For an amazing breakfast to jumpstart your day, head over to Café Loka along the shores of Cloud Nine for their wide selection of coffee, tea, fresh fruit juices, and shakes. This laidback breakfast joint also serves the usual bacon and eggs, but you can have something healthier like fruits and yoghurt.
Another highly recommended spot to dine in Siargao is Kalinaw Restaurant. This restaurant offers a great selection of Filipino dishes as well as South European and French food. You can feast on truffle pasta, mango mahi-mahi, and fish kinilaw.
If you’re in the mood for some Spanish grub, then Bravo’s Restaurant is the place for you. The restaurant is headed by David Lopez, an award-winning Spanish chef who has worked and trained with some of the best restaurants and hotels in the world. Bravo’s Restaurant’s serves various delicious Spanish tapas and, of course, the classic paella.
Another restaurant on the island that both locals and expats love is Surf n’ Dine. Perfect for carnivores, the place serves really great burgers and juicy steaks. And for some great barbecue on the island, head to Ronaldo’s, also known for their variety of pancit dishes. Their prices are highly affordable as well.
After a day filled with surfing and swimming, you can chill and enjoy good music and cocktails at Jungle Disco, one of the bars on the island. Another recommended place for drinks is Nine Bar, a favorite among the local and expats because of their burgers. The bar also has a TV where you can catch the latest sporting event.
For a taste of some of Siargao’s unique offerings, be sure to ask where you can try the crunchy version of biko, a local delicacy made of glutinous rice, coconut milk, and sugar topped with latik. The Siargao buko pie is another specialty of the island that will surely give the buko pies of Laguna a run for its money.
Fare: PHP 2,500.00 to PHP 7,000.00++
Depending on the season, air fares for a direct flight between Manila and Siargao range from PHP 2,500.00 to about PHP 7,000.00. Do watch out for seat sales so you can score a low offer of only PHP 1,500.00.
The ferry ride from Surigao to Siargao is about PHP 270.00 per head, one way. A habal-habal ride costs about PHP 100.00 to PHP 300.00, depending on the destination. Alternatively, you can rent a motorcycle for PHP 300.00 for half day and PHP 500.00 for the whole day.
Food: PHP 150.00 to PHP 300.00++
Generally, the food in Siargao is very affordable. With a budget of PHP 150.00, you can already enjoy a delicious full meal. There are also restaurants like Kawayan for a more upscale dining experience, where you can spend around PHP 300 to PHP 600.00 per meal.
Shopping: PHP 50.00 to PHP 300.00
Key chains and ref magnets are sold at PHP 50.00 per piece. Souvenir shirts, on the other hand, start at PHP 150.00, depending on the design and the quality of the material used.
Accommodations: PHP 500.00 to PHP 2,500.00
There are quite a number of hostels, hotels, and resorts in the area that will fit any room requirement and budget. Backpackers can already avail of a basic room for only PHP 500.00 a night. Hotel rooms with full amenities are about PHP 1,500.00 or more per night. Remember that room rates are subject to change depending on the season.
Activities: PHP 50.00 to PHP 1,500.00++
Snorkeling or spelunking cost about PHP 50.00 per head, while island hopping is PHP 1,500.00. Surf shops are also available on the island where you can rent equipment and hire the services of the instructors. The flat rate for surfing is at PHP 500.00 per hour.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
Service charge is already included in your bill when you dine at restaurants, so tipping may no longer be necessary. You can leave small amounts like PHP 20.00 or a PHP 50.00 if you wish to tip. Feel free to give higher tips to your tour guides.