Surigao del Surf: A Stoked Adventure
Macky Calo gives surfers step by step instructions on how to find secret surf spots for the best waves in Surigao del Sur.
When it comes to surfing, there is more to Surigao than Lanuza and Siargao. Both Surigao provinces (del Norte and del Sur) line the eastern coast of Mindanao facing the Pacific Ocean, making this place the perfect setting for the ultimate wave-hunting road trip!
Before you boldly embark on this off-the-beaten-track escapade, arm yourself with a jacket, a flashlight, camping gear (or for nature lovers, just a hammock), surfing gear--as there are obviously no surf rental shops around (booties recommended), and a gung-ho attitude towards discovery!
From Butuan City, you may choose from two transportation options for your surf spree. The easiest way is to hire a van or a jeepney. There is no fixed rate (a 5-day Butuan-Lanuza-Butuan route with multiple stops would cost around P10,000). A cheaper option is to take the bus (Bachelor Express, P180 pesos) to Tandag, and alight at your first stop, Lianga, after 1.5 hours of travel.
A 5-peso tricycle ride from the bus terminal takes you to Lawis Beach, where you find the longest left-handed point break of this trip. There is also a shorter right-handed point break by the river mouth. During off-season, when the waves in Lawis disappoint, you may head to Brgy. Baucaue, Barobo, where a more consistent but extremely rocky reef breaks both left and right.
Your sleeping options after a day of chasing waves are: Lawis Beach (cottages at P800 per night), Sea Hoi (P200 dorm-style accommodations or P400-peso twin-sharing rooms, and Kansilad Resort (P1,500 for a steal of a room by the water and mangroves).
From Lianga, a 30-minute jeepney ride takes you to Marihatag Tree Park, where a reef break brings you a powerful left hander. During the Amihan season, Marihatag can produce up to 8-foot high waves. The Tree Park has rooms at P800 a night.
From Marihatag, it’s a 30-minute jeepney ride to Bayabas. Directions here are a bit tricky, but high chances of surf make this challenge worthwhile. Ask the locals for the way. Once there, you will be greeted by waves similar to Baler’s Cobra Reef (big “A”-framed waves). Cagwait Beach from a nearby town offers rooms at very cheap prices.
From Marihatag, it's a jeepney ride short of an hour to Tandag. The best spot is in front of the Polytechnic State College, where a never-ending beach break awaits. Choose from a smorgasbord of long left and right breaking waves. (Tip: Go to Cortesanon's for good fresh seafood and lutong bahay.)
Countless surf spots in Surigao del Sur beg to be discovered. Search for that perfect wave and that empty white beach. Relish the peace and isolation of the sleepy towns, and soak up the sun and the warmth of the locals.
Basta Pinas, Rock and Roll!
*Note: Due to the relative isolation of the beaches mentioned, not all accommodations have contact numbers, and have to be booked on the spot.
Macky Calo is a local restaurateur from Butuan City. He owns a coffee shop, a restaurant, and a beer and wine lounge bar. He travels around the CARAGA Region in search of secret surfing spots and local delicacies.