“I wish I could stay here longer,” I told my local surf instructor as I watched the other surfers paddling out further to catch the beautiful waves that rolled them back to shore. “I hear that all the time, it’s the island magic at work.” He said to me. Many tourists find themselves a home on the island, deciding to leave the hustle and bustle life they had in the city or in other countries to settle into the captivating barefoot luxury of simple island living. The place is simply put a surfer’s paradise and a general adventurer’s haven with an overflowing and endless enchanting energy fueled by its ominous waves. What’s life like in Siargao? Siargao is the famous island in the south of the Philippines known for its huge waves attracting surfers from all over the world. In fact, the island holds the much awaited annual local and international surf competitions every September where the waves are greater than usual. The island has been recognized more and more recently as it further developed and was even recently named as the Best Island in Asia by luxury and lifestyle travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveler. Having been in and out of the island for some time, I can truly see how fast the island is booming with tourists from all over the world and by the many new restaurants, resorts, hotels, and establishments opening up every year. But despite all this, the island pretty much still maintains its simple island vibe. I say “simple” in the very core meaning of the word as it may still shock some tourists that there’s still not a single ATM machine in General Luna which is the more famous and more developed municipality of Siargao island. The nearest small hospital is a couple of hours away too but for major road accidents and etc., the hospitals in Cebu City are highly recommended. For smaller concerns, however, they do have small clinics around. And if that’s not enough to paint you a mental picture of how it is, don’t get me started with how bad the cellphone service or the internet connection can get at times. But that’s all part of island living right? Everyone on the island is very laid back, long staying tourists and locals alike. So it’s definitely the place to book if you’re looking for a place to ease off from work or get away from your busy lifestyle. A visit to Siargao is basically the greatest trade-off to that life plus so much more. Everyone on the island just plays off with its energy. You get to meet some of the simplest, kindest, and most down to earth people there. From the moment you get off the plane, you can see people walking barefoot outside the airport. Even the airport is nothing like anything we’d normally know an airport to be! Island life oozes all over. #It’sMoreFunInThePhilippines So, what’s there to do? Here’s my personal quick list of must-see + must do’s in Siargao island.
You can’t possibly leave Siargao island without checking this off your list. This activity could take a whole day and would cover 3 of the smaller nearby islands from General Luna: Daku Island, Naked Island, & Guyam Island. You can either go on joiner group tours with boat transfers and lunch already included which is way more fun especially if you’re traveling alone or in smaller groups or you can opt to arrange the activity by yourselves. You’ll see signs posted all over General Luna advertising the island hopping activities and packages. It’s a small island so everybody would eventually get around knowing who can help. If you opt to do a DIY tour, I’d suggest visiting the local markets first so you can have something to cook for lunch at one of the islands.
It’s actually a sand bar but it’s called Naked Island because there’s not much on there but dazzling white sand and turquoise water surrounding it. If anything, there’s a single bench right smack in the middle of the sand bar. I’d recommend just a quick stop here for the pictures. Would make a good first stop when the sun is shining brightest! But there’s no shade so be sure to bring ample sunscreen!
The biggest island out of the three island hopping stops. “Daku” in the “
dialect also means “big” so it’s self-explanatory. This island is also best for lunch as they have a lot of tables and huts for rent and even locals who can help you prepare and cook your lunch for a fee. They have all the kitchen utensils, barbeque tools and etc. ready for use. The water is crystal clear and the sand is white and fine. It’s always such an enjoyable stop every time I come back to visit.
The sunsets here are golden! Which is why I prefer this being the last stop. Not much on here too, just a few huts and a small store but the island is very picturesque!
Visit the Magpupungko Rockpools
Best time to be there is when it’s low tide so be sure to check the tide forecasts before heading there. Entrance is only 50 pesos and it’s easy to reach by motorbike. Rentals would cost from 400 to 500 pesos per day. You can gas up anywhere on the side of the road when you see small stores selling red bottles. It usually costs 50 pesos per bottle. Motorbike rentals are sprawled all over General Luna and it’s pretty hard to miss because signs are posted everywhere. Just be sure to drive safe! When you get there, be ready to climb up huge boulders and jump into beautiful blue and crystal clear waters of natural rock pools. Sometimes it could get a bit crowded but if you explore the area further, there are some less crowded rock pools.
An afternoon at Sugba Lagoon
Absolutely breathtaking views and a serene cruise on the way to the lagoon. There are a lot of tour packages offered from the different resorts around General Luna which already includes van transfers, lunch, and entrance fees. At the Lagoon, there’s a viewing deck with tables and chairs, stand-up paddles (SUP) and even swimming gear for rent. Be sure to jump off the diving board! It’s not as high as it looks.
Learn how to surf!
Siargao, after all, is the surf capital of the Philippines so there’s no reason for you to miss out on this surfing opportunity. Learn to surf and get a local surf instructor which usually costs for 500 pesos an hour which already includes the surfboard rental. You can hire an instructor from the different resorts or shops in General Luna or simply approach them by the viewing deck in Cloud 9. There’s a wave in the island for every level so it’s perfectly fine to surf without any experience.
A personal favorite. Pacifico is a much smaller, more laid back and quieter municipality up north. It’s also one of the best places for pro-surfers to catch bigger and better waves all year round. Strictly not for beginners! But the waves are just captivatingly a tease, the type to draw you in but you can’t even swim in them. They’re just really that big and beautiful. These are some of the things I’ve experienced so far. It’s always a great time in Siargao. The island evolves every time you visit. Stay a while longer, and see her unfold before you.