Siargao: Cloud 9
January 1, 1970
I drifted to sleep five minutes after take-off, already dreaming of Cloud 9. What seemed like minutes later, I woke up and looked to Rosie on my right. She had an apologetic look on her face, so I immediately took out my head phones and asked “what’s up?” She explained that the airplane circled around Siargao for about thirty minutes and the captain decided the weather was too bad to land, we were already back in Cebu. There is only one flight per day in and out of Siargao, this was a huge bummer.
Upon landing we teamed up with some locals and sprinted to the ticket counter to get our flights switched from Siargao to Surigao City. We recruited 20 others from our first flight to chip in so we could organize a private boat to take us to our paradise once we land in Surigao City. A short and relaxing four hour boat ride later, totaling a fourteen hour travel day, we arrived in Siargao and it was more than worth the travel time.
Where to Stay
General Luna is the spot to be. There are a handful of resorts, plenty of hostels/cheap accommodation, restaurants, and bars. It is located on the South East side of the island, and is centered around Cloud 9, the infamous surf spot.
The first few nights I stayed at Villa Solaria. At 300p a night, it can’t be beat! The dorm room is outdoors with mosquito nets around each bunk. The outdoor showers and kitchen is easily accessible at all times, a very relaxed place.
After a day or two I wanted a spot right by the water, which lead me to Ocean 101. This place is amazing. Amazing view, boat access to other local surf spots, amazing staff, relaxing atmosphere, and the food.. the food is to good! There are a variety of rooms, but a standard room with a double size bed and ocean view will cost you 500 pesos, which is about $10 US per night. You cannot go wrong! Not to mention it is a two minute walk to the pier to watch the surfers at cloud 9.
Drop Inn, Paglaom Hostel, and Jing’s Place are also equally as good. Although I did not stay at these locations, you meet everyone in General Luna within a few days, so I spent time at each location catching up with locals and fellow surfers.
What to do
Half asleep and dragged out of bed at 7am, I had no clue what was in store for me that day. A quick stop at Jing’s Place, and next thing I know a group of 18 are geared up and ready for a big surf day at Dako Island. We arranged for two boats to take the group out for the day at 150 pesos per head. We all chipped in another 150 pesos each to purchase some fish, rice, and veggies from the local market. Dako Island is gorgeous. We rented a hut for the day, and while the group was out surfing the locals prepared and cooked an amazing meal for us with our earlier purchases. After lunch and a few heated volleyball games, we played with the local kids. If you are lucky they will give you a few sea shells as a token of their appreciation. Playing with the kids was a memorable experience in its own, they loved taking pictures of each other on my iPhone and I definitely believe some of them have never seen their own image before.
Magpupungko beach is a must see at low tide, the rock pools are stunning. The water is so clear, nature at its finest. There is something magical about this place. From General Luna it takes about forty five minutes on a motor bike.
Surf, surf, and surf. Cloud 9 is ranked in the top 8 best surf spots in the world by CNN. Secret beach (you will have to ask the locals) provides perfect waves for long boarding and for beginners. If you are looking for something more advanced and consider yourself an expert, Stimpy’s is the place for you but is only accessed by boat. The surf is good year around, but the bigger swells tend to be November until March.
Where to Eat
First and foremost, Shaka Siargao, this place is epic. Delicious and healthy acai bowls & smoothies, a wicked gallery, and an incredible staff. It is what you need after a long morning surf session.
The second most important place, and probably where you will have dinner each night, Mumma’s Grill. Filipino bbq, what more could you want. Get there around 6pm or after 8:30pm, it gets a bit crowded but in the best kind of way. You will find an awesome mix of locals and fellow travelers.
JJ King, delicious bbq ribs. Drive past Cloud 9 and turn left at the end of the road, it is right next to uno dos trece, an equally as good café with the best pizza in town. You cannot go wrong with anything from Kermit’s and the restaurant has one of the most well-known chefs in the Philippines currently. If you are in the mood for French cuisine check out Kawayan or Kanilaw. If you are after crepes or breakfast food, Palaka is worth checking out.
Ask around where Bren Lopez is currently the chef, I kid you not, the most talented person I have had the pleasure of meeting. His food… simply amazing.
Every night there is a big party on the island, just ask one of the locals which place to go to. Offshore is a great bar with a billiards table. Pagoda is the place to be on Monday night, and there is a huge jungle party twice a week. Most bars stay open fairly late, but the bar of the night will be in full swing until dawn. Lux is also worth checking out, great sushi in the evening and live music to keep you entertained.
My Happy Place
Rather you are after surf, delicious food, beautiful beaches, or just a place to relax, Siargao Island is the place to be. This place is truly magical, it is something you feel instantly upon arrival. I have traveled quite a bit, and this island has won my heart, my “soul home”. It is filled with wonderful like-minded people that simply want to live the simple life. Eat, surf, and be happy.