The further you travel in South East Asia, the more castaway you feel when you get there and the effort it takes to get to this surfer’s paradise is well worth it. The 3-hour boat trip from Surigao City (not to be confused with Siargao) passes through an amazing area with a calm bay like feel and survivor style islands.
Had it not been for the epic surf breaks that pummel the coastline, Siargao would probably remain undiscovered. However, these waves have earned themselves a mean reputation. The most famous of these is Cloud 9 and should not be treated lightly. From October until April this barreling wave will both delight and punish. There’s a good crowd of locals to give you the lie of the land and it is a friendly environment for both meeting people and catching waves. Even if you are a beginner you can find surf at most times of the year. In the off season from May until July the break next to Cloud 9 (called Quicksilver) hosts the perfect sized swell for the learner amongst us. The coral reefs complicate things a little bit but if you go at the right tide, with a local teacher, then you shouldn’t go wrong. If there’s not enough surfing to be done on the mainland then a banca boat will take you to some “secret” spots, or if it’s just a beach you’re after there are plenty around! April until July is also the best time to go fishing and the locals love taking people out to try to grab a Marlin. Be you a surfer or a beach bum, you won’t regret making the trip down south to Siargao.
Where to Stay
A number of international surf style resorts have been set up near the Cloud 9 break. Ocean 101 has good food and “surfers favourite” rooms for 750Php/night. It’s owned by an Aussie who spends half of his time in the Philippines and half of his time near Byron Bay – not a bad life.
Alternatively you can stay in the main town of General Luna, although it will be a bit of a walk or a cycle to get to the main surf breaks. Pacifico beach north of Cloud 9 is developing as a resort spot with a break out from the beach. Cloud 9 definitely isn’t the only place to stay but it is very convenient if you want to surf and find other travelers.
Things to do
- Surf: plenty of it! Peak season September – April with big surfing competitions being held at the beginning of the season. In the off season the waves drop but are still fun and consistent.
- Fish: hire a banca boat, a local and a couple of fishing rods then head out to catch a big one! When you’ve brought in your catch either cook it on a tropical island beach and feel like a sweet hunter gather, or take it back to the resort where they will cook it for you.
- Idle with a mask and snorkel: Instructions – book, beach, book, beach, swim, snorkel, beach, snorkel, book. Sound good?
- Bike tour: Siargao is big enough to make exploring on a motorbike fun. There are heaps of interesting beaches away from the crowded spots. Not recommended after rain however, as the roads can get pretty boggy!
How to get there
- Fly: You can travel by plane to get to Siargao, although at this stage flights only leave from Manila/Cebu on Fridays and are quite expensive as far as Philippines flights go.
- Air & Sea: Most alternative routes travel via Surigao City. Fly into here from Cebu City and then catch a ferry on to Siargao. If this all sounds too complicated, spend the extra and catch a flight, you won’t regret it…
Where to go next?
- Cagayan de Oro: Tagged “the golden friendship city” this makes the ideal city break if you’ve had your fill of island life. Take a 6-hour bus ride to CDO from Surigao City.
- Camiguin: Once you’re done with CDO, the logical next step is Camiguin Island, famous for its beaches, volcanoes and springs. Just a 2-hour boat trip from CDO on the fast ferry.
- Cebu: You can take an overnight boat with Cokaliong Shipping Lines from here and be back in Cebu the very next day.