Another year ends, but another year of travel begins. While some are busy preparing for noche buena, I was in my room packing my bag and thinking what would it be like to ride a wave for the first time. Yay! I want to find out why everybody is so in love with surfing. Why everyone says it’s addictive? Why everyone keeps on coming back to Siargao Island? And all these questions will be answered on this post.
We landed Surigao City airport few minutes late from the estimated time of arrival due to air traffic delays. Since it was new year, there were no scheduled ferries that would transport us from Surigao to Siargao. There are actually direct flights from Cebu-Siargao but I will discuss it later why I ended up Ceb-Surigao route. Going back with the transportation problem. Haha! We were told that there’s a small boat that can take us to Siargao but of course for a much higher fee. I really wanted to start the day in Siargao, besides there’s nothing much to do in Surigao City aside from going to Mabua Pebble beach. So without hesitation and without thinking the safety precautions, I go for it. There were 9 of us in the boat. At first, it started with a small waves and Yes, it was awesome crossing the pacific ocean. We even took a video of it shouting out our official hashtag #bravethewave. Few minutes later, my excitement was replaced with fear and anxiety. Raindrops started to splatter around us, waves became bigger, and we got drenched. The wind was so cold, the island we looked from afar was covered with fog and at the back of my mind, Oh dear Lord!I can’t die today. I still have to graduate, get married with the man I love, have kids, and travel more. (To give you a clearer view of the scenario, my boyfriend was sitting in front of me, I held his arm while I tightly hugged his sister who was sitting beside me. Can you now picture out the dramatic situation? =D Haha) The boatman instructed us to calm down through hand gesture, but I was so nervous with hands and lips shaking uncontrollably.
After 3 hours dancing with the waves, we safely arrived in Del Carmen port. Prayer is indeed the most powerful weapon. The boatman then explained that we were caught on a 15 minutes storm and it was all NORMAL. Whaaaat? Was it normal to you kuya? I almost died! I almost lost the chance to explore the world! But I think he was telling the truth. It was all normal to them but not for the first timers.
If you’re gonna ask me right now, if I have regrets going on that epic boat ride, my answer is none. That was my most unforgettable trip so far and I learned a lot of things from that experience. I finally see the importance of knowing how to swim. Lol =D In fact, I will enroll on a swimming lesson this summer. On a serious note, if you plan on visiting Siargao via Surigao, please do not ride on a small boat specially those without safety gears(lifevest etc.). No offense with the small boat owners. Always think about your safety people but if you are really into adventure, go ahead but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
From Del Carmen, we traveled 1hr and 30 minutes to the municipality of GL(General Luna) by tricycle. Since most of the resorts are fully booked, kuya driver helped us look for a budget friendly accommodation. We found Ocean Pacific not far from the surfing spot and the very first thing we did was hang all our wet clothes. Lesson learned: Use a waterproof backpack or at least have something waterproof to cover your bag incase of rain etc.)
I didn’t want to waste time, so after we had late lunch, we started exploring the beautiful island of Siargao. Here are the places we visited, and the breakdown of expenses.
Must see places in Siargao Island
- The instagram worthy roads of Del Carmen-(Free)
You will not only see this in the municipality of Del Carmen but also in the whole island of Siargao. They have the most amazing roads I have ever been to that I regret not bringing my running shoes and jogging attire. I just imagined myself waking up at 4am, running, and having this view all to myself.
2. The Boardwalk-(Free)
After a day full of outdoor activities, this wooden bridge is perfect for a late afternoon chill that gives you a 360 degree view of the sea. We spent an hour here waiting for the sunset, looking at the waves, and watching the locals and visitors with their surf boards. Surfers also pass through this wooden bridge to get to the lighthouse and to easily access the ocean waves.
3. The famous surfing spot at Cloud 9- (Surfboard- 150 to 200, Instructor- 300 per hour)
Known for its beautiful waves that makes it the surfing capital of the Philippines, your visit would not be complete without giving surfing a try. This is my first time, so preparation and a bit of reading was made before this trip. I read on how to get up on a surfboard and all the basics of surfing but the struggle is real when you’re already there doing the actual thing. It took me a couple of minutes to finally get up and to balance. Now I know why tourists keep on coming back. This is because surfing is addictive based on experience.
In case you plan on catching some waves this summer, here are things I learned and some tips from the newbie. Haha
- Surfing needs strong arms for paddling and good core for balancing. Learning planks or basic yoga will not only help you pick it up quickly but will also help you save time. You don’t want to waste your 30 minutes learning how to balance, do you? Time is gold and surfboard rent is expensive.
- When we rented a surfboard, I immediately grabbed the short one because it was lighter and easy to carry. But my instructor said, I should use the longboard. Longboards are for beginners because the length helps you feel more stable. Shortboards on the other hand, are for the professionals.
- You need to have a proper surfing attire. ( Rash guard paired with board short or anything that is surfing specific.)
4. Bucas Grande Island and Sohoton Cove National Park
Normally, Bucas Grande and Sohoton would consume 1 whole day, but our boatman offered us a reasonable price going to the well known islands (Daku, Guyam, and Naked island) + Bucas Grande and Sohoton all in one day. We go for it but I will recommend this at all unless you start the tour at 5am or earlier. There are a lot of places to explore in Bucas Grande that requires more time.
We traveled 2 and a half hours to Bucas grande with 2 foreigners (Elena and Ross) who joined us. We encountered strong waves along the way but Nahhh it’s like normal to me. I’ve been through worse already but I survived!
First stop, Club Tara Resort. (Entrance fee: 20php) Known for its overwater villa, this place is ideal for honeymooners.Stand up paddling, kayaking, and swimming are the main activities here. Room rate starts from 3, 000-7,000.
Crystal Cave Paradise and Bolitas Cave (Entrance Fee: 50php)
Before we entered the cave, our tour guide provided us with helmet and a flashflight. I’ve been to a lot of caves already, so I was just expecting a normal spelunking experience, but when we explored Crystal Cave, I was amazed with the stalactites and stalagmites that are covered with sparkling crystals. They were glamorous and full of beauty. The fact that it was not developed gave it a real sense of nature. And NOPE, you’re not allowed to touch it.
The second cave named “Bolitas cave” is only for the adrenaline junkies. It has a very tiny opening that all you can do the entire 10 minutes journey is to crawl. There’s no other way to get in and out in this cave than crawling. As I slowly went down, I found it so hard and thought of going out to breath some fresh air. But too late, there’s no turning back once you started because the pathway to the cave only fits one person. So yeah, I was able to come out alive with sweat in my face and dirt in my clothes. =D
This is absolutely not for the faint-hearted or those with heart conditions. Ross did not even risk himself and decided to just stay outside.
Tiktikan Lake (Entrance Fee: 25Php)
Jumping in the lake is the main activity here. At first, I was scared but I don’t want to miss anything from this trip, so I jump not once but twice.
Next in the itinerary is Sohoton Cove National park. Before entering Sohoton, you have to pay the necessary fees at the reception including another small boat that will take you to different tourist spots. Activities here are caving, cliff jumping, and swimming with sting-less jelly fish. Unfortunately, our boatman did not check if we included jelly fish sanctuary on the list and we also run out of time, so we decided to just skip the thing and asked for a refund.
To get to Sohoton cove, a small boat will pass through this cave opening with a very low ceiling. This is the only entrance and exit to the area and is only accessible during low tide.
The moment we were in, I feel the serenity of the place away from the harsh pollution of the city life. Ahhhh-What a wonderful world.
This place often compared to Palawan because of its majestic lagoons and rock formations.
After a quick lunch at Cafe Grande, we visited the 3 famous islands.
Naked Island (Free)
This is a bare island with nothing but few birds flying around. We spent a couple of minutes swimming here and went to Guyam island. We skip Daku due to time constraints but was able to take a glimpse of it while on our way to Guyam.
Guyam Island (Entrance fee: 10php)
Ended our day in Guyam to witness the sunset.
5. Resort Hopping
On our day 3 in Siargao, we rented a motor bike for 500 pesos to explore the island. First on the list is a public beach named Malinaw Beach. There were locals sitting in the cottage as we arrived. We spend time chitchatting with them and had a photo op.
I don’t know exactly the name of this beach but let’s just call it Bayod beach since this is near Bayod Beach resort. Lol. I can’t really tell how we get here but what I can recall is we pass through someone’s backyard and ended up in this place .=D
Dedon Island Resort (Official Website)
A luxury resort ranked as one of the top 25 Coolest Hotels in the world.
Magpupungko Beach Resort( Entrance: 50Php)
Aside from the great waves, a tidal pool created by mother nature itself is also located in the town of Pilar, an hour and a half motor ride from GL. Make sure to visit here during low tide (late afternoon) so you can experience swimming and jumping in the crystal clear tidal pool.
Other attractions: Sugba Lagoon and Cinnamon Island
Where to Stay?
There are lot of friendly accommodations when you get there, so don’t worry about it. During our 4 days in the island, we stayed at Ocean Pacific for 1,000 pesos per night good for 2. We paid the extra bed for 150 php. They have restaurant that has big serving and allows you to keep your left overs in their ref. Just ask them to heat it when you want to.
Where to Eat?
Kermit Surf and Dive EcoCamp and Cashey’s Place
How to get to Siargao?
- Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have direct flights to Siargao (Sayak Airport) from Cebu or Manila. My original plan was to visit Surigao del Sur the reason why I booked the Surigao City route. But del Sur requires 8 hours bus travel from Surigao City, so I visited del Norte instead.
- Cokaliong Shipping lines have schedules going to Surigao City. From Surigao port, ride a ferry bound to Dapa port in Siargao.
Breakdown of Expenses
|Trike from airport to pier||150|
|Boat fare from Surigao-Siargao||1500|
|Trike to GL from Del Carmen||500|
|Burger and Peanut for snacks||95|
|Trike to market( jump off point for island hopping)||60|
|Water bottle and banana||96|
|1 kilo of chicken||127|
|Club Tara entrance fee||60|
|Paddle Board Rental||100|
|Bulitas Cave entrance fee||150|
|Chicken Cooking fee||100|
|Entrance fee and boat rental to Sohoton||888|
|Guyam entrance fee||30|
|Motor to hotel||60|
|Boat fee for island hopping||3600|
|Accomodation for 3 nights||4455|
|Motor to Dapa Port||300|
|Boat fare to Surigao||771|
|Bread and coffee||31|
|Trike to airport||70|
|Airport terminal fee||300|
|Divided by 3 pax||16,265|
|Airfare per person||800|
|Tshirt and pasalubong(Personal expense)||500|
My whole Siargao experience was beyond expectation and I still have a lot of reasons to visit again soon. Please watch our Siargao Island video © Joemar Intas . Enjoy and Happy Traveling!