SIARGAO

Surfing at Sunset-- the best!
Finally! We made it in this much talked about island for surfers, island lovers and the like. We’ve been lusting for this island since we started to learn surfing back in 2014, unfortunately it took us 3 years to make it happen as life got in the way (as it usually does).
Sometimes, it’s really just a matter of going for it- whatever it may be.
Forget about the buts and cants; just do it! Book that trip. Drag your ass to do that thing you've always wanted to do. Make the first step to start that thing you've been itching to try.
Starting is the hardest part of doing something anyway. Let worry work itself out later. What's the worst thing that could happen, after all?

The same thing goes for this blog. My closest friends know I have been talking about starting a travel blog ever since 2011. However, if you know me, you’d also know that I'm vigorous at doing nothing and I quite like to procrastinate—two things that definitely don’t go well with blogging. Lol

Anyway, I just decided to freaking do it now and see where it goes. I’ve missed writing and this would be a good way to spend (or waste) my time aside from sleeping when I’m not out there exploring. Please bear with my blabbering along the way—I promise the rest of this post will be helpful to you! :P 

So you want to go to Siargao?
Worry not for this is everything you’ll need for that trip! How to’s, DIY tours, recommendations, down to the budget breakdown. If you're like me who wants to maximize the time out of every trip without compromising quality, then I got you, brothers and sisters!

One pet peeve I get about travel blogs, too, is when they don’t disclose specific details because I’d really like to have an idea of the hows, what to expect, and a round up of the budget to spend if I'm doing the same trip. That's why I’ll be as transparent as I can here, as long as memory allows!


GETTING THERE


siargaomap (2)
Credits to Google Maps haha!
Siargao is an island in the northern part of Mindanao, and this is a lucky year for all of us since it’s easier to go there now more than ever because of the booming tourism.
The easiest way to get here is by Air and here are the options you can take:

IAO (Siargao) airport

  • Via Skyjet: The only way to fly direct from Manila! They only launched this flight last February and that's also one of the reasons why we finally made it to this trip. Round trip for two cost P15, 800php. Not bad right? It’s a bit pricey but definitely worth it to save time. Plus, the flight is super early, so at around 830 am we were already at our hotel in General Luna
    .
  • Via PAL: From Manila you’ll have to go through Surigao (note: Surigao and Siargao are different places), then hop on a ferry for approximately 3.5hrs that would go to Dapa Port. From there it’s only around 20mins away from General Luna. I don’t have much info about this option since we didn’t take it, but I bet our friend Google would know the specifics.
  • Via Cebu Pacific: CebPac only flies direct from Cebu to IAO, so this means buying a Manila-IAO ticket would entail a Cebu stop. The Cebu stop alone would take around 1-2hrs. Adding the Mnl-Ceb and Ceb-IAO flying time, that would total to 4hrs travel time without delays, if you're lucky. That's already half of the day wasted on traveling alone. AND of course, you ALWAYS have to include the possible delays in your travel time estimate to avoid inconvenience in your bookings (and anticipations). Oh, and the round trip ticket for two back when I checked was around 14,000+php. Only if you’ve booked a cheap promo and you have a lot of days to spare for this trip would I recommend this option.
Our van waiting for us
Upon arrival in IAO airport, it's another 45mins going to General Luna on a van. It would cost 300php per head. Just let them know which resort you’re staying at and they'll drop you there.


WHERE TO STAY

There are tons of resorts and hostels in General Luna that would fit any budget and preference.
I didn’t browse much through the higher end resorts because it’s out of budget and I wanted to feel the vibe and the people of the island more rather than be secluded. But if you prefer the private resort type, I’d recommend you check out Dedon Island, Isla Cabana resort, and Siargao Bleu. As for the budget hostels, there are quite a lot! Check out Smiling Pig, Paglaom Hostel, Kermit’s, The HangOut and Villa Solaria. These are only few of what I can remember seeing around in the area that you can also check out online. But there are so many there lined up side by side!
One thing I noticed in Siargao is that there are also a lot of small houses or cottages that you can rent for long term. Aside from dorm type hostels, these were the popular choice for some backpackers we met that are staying for months. If you plan to go in the lean season and you're not very particular, I bet you won’t even need a booking. You can just ask around or comb through the long stretch of hostels and surf resorts there to add it on the adventure! :)
Aint it pretty?
We stayed at Bravo Beach Resort and we were so happy we did. It’s in the mid-end range and just the perfect mix of private and laid back. Each room there were like modern huts that has a tropical-industrial design. It’s facing the beach and the layout is real appealing.
Our room (Photo from booking.com)
We stayed for 3 nights and our accommodation cost us around 10,000php including breakfast, after taxes. The room is good for 4 persons. It has one Queen bed, one single/daybed plus an extra mattress!
Bravo at night
The vibe here was the best, too. Everyone felt like they were your friends. Well, that goes for the whole island! At night the restaurant becomes the best chill out spot. The drinks were fair priced, their music was simply the best and it’s always packed at night! Seems like everyone in the island know it’s the place to go.
We tried to hang out on our last night at Harana Surf Resort since some friends recommended that it was the ~best~ place to chill and drink, but we ended up going back to Bravo. I don’t know why exactly. The place also looked really cool, more on Filipino design. Food and drinks were good, but we found the crowd was a little different and there were mosquitos around too. :( I guess it’s subjective, though. So even if you don’t end up staying at these resorts make sure to drop by specially at night to see for yourself!



Y/OUR ITINERARY


 1. SURF
One of the best downtime and sunset spots is at Cloud 9
Do it! You’re at the surfing capital of the Philippines, so go ahead and surf or start to learn here if you don’t know how to. Siargao has the best waves I have ever surfed that I ended up riding 'til Sunset. Boy, was it a view! It has waves for all levels of surfers so don’t be intimidated if you’re a beginner.
The Boardwalk
"Cloud 9" is the area for surfing, and the name was coined from the description of how the waves look like. The locals said that if you'll look at the waves' form from the side, it creates a number 9. Only the big waves do this form so Cloud 9 is also what they reference for the big waves. However, there are different kinds of waves here that will suit all level of surfers. Right beside Cloud 9, there's Quicksilver for intermediate riders like me. Then on to the most lefthand side is for beginners. I can't remember what they called it. There are also other spots/islands to surf at aside from Cloud 9, just ask around and they will guide you for sure.
When I ride waves in a new place, I usually hire an instructor for the first hour to be on the safe side. You can never be so sure and presumptuous with the sea. I do this to get to know that part of the sea first, to feel the mood of the ocean there, and get tips from the locals who know their waves best. After getting to know her better I would then proceed with the board rental alone, to build a connection on my own and to save cost. :P I had the best time surfing at Cloud 9 and had my best record here! The surfing rates here are:
Our total expense here was 2000php for two, since we spent 3 hours each and the first hour was both with trainers. And that’s including the tip for our instructors for being such pros.
I’d recommend my trainer Kuya Bogs if you want to have one of the best, he’s a pro and has a license, too, so you'll know that aside from talent, he was also officially trained. He taught me a lot of tricks that made riding easier for me. Call him if you want to schedule for a surf in the island. His number is 0909 414 6351. :)


 2. Visit Magpupungko Rock Pools
 
Best natural pool I've seen yet!
From General Luna to Magpupungko Rock Pools is around 50mins and there is an entrance fee of 50/person. One favored choice in Siargao to go around the island is by renting a motorbike. On the other hand, if you don't know how to drive motorbikes like us, habal-habal is a really fun way to go!
Did you know you can do cliff jumping here, too?
Here are your options to go to Magpupungko:
Motorbike rental
400/day
Habal-Habal ride
1000/roundtrip



Our first habal-habal ride!
That’s why if you’ll rent a motorbike it would be much cheaper. Anyway, we had a great experience riding habal-habal because aside from the experience, our driver even gave us free Buko on our way back! It was hands down the freshest Buko I've ever drank and tasted. Probably because it was literally cut fresh from a random Buko field along the highway. Haha. It was so spontaneous and we truly appreciated the generosity of the locals to us. Definitely one of the highlights of our day.
Kuya Bebot asking us and and the nice group he joined us with to pose like this lol *peace!*
Special thanks to Kuya Bebot of Siargao who arranged all of these for us. If you’re going to do a DIY tour, he’s the best person to call. He has contacts from habal-habal drivers, airport transfers, to boat rentals at the best rate! And he’s genuinely kind. He won’t even accept our little appreciation tip because he said he only wanted to give us a great time in Siargao. He jokingly said that if we recommend him to our friends and he’d be already happy. So folks, trust me that you’ll get the best rates if you contact this good man. I suggest you call directly instead of texting since there were problems with his number that he cannot text back. Here are his contact numbers: 0906 459 5679 0930 974 9974


3. Tour Bucas Grande and Do Island Hopping (Naked, Daku, and Guyam Island)



Originally, we only planned to do the Island hopping but Kuya Bebot suggested that we also visit Bucas Grande on the same day because it would be more sulit. He also found another group for us to join to be able to get the cheapest split per person. We were lucky that we ended up a total of 7 pedoing the tour. Doing this itinerary would take one whole day and the call time is at 7am because the boat ride to Bucas Grande would take 2hrs. I promise it will be worth it though, since Bucas Grande is a hidden gem!
Bucas Grande,the little Palawan of Siargao
It looks like a little Coron/El Nido with the limestones and the color of the water in the lagoon. Sohoton Cove is also part of the Bucas Grande tour, but the highlight for me here aside from the view is the Stingless Jellyfish Sanctuary!
Stingless Jellyfish Sanctuary behind us

It was fun to learn and to interact with their kind because on a normal basis, you’d be avoiding them. Lol! It was also nice to see that the locals are conserving their home and educating the tourists on how to properly engage with them.
The rates for this tour is listed below. Do note that the price per person may vary depending on how many are participating in the tour.

Boat Rental (good for 8)
4500
Entrance & other Fees in Bucas Grande
350/person
Food bought at the market
200
Cooking Fee
100/kilo
Total per person
1,300

PS: I don’t know exactly how they computed the fees in Bucas Grande, the lady at the counter just listed a lot of things and then split it to our group of 7. Then I remember paying 350/person. Our group bought our own food at the market, which was also the meeting place for this tour. So this really depends on your group and on what you will bring with you since you’ll be eating at Bucas Grande. :)
As for the island hopping, here are some snippets:
Naked Island. Sand so white and water so clear!

Daku Island. You can surf here, too!
Guyam Island. Lush greens in the middle!
This is a good deal compared to the resort rates that would charge around 1,200 per person for the 3 island hopping alone. I think if they'll allow you to include Bucas Grande their rate would be at around 2000-2500 per person. So in my opinion, it would be better to DIY through Kuya Bebot for this tour.
  1. Spend time at Sugba Lagoon
An enclosed paradise
On our last day we spent it at the stunning Sugba Lagoon. This is the most expensive activity that we did since we didn’t opt for Kuya Bebot’s DIY. We felt it would be too much hassle on our part since we were also tired from the activities from the other day.  So instead, we availed of Bravo’s rate which was 2000/person but inclusive of everything such as drinks and buffet lunch on the lagoon. We were quite a big group consisted of 2 full vans. But we had the place all to our group that day. We were surprised that the buffet was quite bountiful, incuding unlimited beer and Tanduay Rum to choose from the drink list. It was a sulit tour as well!

Here you can do SUP, Kayaking, Snorkeling and/or sunbathing when you're tired from all the activities!
Bravo also organizes tour groups among the other hotels so usually they'll include you in a big tour group. I also noticed a posting in the Sugba Lagoon office that there was a limited number of people to visit Sugba Lagoon at a time, and they had time schedules per group. So personally, I think it was a good call to go with Bravo since they already have a good connection with the office there. That's also probably why there weren't any other groups in the lagoon that day.
If you want to save though, the DIY option would be your best bet. You can call  Kuya Bebot regarding the DIY rates here and advice him if you want to be joined with other groups ahead of time, so he can schedule and set up your tour. :)


  1. Eat out and explore the nightlife
Happy to say that this island is also for foodies like me! Wherever I go, it’s always part of the itinerary to eat good food. For Siargao, obviously seafood would be abundant and that’s what we ate mostly during our tours. Simple and fresh food that would hit the spot. But aside from the local food, Siargao also has a lot of restaurants and different cuisines brought in by foreigners that have decided to live there. There’s Italian, French, Spanish and Asian cuisines that you could choose from! Most of these are offered in the resort restaurants so you’d get to check other resorts as well if you’ll eat out.
These are my recommendations:
Shaka for Acai bowls and Smoothies


Bravo Resort for Tapas, desserts and their After Surf Sundays
Kermit Siargao for their Pizzas and Truffle Pasta
Harana Surf Resort for Filipino food
Mama’s grill for ihaw-ihaw
  1. Chill out and just enjoy the island
I highly recommend that you allot another day to do nothing in particular except to chill out, lay around and take in all the beauty and the people of Siargao. We still left out places to visit in that town. We wish we could have stayed longer, but duty calls. We promise we’d be back for real, though! And this time just to surf and lounge all day enjoying the sun and the sea. Out of the 7,107+ islands of the Philippines, I think we may have found our favorite. <3
Before we close, let me give you a total rundown of our expenses during this trip. These rates are for two already (not including the food & drinks):


Airfare
15,800
Hotel
10,000 (4d/3n)
Airport Transfers
1,200
Magpupungko Rock Pools
1,100
Surfing
2,000
Bucas Grande + Island hopping
2,600
Sugba Lagoon
4,000
Total Expense for two
36,700 php


There you go! Of course you can modify depending on your budget and activities, but at least now you have an idea. These are all that we have tried and could recommend on our short stay. Feel free to comment if you have other recommendations you also swear by. We’d love to try it on our next stay, too! See you there! :)


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