Siargao Island, Philippines

by - November 30, 2018

I spent 4 nights and 3 and a half days in Siargao (pronounced Shar-go) in early November. It’s a beautiful island, and a lot of Filipino people holiday there. It’s about a 2hours 30minute flight from Manila.
The island is known mostly for surfing, and the "vibe". It’s a very relaxed place where tourists and locals mix together and go to the same places. It’s got a very “surfer vibe”; very chilled. 
One of my favourite things about the island was they use as little plastic as possible! There are no plastic straws, but either bamboo straws or metal straws (which I learnt is actually the same most places in the Philippines). You also feel incredible relaxed, and everyone is on the same page, and you never feel like anyone is trying to scam you! 
Tricycle prices are fixed at P20 within General Luna, food is cheap, locals are delightful, and there’s always a night out available (if that’s your thing). 
The rainy season here is longer than elsewhere, and so we had a lot of rain while in Siargao (early November) which was a shame, but didn’t really ruin anything for us. It did mean there were things I didn’t get to do, but maybe I’ll just have to come again... 

Things to do:

Surfing at Cloud 9:

The surfing is really good! To rent a board for an hour is P200 (£2.90/US$3.75) and P500 with an instructor (£7.25/US$9.41). For a whole day, a board is P500. It’s a great site for beginners and experienced surfers alike, but if you have any surf experience (even if limited) I would recommend just hiring a board without an instructor, because there are loads in the water anyway and experienced surfers who will happily help you! The surf is tide dependent, so from about midday until 4pm there are no waves, so I recommend going early and surfing in the morning, and then if you want to go again, aim for as close to 4pm as possible as it gets dark very quickly. 
The only bad thing about the surfing here, is the water is very crowded. There are a lot of people surfing at the same time and so you do have to dodge people, and some people have absolutely no awareness and so can be a challenge at times. One day I was surfing and the current was quite strong so that’s also something to bare in mind, but we were told it was particularly bad that day! 

3 islands tour:

This is a popular day trip in Siargao, where you visit Naked Island, Daco Island, and Guyam Island. They are very beautiful, but definitely try and do this on a sunny day! We had heavy rain showers and everything was soaked by the end! But I recommend getting a mango-coffee smoothie on Guyam island - sounds weird but was delicious! Take a snorkel if you have one, but if not I wouldn’t hire one as the snorkelling isn’t amazing so save your cash. We paid P880 each (which includes the environmental fee) and we had our own boat! Prices vary from shop to shop so just know your options. My tour didn’t include lunch (a mango coffee smoothie was my lunch) but tours including lunch were available for a higher price! 

Other things:

  • Magpupungko rock pools
  • Sugba Lagoon
Due to time restraints and bad weather, we didn’t do either. It is a shame, but having seen beautiful lagoons in Coron, I can’t help but feel it wasn’t the end of the world. 

Where to stay:

Definitely stay in General Luna! That’s where cloud 9 is and where everybody is! There’s loads of hostels, bars, restaurants etc and it's got a great vibe. It costs P300 to get to from the airport in a van (there are loads waiting outside the airport going to General Luna so you just give your hostel name and they’ll let you know when it’s your turn to get off). In terms of hostels/hotels, you definitely get what you pay for! We went cheap (Alpas hostel), and it was fine but not amazing. If I was to go again, I think I would pay a little more for accommodation in Siargao. I also definitely recommend booking in advance as all the good places tend to get booked up quickly and so if you turn up and try to find somewhere you’re unlikely to get anywhere good. I didn’t stay there, but I heard good things about “White Banana Hostel” and if I was to go again, that’s where I’d go. 


The important stuff: food. 
Food in Siargao is really good (some of the best I had in the Philippines). Here are some places I recommend (all in General Luna): 
  • Mama’s grill: this is a must-go for dinner! Lots of locals eat there and it’s delicious! We had 3 skewers, rice and a bottle of water for roughly £2.80/US$4! Caters for vegans/meat-eaters. 
  • The Pleasure Point Cafe: if you want real coffee (not instant) this is where you have to go. Is not on the main road (aptly named 'Tourism Road' but is just on a side road which is signposted! It does an all day breakfast, and has gluten free and vegan options. 
  • Barrel Bar: cheap and cheerful. Menu has about 5 things on it so service is great, good vibe, and always busy! 
  • Bravo: really nice setting and good food! Generous portions so good for dinner after a long day surfing/exploring! 
  • Shaka: Balinese style breakfast: açai bowls, smoothies, the works! Very near cloud 9 so perfect before or after surfing, and is a beautiful setting for some breakfast! P200 for smoothies and P250 for power bowls. 

Siargao is a good destination food-wise for vegans: there are vegan restaurants or vegan options in most places. There are also gluten free options in a lot of places. 

General Notes:

Renting a motorbike is by far the cheapest and easiest way to get around the island. If this is, however, not for you, the tricycles are reasonably priced! Just ask your accommodation what a good price is for any journey out of General Luna! 
There are free maps of General Luna at baggage claim at the airport: get one.

Final thoughts:

Siargao is beautiful, relaxed, fun, and cheap. It is a little expensive to fly to, but worth it. There is so much construction going on there, so go ASAP. I can definitely see Siargao becoming “the new Bali” and so it won’t be the same as it is now if that happens.

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