Reclining on white powdery sand beaches, surrounded by clear turquoise waters that stretch far as the eye can see, all without a care in the world sounds like a dream vacation for many – it’s a way for us to put aside our phones and disconnect from our busy, interconnected lives.
Did the Maldives pop into your head? It’s not surprising seeing as it is probably at the top of the list of many go-to beach destinations. But if you’re like me and often travel on a budget, scaling down from that is a must.
Enter Siargao Island. Though hailed as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines”, Siargao is often glossed over by beach bums, being in the shadow of crowd-pleaser Boracay Island. But with its dazzlingly white beaches and clear turquoise waters, Siargao more than holds its own as an island paradise worthy of a visit.
Pristine Waters, Breathtaking Lagoons & Stunning White Beaches
Located in the province of Surigao del Norte, Siargao is home to pristine waters, breathtaking lagoons and stunning white beaches. Its renowned waves have drawn in an innumerable number of surfers from all over the world.
It’s surfing spots and year-round waves are what attracts people, but what makes Siargao special is well, precisely its lack of exposure. The island feels pure, untainted by the throngs of opportunistic vendors or rave parties that go on forever into the night.
Here, one can truly soak in the tranquility of nature. With uninhabited islets dotted around, Siargao is peaceful and detached from the going-ons of a commercialised and cosmopolitan city.
Whether you’re an avid surfer, or just want to have a quick and cheap beach getaway, Siargao fits the bill in so many ways. Fair warning though, the island is slowly creeping up in popularity, so its days of obscurity may soon be long gone.
Eat, Sleep, Surf, Repeat
Make no mistake, Siargao is the foremost surfer’s paradise amongst the island paradises of the Philippines.
Boasting quite a number of different surf spots, it doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned veteran or a newbie just getting your feet wet, surfing is a way of life here and a must-try if you want to get the full Siargao experience.
Cloud 9 is the surfing spot on the island. Located in General Luna (the main hubbub of Siargao), Cloud 9 is easily the most famous surf break in Siargao and has enticed many advanced surfers to come and conquer the waves.
Cloud 9 beach is also home to the famous pier. Featuring a wooden boardwalk and tower, it costs PHP 50 (~SGD1.30) to enter, which is more than worth it for that insta-worthy shot. Whether you are an early riser or not, the sunrise is worth plucking yourself out of bed and I don’t say that lightly.
If you have absolutely zero clue on how to surf, but would like to give it a try because why not, then Jacking Horse and Guiuan (G1) are the surf breaks you want to hit.
Do take note that because of the easier waves, it’s very common for instructors to take their students to these places for classes. Be ready to combat the waves as well as the crowd.
Go Island Hopping
There’s of course a lot more to Siargao than mere surfing. Take a stroll around General Luna and you’ll find posters after posters advertising the same three-island hopping tour. These refer to the three nearest islands just off General Luna: Guyam Island, Naked Island, and Daku Island.
Usually the first stop of the tour, Guyam Island is a small, uninhabited island with two contrasting sides – a white and clean sandy beach and the other a rocky shore with strong water currents. Depending on which side you stand one, you’ll either feel like you’re on an episode of Lost waiting for a rescue or an idyllic beach at the Maldives.
It’s a small beautiful oasis that you’ll never forget.
Naked Island is well, naked, but not in the traditional sense. The island, unlike the Guyam and Daku islands, has no trees. It is actually a sandbar, surrounded by deep turquoise waters and meant as a stopover island more than anything.
With no shade, the sun can bear down on you quite quickly, so slap on the sunscreen!
The biggest of the three, Daku Island has a small fishing village of about 300 residents. Dotted with palm trees and cottages lining up along the shore, it’s a mini island paradise in its own right.
Whether it’s stargazing or having a seafood banquet in one of the cottages, you’ll have a surreal experience on Daku island.
The Lagoon, The Cove, & The Rocky Pool
Venture a little further from the main hub of General Luna and you’ll find more stalwart attractions to enjoy. Be stunned by the natural beauty of the gorgeous Sugba Lagoon, go on a pretend treasure hunt among the lagoons and caves of Sohoton Cove, or lounge about in your private infinity pool at the Magpupungko Rock Pools.
Of all the places in and around Siargao island, Sugba Lagoon could quite possibly be the paradise for all non-surfers.
I could regale you with the beauty and wonder of the lagoon but you already know the lowdown, even the 30-45 min boat ride there will have you pass by mangroves and limestone caves. Aside from the stunning beauty of Sugba Lagoon, there are a hosts of activities available for you ranging from standup paddleboarding, diving off a wooden board, canoeing, and snorkeling.
It’s arguably a haven on its own, and definitely worth a trip up north.
Sohoton Cove is not on Siargao island itself, and requires several hours of boat rides to reach. However, it’s extremely rewarding, providing you with an experience like no other in Siargao.
The cove consists of lagoons and caves which you can explore where you’ll find no shortage of stalagmites and bats! If you time your trip well, from March to about August is the jellyfish season, and you’ll be able to swim and interact with stingless jellyfish.
I’d guarantee that’ll be the highlight of your trip – any itinerary to Siargao needs to have Sohoton Cove in it.
A mouthful of a name, the Magpupungko Rock Pools is a natural, rock-forming infinity pool. The Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool is a lavish experience, fit for kicking back and taking in the atmosphere. The Magpupungko Pool, on the other hand, is part fun, part exciting, all breathtaking.
During low tides, the receding water reveals a unique coastal formation that is primed for leisurely swimming and even cliff jumping for the adventurous. Just a motorbike rental and roughly an hour’s ride away, Magpupungko Rock Pools is a magical place which will make all your friends jealous scrolling through on Instagram.