Siargao is located in Mindanao, in the province of Surigao Del Norte. Most tourists stay in General Luna (where the famous surf spots are), visit Del Carmen (where Sugba Lagoon is) and Socorro (where Bucas Grande is), but this tiny island is actually composed of 9 municipalities in total. Siargao is home to many surfers all over the world but is also becoming more popular to non-surfer visitors these days.
For this trip, we didn’t exactly go through our regular rigorous planning process because we heard the place is meh (please mimic the sound of the goat) – meh-diocre, meh-aningless, meh-ga ugly. In fact, as I’m writing this, I am realizing that I really shouldn’t go on because I don’t really have any content. This blog post has actually nothing in it so you should just stop reading now and close the window. Yes, you may stop now, I am giving you permission.
…just kidding! (Though I kinda feel bad for those people who really closed the window, oopsie.)
Celina and I have dreamt of going to Siargao ever since we were in the wombs of our mothers (!!!) and this is actually the longest blog post we have to date (you can check out the other posts we wrote to make sure we are not lying, he he he) and this post is one of the two-part blog post about Siargao! Check out the second part of our Siargao adventure guide: Where to Eat in Siargao. Siargao is all sorts of amazing (even when it’s not sunny) and I just can’t stop daydreaming, reminiscing, and talking about it!!! *insert all emojis here cos I’m going crazy*
Anyway, let’s try to keep this a secret, ye?
See our 8D7N ITINERARY AND BUDGET BREAKDOWN
Trip dates: March 24 to 31, 2017
Trip budget: PHP 9,000 (exclusive of accommodations)
How to get to there:
Getting to Siargao is quite easy since two airlines, Cebu Pacific and SkyJet, already offer direct flights to the city. However, the cost won’t be that easy on your wallet as fares ranges from PHP 4,000 to PHP 17,000. The good news though is, if you don’t mind being inconvenienced a bit (we really love being hassled), there is a cheaper alternative which is to fly from Manila to Cebu or Surigao city.
Manila to Siargao (via Cebu):
- From NAIA Terminal Airport (Manila) fly to Mactan-Cebu Airport. (Travel time: 1 hour)
- From Mactan-Cebu Airport, book a flight to Sayak Airport, Siargao. (Travel time: 1.15 hours)
- From Sayak Airport to General Luna, ride a van to your hotel. (Travel time: 45 minutes. Van fare: PHP 300)
Manila to Siargao (via Surigao):
- From NAIA Terminal Airport (Manila), fly to Surigao City. (Travel time: 1 hour)
- From Surigao Airport, ride a trike or jeepney to Pier 1. (Travel time: 15 minutes. Trike fare: PHP 10)
- Ride ferry to Dapa Port, Siargao. (Travel time: 3 hours. Fare: PHP 250)
- From Dapa Port, you can ride the habal-habal to get to your hotel. (Travel time: 15 minutes. Fare: PHP 200 per habal-habal)
Note: Ferry schedules are as follows:
From Surigao to Dapa: 6:00 AM (LQP, MV Brit Phil), 11:30 AM (Fortune Angel), 12:00 NN (Montenegro)
From Dapa to Surigao: 5:30 AM (Fortune Angel), 6:00 AM (Montenegro), 11:00 AM (MV BritPhil), 12:00 NN (Montenegro)
Where to stay:
Home away from home – we found it in two places in Siargao. Our stay couldn’t have been more comfortable and relaxing, thanks to Buddha’s Surf Resort and Tiki Bungalows and Bar.
In just 10 minutes after setting foot in this island, we already knew we were going back to Siargao. We were welcomed by uber accommodating and helpful staff upon arriving at Buddha’s Surf Resort. Before showing us to our rooms, they served us fresh bukos (coconut) and of course we took it – no one says no to buko! We had it halved so we can devour the meat which we partnered with brown sugar. It turned out to be surprisingly delicious (I don’t know why I’ve never tried that before)!
This (photo below) is the garden area which is the view outside our room. It’s where you can chill on the hammocks or be active and play volleyball. Buddha’s Surf Resort is refreshing to the eyes; it has a laid-back vibe, a place where you can enjoy peace and quiet. Its location is quite perfect because it’s equidistant from Cloud 9 and the restaurants in General Luna. Reef Beach is just a two-minute walk across the resort.
Celina and I are a huge fan of board games *flashback to college when we would play Monopoly Deal non-stop and even sneak the cards during class* which is why it was such a joyous moment when we found there were cards, foosball, pingpong, etc. in the common area! Some of our afternoons were spent here, having an intense one-on-one pingpong tourney.
Highlights of Buddha’s Surf Resort: Strong wifi connection, fun and games in the common/restaurant area, tide watch is on the board, knowledgeable and friendly staff, modern and clean rooms, free breakfast for direct bookings
Price range: PHP 2,500 – PHP 4,400 (as of March 2017)
We arrived at Tiki Bungalows and Bar rather early (i.e. 9 AM) since we planned an island hopping tour that day. My friends and I were completely fine leaving our bags at the restaurant area (check-in was still at 2PM) but Dick and Riza (the owners) offered their home so our stuff would be safe and secure (they were soooo nice!). It was there where we met Kenji, their 4-year old son who is so cute and adorable and even gave us candies! It was such a warm welcome from a lovely family.
We stayed in the Rooftop Villa, modern type of accommodation with a native touch. The room was very spacious (it’s good for 3 but actually around 6 people can fit) and spotless. The beds were comfortable, there was a hot and cold shower, and air-conditioning unit. I found it cool that we had a rooftop terrace and my friends and I planned to hangout there at night, under the stars but it always rained so unfortunately, we weren’t able to.
Tiki doesn’t have its own restaurant but does have its own bar. Its location is also between Cloud 9 and General Luna restaurants and is also a 2-minute walk to the beach across the road (Tiki is actually a few steps away from Buddha). We are especially grateful for the hospitality and kindness of the owners who treated us like their own family.
Highlights of Tiki Bungalows and Bar: Great location, value for money, quiet and peaceful surroundings, accommodating and helpful owners, clean and spacious rooms
Price range: PHP 1,000 – PHP 1,500 (as of March 2017)
Check the second part of our blog here: Where to Eat in Siargao.
What to do in Siargao:
Surf and watch people surf
Siargao is a surfers paradise. From kids to grandfathers (yes, we met a dude who was already 70 years old!), everyone is welcome and even encouraged to try surfing. I, myself am not in intermediate or advanced level and before the trip, I was actually worried that the waves would not be beginner-friendly. As usual, I worried for nothing (when will I ever learn) because there are different spots in the island for different types of learners. For beginners, it’s recommended to go to Reef Beach, Giwan and Jacking Horse. Meanwhile, for more advanced surfers, there is Cloud 9 and Quicksilver.
I’m not gonna lie though. During our second day, we went to Reef Beach to surf. I was able to catch the waves and it was really fun …until that time I was wiped out and couldn’t paddle back to where everyone was. The strong waves just kept on coming and coming, drowning me. There was a point I was just underwater and kinda accepted that I was gonna die there. I know, I’m being over dramatic (sometimes I like to pretend I’m in a teleserye) but I guess what I’m trying to say that you still have to look out for your safety, make sure to listen to your instructor, and don’t give up on life.
After the surfing session, I kept burping (someone drank a lot of salt water, eh?) and whenever I would look down, water would drip down my nose. Therefore, I conclude that that surfing session was good for merienda and for clearing one’s mind (literally).
Visit Magpupungko Rock Pools
Magpupungko Beach is definitely one of the most famous tourist spots in the island. It’s a natural rock pool that appears during low tide which is usually around 10 to 11 in the morning. The water is very clear, salty and all shades of blue.
Most of the people just stay in the area where most people are (I don’t think that’s useful information) swimming, cliff diving, etc. What most don’t know is that there are uncrowded spots if you walk past the humongous rock (I promise you won’t miss this rock).
Visit Tayangban Cave
Tayangban Cave is a relatively new tourist spot in Siargao, only opened to the public one year ago. The tour usually takes only 20 minutes but was not absolutely true for us since we had a “mini photoshoot” before and after entering the cave which resulted to a 2-hour adventure. The lighting was really good so no judging!
Visit Sugba Lagoon
I heard a lot of good things about Sugba Lagoon and it totally did not disappoint! Sugba Lagoon is located in Del Carmen, a 1-hour van ride from General Luna and 45-minute boat ride from the port.
I felt #blessed to have enjoyed this peaceful view for a couple of hours since we got there first. Most tours to Sugba, if resort-arranged, leave General Luna at 10AM so it’s better to go here early so you can also use hashtag blessed in all your posts.
Island hopping (Naked, Guyam, Daku)
Bike around Siargao
On the sunniest and hottest day of our stay in Siargao, we decided to rent bikes to go around the island (but in reality it was maybe just 3 to 4km away from our hotel). It was extremely enjoyable, passing through coconut trees, breathing fresh air (and sometimes posing as obstacles to people walking on the road). Biking around is a great workout with a great view!
Chill at Boardwalk
The perfect thing about Siargao is that when you just want to relax, you can totally do so – for free! The view at the Boardwalk is spectacular especially during sunset and you can also have a free viewing of surfers ride giant waves (or get wiped out by it). You can also bring a bottle of beer and snacks and your afternoon will be made.
For the best and cheapest tour packages, we highly recommend “Kuya Bebot” who is a local from Siargao. He made getting around Siargao hassle-free and he responds to all our concerns pretty fast (he can actually pass as a very efficient personal assistant)! Not to mention, the rates he gave us saved us a lot of money.
For instance, the usual package rate to Sugba Lagoon is PHP 2,000 per person but since we opted not to join a group and do it ourselves (i.e. we rented a van – but you can rent a habal-habal if your group is less than 10 people), we only paid for PHP 900 each (inclusive of food, transfers, paddle board rental and entrance fee already!). Kuya Bebot was really helpful and honest. You may reach him at+63 906 459 5679 or on Facebook. He can also arrange airport/port transfers for you.
PHP 20 – habal-habal fee per person
PHP 30 – habal-habal fee per person from 8:30PM onwards
PHP 100 – bike rental for the whole day
PHP 350 to 500 (depending if you’ll get a scooter or XRM) – motorbike rental for the whole day
Magpupungko Rock Pool + Tayangban Cave
PHP 1000 – habal-habal fee good for 2 to 3 pax
PHP 50 – entrace fee (Magpupungko)
PHP 70 – entrance fee (cave)
PHP 1600 – boat fee
PHP 3500 – van rental good for 13 pax
PHP 50 – entrance fee (Filipinos, 1oo for foreigners)
PHP 600 – stand up paddle board rental for the whole day (at Del Carmen tourism office)
*Note: You can also rent paddle boards at Sugba Lagoon for PHP 200/hour
Bucas Grande Tour
PHP 4500 – boat rental from General Luna port to Socorro good for 6 to 8 pax
PHP 830 – boating fee at Bucas Grande
PHP 50 – docking fee
PHP 70 – entrance fee
PHP 100 – cooking fee at Bucas Grande
Naked, Guyam and Daku Island
PHP 1500 – boat rental good for 6 to 8
PHP 50 – cooking fee at Daku Island
PHP 250 – cottage fee
PHP 50 – table rental
PHP 500/hour – surf board and instructor
- Be sure you have enough cash when you go to the island.
- Best and cheapest way to go around Siargao is to rent a motorbike. Range is PHP 350 to 500 per day. It’s cheaper if you rent it out for the whole week.
- Surfing lessons are cheaper if you coordinate directly with instructors who usually hang out at Boardwalk.
- Bring an insect repellant. Mosquitoes are everywhere, especially at night!