The Philippines is known for its beautiful beaches. Beach bums would surely have a fit when deciding where to go as the country is composed of 7,107 islands. Each island has its own beauty and charm so the decision when travelling to the Philippines and choosing your destination can be a tough one. But to help you decide where to go and what to do in the Philippines, let me take you to Siargao, a small island off the tip of the north eastern part of Mindanao, the 2nd largest island in the Philippines.
Siargao Island is the surfing capital of the Philippines and I had the chance to visit this beautiful island this weekend. After I settled my stuff at Wave Cave, the lodge where I stayed in General Luna (GL), I decided to go to Cloud 9 to check out the surf waves that everyone’s raving about.
Note: If you are visiting Siargao to surf, it is wise to check-in at resorts near Cloud 9. If you are travelling on a budget and if you are only visiting to view the surfing action in the island, it’s wise to stay in General Luna to have access to cheap food. That’s my reason for staying at Wave Cave Lodge, an affordable lodge in GL, Siargao.
Cloud 9 is located 3.5 kilometers from the town center of GL and you can either hike (for 1.5hrs) to reach the area or hire a habal-habal (motorcycle), which only takes approximately 15 minutes. Fare is P20 during daytime and P50 at night time for a one-way trip per head.
Once you reach the area, a boardwalk will greet you at the beach front. You’d have to walk to reach the viewing deck. For surfers and first-time surfers, there are surf boards for rent in the area. Locals are also ready to teach you to surf for a fee.
Surfing lessons start at Php 500 (~$13) per hour. Surf boards are available too. You can arrange the surf board rent and surfing lessons on where you are staying but some locals are offering cheaper rates at Cloud 9 so it’s best to ask around and compare rates first.
The surfing area is far from the shoreline. You’d have to walk or ride your surf board to get to the surf wave area. The sea bed is covered with sharp corals so you have to be careful to avoid getting injuries.
Once you visit Cloud 9, you will find surfer addicts at any time of the day. The biggest number of surfers can be seen when the tide is high.
If you are a newbie into surfing, you can ask the locals if the waves are big or not and what time of the day is best for you to learn your first surfing lesson.
Being a tropical country, the Philippines is always visited by typhoons. Today, the eastern side of the country is being ravaged by typhoon Lawin (Jelawat). Although it has not passed by any land area on the country, its strong winds and heavy rainfall are felt by the regions where the typhoon is passing, including Siargao Island. However, this bad weather has not dampened the spirits of surfers in Siargao. In fact, it seems that they are rejoicing with the huge waves that are coming their way.
Siargao has a very laid back environment. Whenever I see the town of General Luna, it reminds me of my parent’s hometown in Bicol. So when you visit Siargao, don’t expect too much. Although there are resorts in the area, food and transportation can get pricey, like touristy pricey. So be sure to bring enough money to splurge on food after a tiring day surfing the waves of Cloud 9.
How To Get To Siargao Island:
You can ride a plane via Manila-Cebu-Siargao courtesy of Cebu Pacific Air.
Once you reach the Sayak Airport (Siargao Airport) in the town of Del Carmen, Siargao Island you can hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) to take you to General Luna, the town nearest the surfing point of Cloud 9. Fare starts at 100 pesos going to GL. Habal2x drivers usually tell you the fare is 500 up to 800 pesos and this is the best time to practice your haggling skills. Travel time takes 1 hour.
There are also mini jeepneys and private vans (though seldom) available but the fare is more expensive than the motorcycle.
These drivers tend to charge higher rates to foreigners so be sure to haggle, haggle and haggle.
You can also ride a plane via Manila-Surigao or Manila-Cebu-Surigao courtesy of Cebu Pacific Air or Airphil Express. Once you reach Surigao City, travel to the port and find a boat going to Dapa, Siargao Island. From Dapa, you can again hire a habal-habal, tricycle, public jeepney or private van to reach General Luna or Cloud 9.
The cheapest and fastest way to reach the surfing capital of the Philippines is by motorcycle but it’s not convenient if the island experiences rain showers, except if you hire those motorcycles with roofs.