Jump in the water, be free. Come south of the border in Siargao

A year-round awesome waves, indie vibes, raw rural beauty, amazing beaches, superb food and nightlife, Siargao has a certain innocence that could only be found in few other islands in the country. So we take Ed Sheeran’s advise and visit the south to this breathtaking island. Jump in the water, be free!

Travel Budget

A 5-day visit to Siargao will cost about P 15,000 ($275) including airfare and accommodations. Here is our sample budget table (excluding airfare, accommodations, and motorbike rental fee).

Day 1: P 700

airplane Airport Tax 150
van Van to General Luna 200
dinner Dinner 350

Day 2: P 1050

untitled Breakfast 200
gas Gas 50
beach Magpupungko Beach
Entrance Fee
50
dinner Lunch 350
beach Pacifico Beach 0
beach Cloud 9 Surf Area
Entrance Fee
50
dinner Dinner 350
beer Bar 300

Day 3: P 1825

untitled Breakfast 200
gas Gas 50
beach Sugba Lagoon Activities 175
boat Boat Ride 400
dinner Lunch 350
dinner Dinner 350
beer Bar 300

Day 4: P 2350

untitled Breakfast 200
gas Gas 50
beach Island Hopping Tour 1500
dinner Lunch 250
dinner Dinner 350
beer Bar 300

Day 5: P 820

untitled Breakfast 200
gas Gas 50
beach Maasin River Entrance 20
dinner Lunch 350
van Van to Airport 200

Things to do

Surfing – Island Hopping – Motorbike Ride- Kayaking – Cliff Diving –

Swimming with Jellyfish – Nightlife – Food trip

Island Hopping

A must for every place you visit in the Philippines. Siargao has plenty of beautiful islands to offer. Don’t worry, those are not that crowded compared to other tourist places in the country. You can rent a boat for a day and visit nearby islands such as Daku, Guyam, and Naked Island. Those are just your standard islands. Ask the boatman for the other ones.

SURFING

SIARGAO IS MOST FAMOUS FOR SURFING WITH TOURISTS VISITING THE PLACE ALL YEAR ROUND JUST TO DO THIS STUFF. THIS MIGHT BE ONE OF THE REASONS THE ISLAND HAS THIS INDIE VIBE, BUT WHAT DO I KNOW, I’M JUST A LOST GEEK.

Motorbike Ride

Riding a motorbike here is awesome. Most of the roads leading to the beaches around the island are paved, but there are roads that are tricky to navigate. The side streets are somewhat a challenge. It’s different when you explore a place unimpeded by a guide. Countryside vibes, rough roads, and that feeling of freedom as cool breeze brushes against your face while roaming around the island on a motorbike. Siargao is one heck of a ride.

Kayaking in Sugba Lagoon

Sugba Lagoon is a perfect place for kayaking, though the place is somewhat ordinary and the number of tourists flocking the place (plus the lack of sun) is kind of a downer. But still, kayaking at this lagoon was fun, minus the rowing part. See what I did there? Also, I think we damaged the boat by bumping it against the mountain rocks.

Cliff Diving and other jump-in-the-water-related stuff

I don’t know what’s the fuss in this place. Sugba Lagoon is just your ordinary diving spot with a decent view. But this activity is fun especially when people are cheering for you. If you like more privacy, try the cliff diving in Sohoton Cove.

OTHER STUFF TO DO:

Swim with jellyfish – In Sohoton Cove you will find these cute little swarm of jellyfish which look like a mini burger. You can touch it, they’re super soft and friendly and safe for the skin. 

Visit Sohoton Cove – As mentioned, this place is packed with activities like the two I already mentioned. Other things to do here is to experience their version of Palawan’s underground river tour which is mostly lame but the view is breathtaking so try it anyway.

beerEat and Bar Hopping – The bars and restaurants lining the General Luna road offer endless choices from Filipino food to Thai to Indian. Name it. The place is full of tourists walking around the street (not that crowded, don’t worry) and has a festive and indie vibe on it that will put a smile on your face every time you’re there. The bars are also full of tourists but being us, we didn’t drink any beer or tried partying, but you should. It sounds fun.

mikeKaraoke and “perya” visit – We really want to try this one but we couldn’t with our jam-packed schedule. There are karaoke bars all over the town of Dapa and the surrounding areas where you could sing your heart out. I really would want to visit their local “perya” though, it’s like a carnival but more fun. Maybe I’ll do that on my next trip here. 

Lastly: you could just read, write and chill by the beach.

Islands and Beaches

Here are some of the islands and beaches that you can visit in Siargao, ranging from Boracay-level sands to the coolest spots to surf or just chill around.

Magpupungko Beach

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

A 2-hour motorbike ride will take you to this beach at the other side of the island from General Luna. This beach has an entrance fee of P50 but is worth it because of its white sands, clear water and restaurants dotting the beach front. Also it has this awesome natural rock pool which you can see only when it is low tide. (No pictures, sorry I didn’t want to risk my camera). I cursed a lot while on this island because of multiple near slips while wading its natural rock pool and carrying my gadgets and tools at the same time. It was no laughing matter.

Pacifico Beach

Geek Rate: Sun god Worthy (4 out of 5 stars)

A half an hour ride from Magpupungko Beach is Pacifico Beach which is way better than most of the beaches in the island. If you want to surf and avoid the tourist-infested Cloud 9 Surf Area, then go to this beach. It attracts less tourists because it is far from most popular sites, so it is peaceful here. You can lie down and read a book or listen to music while taking a nap and no one will bother you.

Cloud 9 Surf Area

Geek Rate: Sun god Worthy (4 out of 5 stars)

My expectations for this place is low so it was a nice surprise when I visited the place and found out that it was not that bad after all. The bridge and viewing deck constructed by the beach was cool, complimenting the rocks around it, which would be a downer in some cases. Also, we witnessed another amazing sunset there and people were already leaving the area, so mostly we had the place all by ourselves (plus a dozen more tourists, but that’s not bad). It is a famous surfing area which is a mystery seeing all those rocks and how could you surf in that kind of beach? I don’t know.

Maasin River

Geek Rate: Aeolus Worthy (1 out of 5 stars)

It’s good in videos, perfect in pictures but do not let these coconut trees, especially this bent one where you can swing and jump on the dirty river, fool you. This “enchanted river” looks good in pictures but in reality it’s kind of a downer: passing under a steel bridge, paved riverside, unnaturally constructed platform, rowdy crowd, weird music. The natural vibe of the place was gone. It’s a tourist trap.

Sugba Lagoon

Geek Rate: Thief Worthy (2 out of 5 stars)

Another long ride from General Luna will take you to the town of Del Carmen. Upon arrival, you’ll need to wait for another half hour to ride a boat, which will take another half hour before you’ll arrive to the Instagram and YouTube famous Sugba Lagoon. Honestly, I don’t know what’s all the fuss about this place. The only redeeming thing about our visit here was that another cool motorbike ride to get there. The view during the boat ride going to the place was breathtaking though, and it could be much better if it was not that cloudy. The place was full of tourists diving or kayaking that it was really annoying. But the kayaking part was fun, I admit.

Sohoton Cove

Geek Rate: Thief Worthy (2 out of 5 stars)

http://siargao-island-philippines.com/sohoton-cave/

Apologies for not having a photo from this place but it was raining hard when we visited it and I did not want to risk my gadgets so yeah. This might be a cool place if the sun is up. Sadly, it was all gloomy when we visited it, with cloudy skies and rain dampening the mood. But I had to admit that riding a boat while raining was fun, too, surrounded by an amazing view . The boat ride to Sohoton Cove was long, super long, so it was not the usual place tourists will visit. But this is a must-visit place packed with activities for the local town to generate income from.

Naked Island

Geek Rate: Thief Worthy (2 out of 5 stars)

Naked Island has a sand bar but is not that beautiful compared to those in Dumaguete or in Port Barton in Palawan (see story here: Port Barton, Updated Review). It is called as such because of, you guess it right, the lack of any growing stuff in the area, just full on white sand. With cloudy skies, the beauty of this island is gone.

Daku Island

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

A much more satisfying visit than Naked Island, Daku Island has several huts where you could eat or rest while viewing the sunset. The sand here is not as fine as that on Naked Island but it feels more like an island compared to it, with a beautiful sunset to boot.

Guyam Island

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

Guyam Island is where the fun activities occur such as beach volleyball and the likes (I thought it was sepak takraw the tourists there were playing when we arrived) and where you could stop by and eat your lunch and take a nap on one of their hammocks afterward. Sadly, you can’t stay overnight on this island.

Bars and Restaurants

The cool thing about this island is that it has cool restaurants and some amazing food and fruit shakes. Plus the bars are scattered everywhere for those who want a nightlife in the island.

NatTribu Bar & Grill

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

This is the first restaurant we tried after arriving in the island. Its specialty is grilled anything: pork, chicken and, of course, seafood. The restaurant has a cool vibe with plush seats on a slightly raised platform. The taste of their food is passable, nothing special. Their mango shake is amazing though. (Price Range: 250-300).

Magpupungko restaurants

Geek Rate: Sun god Worthy (4 out of 5 stars)

There are a dozen “restaurants,” for lack of a better term, dotting the beach front of Magpupungko beach. They offer a variety of dish you would want to eat while on an island like grilled stuff and some fresh fruit shakes. Try their grilled pork which is as amazing grilled porks can be, as well as, the local delicacy “Saang” which is basically squid in a shell or a rock, it looks like a rock but tastes fine. Their fruit shake, we tried avocado, is passable. The price is reasonable. Geek rate: mortal worthy (3/5). (Price Range: 200-300).

Harana Surf Resort & Restaurant

Geek Rate: Aeolus Worthy (1 out of 5 stars)

This is a restaurant of a hotel on the beach in front of General Luna (the beach is not that great) which is the coolest restaurant that we ever visited in the island with plush seats where you can dine in and a native vibe on the place. Sadly the bucks stops there. There sisig is passable with that butter underneath which we failed to mix properly while still hot and some tasteless “Pinakbet.” Don’t bother trying their shakes too. All stuff overpriced. It’s a trap! Geek rate: Aeolus worthy (1/5). (Price Range: 400-500) .

Sugba

Geek Rate: Thief Worthy (2 out of 5 stars)

The longest wait for a meal that we ever experienced in the island, Sugba, in the farthest side of General Luna road, is a restaurant serving, you guess it right, grilled stuff. It was the biggest grilled restaurant we visited though. The place is in a cool open area tent with dirty tables. The smell of food being grilled is heaven but the taste of the food is just ordinary. The price is reasonable. (Price Range: 200-300).

Namo

Geek Rate: Aeolus Worthy (1 out of 5 stars)

Located in the town of Del Carmen near the port where the boats that will take you to Sugba Lagoon are docked, Namo offers some dishes in sizzling plates. Before visiting this place, I never thought that it is possible to eat a sad piece of sunny side up egg, but this restaurant did it! Their fried chicken is tasteless too, partnered with a transparent gravy that is more like a porridge than a real gravy. The only saving grace for Namo is their awesome fruit shakes. (Price Range: 250-300) .

Cantina Luna

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

This small, somewhat shabby place is located along General Luna road and is not typically your type of bar because it has an open space. The bar has a nice concept though, with photos of Juan Luna and his brothers decorating the table tops. The prices of beverages here is not overpriced too. (Price Range: 150-200).

Bugsay

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

Bugsay is located at the outskirts of General Luna road and is a huge open space restaurant under a tent with a cool bar and live music to boot. The price of food here is somewhat on the bourgeoisie side but they offer Filipino dishes with a twist, though I failed to taste the twist there. Their fruit shakes is just okay. (Price Range: 300-400).

Mama Coco

Geek Rate: Sun god Worthy (4 out of 5 stars)

Mama Coco is a small restaurant situated among brightly lit bars and restaurants in General Luna so it is easily ignored. But this is the best restaurant that we ever visited in Siargao. Their price is way cheaper compared to other restaurants but their dishes are all great. Their “Bulalo” (beef soup) is one the bests I ever tasted plus you should try their coconut shakes too. (Price Range: 150-300).

Finally, there’s this floating restaurant in Sohoton Cove (no pictures, sorry) where they will cook any dish that you want provided you give them the proper ingredients. Before boarding the boat, tourists usually buy at the public market beside Dapa Port so you could have your lunch cook. The fish there is fresh and the way this restaurant cook it was amazing. Plus they have this cool floating mango that you could eat on the way back.

Geek Guide Data

IMMIGRATION Immigration – The airport in Siargao is just a domestic one so the immigration process will begin usually in NAIA or Clark in Manila, Cebu-Mactan or in any international airports in the country that you will land into before boarding a connecting flight to the island.
transport Transport – If you book your hotel near General Luna, you would need to ride a van for an hour to reach the place. Motorbikes are the best way to roam around the island and visit the beaches but they also have public transport such as tricycles or vans that you could rent for a day. Boat rides can be arranged with your hotels or at the various ports in the island.
wifi WiFi and power plugs – The WiFi connection on the island ranges from poor (especially in the most remote areas) to passable, and you need a local SIM card to take care of that WiFi signal. Some hotels do have WiFi service (the connection strength varies) but check first with their admin before booking your rooms. Electricity in Siargao is 220 Volts, alternating at 60 cycles per second. If you travel to the Philippines with a device that does not accept 220 Volts at 60 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter. The power plugs and sockets are of type A, B and C. Electricity here is dependable.
shopping Shopping and English – There is no specific market place for buying souvenirs here but there are numerous stalls selling stuff such as shirts and bamboo straws especially along General Luna. Their English, like in the other places in the Philippines, is superb so communication is not a problem, just switch your accent to U.S English if you can.
hotel Hotel – There are numerous hotels in the island for backpackers and those bourgeoisie types. Most hotels are situated in the town of Dapa where the famous Cloud 9 Surf Area is located. There is just one ATM in the area so better prepare some cash with you if you haven’t booked a hotel online.
weather Weather- November to May are the best months to visit the island because the rainy season in the Philippines starts from June to August. March to May typically would bring the local tourists to the island so if you want to look forward to a peaceful vacation, do visit the place before those months.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s