THE act of riding waves on wooden boards has been recorded as a human activity for thousands of years. The first surfers were the ancient Pacific Islanders and Polynesians who fished for a living and discovered that riding the waves was an efficient way to get to shore quickly.
Eventually riding waves transformed from a daily activity to a favorite pastime. We can only guess how and when the modern form surfing was established, but it certainly happened one day when some madcap decided it was a good idea to stand on his board during a swell to see what happens. The rest was history.
Surfing is now a sport and lifestyle that has taken a life of its own.
Surfers travel around the world to catch the “perfect wave.” This is how the story of Siargao happened. Twenty years ago, two pro-surfers came to the Philippines to catch the fabled waves on a tear-shaped island called “Siargao.” With famous surfing waves such as “Cloud 9,” Siargao is acclaimed for her large, smooth and hollow-tubed waves that bring an international crowd of surfers every year. Siargao is now known as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, and is the 9th Best Surfing Spot in the World (according to CNN).
Many surfers came for the waves, and end up falling in love with the island. Some never leave. The waves and the wonderful community are irresistible – like a little piece of paradise on Earth. I even ended up booking another ticket to come back just a few days after I left!
In Siargao, surfing can be done all year round. There are different swells from different parts of the island, depending on the time of the year.
So, what if I don’t surf?
Siargao is paradise for surfers — and non-surfers, too. If you don’t surf, there’s more to Siargao then just surfing. Of course, I would highly recommend that you make “learn to surf” a top priority on your itinerary, but if it’s really not your thing, here are some activities you can do beyond surfing:
1. Magpupungko Tidal Pool
Magpupungko is named such from a unique rock formation in the area. The large boulder looks like it’s sitting on top of another flat rock. The beautiful pool only unveils itself during low tide.
From General Luna, it’s a 40-minute car ride to Magpupungko. Entrance is P50 per person.
2. Island Hopping
Go island hopping and check out Siargao’s three nearby islands: Naked Island, Daku Island and Guyam Island. Depending on your negotiation skills, you can rent a boat to visit the three islands from P1,000 to P1,500.
Naked Island is just what you would expect – naked. On this island, you would not find any trees or vegetation, just a stretch of fine white sand. Daku Island is bigger than the other islands we visited. Daku, which means big, even has its own barangay. We had our lunch in Daku Island before we went to our last stop, Guyam Island.
If you have the time, you can also check Sohoton Lagoon. Sohoton is famous for its jellyfish sanctuary and enchanting caves. Sohoton is three hours away from Siargao, though, and is closer to Surigao del Norte, so we decided to reserve Sohoton for another future trip.
3. Food Trip!
Food is affordable and good in Siargao. General Luna has quite a few restaurants and cafes that are good, interesting and not cheesy. Locals like barbecue, and they have barbecue stalls even at their disco bars!
You can get great comfort food at Pleasure Point Cafe, three-layered pizza at Aventino’s, sushi at Lux Siargao Sushi Bar, great coffee and view at Cafe Loka, barbecue at Mama’s, and more.
Siargao is not as touristy as Boracay, so you can’t find any big restaurants here like fast food joints and international food chains. You can’t even find an ATM machine around General Luna.
Fresh seafood here abounds. You can go spearfishing if that’s your thing and grill your catch, or if you’re more mainstream just go to the local market and purchase their freshest catch and have someone to cook it for you.
So you don’t surf, but you can at least hang out and party with fellow surfers and look the part! Surfers are among the most unpretentious bunch and will befriend just about anyone. Siargao parties here embody the vibe of the island – laid back and friendly. No hardcore EDM parties here. They have chill parties in Pagoda Beach Bar on Mondays (named appropriately “Monday Fundays”), so be sure not to miss that. Other local disco bars are Jungle Bar and Stowaway Bar.
5. Explore the Island!
Aside from surfing, there are plenty of water activities you can do in Siargao. You can go diving, snorkeling and paddle boarding.
Fish out of water can find abundant activities on land, too. Hire a motorbike or bicycle and explore the island itself. I read that tarsiers are also present here, and unlike Bohol, these small primates still roam free in Siargao forests. Saltwater crocodiles exist in parts of Siargao — Del Carmen, Siargao is home to the largest mangrove forest reserves in Mindanao.There’s so much more to discover – General Luna is just one municipality!
Motorbike rentals are typically P500 per day.
Relax! Don’t try to push in too many activities in one day. Tomorrow is another day in paradise. So yes, you deserve an afternoon’s rest in a hammock by the beach.
There are tons of ways to enjoy Siargao both on land and on water. There’s certainly no excuse why you shouldn’t come to Siargao!