Named after a mangrove species, Siargao Island is at the easternmost reaches of the Philippines. It straddles the maelstrom between the Pacific Ocean and the Philippine Trench off the Mindanao mainland, treating visitors to awesome waves that have brought joy to surfers from all over the world. At the town of General Luna, the surf waves curl at the top, looking like the number “9,” and surfers barrel through the momentary hollow “water cave” with glee. This surf area, now called Cloud 9, is where the Siargao International Surfing Cup is held every year.
Beyond surfing, Siargao is the perfect getaway for families on vacation, or couples off to start or rekindle romance, or the adventurous individual wanting to get away from it all. The island cluster, after all, is a seascape and landscape national park teeming with mangroves and uninhabited white-sand islets and tidal rock pools that trap crystal-clear seawater and secret labyrinthine coves where you may sometimes chance upon sea lions splashing about, bellowing with too much happiness.
Have we mentioned the freshness and abundance of wild seafood?
From the Mindanao mainland, there are fast-craft ferries from the port of Surigao City that will whisk you off to the island. You know you are traversing the Philippine Deep when you notice that your ferry is navigating its way through whirlpools in the otherwise deceptively calm sea. The fast-craft ride usually takes an hour and a half. Regular boats take three hours to reach Siargao. If you miss the ferries, please be forewarned: Do not ever be tempted to hop on a small fisherman’s outrigger canoe to cross the world’s second deepest part of the ocean.
The good news is that there now daily flights to Siargao from Cebu City.
In the island, do as the locals do: go around on a motorbike. Rentals are readily available.
Cloud 9 at General Luna – the go-to surfing area
Mangroves at Del Carmen – an endless stretch of amazing sights, but be careful: saltwater crocodiles sometimes make an appearance here
Magpupungko rock tidal pools at Pilar – just the thing for that Instagram-perfect dip
Bukas Grande national marine park – marvel at the world’s grandeur
Sohoton Cove – find your own private beach
Sugba Blue Lagoon – adventure thrills for family and friends
Caob Island – head off into the sunset in style
Guyam Island – barefoot paradise
Dako Island – order sutokil: seafood served raw, grilled, and for good measure, swimming in a soothing herb-spiked clear soup
At General Luna, grab what you can of the local stone oven-baked breads, such as the aromatic pan surf and the pan de coco (coffee buns stuffed with coconut meat)
Fresh seafood: yellowfin tuna, lobsters, clams, seaweeds, and more
Top-quality surfboards, and all things surf-related
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly from the US (Nonstop from LAX, SFO, HNL, GUM, SPN) to Manila (MNL)
Fly from Canada (Nonstop from YVR and YYZ) to Manila (MNL)