Siargao Island is a tear-drop shaped island in the Philippine Sea situated 800 kilometers southeast of Manila in the province of Surigao del Norte, northeastern Mindanao. It is well known as "the Surfing Capital of the Philippines" with a reputation among surfers within the Philippines and the International scene. Several coral reefs, offsore islands, and sand bars are also found. It contains the largest mangrove forest reserves in Mindanao, at Del Carmen town.
Surigao del Norte
Siargao is a beautiful paradise island with nice beaches and clear blue waters. It`s a quiet non-tourist island well known for it`s surf spots, especially Cloud 9 where there`s a big international surf contest every year.
Siargao is known for it's relaxed atmosphere, friendly people and inexpensive accommodations.
There are direct flights to Siargao Island from Cebu now four times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Carrier is Cebu-Pacific. Prices for flights seem to vary, but expect to pay approx. $US50 one way. Flight time is approximately 45 minutes. Airport is approximately 45 minutes from the main accommodation areas at Cloud 9. Usually there are plenty of vans to transport people to their accommodation...price is not fixed, whatever you can bargain the driver down to...they have to return to the Cloud 9 area anyway.
The ferries from Surigao City to Dapa (main port town on Siargao Island) leave at approx. 6am, 11.30am and 12 noon...travel time varies between 2+ hours to almost 4 hours, depending on the ferry. Tricycles, vans and habal-habals (local form of transport=motorbikes designed for carrying passengers) wait at the pier to transport people to the main tourist/accommodation areas at Cloud 9.
As always, flight times and ferry schedules may change without notice. The above details are current as at September, 2010.
For the non-surf people, you can explore the island by motorbike or boat. You can go island jumping, scuba diving and snorkeling.
And there's also many caves and waterfalls to explore.
- Sohoton Caves, Bocas Grande (1.5-2 hour boat ride from Gen Luna). Sohoton Lagoon and Caves is a 600+ hectare eco-reserve situated in the isolated south of Bocas Grande island. Accessible only on lower tides, this pristine sanctuary offers a grand experience of jellyfish swimming, caving, snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and for landlubbers, hiking and walking tours. The trip is conducted by boat and are organized by local fishermen. Visitors are first required to sign up before embarking on smaller vessels. 500 entrance.
- Surf Cloud 9, Cloud 9, Brgy 5, General Luna. One of the best known surfing waves, known for thick, hollow tubes. It is named after the chocolate bar of the same name by American photographer John S. Callahan. Cloud 9 also has a reputation for being a relatively cheap destination for surfers with many cheap accommodations and restaurants and bars to choose from. For beachcombers and first timers, the best time to pack one’s bags is during summer, from March to May. For hard-core surfers, bigger swells occur during the windy months from August to November. An annual surfing cup is held on September. Surfers from all over the world converge at General Luna to ride the waves and party. There are several other quality waves on Siargao and nearby islands, but Cloud 9 has received more publicity than any other surf spot in the Philippines. It is the only wave easily accessible without a boat, leading to overcrowding and the nickname of "Crowd 9" among surfers.
- Mangrove Exploration, Del Carmen, . SThis means a trip requires sturdy sandals, dry bags to waterproof essentials and the acceptance that you will get wet! The country’s largest contiguous mangrove stand, which is also the second largest in Mindanao, is found here. In fact, Siargao’s mangroves are one of the two remaining sites in the country where the rare iron wood or magcono tree still grows. Eco-tourists will enjoy a day paddling amid the mangrove forests, kayaking through waters home to rich marine life. Feeling a little exploratory? Linger a bit longer and you may just catch a glimpse of the salt water crocodile, marine turtles, and the sea cow. The mangrove forest is a thriving, living ecosystem, home to many endemic species.
- Island Hopping, . half-day or full-day. From the shores of General Luna, three distinct shapes visible in the horizon are best bets for island hopping: Naked, Guyam, and Daku island. Naked and Guyam islands are uninhabited white sand islets, while Daku island has a small fishing community
- Game fishing, Pilar town. Game fishing is popular in the fishing grounds of Pilar. Anglers all over the world arrive every May for the International Game Fishing competition. Anglers are billeted at homestays, which are rooms in the locals’ homes, where they get to experience authentic Surigaonon meals. Most houses in Pilar are perched on stilts, atop swampy ponds with mangrove trees clustered around them. A stay in these unique homes is already an adventure in itself.
- Driftwood Watersports, Cloud 9 Rd, Brgy 5 (1km toward Cloud 9 from GL (on the left)), ☎ +63 0929 176 7048, . The largest surf shop on the island. Driftwood offers new/used/rental surf boards and SUPs, apparel, and surf accessories. Driftwood also provides accommodations, airport/ferry transportation and water transportation and activities. ([email protected])
- Driftrwood Cafe, Cloud 9 Rd, Brgy 5 (1km toward cloud 9 on the main road.), ☎ +63 929 176 7048, . 7am-8pm. Driftwood Cafe (http://www.surfdriftwood.com) is located adjacent to Driftwood Watersports (surf shop). Driftwood has excellent food and coffee. Some sample menu prices: Hamburger p100, Banana Shake, p70, Double Kill Fried Chicken p120, Latte p60.
If you want to hang out at night, catch a beer and some food, enjoy good music and meet new people, "Nine bar" is the place to be. "Nine bar" is located outside the small town of General Luna. Its owned by two Swedish surfers.
When you get there, look for accommodations around General Luna, where there's a number of resorts by the beach.
- Buddha's Surf Resort, Catangnan (Located between the busy Cloud 9 and the town of General Luna), ([email protected]), . Set in the heart of the Siargao Island Surf community, Buddha's Surf Resort gives you a true local surfing experience. The resort is ideal for travelers and surfers alike looking for good island vibes. The resort is comfortable with a laid back atmosphere and has easy access to everything you desire. 1950P.
- Kesa Cloud Resort, ☎ 0921812960 ([email protected]), . Established in 1995, this is one of the pioneer resorts in town. Having undergone extensive renovations over the past four years and the building of a brand new restaurant in 2008. The views over the lagoon and Cloud 9 are breathtaking and the resort's gardens and surrounds are meticulously maintained. The resort has been built with consideration for all budgets. Rooms range from deluxe aircon to standard fan rooms, with all rooms having spectacular views over the Cloud 9 surf break. 1,600.
- The Boardwalk at Cloud 9, Cloud 9, ☎ +63 999 762 7690 ([email protected]), . This is the original Cloud 9 resort. Established in 1986, the resort has the best access and unrivalled views of the famous Cloud 9 surf break. Having undergone a major refurbishment over the past two years the resort offers position, comfort and friendly service.
Violent crime is non-existent on the island, but like all poor areas, petty theft is not uncommon. There are no regional issues with insurgents etc and visitors can wander freely anywhere on the island.
The primary safety concern is infection from cuts and scrapes on reefs. Thus, it is recommended to wear reef booties (locally available) and disinfect and cover (gauze) any wounds immediately.
Transportation off the island is via Cebu Pacific flights (Monday and Friday to Cebu City) or by ferry 7 days per week (Surigao City). Flight options from Surigao are available to Manila (Air Phil Express) and Cebu via Cebu Pacific.