Hey guys, I’m FOJ (fresh off the jet) and so excited to share my new favorite destination, the Philippines, and I’d definitely say whether you surf or not, you should get to Siargao ASAP.
Known as the “Surfing Capital” of the Philippines, Siargao is home to an international surf contest that attracts the hordes each September. The rest of the year, you’ll find fewer surfers but require a bit of luck to see waves like the famed Cloud 9 on the pump. We weren’t so fortunate but found Siargao to be super laid, full of friendly people, great food and plenty to do without the world-class wave breaking once during our ten-day stay.
Word to the wise, Siargao is about to blow-up. Think Bali style. Direct routes to Manila and Cebu were introduced in late 2017 and land prices are skyrocketing. See it now before everyone is lamenting about the good old days and there’s a Deus on every corner.
We stayed in an epic private home called Lux Villa that sleeps 12 located directly onshore from the surf breaks Rock Island and Stimpy’s in the neighborhood named for the surf break, Cloud 9. Unfortunately, the fate of this beautiful villa now lies in the hands of an unknown Filipino-Chinese investor and the situation is a symbolic reminder that you should visit Siargao as soon as possible before sweeping change affects the island.
For smaller groups on a big budget, Siargao Bleu’s over pool villas looked like a great place to pass the day. For those who wish to save a bit of money, I recommend booking at Kermit’s way in advance. We also loved the look of Bayud, located about 15 minutes out of General Luna and near the south coast surfing beaches.
SEE & DO
Whether you made the journey for surfing or laid-back island vibes, you should end your first day with a sunset San Miguel at Cloud 9. The famed surf spot is home to a well-built wood boardwalk that spans a sparkling lagoon and offers a viewing platform for all the action. You can also walk along the point beneath swinging palm trees and catch a glimpse of the sun as it sets over the Cloud 9 bay where many people learn to surf or glide on a longboard.
If you’ve come for surfing, then catch a boat at dawn to Stimpy’s (a left) or Rock Island (a right) located about 10 minutes offshore from Cloud 9. Another place to check out on the right wind and a big swell is Salvation, which is about a 25-minute drive or bike ride from General Luna. For beginners, try Secret Spot on the south side.
For non-surfers or non-surf days, we enjoyed the trip to the Magpupungko Rock Pools, which was about an hour drive from General Luna and must be visited during low tide. Bring a snorkel, possibly some reef shoes and a waterproof camera to explore the translucent green and blue waters and stay for a coconut and a really cheap lunch at one of the stands afterward.
If you’re up for an adventure, spend the day driving and boating to Sugba Lagoon. Be warned it’s a bit of a mission but we enjoyed seeing the traditional above water villages on our way through the mangroves.
Siargao is also host to all sorts of island hopping tours including DIY excursions. Visit Daku Island (you can surf here too), Naked Island, Guyam Islands or Turtle Island. Most boats will make you a BBQ lunch.
EAT & DRINK
Mornings start slowly in Siargao. We recommend heading to Fillibeans at Harana for a coconut latte to start. They don’t open until 7:30 and often run out of coconut milk but it’s worth trying a few times to drink one. Traditional Filipino breakfast of sweet sausage or corned beef, eggs and rice are everywhere but for a special treat go to the Kawayan Gourmand for fresh croissants, eclairs and other exquisite French treats. For less butter, try Shaka for acai bowls and smoothies.
Speaking of Harana, go there. Try the poke bowl, pork sisang, adobe and coconut kinilaw. Repeat.
For a sundowner, we headed to Oceans 101 around the point from Cloud 9 because you could actually see the sunset over the incomplete bridge while drinking a pina colada.
No trip to the Philippines is complete without sampling Filipino BBQ and Mama’s in General Luna is the place to do it. Come early or expect a long wait and be sure to order the purple sausage balls!
One last place you must try is Kermit’s. Kermit’s is one of the longest standing ex-pat joints on the island for a reason. The pizza, pasta and cocktails are damn good and the vibe is lively, fun and edging toward trendy. Call ahead and make a booking so you don’t have to wait.