3 Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Siargao

3…2…1. 3 plane tickets, 2 cancelled flights, 1 trip and at last I’m back to where it all started. If you’ve read my post “Siargao: The Journey, Not the Destination“, you’ll understand why. If not, I suggest you read it first. What I didn’t tell everyone is that Siargao was one of the first places I’ve had spontaneous, unplanned trips in. Back in 2009, I found myself in this island. Back then, I only had 1 thing in mind – SURF! 4 years later, I’m back in Siargao.

This time, it’s different. This time, it’s a family trip and it got me so excited. The excitement didn’t last long though, after my first flight got sent back due to bad weather and the second one cancelled for the same reason, I started thinking maybe it’s a sign. Maybe I wasn’t meant to come back. Then, all the memories came rushing in. I remembered how I literally lived with the locals and surfed all day. I don’t mean to sound mushy but I remembered how I fell in love with Siargao and no cancelled flight, or thunderstorm is gonna change that.

Since this is my 3rd attempt of getting back to this place, I’m gonna stick to the concept of “threes”.

 

Must Do

1. My brother Rhett learning to surf.  2. Magpupungko natural pool and rock formation. 3. Island hopping with the family.

1. My brother Rhett learning to surf.    2. Magpupungko natural pool and rock formation.
3. Island hopping with the family.

1. Surf, Surf and Surf – Siargao isn’t called the Surfing Capital of the Philippines for nothing. Sure, there’s a lot things to do here but Surfing tops the list for everyone. You can choose from any of the surf spots in the island depending on your skill level. If you’re not tempted to try this sport out yet, let me tell you that Siargao is ranked 9th on the “World’s 50 best surf spots” by CNN travel. So whether it’s your first time, your second time or even if you do it all the time, you just can’t come to Siargao and not surf…

2. Visit Magpupungko Rock Formation and Natural Saltwater Pool – Located in the Municipality of Pilar, a little more than an hour away from General Luna(you’ll most likely find yourself based here when in Siargao). Taken from the Bisaya word “Pungko” which means “sitting” or “squatting”, you’ll be amazed about how a huge boulder sits on top of a tiny base. I’ve seen a similar rock formation in Koh Tao, Thailand during my Epic Summer but this one’s just massive. It made me wonder if God has Engineering degree at MIT. Aside from the rock formation, the reef forms a natural saltwater pool that is visible only during low tide.

3. Island Hopping – The neighboring islands are just as majestic as Siargao itself. You can charter a 10-seater “Pumpboat” for PhP1,200 to visit the neighboring islands of Dako, Guyam and Naked Island but add a little more and you get to visit Sohoton Cove located in the island of Bucas Grande, about 1 and a half to 2 hours from General Luna.

Must Surf

If you’ve ever thought about surfing in Siargao, you’ll most likely find yourself walking in the wooden steps going to the tower as soon as you get there. Even for people who don’t wanna surf, you can just hangout in the tower and watch the surfers ride the waves. With that said, let’s make the tower our point of reference in locating these surf breaks.

Spot the Difference: Photos of the tower. One taken in 2009, second taken recently

Spot the Difference: One was taken in 2009, the Second taken recently. To the right of the tower is Cloud 9, to the left is Quiksilver and Jacking Horse(not seen in Photo)

 1. Cloud 9 – The most famous break in all of Siargao or maybe even the whole Philippines. This is where the best surfers converge for the international competition held every September. Located directly to the right of the tower, this is where you’ll find the best waves in the country but let’s just leave it to the Pros to brave these waves. Beginners and novice surfers are not advised to surf here for their own safety and that of other more experienced surfers. It’s hard to miss this spot because it is always crowded with surfers at any time of the day.

 2. Tuason Point – “Quiksilver” as some locals would call it is located directly to the left of the tower. A few hundred yards away from cloud 9. This is where surfing instructors are most likely to take first time surfers and beginners since the waves are a lot gentler compared to the ones in cloud 9. Perfect for first timers, beginners and novice surfers. It is best to surf this break during high tide because it can be dangerous when the tide is low as the waves can break in very shallow waters where the corals are relatively sharp but not as sharp as those in cloud 9.

3. Jacking Horse – About 200 yards left of Quiksilver is Jacking Horse. So called because the waves here Jack up(suddenly rise) as it hits the shallow reef after gaining momentum from the deep. Another break suited for beginners and novice surfers. I’m not quite sure how they came up with the word horse though.

 

Must Eat

1. Surf Bread. 2.Chocolate Cake from Aventino's Pizza 3. Seafoods, my personal favorite

1. Surf Bread.   2.Chocolate Cake from Aventino’s Pizza   3. Seafoods, my personal favorite

 1. Surf Bread – I know! I know! Everything about Siargao has something to do with “Surf” and the bread is no exception. It is shaped like a surfboard, hence the name. But aside from its name, there’s everything to love about this bread. It’s not just delicious, it’s heavy. Munching on 2 of these can get you through hours of surfing. I heard from locals that what makes this bread exceptionally good is that it is baked in a traditional stone oven with a recipe that’s passed on from generations. There’s a catch though, it is only available at 6am and 3pm daily and they sell out really fast as tourists and locals alike can’t seem to get enough of this bread. These are not sold in bakeshops so I suggest you ask a local to get you some. I’m not quite sure but I think they sell it for about PhP5  a piece.

2. Chocolate Cake from Aventino’s Pizza – Yes, it’s a pizza parlor but they do serve chocolate cake. It’s rich and it’s moist just the way I like it. Aventino’s has 2 branches in General Luna. One right across the church and the other about 1-2 kilometers away from cloud 9. A hefty slice will cost you PhP25 and the best thing about it is that they deliver to any resort in the area.

3. Seafoods – I live in an island, sure it’s easy to get seafoods whenever I want it but Siargao is one of those places where you get them at a whole different level of freshness. If you want some, just ask any of the locals and 1-2 hours later, someone walks up to you with a bag of live crabs fresh off the sea(yes special mention to the king crabs). By the way, ask your resort chef to cook it the traditional way. Or maybe you can ask the locals to cook it for you too. Even just writing about this is making my taste buds tingle. YUM!

Must Visit

As mentioned earlier, island hopping should be a part of your “things-to-do in-Siargao” list. But there’s too many different islands in the area. Now the question becomes which islands should I visit? Although Sohoton cove tops the list, it’s gonna eat up a whole day off your schedule considering the 4-hour travel time to and from Sohoton. If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, let’s just stick to the neighboring islands then.

1. That's why they call it "Naked Island"   2. Isla Dako   3. Isla Guyam

1. That’s why they call it “Naked Island”   2. Dako Island   3. Guyam Island

1. Naked Island – What’s better than an island with fine, white sands along the shore? How about an island made up entirely of pure white sand. You won’t find anything else here except sand, a little grassy area and a little rocky portion. You won’t even find trees here that’s why they call it “Naked Island” so don’t get your hopes up guys, you won’t find any naked chicks here and vice versa so please keep your clothes on.

2. Dako – A “Bisaya” term meaning “Big” and rightfully so because it is the largest among the 3 islands located right next to each other. It is also the only inhabited island with about 80 families living here. Don’t forget to ask the locals do get you some fresh buko off the tree for about PhP20 ($0.50) a piece. And if ever you brought your own food, you can hang around in their cottages for a bit. As an added bonus, the south side of the island has its own share of breaks and is one of the many surf spots in Siargao.

3. Guyam – I suggest you ask the “pumpboat” operators to make this the last stop in your island hopping experience. It’s the perfect place to chill and relax. A little bigger than Naked Island(I think..), it’s got its own share of a long, white, sandy shoreline but this time, with trees and lush vegetation right in the middle. You can just lay in the sand for awhile or find refuge under the trees if you’re not a big fan of the sun. The island caretaker will ask for a PhP10 ($0.25) environmental maintenance fee though. I don’t think you’d mind paying that much, or should I say that little,right?
Insider Info: I heard that this island is for sale. I just hope the government can do something about it. I like it the way it is. And once you sink your feet in the powdery white sands, I think you will to. Keep it public please. Let everyone enjoy this beauty.

A lot has changed since the last time I was here but one thing’s for sure. I’m still in love with this place for the same reasons. Cliche as it may sound but love is indeed a lot sweeter the 2nd time around. I just hope and pray it’ll stay this way in all the years to come.

 

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Comments

  1. Dylan says:

    I’m planning on going to Siargao this year so this is really helpful Ayn.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. baktin says:

    Oh Siargao.
    My friends and I had everything ready back in 2010 until I canceled it for a personal emergency. I do hope I can step on its fabled shores someday.

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