SIARGAO ISLAND: Surigao Del Norte (pt. 1)

Philippines: MINDANAO

January 23-30, 2011

The Surfing Capital of the Philippines

“Here, there is a wave for everyone.”

Part 1

Percolating for an entire week on an island sounds extra hard core… you’re right. We went over budget but it was SO worth it we could cry.

No, seriously. Because it’s a tear shaped island. (Applause for that massively FAIL-ed segue. *evil laugh*) And we were close to tears when we had to go back home.

Since Jake, The Big Kahuna, hails from this beautiful province, he got the exciting chore of outlining an itinerary.

Day 1 Siargao – Look for accommodations

Day 2 Siargao – Look for market/grocery, Food and Restaurants, Surfspots, surfboard rentals and SURF til you die!

Day 3 Siargao – Scout for cheap transpo, Tour around, Scout for cheap bangka rentals, Island hopping – Naked Island, Sohoton Cave, Taktak Falls, Guyam Island, Dako Island, Mamon Island etc.

Day 4 Siargao – ?? Chillax??

Day 5 Siargao – Del Carmen – Magpupungko, Kaob etc. or SURF ALL DAY!

Day 6 Siargao – Enjoy and relax on the Beach, Tour around GL, Dinner by the Beach etc.

Day 7 Siargao – Leave for Surigao, get ready for the flight.. CEBU!

To make the long (and we mean long) story short, we found the real meaning of rough draft. Just that. Bummer. The horrible off-peak weather resembling a typhoon caught us off guard and totally waylaid our plans of keeping the itinerary intact. Nevertheless, this surf vacation turned out quite unbelievable and we got a taste of how to enjoy the outrageous internationally well-known first-class breaks of Siargao.

First thing’s first… Fast fun facts.

What is Siargao? The island is otherwise known as Mindanao’s surf frontier easily considered as a world class favorite for enthusiasts, adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies. It has become a sought after surf Shangri-la because it is home to perfectly formed, high quality, and powerful waves. We realized that when a Siargaonon considers a certain spot as ‘for beginners’, they typically mean ‘for intermediate’ since we highly doubt any break there in the island is really for first timers. LOL. But that’s just our guess.

Belle: I know why Siargao’s considered as one of the five toughest surf breaks in the world!

Jake: Why?

Belle: Because the right hander waves are too tough for the lefties on earth. And lefties surf too.


Where is Siargao? Northeastern tip of Mindanao (Surigao del Norte, Region XIII) with its eastern coastline facing the Pacific Ocean. Imagine this… Waves are influenced by wind and currents come from the Pacific Ocean and the Mindanao current which is running westward through the Siargao Strait coupled with a location at the tip of the Philippine Trench. This assures the ocean swell’s continuous strength when it hits the many rock and coral reefs. Yep, the dudes and dudettes of alternative lifestyle studied this well.

When is the best time for travel to Siargao?

Surfing: July – November. Waves can reach 10-15 ft high and surfing conditions are excellent. This is competition season, yeah! According to surfers, waves during the competish last year reached 18 ft high and sent one to the hospital.

Beaching: “Summer” months February – May. We roughed it and went on January, the height of the year’s La Nina phenomenon. Pfft.

What do I bring to Siargao? Guts, a positive mindset and a go-getter attitude. Besides that… how’s about a backpack check.

Guess what’s in here.

a.       Cash. Bring extra. And loose change. – budget was P6,000 each but we went overboard. It’s the food and transportation that “murderize” you. You might want to leave your ATM/Credit/Debit cards home as they’re typically useless there.

b.      Sunblock (spf 30 up) – according to new found friends, the sun is extra evil on that side of town so you get tanner than you’d hope after 1 day. No to skin cancer too.

c.       Flip flops… or better yet rubber surf boots. – You need to walk on rocks and corals before you can get to a spot good enough to play in

d.      Swimwear + rash guards and board shorts.

e.       Surfboard of choice + paraphernalia – long boards or funboards are recommended for beginners but intermediate to advanced level surfers often prefer fish surfboards, eggs, & shortboards. Don’t worry bout this though, they’ve got a lot for rent on the island. Comes with an instructor too if you wish. With a price though… Especially if you smash it on some rocks which Belle did.

f.        Cameras – make them waterproof. You’d want to catch shots of your pals on their sticks. Unfortunately we had none but a questionable ziplock bag.

g.       First aid kit, medication and travel insurance – believe us when we say this.

h.       Food – let us go over this again… overcharged much! None of the canned type when you travel by plane since they just take these from you anyway. Packets of coffee, cereal drinks, juices and noodles are always a lifesaver. If you’ve got your own water heater, do bring it to avoid paying P10 for hot water.

i.         Anti-mosquito lotion or mosquito coils – if you intend to stay in a budget hut, it’s teeming with those nasty little suckers.

j.        Water sports activity paraphernalia – snorkels, goggles, fins, wetsuits, etc.

k.      Cellular phone (with emergency numbers) and USB modems – Smart or Talk N’ Text network. Internet connection is also rare in the island.

l.         Entertainment system – Mp3 players and portable speakers, books or magazines, playing cards, binoculars, whatever

m.     Personal hygiene products and toiletries

If I choose not to surf, what else is there to do in Siargao? Seriously. You’re in Siargao! Catch those waves at least. After that you can take your pick from a ripe variety of other activities such as fishing, snorkeling, diving, island hopping, spelunking, trekking and getting down and dirty in mangrove swamps. Or partay in the few restobars and pubs. But then again, better to leave that for the big city.

How do I get to Siargao? If you’re from Mindanao, you can take a bus to Surigao City.

You can also take an airplane straight to Siargao Island or take one that lands in Surigao City then you take a boat all the way to the island.

Check your local airlines, bus lines or shipping lines for updated rates and trip schedules.

The latter is exactly what we did. Our budget airline made us take the earliest flight to Surigao City.

In about 30-45 minutes, we landed smoothly at the airport which was also in a place called AIRPORT in Barangay Luna. Purok Airport? That’s a riot!

Then we hiked all the way to the bus terminal where we took a jeepney to the port area for P8/head. Upon arriving, we immediately purchased boat tickets as we got there just in time for the next ride. Ours was P135 (air conditioned).

Belle: What are we riding?

Jake: A fastcraft. A really oldschool one. Even before the word ‘fastcraft’ was invented.

The jarring ride took about 3 hours including scenic views of whirlpools, neighboring islands and mangroves… just a preview of the real adventure.

Take your anti-emetics and  downers if you’re prone to seasickness. I was getting a nice fast language tutorial from Jake while we waited to dock. Surigaonon was what you’d call an easy to learn dialect especially if you already speak Bisaya as there are so much words in common already.

Marajao karajao… indai uno… suga, haman kaw all the way!

As soon as we docked at the port in Dapa, we were ready and roaring to go. It felt like we were jacked on energy drinks, cola and a substantial amount of espresso.

Haha. Egghead.

The island reverberated with so much pure boundless vivacity and dynamism at first breath. The atmosphere was so alive out there it was like stepping foot on a living giant!  Despite the slight drizzle upon our arrival and the thick gloomy clouds overhead, we honestly felt as if we have just been reborn.

To Be Continued…


5 thoughts on “SIARGAO ISLAND: Surigao Del Norte (pt. 1)

    1. We’d love to but unfortunately we haven’t had the chance to share the experience yet. But we’ll let you know other people’s feedback as soon as we get it!

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