About Siargao and why you should visit the island
Siargao Island, in the province of Surigao del Norte, wasn’t tipically an island that would be in travellers’ itineraries in the past. However, in recent years, Siargao has gained more and more traction and is now recognized as the surfing paradise of Philippines. But surfing is not the only thing that Siargao island offers. Apart from an amazing and unique atmosphere, Siargao has some incredible natural attractions like lagoons, virgin islands and rock pools. But even with all of this, our favourite thing about Siargao was its laid-back and authentic vibe.
Even though the island is becoming more popular, it has not reached mass tourism levels as locals are committed to preserving the natural habitat of the island. Siargao was completely different to the other locations we visited in Philippines. There are no big hotels or party venues and instead it is full of local cafes, restaurants and unique accommodations. Plus, everyone is super friendly and it is very easy to get around with a scooter. If you are visiting Philippines, I would recommend that you don’t miss this spot when building your itinerary.
When to visit Siargao
We made the mistake of visiting Siargao during not a great time. Not only we got a fairly large amount of rain but also the main attractions (Sugba Lagoon and Magpupungko Rock Pools) were closed for environmental cleaning.
Travel Tip: Please note that these two attractions will be closed every year for an entire month, sometime between January and March, in preparation for the summer season. The actual dates vary from year to year. In 2020, they were closed from 10th Jan to 10th Feb.
The summer season in Siargao starts in March and runs all the way to September. These will be the best months to visit the island to ensure that everything is open and that you don’t catch the rain season.
How long to stay in Siargao
We stayed in Siargao for a total of 4 days (and 4 nights), but if the main attractions had been opened, we wouldn’t have had enough time to do everything. If you are able to, I would recommend staying 5 or 6 full days in the island to enjoy it to the max! But if you are tight on time, you could make it work in only 4 days.
How to get to Siargao
The easiest and quickest way to get to Siargao is by plane. The Siargao airport is only a short flight away (under 1h) from Cebu.
The Siargao airport is very small and if you’re carrying big bags they will most certainly make you put them in the airplane luggage cabin. If you don’t have luggage included in your flight ticket, you will have to pay for this. Make sure to take cash with you because most airlines don’t take card in this airport.
We flew with Cebu Airlines and we had to pay 1,000 PHP (= $20 USD) for one of our bags that weighted more than 7 KG.
Most hotels can organise airport transfers in advance for you, which I would highly recommend (especially if your hotel is not in General Luna). But there’s usually also vans at the exit offering transfer services.
Where to stay
The best area to stay in Siargao is General Luna. This is where most hotels are and where all of the action is. It is perfectly located as it is very close to Cloud 9 and other surfing beaches. Even if you’re not planning to surf, you will want to stay here as it is where you will find more dining options, activities and so on.
Things to do in Siargao
In no particular oder:
1. Take surfing classes
As mentioned, Siargao is a surfer’s paradise. Even if it’s not your thing I highly recommend that you try it out. I wasn’t very excited about this activity and ended up loving it! It is particularly easy to learn how to surf in Siargao because the instructors will push your board when you still don’t know how to catch the wave, which makes it much less exhausting and easier to learn and enjoy.
A private 1-hour lesson will cost you only 500 PHP (= $10 USD) including the board, and you can rent a rash top and a locker at the beach for 50 PHP each, coming up to a total of $12 USD per person.
The most common location for surfing is Cloud 9, where there is also a designated area for beginners. You can get a tricycle to cloud 9 from General Luna for 20 PHP per person (= 0,40 USD)
The best thing about this activity is that you can book a class very early in the morning and then continue with your day. You won’t need to sacrifice any of the touristic spots for surfing!
2. Explore the island on a scooter
During our time in Siargao, we had to make the decision to rent a scooter. Even though we had never ridden one before, it was the easiest and cheapest way to get around the island. If this is your case and you are considering it, we would say that you should totally go for it (always taking safety precautions, of course). There only is onw main road in Siargao so it’s difficult to get lost, and driving in between the iconic palm tree roads was super dreamy.
The average price for renting a scooter is 350 PHP per day (= $7 USD) and we filled the deposit for only 150 PHP! (= $3 USD)
A couple of places that you can visit via scooter are:
- Secret Beach: Only a 15 minute drive away from General Luna, is this beautiful surfer’s beach.
- Maasin River & Bridge: One of the most famous locations in Siargao is this river where you will find the Instagram-famous palm tree spot from which you can jump into the river! If you are interested in learning more about this spot don’t forget to watch my Siargao Vlog where I show you this spot and talk about whether it is worth the visit.
- Pacifico Beach: We didn’t get to go to the north of the island because we didn’t want to have to drive 1h each way. But if you’re up for the adventure, we have read that the landscapes on that side of the island are stunning. You can read more on Jonny Melon’s post here.
3. Sugba Lagoon and Magpopongko Rock Pools
As mentioned earlier on this post, we were unlucky because these two spots were closed due to environmental cleaning during our time in Siargao, but you should definitely add them to you itinerary if you can – They look like the 2 most stunning places. I will be coming back to Siargao to visit them one day!
Magpopongko Rock pools are on the way to Pacifico beach, so you could visit both spots on the same day. I believe that both of these attractions are also part of the most common island tours.
4. Island Hopping Tour
Last but not least, is the island hopping tour. This is also one of the most famous tours in Siargao because if you have the time, why not go check out some paradisiac spots?
The tour includes stopping at 3 islands: Daku Island, Naked Island and Guyam Island. Everything will be organised by the tour operator .
We paid 1,500 PHP (= $30 USD) per person, because we chose to take the tour with a posh hotel (Bravo), but you can definitely find the tour for cheaper.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions about Siargao don’t forget to drop them in the comments section below and I will be happy to help. You can read more Philippines Itineraries and travel guides here.