SIARGAO - THE SURF CAPITAL OF PHILIPPINES
Siargao island is a tear shaped island in the south east of Philippines which is covered with mangroves, palm trees, rock pools, lagoons and beautiful beaches. Siargao is famous for surfing but there are loads of activities for non surfers as well. It is the second largest mangrove reserve in Philippines.
HOW TO GET TO SIARGAO ?
Getting to Siargao is time consuming for Indians since it is only accessible via 2 airports in Philippines ie Cebu and Manila. But the flights to Siargao are cheapest from Cebu. There are cheap flights to Cebu city from Mumbai offered by Singapore airlines, around 20k return if booked at right time. From Cebu City, Siargao is just 1hr away by Cebu Pacific Airline flight. So you can literally have a return ticket to Siargao for as low as 25k.
PLACES TO SEE :
1. SUGBA LAGOON + KAWHAGAN ISLAND
This has to be my second favourite place in Siargao. Sugba lagoon is sooo beautiful, you can already see that from your plane before landing in Siargao Airport. So make sure to book a window seat :D
This place lies in the town of Del Carmen which is in the west of Siargao island.
Siargao has the second largest number of mangroves in the Philippines and you can see that from the boat while going to Sugba lagoon.
To get to Sugba Lagoon, you need to first get to Del Carmen tourism office which is around 1-1.5 hrs away from General Luna, which is the main tourist hub in Siargao.
The office opens at 8am so if you want to be the first person to reach the lagoon, make sure you reach around this time :). I was lucky to reach there on time along with my 2 Filipino friends.
The entrance fee for sugba lagoon is 100 php for foreigner and 50 pesos for locals. Also the boat for Sugba lagoon is booked in the office where a boat number will be assigned to you. There are various options to choose for the trip, but i would recommend to book Sugba lagoon + Kawhagan island, which costs 2000 php per boat.
There is a fish market outside the office so it is better to buy fresh sea food from the market and get it cooked on the island for a minor fee.Once the boat is assigned, you are all set to visit the majestic lagoon :)
It takes around 30 mins of boat ride to get there, but be advised that the outrigger boat is really really loud.For the 30 mins of boat ride, you will be blessed with view like this :
Once you reach the lagoon, you have to reserve a table for yourself to keep your stuff before jumping in the lagoon.
You will be astonished with the first look of the lagoon from the top , the water is emerald green, so beautiful.
We were lucky to reach there so early that we had enough time to click pics on the jumping board in different angles.
There are many equipments available for rent like snorkeling kits, life vests , stand up paddle boards, kayaks etc. We rented SUP for an hour for 300 pesos. Else you can pay 500 pesos for unlimited use.
The lagoon is best explored with a kayak, so make sure you rent one and explore the beautiful lagoon.
I tried my GoPro Dome for the first time here and some of the shots came out nice, still learning though.
After spending around 2-3 hours at this beautiful lagoon, we left to visit the next destination which is Kawhagan Island.This island is around 20 mins boat ride from Sugba lagoon and is worth a visit.
The island has a huge sandbar and the water is soooo blue here and the sand is sooo soft.
People who usually buy fresh sea food from the market can get it cooked on this island for a minimum fee, else there is an option to order food on this island as well.Be grateful and invite your boatman for lunch as well :)
There is a fee to book a table here or a cottage. I think it was 250 php for a table and 400 php for a cottage. The island is covered with unlimited palm trees, so its not very sunny. Imagine having yummy sea food with this view.
We had lunch with our boatman here, relaxed for a bit and then left back with nothing but beautiful memories <3
We were 3 of us and there were many extra costs which we dint plan earlier like, docking fees, cottage fees, table fees etc. So if you are less than 4 people, it is always better to enroll urself in a joiners tour.It is much easier, hassle free and has included lunch and beach activities.
2. MAGPUPUNGKO POOL
Magpupungko pool is around 45 mins away from General Luna and can only be visited during low tide. It is known for its natural rock formations and tidal pools. During the low tide, a natural emerald pool is formed here and is popular for swimming and jumping. The entrance fee is 50 php per person.
The pool looks so beautiful that its impossible to not go for a swim here.Life jackets are available for rent here for 100 php.
There is also a jumping spot here but the rocks are very sharp to climb, so unless you have shoes its too risky to climb here. However i climbed a little for a good shot from the top. Things you have to do if you dont have a drone :)
You can see many beautiful fishes in this pool as well, but be careful, there are lot of sea urchins here. I do not have a drone yet, but this is how the pool looks from the top.
Picture credits to one of my favourite travel blogger, Jackson Groves.
3. SOHOTON COVE NATIONAL PARK
This magical place was the main reason why i went to Siargao. It lies 2.5 hrs away from General Luna by boat in the island named Bucas Grande.
Sohoton Cove National Park consists of many beautiful caves, lagoons, lakes and scenic spots. It is so beautiful that it is compared to the scenic spots in El Nido and Coron in Philippines.
It is really expensive to visit this National park from Siargao and it is very far as well. It is better to join a tour from Siargao with costs ranging from 2000-2500 php per person.
This tour is only recommended for adventurers, since the boat ride is really long(2.5 hr one way) and the sound of the boat going there is very loud too. I had joined a Sohoton Cove + Tri Island tour with my 2 filipino friends. We left around 6am for the meetup and the boat assigned to us left at 7am. The outrigger boat noise was really loud, but trust me the scenery makes up for it. You will see atleast 25-30 unhabited islands with just palm trees on the way to Sohoton.
We reached Sohoton Cove tourism office around 9:30 and the way the water colour changed still amazes me.
We were then transfered to small boat for visiting my favourite place- The stingless jellyfish sanctuary.
I was so amazed to see the beauty of the place that it was very difficult to enjoy the moment and click pics at the same time.
I then borrowed the hat from the boatman and also one of the paddles to experience this myself.
Once we entered the jellyfish sanctuary, the colour of the water changed to milky blue and i was so lucky that my boat was the first one to reach here and i had this place all by myself for 5 mins.
It is unreal that the water is actually this colour.
We were then looking out for some stingless jellyfishes which are seen in this lagoon. They are harmless and it is allowed to swim with them. I am so glad that i had gopro with me, since it is not possible to visit this place without a waterproof camera. However the shots are not as beautiful as the iphone ones.
I was fortunate enough to spot 2 kinds of Jellyfish here, dont know if the transparent jellyfish is clear enough:
Our boatman was nice enough to let me borrow his cap and paddle and be patient enough for us and also helped us visit beautiful spots and show us jellyfish.
These people earn so less for each trip, so it is always kind to give them some tip for their good services.We spent around 20 mins swimming in this beautful lagoon and then left the lagoon for visiting the caves.
The jellyfish sanctuary is on the top of my favourite places list till now :D
We came back to the tourism center again and were given helmets before heading out for caves in a bigger pumpboat.
The entrance into the Sohoton Cove is magical and words cannot describe it. So i will post a video of the entrance below:
We first went to Hagukan cave, in which we have to float on our back to enter the cave, since it is only possible during low tide.
The name is derived from the word haguk which means to snore, so on the onset of high tide and the water is nearing to close the mouth of the cave, it emits a snoring sound as the water slams into the cave.
When the light enters the small entrance of cave, the whole cave inside lights up in luminious green colour. Here is the pic of my friends inside this cave :
After finishing this cave, we moved on to the next cave called as Magkuku-ob cave. We had to walk in a completely dark cave in water and our guide was holdng one torch.
We had to do some rock climbing in this dark cave and the exit of this cave is a cliff jumping spot.
Here is the video of me doing cliff jump from this cave.
After finishing this cave we headed back to the tourism center where our lunch was prepared by the tour guides.The lunch was a good spread consisting of fish, shrimps, squid rings and pork with rice and fruits.
After finishing the lunch we left out for another beautiful place in Sohoton which is Club Tara Resort.
Club Tara resort is a high end resort for couples who wish to stay in sohoton. The resort offers absolutely amazing views and has rooms with hot jacuzzi as well.
ME and my filipino friends had a lovely time here, enjoying the beauty of this resort.
There is an entrance fee of 20 php per person to enter this resort and the view from the top of the hill is amazing.
Look at the colour of the water <3 reminds me of pictures i have seen of Palawan :D
We left Club Tara and that was the end of our Sohoton journey. We were going to visit the famous Tri-islands on our way back.
4. TRI ISLAND TOUR
Tri-island tour consists of 3 islands which are close to Siargao's coast named Daku,Guyam and Naked island. Usually day trips happen to these islands but i chose to combine it with Sohoton tour since there is not much to see here and they come on the way anyways while returning from Sohoton.
So after a tiring 2.5 hrs boat ride from Sohoton, our boat stopped on the first island which is Naked island. And no, it is not a nudist island :P
It is termed Naked island because there is nothing on this island to cover it , just clear sand, thats it.
There was nothing much to see on this island, hence 30 mins was more than enough. Also Sohoton cove set the standards up so much that this looked like a normal place.
We moved to the next island which is biggest of the 3, called Guyam Island.On day trips, food is usually cooked on this island for lunch.
It has lovely cottages for rent and having food.
People actually live on this island and there are lots of coconut trees on this island, some bent ones too.
It was 5pm and it was almost getting dark, so we moved to our last stop, Guyam island for watching sunset.It has a lovely I LOVE GUYAM selfie point at the front for clicking pictures. The views during the sunset looked absolutely gorgeous.
5. MAASIN RIVER TOUR
I had seen many pictures of the famous BENT Palm tree across a beautiful river in Siargao and had to do a lot of research to find it. Finally i found a nice tour guide who offers boat ride across this river.
This river is 30 min ride away from General Luna in the town of Maasin. I met the boatman who had kept our boat ready for the ride.
There are many local kids climbing the bent tree and jumping from the rope tied to it. We sat on the small boat and started our ride across this beautiful river.
After 15 mins we stopped at the end of the river and our boatman took us to one special spot which is not shown in any of the earlier blogs i have read.
This spot was the biggest surprise since i did not even know something like this exists. The water was crystal clear here and super blue.
We spent some time swimming here and the water was fresh and cold. We then left from this spot since it was getting dark.
The boatmen were really hardworking and took us nicely across the river and took our pictures.
Here is the picture of us with the boatmen.
6. PACIFICO BEACH
We visited Pacifico beach resort which is 1-1.5 hrs ride from General Luna. Pacifico region is in the north of Siargao island and is on the quieter side and is known for advance surfers due to big waves.
Pacifico beach resort is a lovely resort with a private beach and has stunning views.
The resort offers surfing lessons for beginners during low tide for 500 php.
I did not surf but managed to borrow the surf board just for pics because visiting the surf capital of Philippines without the mandatory surfboard pic is a crime :D
People staying for longer periods in siargao can stay at this lovely resort for 2-3 nights, its really quiet and peaceful.
7. CLOUD 9 BOARDWALK
Cloud 9 is the famous surf spot in Siargao and is a common place for people who love to surf. Since i am not too interested in surfing, this place was last on my bucket list and went to watch sunset here.
The entrance fee is 50 php per person to enter the broadwalk. There is a 2 storied tower at the end which is a common place for people who dont know how to surf and prefer watching others surf.
PLACES TO STAY
KERMIT SURF RESORT
i had read so many positive reviews about Kermit resort, and booked it well in advance since it gets full 3-4 months before only during peak season.
Kermit is also famous throughout Siargao for its famous pizza and pasta, it literally gets full for dinner everyday at 7pm only. But they have special reservation for in-house guests.
It is an expensive resort to stay, but compared to other resorts it is the best. Other famous resort in Siargao is BRAVO RESORT, which is a high-end resort as well.
For budget travellers there are many options of hostels and PAGLAOM HOSTEL has the best reviews.
For other options to stay please click this link : SIARGAO HOTELS
PLACES TO EAT
Kermit again tops the list of best places to eat n Siargao.
It has really really good breakfast included and has great options for lunch and dinner.
We had many of our meals in Ronaldo's Inn and Resto bar which is 10 mins walk from Kermit or 20 pesos by tricycle. It is a reasonably priced local restaurant and has great food, despite slow service. If you run short of currency, they have currency exchange inside too.
There is ample of options for places to eat within 10-15 mins walking distance from Kermit.
I have noticed that the people who organize tours get most of the money and the boatman and others who actually work very hard are paid less. So it is always nice to tip them for their hard work :)
I would really like to thank my Filipino friends, Karizza and Clifford for inviting me to join tours with them and share tour costs. Would have been impossible to have so much fun in Siargao without them.