Siargao, Asia’s Nr. 1 Island

When I asked my filipino friends for advice which destinations are the best in the Philippines, I got a lot of common answers that Siargao is the new trend. A few years ago everyone was talking about El Nido and Coron in Palawan. Now it’s Siargao, the surfing capital of the Philippines. Siargao was also voted the best island in the world by the reader’s choice awards in October 2018. Surpassing, Boracay, Palawan and even Bali. It is known for being a surfer’s paradise. This island is definitely a place to check out when visiting the Philippines!


You can get to Siargao by flying in from Cebu or Manila. It used to be only Cebu but Cebgo is now operating between Manila and Siargao as well. It is a bit more pricey though.
You can already get a non-stop and roundtrip from Cebu to Siargao starting at 60$ per person and up. It depends on the season of course. From Manila to Siargao we paid 160$ non-stop and roundtrip per person with Cebgo.


From the airport, you can get a van that brings you straight to the hotel. The price should range around 250-300 php/person depending how far your accommodation is. Most resorts are in General Luna and almost all vans waiting for passengers at the airport drive to that area. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any cheaper options like tricycles there. The most convenient way is to arrange a pick up with your accommodation and there will be people with signs at the arrival area waiting for you. This is a bit more pricey. We paid around 400 php/person.
The best way to get around the island is to rent a motorbike or motor scooter. I Siargao, you will see most of the bikes have a holder for surf boards. We paid 500 php per day for an automatic scooter. Gas is 55 php per liter (red gas in a glass coca cola bottle). Full tank is 3 bottles for 165 php (3$) and lasts the whole day. For people who don’t want to drive a bike, they can flag down a tricycle from the road. In General Luna it’s no problem.


In Siargao there are countless accomodations in General Luna ranging from cheap bungalows to high end resorts. I always prefer a non-touristy flare and I found a place right next to a white sand beach with no rocks! Yes, it is quite hard to find non-rocky beaches in Siargao. They had cute small cottages (bahay kubos), their own local restaurant, bike rentals, a decent reception and very friendly and helpful staff. The cottages were air conditioned, they have warm water and even a TV. The price was around 50$ a night when we were there in January. We had a great time here!
Visit Patrick’s on the beach for more info.
More luxury and recommendations from my filipino friends:
Palaka Hotel – 84$ and up / night
Isla Cabana – 190$ – 430$ / night
Nay Palad Hideaway (5-Star and instagram worthy) – 1400$ – 2760$ / night
For the more experimental people out there, there are multiple home stays in the island. Here, you can have a taste of how local people really live. You will stay with a family and have the most authentic experience you can have. These places are usually not in General Luna, but rather in the small provincial areas all around Siargao. 


Eat at Patrick’s at the beach restaurant. Siargao doesn’t have a lot of options for dining. The “good” places are either tourist spots that serve foreign food or local spots that take too long to prepare if they get a lot of customers. I had the best authentic filipino food at our accommodation’s own restaurant right next to the beach for only 5$ per meal.
If you wanna go with the flow, here are some touristy food spots:
Offshore cafe at Cloud 9 – Fruit Bowls, Ice Cream, Coffee
Shaka Cafe – the most famous one
Miguel’s Burritos and Tacos
Ronaldo’s local BBQ chicken
Aventino’s Pizza
at some special places, you can get a fresh buko (young coconut) straight from the tree for only 30 php. They are served with natural bamboo straws and the meat is scraped off with the natural bark shell of the coconut. Coconut water is rich in electrolytes but is also diuretic, which means you have to go pee more often. So it’s good for rehydration and diarrhoea.

Things To Do:

Cloud 9 (surfing and boardwalk)

Go out and surf! It’s Siargao afterall! A surf instructor costs 500 php for an hour. We also had another guy take photos with our gopro for 300 php. At Jacking Horse you get beginner waves and you can try out your surfing skills. Try to go when the tide is high or middle high for good waves. So early morning and late afternoon. The tide is the highest at 6am and 6pm and is the lowest at 12 noon and midnight. 

Check out this website for tide info:

The boardwalk is three stories high and is a good place to rest after surfing. You can also observe the waves and the surfers from up there and the breeze really gets you into vacation mode. At low tide, you can go down to the crystal blue natural pools and take a dip there.

Explore the Island (crocodile marsh, coconut trees)

When you rented a motorbike, I urge you to just stop at one of Siargao side streets and explore the landscapes full of coconut trees. You can do as many stops as you like to take your photos. The best photos i got from this trip came from the multiple spontaneous stops we had. When you leave General Luna and drive up to the Mapupungko Falls, you will encounter a lot of local scenery like rice fields, coconut plantations, carabaos and just around a corner, you will pass by a magnificent view of the middle part of the island that is complete covered with coconut trees.
On another trip down south we also encountered a marsh that is suppose to be a habit for filipino crocodiles. Luckily we didn’t encounter any (but maybe they encountered us and we didn’t know).

Go To The Secret Beach

Use Google Maps and search for “secret beach Siargao”. From General Luna, you drive south on Union Road until you see a small path to the left with a small sign saying Guiwan surfing area.

You need to walk through the coconut farm for around 8 minutes to get to the beach and it is by far the nicest walk I’ve done on this island. Starting 4pm, surfers will stop by the secret beach and ride the waves. This spot is way less touristy than Cloud 9 and you can enjoy a tourist free beach with some surfers having fun. I got most of my shots here, as it was really beautiful and local.

Explore the Enchanted River

You can find this on your way north when you drive up north from General Luna to Mapupungko Rock Pools. You will pass by a small bridge where you can hear laughing kids and happy locals chit chatting. This is a small gathering spot for the villagers where they just hang out and have fun. We overlooked this the first time and then stoped to check it out when coming back. So here, they offer small peaceful paddle boat tours through the river. You will pass by the famous bent tree where kids jump from the swing, and then you will arrive at the very quiet landscape of Siargao’s palm forests. It really is enchanted!
The boat tour costs 500 php/boat (not per person) and takes around 1 hour with a short break at the end of the river. Yes it is not a loop and you will find a small crystal blue lagoon pool where you can take a short dip. There are also some local kids who climb up trees and get some fresh coconuts that you can buy for just 30 pesos. They are served with a bamboo straw and the meat is scraped off with the bark of the coconut shell.

The bent tree stands out from all other trees and the locals made a swing out of it so kids can play and jump into the river. This is what i hoped my childhood would look like. I envy those kids.

Mapupungko Rock Pools

This destination is one of natures beautiful creations and also part of Siargao’s most known tourism attractions. A lot of tours offer a trip to this place. A wonderful natural crystal blue lagoon you can only find at low tide. When the waves go back, it reveals a very blue lagoon at the far left side of the Mapupungko Beach. Make sure to bring rock shoes as the rocks can be very sharp.

The entrance to the beach costs 50 php/person and there are a lot of food stalls offering snacks, lunch and even souvenirs, t-shirts and beach gear. The best time to witness the rock pools is when the water is the lowest. So at 12 noon. But this is not really the best time to go, as the pool will be packed with tourists. I would wait a few hours, the water will rise a bit, but it’s still possible to see the clear blue water.

If you have time, continue your journey north and you will arrive at Pacifico. We didn’t get to explore this part of the island yet, as we ran out of time and had to head back home.
If you have more time than we do, then definitely pay a visit to Pacifico, Burgos and Alegria Areas. Unfortunately we also missed to visit the Sugba Lagoon as it was closed for a month for rehabilitation. So definitely check these out in Siargao.

Island Hopping:

You can ask your accomodation for island hopping tours. They will get a small commission but they already have deals with the boats men. In some cases you can make a deal with the boatsmen directly. So here are some of the most common offers:
Island Hopping – Daku Island, Guyam Island, Naked Island
Sohoton Tour – Sohoton Cove, Jellyfish Sanctuary, Crystal Cave, Tiktikan Lake (includes tour guide, boat, tour entrance fees/permit and special buffet lunch)
Sugba Lagoon Tour 
You can choose to do a private or a joiner tour. Joiner tours are the most common ones and most affordable tours too. The prices can vary depending on the season.