Planning Your Siargao Vacation

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

     While El Nido and Boracay are still the 2 most popular islands in the Philippines, Siargao is quickly establishing itself as a strong candidate for 3rd place. And now, with Boracay’s being closed for at least 6 months for rehabilitation, visits to Siargao increased exponentially making it the hottest tourist spot in the country at the moment.

     Siargao started out mainly as a backpacker’s destination, attracting mostly surfers coming to the famous Cloud Nine beach. With beautiful white sand beaches and stunning small islands and lagoons, it has remained one of the best-kept secrets in the Philippines. Now, people are starting to pick up on the fact this island is one of the most wonderful in the world.

     Siargao has now reached a sweet spot where it’s popular enough that tourism is developed and well maintained, but the island still has that raw paradise vibe to it. This is the best time to visit the place, before too many tourists turn it into just another Boracay.

Planning Your Siargao Vacation
photo from pixabay.com


Where to stay in Siargao Island

     Siargao has witnessed a jump in popularity so sudden, that the hotel industry on the island was not prepared. The situation, especially during high seasons, is so dire that you often see backpackers renting out tents and sleeping on the grass.

     In general, accommodation in Siargao is quite limited, with homestays, Air BnB’s and dorms being the most common options. Decent beach resorts are available, but they are usually quite small and get fully booked very quickly. This is why it is imperative you book your hotel before reaching the island, and as early as you can. For that reason, this is one of a few places in the Philippines where it’s better to book a tour package from a local agent. Philippines travel package is the best choice for anything Siargao related.

Luxury hotels in Siargao

     As mentioned Siargao is still mostly a backpacker’s haven but there are still some great options if you want to pamper yourself. People who appreciate the finer things in life can still find a handful of all-inclusive resorts that can actually rival the ones in El Nido or Coron.

Here are some of the best hotels in Siargao, with prices starting as low as 10000 PHP per night:
  • Siargao Bleu (10000 per night)
  • Isla Cabana (15000 per night)
  • Nay Palad hideaway private island resort (60000 per night)

Mid-range hotels in Siargao

     Midrange hotels in Siargao are the hardest to find. Most of these resorts only have between 8 to 12 rooms in total, so they get full very quickly. If you are fast enough, you can grab a nice room right by the beach for a very affordable price.

     Most of these places are perfect for couples or singles. Larger groups and families might find them slightly too crowded, even though some of them do offer larger family suites type rooms.
  • Siargao island villas (5500 per night)
  • Romantic island villa (3500 per night)
  • Reef Beach resort (3500 per night)
  • Kermit surf resort (3200 per night)

Budget hotels and hostels in Siargao

     If you hope to travel cheaply and save money, Siargao is one of the best places to stay at. The number of different hostels and guesthouses is just endless, and they are all full of young foreigners who are eager to share experiences and make new friends.

     There are also a ton of budget hotels not listed on any of the major booking sites. They rely on word of mouth or walk-in guests to sell their accommodation. These can be a bit of a hit and miss, but they are certainly cheaper and can stay for as low as 250 a night!

     People who want to book in advance and enjoy at least some comfort should instead look at these value-for-money hotels. These offer the good standards for a very comfortable price, and you don’t run the risk of arriving at the island and facing an unpleasant surprise.
  • Cherinicole Beach resort (1750 per night)
  • Villa Solaria (1300 per night)
  • Kokai Resort (1050 per night)
  • Patrick on the beach (800 per night)

What to do in Siargao

1. Island hopping

     As with all beautiful places in the Philippines, the most popular activity is taking a day tour going between the various smaller islands and beaches. In Siargao you’ll get to see some of the most stunning of these, and they can even rival the ones of Palawan.

     Tours usually go out with a bangka, a traditional Filipino pumpboat. This also means you might be forced to join a group, as availability is quite limited. Private tours with a speedboat are also possible, but they are very expensive and need to be booked a long time in advance.

     The joint island hopping tour will take you to the 3 most popular places near Siargao – Guyam, Daku and Naked Island. These three are all equally stunning, with powdery white sand beach in the middle of the ocean – they offer a break taking respite from civilization. Snorekling and kayaking are also included, although gear needs to be rented separately. If there’s enough time left, your guide can also take you to the Siargao fish sanctuary – another great place to try out some snorkeling.

     Group tours cost between 800 and 1200 Pesos per person, depending on your haggling skills. You don’t really have to book them in advance, just go out to the pier area and you’ll have no trouble finding someone to take you. Another option is to just ask your resort to take care of it for you, but that’ll cost more naturally.

2. Surfing at Cloud Nine Beach

     Many people might not believe it, but Siargao is actually considered one of the best surfing spots in the world. Sure, if you’ve already been to Hawaii or Bali this place might seem a bit underwhelming, but the huge upside to Siargao is twofold. First, surfing here is good all year long – even during the low season.

     Secondly, surfing in Siargao is great no matter what your level of expertise is. There are over 30 different beaches you can go to, and each of them provide a slightly different surfing experience. While advanced surfers go out to the more private and secluded locations, novices usually stick to Cloud Nine beach.

     Cloud Nine is the largest and most predictable surfing spot in Siargao. For that reason, it has earned a reputation over the years and is now one of the center locations on the island. Having a lot of hotels, restaurants and bars nearby make the whole experience much more convenient. You can rent surfing gear for 200 pesos an hour or just bring your own, and within few minutes you are already hitting the waves.

     Over at cloud nine surfing lessons are also a big thing. Many people come there to try out surfing for the first time in their lives, and the whole activity is very well regulated – safe and a ton of fun. Lessons cost between 400 and 600 per hour, including all the necessary equipment.

3. Sugba Lagoon and Magpupungko Tidal Pools

     Another major attraction in Siargao is taking the day tour to these 2 locations. Since they are both relatively close to one another, and only an hour ride from the center, you can easily do it yourself with a motorbike and save some money.

     Sugba is a very large and beautiful lagoon, which really looks like the famous Twin Lagoon in Coron. Once you get there you need to take a quick boat ride to the center of the lagoon where you’ll dock in a small hut. This is where you can rent a kayak or some snorkeling gear and go out to explore the place on your own.

     The tidal pools are quite a unique phenomenon and the landscape is simply jaw-dropping. It’s worth taking a short detour and visit this place, even if just for a few pictures for your Instagram account. Those who wish to explore a bit more, can go visit the various caves and even the waterfall nearby.

Getting to Siargao Island

Getting there by flight

     The airport in Siargao has recently been expanded to support larger aircrafts, and that’s a big part of its increasing popularity – it is much easier to get there nowadays. When searching for flights, make sure you don’t mix up Siargao island with Surigao city. Surigao is on the Mindanao mainland and it’ll take you roughly 6 hours to get to Siargao if you land there.

     There are regular daily flights from both Manila and Cebu, and even though they are a bit more expensive than most domestic flights in the Philippines, it is still the most sensible choice. If you want to save some money, consider taking a flight to Cagayan De Oro or Surigao city and catch a ferry from there.

By Ferry

     If you are working with a really tight budget, then taking a ferry is a decent way to save at least 100$ on flights. There is a night ferry from Cebu which takes between 12-14 hours to reach Siargao. The line runs daily except for Sundays and leaves at 7PM – it is operated by Cokaliong Shipping Lines. The trip for Manila to Siargao by sea takes anywhere between 30 to 35 hours, so it is highly unrecommended.

     Another thing you could do is fly to Surigao City from either Cebu or Manila and take the ferry from there (3.5-4 hours). This should help you save roughly 50% on flight prices, but the overall wasted time would probably be between 6 and 7 hours realistically since ferries are never on time.

Getting around the island

     Siargao is a pretty big island and walking isn’t really an option there. Even the central area (General Luna) alone is too big to cover by foot. The most common solution is renting a motorbike for 300-400 pesos a day, and that’s what most tourists do.

     Alternatively, you can just grab a local tricycle whenever you need to get from one point to another. These should cost between 20 and 50 pesos per trip, depending on the exact destination. Renting a car is also possible and might actually be a decent idea if you want to explore the island on your own, but it costs between 3000 and 3500 a day.

1 comment

  1. Ahh Siargao! Masarap dyan mag stay ng medyo matagal. Be a local, 'ika nga...

    ReplyDelete

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