Surf’s Up in Siargao!

Whenever I tell people I’m from Surigao, I always get asked if I have ever surfed in Siargao. I feel bad every time I answer that question, I hate giving them a “NO” for an answer. So I always look forward to the day when I’ll be able to visit and surf in Siargao.

…and now from here onwards, I can proudly answer them with a big “YES”.

I only heard/read stories, saw pictures, and watched videos of Siargao and I’ve been a fan of the place ever since. I thought that it’s just the same size as Mactan Island but I was amused to see how big it actually is when I finally got there. Mountains upon mountains beaming with endless coconut trees – a tropical island paradise.

We all got giddy when the plane finally landed at Sayak Airport. Imagine hyperactive foreign travelers exclaiming “Surf’s up!” upon landing. The excitement is totally building up! We’re finally here!

Overall, our days in Siargao were spent on island hopping, Sohoton Cove exploring, chilling, and surfing (lots of it).

THE TOUR

Island Hopping.

Tours are quite expensive especially if you are traveling solo or in a small group of 2 or 3 – our boat cost us 1200php.  After a morning dose of surfing, we started our trip at 10am.

We first visited Naked Island. It’s a pretty little (hot) paradise. A strip of plain white sand and clear turquoise water.

Second stop was at Daku Island where we had our lunch. There are residents on the island that would gladly cook the raw food we bought earlier at the market for a minimal fee.

I just love this island. The tall coconut trees and the ambiance was perfect for relaxing and sleeping. I could just stay there and sleep the whole afternoon. A very serene island.

Here’s a breakdown of our expenses in Daku Island:

  1. Cottage rental: 250php

  2. Charge for cooking: 150php

  3. Charcoal: 30php

  4. Coconut: 30php/pc

  5. Oil: 10php

  6. Sugar: 10php

  7. Rice: 60php/kilo

Last stop at Guyam Island. We were lucky the caretaker wasn’t around to collect the 20php entrance fee in the island.

It was of our great advantage that we had the boat all to our selves. Our decision, our time at our own leisure, our island!

Sohoton Cove.

For this adventure, we had an early call time of 6am together with the same boatman from our island hopping tour. We paid 3500php for the whole boat (good for 5-6) exclusive of lunch which we already made an arrangement as well where we agreed to give him an additional 500php and he’ll take care of preparing the food for us.

It took us almost 2 hours to reach Sohoton Cove (found in Bucas Grande Island) from General Luna. First stop was Bolitas and Crystal Cave. This is usually not part of the actual Sohoton tour but he offered to take us there which means there will be an additional charge for this. The additional charge will only depend on how much we are willing to give him. They call it “pampagana”, so the group decided to give the boatman 200php.

Entrance fee at the twin cave is 20php/person and guide fee for the group costs 100php. It was quite easy to get inside Crystal Cave unlike in Bolitas Cave where you need to crawl into a narrow opening to get in.

at Crystal Cave…

at Bolitas Cave…

After the cave adventure, we moved to the actual Sohoton Cove Tour and docked at the Sohoton tour reception cottage.

We paid 447php each(for a group of 4) which includes the life vest rental, tour inside Sohoton Cove, and small boat tour around the lagoon.

It was a short one-and-a-half-hour tour around Sohoton.

We were able to swim inside Hagukan Cave which is popular for its luminescent water. It was really cool to see our skins glow underwater.

After that, we went inside Magkukuob Cave and climbed up to a platform. The only way out is to jump off a platform. Never in my wildest thoughts did I ever consider jumping off the platform but I was challenged when everyone else was doing it. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done my whole life because I don’t know how to swim. But I conquered my fear and trusted the boatman who assured me that he will not let me drown. I first stared at the platform to the water to the people around me. Every minute I took in thinking and rethinking only makes me feel scared so I shut all thoughts, walked to the edge, and took the leap of faith.

On our way home, we made a short stop at a cottage in the middle of the sea where my friends tried the traditional zipline – using a smaller rope, they wrapped it around a longer rope tied from the post from the cottage connecting all the way down to the water and slide.

Magpupungko.

This is a solo trip made by Shine. Me, Earl and Maiza decided to do a whole day surfing rather than travel a one-and-a-half hour habal-habal ride to Magpupungko. Maybe we’ll try this on our next visit in Siargao.

SURFING

Surfing in Siargao is quite expensive compared in Baler. A surfboard alone costs 300php/hour. Surfboard with instructor costs 500php/hour.

Our first surfing lesson was in Guiuan. It took us one hour to get there by habal-habal. It was a beautiful secluded beach with good waves that’s not as rough as the waves in Jacking Horse. We met local kids who also went there to surf. An older brother was teaching his 9-year-old brother how to surf. They were using a surfboard they borrowed from a friend. They mentioned that they can only surf on the weekends because they go to school on weekdays. I wish my life would also be like that, work on weekdays and surf on weekends.

On our third day, we decided to spend it all on surfing at Jacking Horse. We went to Hot Spot and rented a surfboard with GoPro at 500php/day. It was a day of bruises and reef cuts but our surfing skills got better. The surf instructor would just tell me to stand up without any warning  and I was able to stood up on the board immediately. Though I still have to work on how to paddle fast without easily getting exhausted.

WHERE WE STAYED

When in Siargao, I totally recommend you stay at Paglaom Hostel. This is probably my favorite hostel in all of my trips in and out of the country. I’ve never felt so relaxed and at home in a hostel before.

I’ve learned about this hostel from Stephanie Dandan when I asked her where she was staying on her trip in Siargao. I’ve read good reviews about this hostel from TripAdvisor but I’ve not totally believed in it until I’ve actually experienced it myself. This hostel has a very cozy and friendly vibe. I just love hanging out and relaxing at their mess hall.

The lockers with sketches made by guests…

The kitchen…

The cozy mess hall where we spent most of the time chatting and relaxing…

The other guests were so friendly and approachable. And the owners, Cocoy and Sanne, are so friendly too. They took us to Lalay’s on our first night (and Heather’s last day) in Siargao where I’ve tasted the delicious chicken barbeque.

And here in Paglaom I’ve met the friendliest and sweetest dogs ever: Batman, Barbie, Choco and Panda.

On our last night, Cocoy, Sanne, and the two other guests from Paglaom (Max and Gonz) dined with us at Kermit Surf Resort where we enjoyed the huge serving of delicious food and had fun playing UNO. Fun times 🙂

We did some serious painting at the mess hall on our last day 🙂

EVERTHING IN BETWEEN

During our stay, I love spending every sunset at the boardwalk watching the pros surfing the huge waves of Cloud 9 thinking that someday it would be me riding those humongous waves.

One challenge for us though was going in and about the island as none of us knows how to drive a motorbike. Commuting with habal-habal is pretty pricey and would costs us 20php each from our hostel to Boardwalk. It costs 30php from Boardwalk to the market. Else, if you want to be a cheapstake, walk!

On our last night in Siargao, we went to Tattoo Jungle Bar which is just a few walks away from our hostel. We danced to the cool upbeat music along with other foreigners and locals. It’s a simple and fun place to go on a Friday or Tuesday night. Plus there’s no entrance fee.

Once, we were able to woke up at 4am to catch the sunrise at the beach which is only a 3-minute walk away from our hostel. That’s the first time we’ve seen “the beach” and it was beautiful. I thought it would be the same beach full of reefs just like that in Jacking Horse but to our surprise it was a long stretch of white sand beach comparable to Bantayan Island! We would have gone there if only we weren’t busy with surfing and other tours. Maybe next time I’ll be spending more time on that beach.

From this trip, I was able to meet a lot of well traveled souls.

And they inspire me. I admire their bravery on going overseas, away from their friends and families. Blending in to different cultures, facing challenges and dealing with strangers. And they are one of the friendliest people I’ve met. It just awakened the vagabond spirit in me. I should start making my dreams come true. Start planning for adventures that will not only take 3-4 days but months or even years! And I should start doing it now! 🙂

Here’s a bonus video from our trip in Siargao


#feature #philippines #surf #siargao #Travel

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