Siargao is a remote island in the Philippines that is almost entirely geared towards surf tourism. It is off the beaten path and after just a few hours there, jumped to the top of my favorite places list. Siargao supplies locals and travelers with an endless supply of waves, gourmet food, and sweet, smiling faces.
This little slice of heaven is truly magical, and still fairly untouched…I hesitated to even write this post as I would like it stay that way. However, I can’t help but to share this place with my friends, family, and random strangers who stumble upon this page…
Option A: Cebu Pacific Air from Cebu, Philippines direct to Siargao. There are 1-2 flights per day; small, prop plane that offers great views. Definitely an enjoyable flight, if it takes off.
Option B: Skyjet airways (new airline!) flight from Manila to Siargao. Give yourself a lot of time whenever you are transiting through Manila, as it can take over an hour to simply change terminals. This airline just started service in Feb 2017 so we don’t have much intel yet!
Option C: Fly to Surigao City (different, bigger island) and take a 3 hour ferry to Siargao. Be sure to ask where your ticket seats you, as “business” class is actually a lower deck that has a strong odor of fuel. The views are nice but the boats are NOT.
Option D: Overnight ferry from Cebu to Siargao. You can find some videos on youtube involving this option. It looks terrible. 9-12 hour ride.
When I went, I flew Cebu – Siargao on CebuPacific. Due to a typhoon landing, I had to take the ferry to Surigao City and catch a flight to Manila after being stuck in Siargao for an extra week. I’m excited to try the new airline direct from Manila!
What to bring:
CASH. Bring CASH. There aren’t any ATM machines on the island. If you do find yourself needing cash, go to RONALDO’s restaurant. All you do is go to the counter, tell them how much cash you want, and they’ll charge your card, with a small fee added. There’s also a really cute baby that wanders around. You can’t take him with you, by the way.
As its likely that you’ll be flying on a LCC (low cost carrier) I’d suggest trying to carry on, if possible. But, if you’re checking a bag, throw in some bug spray and sunscreen, bathing suits, LAYERS, and if you’re going during the winter, a rain jacket. It got pretty cool in the morning and evenings and I got way more use out of the few long sleeved shirts I brought. I’d also suggest some good sandals and running shoes if you’re a runner (some good dirt roads to explore).
Surfers, if you are very particular about your board then bring your board, just be cautious and invest in travel insurance. I was really afraid to check my board via Manila so I just didn’t bring it. However, there are only a couple of places to rent boards on the island and the ‘good’ boards can be picked up quick.
I stayed at Siargao Bleu, and as beautiful as it was, I can’t quite recommend it. It is a fairly new resort and they have not worked out all the kinks yet – things like hot water, generators, room keys, decent breakfast. If kayaking in swimming pools is really your thing, go for it, otherwise, check these places out:
Kermit is considered a surf camp but has reasonable, nice accommodations. Whether you’re going there to surf or not, this is the place to be in Siargao. The restaurant, in my opinion, has the best food and service in Siargao, no matter what meal you’re there for. They have a variety of room options and they come a seriously awesome breakfast, strong wifi, and an amazing community. The surf instructors are always bouncing around the camp and super welcoming and fun to be around, as well as the rest of the staff. There’s a really cool yoga/fitness/hangout space reserved for resort guests only that looks like the perfect place to chill after a day of surfing. Seriously, check this place out.
I really liked the graphics on the Bravo sign so we took a turn down a little path to the beach and found this gem. It’s a surf/kiting resort with an amaaaazing restaurant and cute little surf shop. We peeked into the villas to find clean, modern comfortable accommodation at super cheap prices. We came to Bravo almost every day – its a super chill atmosphere with good music, wifi, beach views, and awesome food. Oh, and the staff there is great as well. Its also right in the middle of everything.
Looking for a luxury villa with an amazing restaurant? Skip Siargao Bleu and go next door to Kalinaw. It is small, quiet, and luxurious. It’s beachfront accommodations look incredible and have their own pools, and the service at this place is top notch. I was fortunate enough to dine here several times and be there when a typhoon made landfall. Highly recommended.
I only peeked inside this place but did some research on it before my trip. Its a quiet, luxury surf camp with a decent restaurant and modern vibe. If Kermit is sold out, go here!
This place is really cool. I’d recommend skipping the cheapest priced room and going for an ocean front, a/c villa. The basic rooms looked a bit dark and gloomy, but the ocean facing villas looked great. They have a really cool restaurant/bar/pier on the water equipped with hammocks for lounging and watching the surf. This place is located right near cloud 9 and there are several other waves within a quick walking distance, as well as boats available to take you out to other breaks.
*There are a ton of other places to stay on Siargao, these are just a select few. If you’re not a surfer, don’t be afraid of the surf camps – they offer great packages, food, and helpful staff to help you make the most of your time in Siargao.
I ate at Kermit almost every day, sometimes more than once a day. Dinner gets really busy so try to call ahead or expect to wait.The place is owned by Gianni (Italian/Swiss guy) and his local wife, and it is some of the best italian food i have ever had – yes, that includes italy adventures. Seriously. Everything is good there – most notably the wood fired pizza. They have a great happy hour offering 2 for 1 cocktails, which are fantastic – one of the best mojitos i’ve ever had. The service is excellent and its a great atmosphere, with an extensive, reasonably priced menu. You cannot, I repeat, cannot, go to Siargao and not eat here.
Holy potato bravos. Bravo has a spanish inspired menu with a lot of great options. Another reasonably priced restaurant with great atmosphere and service. Grab a pitcher of sangria (for like $7 usd) and potatos bravas to start and then order something interesting. I don’t know what is in that sauce but it is addicting, and we ordered those almost daily. Tip: go to Bravo for sunset snacks and sangria, then make your way over to kermit for dinner.
The wood fired pizza here is almost as good as Kermit’s, service starts at 7, and it is definitely worth the wait. I was fortunate to eat here several times – the staff are super sweet, they have a decent wine selection, and excellent fresh juices. The pasta dishes and pizzas are delicious, and if you happen to get stuck here during a typhoon they’ll let you take wine to go. Oh, and there are two very sweet little dogs running around the place.
Another italian/locally owned establishment. Great drinks, especially the espresso martini. This place is always busy and the owners are always there, and super friendly. Its right next to Fat Lips Surf Shop and across the street from Bravo.
I didn’t eat here, but the place was packed every day, starting around 4pm. Its nothing fancy – just some big BBQ’s and a ton of people. I’ll definitely try it next trip.
Cheap, cheap, cheap. Breakfast for 85php including coffee. Ok, instant coffee, but still coffee. Strong wifi, powerful generators should a typhoon hit, and again, great service. Delicious breakfast.
Surfing, duh. If you’re not a surfer yet, you will be after a week in Siargao. Go to Kermit, ask for lessons, and for about $15/day you can have your own instructor and really learn to surf. Don’t let Cloud 9 scare you away – there are countless breaks and great beginner waves out there! Even if you don’t need an instructor, hire one to take you to the spots that are off the beaten path. Cloud 9 is crazy and is non stop waves, and there are also many breaks accessible by (very cheap) boat. Rent a motorbike, grab a board at fat lips, and get out there.
Kiteboarding – Siargao is a huge place for kiting. There are a few kite camps – Turtle and Bravo to name a couple.
Yoga, Yoga, Yoga! There’s yoga all over Siargao. The surf camps offer classes (often included in their packages) and there are independent studios as well.
Hop on a motorbike and cruise around. Go slow and say hi to the kids – they’re smiling faces were the highlight of my trip. Its mostly dirt roads except for the main “tourism road.” These are the preferred method of transportation on the island, so get on it!
In sum, Siargao is one of those off-the-beaten-path places that, when fully appreciated, can change your life.
The locals are friendly, there’s a crazy Italian influence that makes the food to die for, and there are waves for days. Go out to the pier at Cloud 9 and take it all in, enjoy the food, talk to the locals, and then don’t tell anyone about your trip. Let’s keep it quiet…
PS: locals often say “oh my wow” instead of “oh my god/gosh” its endearing and I love it.