Siarago, an island located in the Philippines, has recently gained recognition as the new surfing capital of the country, primarily due to hosting competitions at Cloud 9, a spot renowned for its tubular right. This highlights the exceptional wave quality of the teardrop-shaped island, making it a true surfer’s paradise, thanks to its proximity to the Philippine Deep, the lowest point of the Philippine Trench.
Furthermore, the significant improvement in local transport infrastructure, including the addition of planes, paved roads, accommodations, and bridges, has played a crucial role in enhancing accessibility to Siarago for tourists. As a result, over the past decade, the island has emerged as a popular destination for both surfers and non-surfers.
With its charming small island vibes, warm waters, friendly locals, and fantastic surf, Siargao is without a doubt an outstanding destination for a surf trip. We decided to share our experiences with surfers and non-surfers so that you too can make the most of your trip.
Tips and information to know to organize your surf trip
The surf season
The main season in Siargao is relatively short but remarkably consistent. It takes place from roughly September to November, aligning with the southwest monsoon or “habagat” season. During this time, the prevailing wind direction and swell patterns create optimal surfing conditions on the island’s shores as the wind comes from the southwest, while the Pacific Ocean delivers consistent waves to the east coast of the island.
It’s important to note that Siargao can still offer waves throughout the year, although they are generally smaller and windier and badly influenced by the island’s sheltering effect as surfers seek protection from the wind switch. It gets better the closer you are to the season’s peak.
The waves in Siargao
The island features a lot of reef breaks and pointbreaks in clear tropical water. There are plenty of both right and left-hand waves for all levels, although right-hand waves are slightly more prevalent. Siargao also has a low level of localism, with locals being very friendly towards tourists. It’s a welcoming place where you’re likely to make many friends in and out of the water.
In terms of safety, Siargao is generally a safe surfing destination, aside from the presence of some rare crocodiles near the mangrove areas and shallow sharp reefs.
It’s important to note that several surf spots in Siargao can only be reached by boats, which may add up over a long period as the prices cannot be haggled because they are fixed by the boatmen association island-wide. The good thing is that it’s really easy to get on a boat and they are well organized.
The island Challenges
In recent years, Siargao has faced unfortunate circumstances that are important to acknowledge and understand. As it is crucial to be sensitive to these events and their impact on the local community when visiting Siargao. Like many tourist-driven destinations worldwide, Siargao has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the island was directly hit by a devastating Category 5 typhoon.
If you visit Siargao, you may hear and witness the aftermath of the super typhoon named “Odette,” which struck the island towards the end of 2021. This typhoon resulted in the loss of lives, with 405 people reported to have perished in the province. It also caused extensive destruction to local homes and businesses.
How to Get there
As you probably guessed, by being an island, 2 transportation options available to get to Siargao. Air (faster and more expensive) or sea (longer and cheaper).
By Air: The most common way to reach Siargao for tourists is by flying to Sayak Airport, also known as Siargao Airport (IAO). There are direct flights from Manila, Cebu, and a few other major cities in the Philippines operated by multiple airlines in a regular way.
By Sea: If you prefer to travel by sea, you must start by making your way to Surigao City. A convenient and interesting option is to take an overnight ferry from Cebu to Surigao City. Once you reach Surigao City, you can then take a ferry to Dapa the main port on Siargao Island. The ferry journey from Surigao City to Dapa typically takes around two to three hours.
Once in either Dapa or Siargao’s airport you won’t have any issue finding a TukTuk / Transportation to the main tourist areas.
Simcards and Internet
There are several options for purchasing a SIM card to ensure mobile connectivity and internet during your stay as hotels and restaurants do not offer great connectivity. The two most popular options are to use either Globe Telecom or Smart Communications. They are the 2 prominent network providers and offer SIM cards with different data and call plans.
They can be obtained pretty much everywhere in the Philippines including Siargao. You will see their logos in front of shops. They can be topped up on internet. It’s recommended to bring your passport as you may need it to register and activate the SIM card. Compare the available packages, rates, and coverage of the different providers to choose the option that best suits your needs for mobile data and calls.
Siargao offers surprisingly a wide and extensive selection of restaurants, ranging from cheap local establishments to international gourmet-style venues.
We highly recommend trying fresh seafood, which can be obtained directly from local fishermen at the fish market and then grilled at nearby restaurants. Additionally, a classic Filipino delicacy to try while in the Philippines is chicharon. It is a staple throughout the country and typically consists of fried pork belly or fried pork rinds.
The main tourist infrastructures in Siargao are centered around General Luna, a small town situated on the eastern side of the island. This location is highly convenient as it is close to numerous surf spots. Most accommodations on the island are within walking distance of the beach, offering easy access to the waves and a more than pleasant seaside atmosphere.
There is a wide range of options available when it comes to finding a place to stay in Siargao. You can choose from numerous surf camps, hotels, and hostels. A helpful tip is to try to avoid booking online and instead communicate directly with the owners to negotiate better rates. The longer you plan to stay, the more favorable the pricing should be.
Prices can vary significantly, ranging from affordable single rooms and hostel dorms starting at $10 USD to luxurious rooms and villas that can go up to $200 or more.
The most popular mode of transportation in Siargao is the scooter or motorbike, which can be rented from various places across the island. It is widely used by both tourists and locals, and you’ll find scooters equipped with surfboard racks available for rent.
Another option for getting around Siargao is the tuk-tuk, also known as tricycles. These are commonly used for longer distances and serve as the closest thing to public transportation/taxis on the island. If needed, they all carry roof straps to transport board bags.
For those who prefer the chilled option, bicycles are also available for rent and can be a convenient way to explore the island.
If you haven’t been there for a while, know the completion of the bridge north of General Luna after years of planning and construction has made it much more easier to travel to the northern parts of the island.
The surf equipment
Buying: Some shops offer a limited selection of new surfboards, including Filipinos shapes and international brands. The second-hand market also exists but is relatively limited.
Renting: There are a fair number of rental boards available, with relatively new boards offered at a higher price. It’s important to note that many surf breaks in Siargao have shallow reefs. Therefore, it’s advisable to discuss in advance the cost and conditions for repairing any potential damages to the surfboard.
As a general guideline, if you plan to stay for an extended period and are not a beginner, we recommend bringing your surfboard and equipment in double as a backup.
The surf breaks
The surf breaks in Siargao are located roughly from the village of Pacifico to Dapa on the eastern side of the island. Many of these breaks are concentrated near General Luna and a lot of them can only be accessed by boat
Surf spot map
We have created an interactive Google map that showcases the majority of the island’s surf spots and boat departure areas. While it may not list every single spot, it provides a comprehensive guide for you to explore and discover the rest on your own.
Siargao surf spot map: the blue points on the map represent different surf spots, and the orange point represents the places where you can easily get on a boat to join the surf off the shore.
The famous/popular surf spots
The team’s favorites
During the offseason, the south of the island experiences offshore winds. Rock Island and other spots protected by natural landmarks may also provide some relative protection from the wind, creating favorable conditions for surfing in those areas.
Did we miss something? Would you add anything? or do you have any questions that we could answer?
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