MANILA, Philippines – Siargao, an island 45 minutes from Cebu by plane, is one of the easternmost islands of the Philippines. It used to be relatively unknown in the tourism scene and became more popular when it was featured by famous surfing photographer John Callahan in the 1990s. Since then, tourism in the island has boomed because of clear waters, tidal pools, and its surfing scene. (READ: 7 breathtaking Mindanao destinations you shouldn’t miss)
Tourists can take their pick among the island’s attractions. For starters, there is Mapupungko Pool. Mapupungko is a tidal pool that is shielded from the Pacific Ocean by a reef barrier. The pool itself is calm and clear, and perfect for those who want a more mellow experience in the water. It is one of the most visited natural attractions in the island. The water is so inviting that you’d want to take a dip once you see it.
There are also other islands scattered around the main island of Siargao. one of them, Naked Island, is exactly as the name suggests: mostly bare, just white sand and blue sea all around. In contrast to Naked Island, Guyam Island offers a lush clump of vegetation for tourists. It is secluded and uninhabited (except by the island’s caretakers), with a sandy beach on one side and a rocky beach on the other.
Most island hopping tours start in Naked Island and end in Guyam Island, where tourists can stay and watch the sunset. Tourists can stay the night in one of the islands; the fishing communities in Daku Island offer huts for anyone who wants to spend the night. Boats can be rented from the port of General Luna.
Siargao has its share of coral reefs and dive spots like many other beaches in the Philippines. There are many dive shops that offer gear rentals and diving crash courses for brave and adventurous tourists.
To the west of Siargao is the town of Socorro. It is best known for Bucas Grande, also known as Sohoton Cove National Park. It is accessible via ferry from the Dapa port in Siargao and costs about 100 pesos. From Socorro, there are boats that can be hired to Bucas Grande.
Bucas Grande is composed of a network of limestone islands, some of which are still unexplored. The scene is framed by virgin mangrove forests and clear blue waters with white sand beaches.
Some islands house limestone caves where tourists can visit the resident cluster of bats. Sohoton Cove is also famous for its lagoon filled with stingless jellyfish that swim around the water like a living lava lamp. Sohoton Cove is declared as a protected area of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
As one of the foremost tourist spots in the country, Siargao does not fall short of quality accommodations for tourists. Siargao Bleu Resort and Spa offers guests a relaxing experience to complete their stay on the island. The resort offers spa amenities and chic suites in modern architecture around a central pool. It also has a gym, bar and restaurant to complete the resort experience.
What sets Siargao apart from other beach islands in the Philippines is its distinction as the surfing mecca of the south. It is a literal surfer’s paradise, with seven-foot waves available for most of the year (from September to May) in the clear blue waters of the Pacific. (READ: 14 stunning photos of Siargao, a surfer’s paradise)
It’s odd to see people flocking to the beach in October, but that’s exactly what happens in Siargao every last quarter of the year. September/October marks the start of surfing season in Siargao, and surfers from all parts of the country head to its shores. The reason for their pilgrimage: the famed Cloud 9 surf beach. (READ: Get Stoked: 7 lesser-known PH surf spots)
It is also at the start of the surfing season that the Siargao International Surfing Cup commences.
If (and it’s a really big if) tourists ever get tired of frolicking in the waters, in that rarest chance that someone feels that he’s had enough of the beach, an inland adventure is always an option.
Tourists can rent motorcycles to explore the villages to see what happens behind the scenes in the island. The lush rice fields dominate the villages, and provide a welcome contrast to the never ending coastline. Locals are always friendly and eager to talk, and might just lead curious people to off the beaten track destinations like the newly opened Tayangban Cave Pool in the town of Pilar, great for a midday dip.
If you’re looking for a place to eat, great choices from seafood to local and foreign cuisines are available. One must try Aventino’s Tricia – thin crust pizza with cheese, meat and veggies. Pair it with a cold drink and you’ll have a satisfying meal after exhausting island activities.
Siargao offers a unique balance of excitement and relaxation in one island, with things to do for the adventurous traveler and the laid-back visitor alike. – Rappler.com
Glen Santillan is a freelance HR Consultant and a travel junkie. He has backpacked around the Philippines in 50 days by land. He is currently the Vice President of the Davao Bloggers Society. He is the writer behind Escape Manila, a Pinoy travel blog.