Siargao Island is not just for surfers, it’s for anyone who loves the water, beaches, and general adventure. Siargao Island is rapidly becoming a great alternative to El Nido and Palawan as both of those destinations are starting to become touristy.
Siargao Island, seen on the map as a teardrop-shaped island in northeastern Mindanao, over the years, has become known as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines. When one thinks of beautiful island destinations of the world, locations like Tahiti, Bora Bora, Bali, and Hawaii usually come to mind. But wait, there is a new kid on the block. In 2019, Conde Nast Traveler readers named Siargao Island the “Best Island in the World”.
We spent 6 days in this island paradise and believe me, six days could have easily been a month. There is so much to love about the island, the location, and the people. From Manila, we took a domestic flight to Siargao Island. From there we found our way to General Luna, one of the main towns on the island where most people end up. This is the starting point of our Siargao Island adventure.
Siargao Island and Covid-19
As of Nov 23, 2020, people can once again discover the surf, sand (majestic beaches), and the myriad of other attractions this island has to offer. Because of COVID-19, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Local Government Unit (LGU) have announced guidelines and requirements that need to be followed if you are to holiday on Siargao Island.
No Quarantine Required
Tourists coming to Siargao are no longer required to undergo quarantine upon arrival, but they are required to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test 7 days after their RT-PCR test at their own cost.
Who has access to the island?
The island is open to residents and domestic tourists provided you have had a negative RT-PCR test result within 48 hours of arrival, a valid ID, an e-Health pass, a confirmed booking in an accommodation duly accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) for at least 5 days, roundtrip plane tickets, and a detailed travel itinerary.
Be aware, there is also a curfew currently being enforced between the hours of 11:00 PM to 4:00 AM. So that means no late-night partying or super early-morning surfing.
For more information, please visit the Philippines Tourism
How To Get To Siargao Island Philippines
The most convenient way by far is to fly. You can jump on a direct flight to the island from both Manila and Cebu. Tourists can enter Siargao through Sayak Airport (Siargao) and Surigao Airport. Only 1 round-trip flight per day is allowed regardless of origin due to covid restrictions.
Here are the routes available at this time –
- Manila to Siargao
- Cebu to Siargao
- Clark to Siargao
- Davao to Siargao
- Cebu to Surigao
- Manila to Surigao
Sayak Airport (Siargao) is in Del Carmen which means you will need to find transport to General Luna. We took a shared van (300 PHP).
You can also enter Siargao via ferry from both Eva Macapagal Passenger Terminal and Lipata Ferry Terminal.
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Best Time to Go to Siargao Island Philippines
If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this question (lol)… The answer to this question depends on the purpose of the trip – if you are there to surf or simply escape and chill. If surfing is your thing, then plan your trip between July to November. This is the peak surfing season in Siargao. For everyone else, from March to September is usually ideal.
To start off our trip we spent 2 days in General Luna, which is where most of the excitement in Siargao island happens. General Luna is home to the world-famous, Cloud 9, as well as an equally lively night scene. If you’re in Siargao island for surfing, then check out the hostels, homestays, and resorts along Tourism Road. Aside from a wide array of accommodations, Tourism Road also boasts plenty of bars and restaurants to keep you occupied.
However, if you want a quieter part of town, accommodation along Malinao Road might be just what you are looking for.
Cloud 9 Siargao island is by far rated as the best surf break in the Philippines. It’s also one of the most popular spots to spend some time if you are a die-hard surfer. No matter what your surf skill levels are, Cloud 9 will definitely make your day, especially at sunrise or sunset.
Cloud 9 holds the ‘Cloud 9 Surfing Cup’, a WSL surf event that occurs every year between late September and early October. Professional surfers compete against each other on the barreling right-hand wave.
If you happen to be on Siargao Island during the surfing tournament, you can expect big crowds and lots of parties. If you are not a big surfer and don’t like crowds, this wouldn’t be the best time to visit Siargao.
Day One – Sugba Lagoon
This small, picturesque lagoon is found on Caob Island off the northwest side of Siargao. This place is AWESOME! Do yourself a favor and do this day trip. You will love it! It is easy to find yourself spending all day swimming, jumping, and kayaking around the lagoon. In the hub of the lagoon is found a 2-story boathouse perfect for chilling out over lunch in the shade. There is also a diving platform and an area where you can rent a raft, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or small boat. Be sure to explore the aptly-named “Blue Lagoon” around the corner.
Day Two – Island Hopping
There are three islands that are easily reached by General Luna. Most island-hopping tours take you to Naked, Daku, and Guyam Islands. You don’t have to look hard to find signs posted in General Luna promoting island-hopping trips. All of them will take you to the same place. The main difference was the comfort level, the supplied lunch, and the boat.
Naked Island – A strip of sand, 200-odd meters in length that are completely bare (Naked), except for a few shells, starfish, and seaweed. Beware, if you arrive at midday on a sunny day, it will be hot with no shade apart from the shade of your boat. With that said, the white sand against the azure blue of the sky can make for some good pics.
Daku Island – Naked island was just the warmup, there are far more activities for you on this island. Swimming, kayaking, or even fishing. Daku Island is the biggest of the three islands. If you’re into surfing, you can hire a boat to take you out to Daku Reef for some uncrowded surfing.
Guyam Island – This island is small enough to walk around in just a few minutes. It’s covered in palm trees, and if the great blue ocean is a desert then Guyam is pretty enough to be an oasis. The beach is lined by a few huts, so you can just chill out if the pace is too much for you.
Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande Island is another top attraction you shouldn’t miss. While Sohoton Cove is not actually on Siargao island, it’s yet another must-see sights in the area. Yes, it does take a few hours to get there but it is well worth the trek.
Sohoton Cove features a cluster of islets where you can explore lagoons and caves. Also known for being home to swarms of stingless jellyfish which you can swim with.
If you’re into diving then check this dive spot out. Among the most recommended dive locations are the Seeco Reef Coral formation near Naked Island and the Daku Coral Beach Staghorn Reef.
Blue Cathedral, on the wall of Cloud 9’s rock entry, is for advanced divers over 20 meters deep. With that said, it is a spectacular dive with a 20-meter wide hole entry with caverns on the north and east side.
In the north cavern is a jagged rock that has split from the ceiling (Sword of Gabriel). In the east cavern is the Devil’s Pipeline (15 meter high and 40 meter long tunnel). For the experienced diver, this location will draw you in with surreal rock and coral formations, not to mention the swarms of tropical fish that inhabit the area.
What’s even better is that you don’t have to go far from General Luna to get there! It is located just off Cloud 9. Rent a boat from Cloud 9, and you will be able to get to this underwater cathedral dive.
Tayangban Cave Pools
The Tayangban Cave Pools is definitely one of the most extreme of the Siargao island tourist spots.
The pools can go as deep as 100 meters or more and you enter the cave pools by stepping into chest-deep water.
Bats inhabit parts of the cave system so don’t freak out if you start hearing weird noises. If you have ever seen the movie “Decent” you may have an idea what I mean.
Before you know it, the cave opens up to a cascade of golden sunlight, and you find yourself in a surreal feeling open cave pool.
From here you can jump, dive, swim, and/or explore to your heart’s content.
While most visitors to the island go straight to General Luna and use that as a base, there is a growing group of surfers making Pacifico Siargao their base.
So, after spending a few days in General Luna, we jumped on our Mopeds and headed north. Pacifico was perfect, it was like General Luna was 15 years ago and it didn’t take long for us to fall in love with the area.
The easiest way to get around Siargao island is to rent a scooter and explore for yourself. Scooter rental should cost around 350 PHP ($6.70 USD) per day. If you’re like us and you plan on staying in Siargao for more than a few days, you can get long term rental rates which will be slightly cheaper.
Day Five – Magpupungko Rock Pools
To get to Magpupungko Rock Pools from General Luna you can either grab (rent for approx $6 USD a day) yourself a moped and take a scenic 45-minute ride to the rock pools. Or, you can book a tour guide and have them drive you.
A good idea is to arrive an hour before low tide so you can enjoy the rock pools for an hour or so on either side of low tide.
The entrance fee for the rock pools is 50 pesos and this allows you access to the rock pools and Magapupungko Beach, which is worth it in itself.
In the beach area, are a group of small restaurants serving local dishes at reasonable prices. Continue to walk past the huts, following the trail until you will arrive at the Magapupungko Rock Pools.
There are multiple spots to jump or dive or just go crazy. It’s a good idea to wear water shoes as the rocks can be jagged and sharp to climb.
Things to Know About Siargao Island Philippines
- Book ahead: In high season, expect accommodation, tours, and motorbikes to book out quickly. BOOK AHEAD!
- Cash: Be warned, there are no ATMs on Siargao Island that will accept foreign cards. An easy way around this is to download the World Remit app and send your money to the M Lhuillier in General Luna where you collect it.
- Always carry money in small denominations. It will come in handy when riding public transportation, or when you need to buy snacks.
- Pacifico: General Luna and Cloud 9 are nice, but for us, Pacifico was the place to be.
- Refill your bottle: I was so delighted to find that almost every restaurant and guesthouse in Siargao Island has a water tank and it’s free to refill your bottle!
- Cebuano and Tagalog: The majority of Siargao locals can speak Cebuano and Tagalog. Most locals also understand and communicate in English well, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or directions.
Leaving Siargao Island was hard, 6 days just didn’t seem long enough but that was all we had allowed for. Weeks after leaving, we were already dreaming of returning to the island, there was still so much we wanted to still do. Yes, Siargao Island has made a profound and lasting impression on both of us and for this reason, we wholeheartedly recommend visiting the island to all who ask.