Pronounces “shar-gow,” this island and the people who live there blew me away. I loved it. Here’s where we stayed, what we did, and how we got there:
How we got there:
We flew (non-stop!) to Cebu from LAX on Philippine Airways, and then took a smaller plane with Cebu Pacific to Siargao (took about an hour). Something you should know if you are doing this flight is that both airlines were really strict about weight limits on luggage. There is no free checked baggage through Cebu Pacific, which is the only airline that flies to the island, and only 2 flights a day which are cancelled or rerouted often. We payed for a 20 kg allowance for each of us when we booked our tickets through Cebu Pacific (if you book in a group then the weight is distributed over all of you, ie. we had 80 kg for the 4 of us for all our luggage and boards), but still went over the limit. (Our boards actually didn’t even make it on the plane from Cebu with us because the plane has such a strict weight limit, but they arrived the following day and were even delivered to us where we were staying). They also weighed our carry-ons so make sure it is under 7 Kg. The fee for boards on Philippine Airways was 150 USD each way (but that covered 3 boards in one case) but their baggage allowance is two bags each weighing 50 lbs or less. Just make sure you know before you go. We have never had that much trouble with the weight of our luggage before.
You should also know that when you leave Siargao there is a 150 php fee per person which can only be payed in pesos. There isn’t an ATM at the airport or anywhere nearby so make sure you allow for that. We also made sure that when we landed in Cebu that we took out cash at the airport because there were plenty of ATMs there and only one in Siargao which sometimes doesn’t even work.
Where we stayed:
Greenhouse Gorgeous, quiet, bungalows on the beach with super friendly staff and delicious food. We loved the hammocks and the huge porch facing the ocean. This by far was my favorite place that we stayed. I would recommend it to anyone who is traveling with other people and looking for a quiet, not super luxury place to stay. It didn’t really have that “resort” feel, but not a hostel either. No one was coming in who wasn’t staying there, and there were only 3 houses to stay in, which made it really relaxing. It was about $40 a couple to stay here for the night.
Loud at night (karaoke nearby every night had us wearing earplugs), but delicious food. Breakfast (huge) included in the cost and great happy hour in the evening. They are rated the top restaurant on the island. More of a hostel, backpacker feel so we met a lot of people coming and going which was fun. It was about $30 a couple to stay here per night.
What we did:
Surfed (obviously) The water was pristine and warm with gigantic blue starfish all over colorful coral. Some of the breaks were further out so we had to get boat rides (about $3 per person), which were pretty easy to find and dropped you off nice and close to the break so you didn’t have to paddle. The breaks were all reef breaks, which meant that most of them only worked on a higher tide (although Cemetaries, which was a more mellow right and left worked on a low tide). We didn’t need booties, but we did see a few urchins. Miles surfed Cloud 9 which is what Siargao is known for (a right hand barrel that you can access from the board walk), but said it was super crowded even at daybreak. We also surfed a break called Tuason Point, which was a nice left and didn’t require a boat to get to. You could also check the surf from your motorbike which was convenient, whereas with other breaks you didn’t really know until you got there on the boat. Tuason was just north of where we stayed at Greenhouse, and Cemetaries was just south closer to Kermits.
Snorkeled! On a higher tide we walked out to where we could start swimming and swam until the reef dropped off. We saw the most amazing coral and fish! It was awesome! We also checked out the Magpupungko Tide Pools which were pretty epic. On a low tide there is a huge tidepool that you can jump into which has a bunch of crazy cool fish that remain from the high tide. Think of a big infinity pool aquarium that you can swim in. As a surfer I never thought that I would say snorkeling was fun, but in the Philippines it really is. I wish I had pictures to show you! Instead I just have this picture of Miles taking a nap after lunch.
Rented motorbikes! You have to do this! One day when the surf was small we drove about an hour North and grabbed lunch on the beach and just scooted around through some pretty cool little towns. It cost us about 7$ a day to rent a bike, and about $2 to fill up the tank, which got us really far. I’d say we only had to spend about $8 on gas during the 2 weeks we were there.
Went Swimming in Tayangban Cave Pools
It cost us about a dollar to get in here which went directly to the family that was living there. We literally walked right off the street, through their complex of houses to jump into the pool, and then got a tour through the cave from some of the kids that lived there. We jumped off some high rocks into the crazy blue water and saw stalagmites and stalactites in the cave which was pretty epic!
Overall Feel of Siargao
We have traveled a few places around the world and a lot of times I feel like people are trying to rip us off because its obvious that we’re Americans. Most of the time I don’t care that much (to an extent) because I feel like we are visitors in someone else’s home, and most of the time we are more well off. So if it is a small amount (like a few extra bucks here and there), I let it go. I never felt like anyone was trying to take advantage of us in Siargao! It made the whole trip feel really relaxing and made me realize that the Filipino people who lived there were pretty amazing. Everyone we met was friendly and helpful, and even though the people who lived there didn’t have a lot, they seemed really content. When we drove through villages people always waved and smiled (especially the kids). I really never felt unsafe while we were there. Another plus was that almost everyone spoke English, and all of the signs were in English too!