SIARGAO ISLAND: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
I have a confession to make: I fell in Love.No, I am not talking about guys this time. I fell desperately in love with a beautiful place in the Philippines:
For days I cluttered my Facebook fan page with pictures, status and ecstatic comments on what to do,where to stay and where to go in Siargao. I know, I know when I’m obsessed over something I’m a real nightmare…(same as for Sardinia basically!)So after three days and countless hours of work, here is the Ultimate Travel Guide to Siargao Island.I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed living it!
- Do you want to do island hopping on amazing deserted Islands of Siargao in the Philippines?
- Do you like Surfing and snorkeling in crystal clear waters on a cheap, affordable budget?
- If the answer is yes, then keep reading! you are about to experience Paradise for less than 20 USD (15 Euros) a day!
BUT WHERE EXACTLY IS SIARGAO?
Let’s ask Wikipedia!
“Siargao is a tear-drop shaped island in the Philippine Sea situated 800 kilometers southeast of Manila in the province of Surigao del Norte. It has a land area of approximately 437 square kilometers. The east coast is relatively straight with one deep inlet, Port Pilar. The coastline is marked by a succession of reefs, small points and white, sandy beaches.”
This Siargao travel guide will help you to discover one of the most incredible Islands on Earth and how you can experience it for a very cheap price, so here’s what you’ll find:
Click on the chapter you want to read and skip the rest!
Including details of the prices where applicable
I couldn’t just stop at 3, could I?
The best, cheapest accommodation on the Island
I couldn’t leave you without the coordinates, right?
Yes, it is possible if you follow my advice!
Useful suggestions for first timers in Siargao.
ADVANCED TECHNIQUES TO SEDUCE THE SURFER OF YOUR DREAMS:
Just kidding 🙂 But I bet you wanted to read about it… So let’s get started!
TOP 3 ACTIVITIES IN SIARGAO
What to do in Siargao?
Actually, the header should be “what can’t you do in Siargao” the list would be so much shorter. Siargao is so full of interesting activities and wonderful places to visit that I find it hard to narrow down the list to just the basics, but I’ll give it a try and I list the 3 main attractions/activities/itineraries around the Island you don’t want to miss.
1 | SURFING AT CLOUD NINE
If there is a spot that surfers worldwide shouldn’t miss, it is without doubt Siargao’s Cloud 9, rated among the top 10 spots for surfers around the world.
Even if you are not a surfer but more of a beach bummer (just like me), this place is definitely worth a visit. The scenery is incredible, with the soothing sound of the waves and the famous surfer’s boardwalk where you can admire the acrobatic moves of some of the coolest surfers around.
Recently even Anthony Keydis, Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer was spotted riding the famous waves at Cloud 9
Too bad I just missed him, as I left Paradise a few days before he arrived!
Tip: Cloud 9 is for advanced /professional surfers only. If you want to experience the thrill of riding the waves there are plenty of other spots for beginners, as even the most skilled surfers can get injured sometimes as the coral reef is quite sharp.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SURFING IN SIARGAO CLOUD 9?
If you are a surfer and want to know more then check out these websites specifically tailored for this famous location in Siargao:
2 | ISLAND HOPPING
So you are not into surfing? Don’t worry, Siargao offers plenty of other beautiful options for those lazy people (like myself) who just enjoy sunbathing on a beach or exploring the beauty of the sea and snorkeling or swimming in turquoise waters.
But now I want you to open your eyes and ears widely, as I’m going to reveal to you one very important secret 🙂
My Biggest dream before my departure was to find an Atoll or Island so small that I could walk around it in a few minutes…
Ladies and gentlemen, I finally found this place and realized my dream in the Philippines. I’d like to introduce you to Guyam: the perfect Island!
Look at the picture below: I will give you 100$ if you can find anyone who wouldn’t love to be there right now. This is quite something, right?
You can reach it by boat in just 20 minutes from General Luna Pier, and -hold onto your seats- for only 150 pesos per person ( less than 3 $ or 2 Euros) for a return ticket to paradise.
Still not satisfied? what about a boat trip that will take you to Daku Island, Naked Island and Guyam for only 350 pesos per person (7$ or 5 Euros), including lunch? yes, it is totally possible in Siargao!
In the article you can also find some of the pictures taken the day of the trip when together with the coolest crew of bloggers ever, we were celebrating 2 very important occasions: Melo’s Birthday and my first year of travels!
3 | SOHOTON CAVES – Bucas Grande Island
Siargao offers something similar at Sohoton Caves Bucas Grande Island (located south of Siargao). The place is described by the Filipinos as “Paradise on earth”. Below is an extract from a blog entry by James from Journeyingjames.com on this spectacular place:
Various coral formations can be seen because of the crystal clear waters. The place would leave every visitor with mesmerized clean lakes, secret coves and enchanting lagoons. Palawan is charming, Bucas Grande is way better and more pristine.
How to get to Bucas grande (and Prices):
Usually the resorts organize boat trips to Bucas Grandes for around 1000/2000 pesos ( 22/45$-16/32Euros) including lunch. You need to catch a boat early in the morning from General Luna pier which will take 3/4 hours, before you arrive and can fully enjoy the natural beauty of this place. A must see if you visit Siargao!
In the waters of the Sohoton caves live the rare “Stingless Jellyfish”, play with them as for once they are totally harmless!
If you want to know more on Bucas Grande and the peculiar Stingless Jellyfish? you can read more here:
PAULA THE EXPLORER POST ON BUCAS GRANDE
JOURNEYING JAMES ON STINGLESS JELLYFISH
jOURNEYING JAMES ON BUCAS GRANDE AND SOHOTON CAVES
There are so many activities (mostly for free or at a very cheap price) to experience on the island that it would be a shame not sharing them with you. Below is a quick list with links with details to make sure you enjoy Siargao to the fullest!
- Explore Sugba Lagoon
- Take a walk from General Luna beach to Cloud nine.
- Paddleboard through the mangroves.
- Try Yoga at the boardwalk tower.
- Just rent a motorbike and explore the Island.
- Try the Balut (only for the brave ones!)
The best Hotels and Resorts in Siargao Island
In Siargao you will have plenty of choice when it comes to finding the right place to stay. From budget accommodation to luxury resorts,the Island literally has it all!
Below are some of the best options, including the contact information and prices, starting with the place I’ve called home for 10 days (a place that if you try you won’t want to leave EVER!)
Contacts: +63 915 606 4227 firstname.lastname@example.org
Purok 5 8419 General Luna,Siargao Island, Surigao Del Norte
Price Range: from 350 pesos (8$ / 5.60 Euros) for the Backpackers’s room . If you are sharing, book one of the lovely cottages or Bungalows for the same price! Delicious and abundant Breakfast is included!
Notes:This place is not only cheap, it’s simply AMAZING! I’ve stayed there for 10 days and I didn’t want to leave. The vibe here is so cool and relaxed.
Owned by a very charming young Italian guy – Gianni- you will have the time of your life at beach , I promise! If you happen to visit Siargao, this is the place you should try to book first! Oh, and did I mention that a Rum and Coke here costs less than 1 USD?! Deadly!
Contacts: Buddha’s Surf Resort , 8419 Catangnan, Surigao Del Norte, Philippines, Phone +639199 456789 (sms only) Email: email@example.com
Price Range: 25$ per person (if you share the room) with private balcony, flat screen TV in a lovely location! Breakfast Included.
Notes: I didn’t actually stay there but I paid a visit to a friend for a few drinks and the atmosphere is very relaxed and the place is awesome, only 1 minute’s walk from the beach, located in between Cloud 9’s surfers spot and General Luna village.
Click here to book online and save money!
Contacts: Ocean 101 Beach Resort Cloud 9, Gen. Luna, Siargao Island Surigao del Norte, Philippines Mobile: (63) 910 8480893 / (63) 919 8268837 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Price Range: Fan Room for 2 people starts from 8$ per person, but if you want to experience the extra luxury of a private villa with ocean view and jacuzzi, the prices are around 200$ per room (perfect for 4 people).
Notes: What can I say? the picture speaks for itself!If you have money to splurge,then this is definitely a place you should try! (I’m notoriously a huge fan of the Jacuzzi and sunsets experience from my private lounge!)
Click here to book online and save money!
OTHER CHEAP HOTELS IN SIARGAO
Still looking for affordable Accommodation, Hotels and Resorts in Siargao?
Visit the Agoda website to check out the properties available in the area, with reliable reviews and prices you can trust. I always use this website and sometimes the prices listed there are even lower than booking directly with the hotel itself. Below are a few selected Hotels/Resort you should check out for an amazing time in Siargao!
You can click on the link to see the reviews, prices, pictures and most importantly to SAVE MONEY WITH THE BOOKING ONLINE! (up to 40% discount, not bad huh?). I divided the Resorts in 3 main categories, based on price range: Luxury, Budget and Backpackers.
LUXURY HOTELS AND RESORTS IN SIARGAO:
For the holiday of your dreams all included!
Click on the links to check the place out and SAVE MONEY by booking online!
- ISLA CABANA RESORT : Prices from 78 Euros per Room
- CLUB TARA RESORT : Prices from 78 Euros per Room
- HIDDEN ISLAND RESORT : Prices from 40 Euros per Room
- ROMANTIC BEACH VILLAS : Prices from 39 Euros per Room
- SIARGAO BEACH INN RESORT : Prices from 39 Euros per Room
CHEAP RESORTS AND HOTELS IN SIARGAO:
Save money on very nice and refined places
Click on the link to check the place out and SAVE MONEY by booking online!
- PATRICK’S ON THE BEACH RESORT : Prices from 29 Euros per Room
- EDDIE’S BEACH RESORT : Prices from 22 Euros per Room
- SAILFISH BAY SURF LODGE : Prices from 14 Euros Per Room
- WHITE SANDS PARADISE BEACH RESORT : Prices from 14 Euros per Room
- HOT SPOT ON CLOUD 9 RESORT : Prices from 16 Euros per Room
- BAKHAW BED AND BREAKFAST : Prices from 19 Euros per Room
BACKPACKERS BUDGET ACCOMMODATION IN SIARGAO:
For a nice stay at a dirt cheap price!
Click on the link to check the place out and SAVE MONEY by booking online!
- HAPPY CEGKO SIARGAO BACKPACKERS HOSTEL : Prices from 200 Pesos (4.50 $/ 3.50 Euros) in a dorm room
- JADESTAR LODGE: Prices from 600 pesos (13 $ /10 Euros) per room
- OCEAN PACIFIC INN: Prices from 500 pesos per night (11 $/ 8 Euros) per room
- THE BOARD WALK AT CLOUD 9 RESORT: Prices from 500 pesos (11 $/ 8 Euros) per room
Siargao is easily accessible by cheap flights, below are the two main options to reach the Island:
Option 1: Manila Cebu- Cebu -Siargao
- From Manila (or any other International Airport) you need to fly to Cebu. Flights are very frequent, operating almost one every our. The cheapest options are Air Asia and Cebu Pacific, but you can compare different airlines to find special offers depending on the seasonality.
- From Cebu Airport there is a direct flight with Cebu pacific to the local airport departing at 11:45 am. The return scheduled time to Cebu is at 13:20 pm. The flight is around 40 minutes and the companies operating from Cebu to Siargao are Cebu pacific and Philippines Airlines.
- Total cost from Manila: around 60/80 USD (45/60 Euros), depending on how early you book the flight and which company you use. Check out Air Philippines’s website for last minutes discounts and always compare fares before your purchase.
- Tips: When comparing the prices, remember that with Cebu Pacific you always need to add on the taxes and fees to the initial price shown, whilst Air Philippines usually gives you the final overall price.
Option 2: Manila Surigao – Surigao-Dapa
You can also fly directly from Manila to Surigao with Air Philippines , departing at 11.30 am from Manila and then get a ferry to Dapa (around 3/4 Journey).
I prefer the first option as sometimes the boats and the flight schedule time are not aligned (the last boat from Surigao to Siargao is at 12.00 pm) and you might have to spend a night in Surigao before catching the next available boat in the morning.
For more details on the boat services departing from Cebu to Surigao,with timetables and prices you can have a look at COKALIONG WEBSITE.
The title of this post had a promise: How to experience paradise for as little as 20$. Do you think I forgot about this? Of course not. Here is a quick recap of my overall expenses for my 10 days stay in Siargao:
8500 PESOS/10 days=190 $ grand total
19$ PER DAY
Below is the breakdown of my total expenses. As you will see it is more than the allocated 19$ per day, so am I cheating here? Nope, as I have also included the activities, and in 10 days I obviously didn’t go out every day on boat trips, get drunk or rent a motorbike (possibly sober!). This recap represent the maximum I could possibly spend on a very busy action packed day.
And now the TOP 3 TIPS to maintain our 20$ budget per day goal. These suggestions also work very well for almost all the Asian destinations.
1) Travel with other people: If you have at least one travel companion you can share the cost of the accommodation. Traveling solo? no worries, there are also budget dorms in Siargao (see the section on where to stay). You will still stay on a budget and socialize with other solo travelers like yourself.
2) Stay as long as you can: Golden rule. The longer you stay, the more power you have to bargain for a lower rate for the accommodation. The minimum is 1 week, but if you can pay in advance for 2/3 weeks the price goes down at least 20/30% (if you have good persuasive skills you could even get to 50% discount).
3) Eat local food and Shop at the market: Head to the local market in General Luna and you will find some nice places where you can eat for less than 2$. Do you want to buy delicious mangoes or some fresh fish ? The prices there are ridiculously low and the quality of the food is excellent.
We asked the manager of our resort if he could get us some tuna for dinner at the market. He came back with a huge fish for only 150 pesos/kg and fed the whole crew with it!
- Money: There are no ATM Machines on the Island so make sure you bring enough cash with you. Ask your resort/Hotel before you arrive if they accept credit/debit cards, so that you know how much cash to bring.
- WiFi and mobile phones: WiFi in the resorts is almost always free, but the signal is not as strong and fast as we are used to. This is not a big issue (unless you are a travel blogger!), and if you have a local Sim card, both Smart and Globe (the two main network providers in the Philippines) works pretty well on the Island.
- Night Life: If you are looking for crazy partying and clubs on the beach, then maybe Siargao might not be the Island for you! Compared to Boracay, it is a lot less crowded and touristy but you can still find good places to listen to some good music and meet the locals (and the surfers!).One place you should make sure to check out is Nine Bar.
- Transports: The main way to get around is by tricycle (very cheap!) or motorbike. Always negotiate the price and ask your hotel the fair rate for your journey. Once you know it (for short trips don’t pay more than 20 pesos), just jump in and don’t ask how much is it. They will assume you already know. If they ask you for a price beforehand and you think it’s inflated, kindly thank them and walk away, 90% of the time they will call you back and agree to your price.
- Flights: Siargao airport is small and sometimes flight are canceled last-minute due to bad weather conditions or because there are simply not enough people to fill the airplane.This happened to me and Cebu Pacific put us on the next days flight. If you have an important flight connection I strongly recommend you book your exit flight at least 2 days before it. Better to be safe than sorry.
Now that you know everything on what Paradise looks like…what are you waiting for? Book your holiday NOW and I might see you there as I’m planning to return and never leave this amazing Island!
See you soon Siargao!
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Related Useful guides:
Top 10 Sardinian Beaches for a low budget holiday! |Sardinia Free Guides |Sardinia Low Season |Sri Lankan misadventures | Guide on how to move to England |Siargao for non Surfers | South UK Guide |Top 10 UK Beaches |Bangkok by bus
Charlotte Blower for the editing part and Giancarlo Camoirano for his invaluable help with the IT/formatting of the article.Sabrina Iovino for introducing me to the beauty of Siargao, Melo Villareal, Gay Mitra -Emami , Luna Emami, Sherv, Ron Cruz and Lisa Marie Mirasol for the great company, Kermit Surf and Dive Resort for let us feel at home and for the great times together! special thanks to Gianni, Paolo, Luca, Stephanie and all the staff at Kermit.