In the northeastern tip of Mindanao lies a slice of paradise relatively unknown until the 90’s. Since then, domestic and international visitors only have great admiration for this place in all its purity and simplicity. Despite the increasing popularity and esteemed following, Siargao Island, otherwise known as the “Surfing capital of the Philippines” is still pretty much laid-back, unperturbed by urban civilisation. Siargao is your classic tropical island with swaying coconut palm trees, turquoise waters teeming with colourful marine life, breath-taking panoramic views all around with the candour of the local people. Once every year, the tranquil surroundings give way to the “Siargao Cup”, as surfers compete riding out the famous “Cloud 9”, a sign of the island’s distinguished status in the surfing world. After all, it has been featured in Surfer magazine as early as 1993 and belongs to the top 10 surf sites in the world.
But, Siargao is not just for surf enthusiasts. The fascinating natural beauty captivates anyone who dares set foot in this exotic island that is the pride of Surigao del Norte and deservedly so. At nearby Guyam Island, your own haven awaits. It remains uninhabited and yet, a perfect idyll of white sandy beach adorned by coconut palm trees in the middle. The Naked Island is just what it is, an exposed sandbar 200meters long waiting to be seized by eager visitors. And not the least is Daku Island, a fishing community with a handful of residents now getting used to the visitors. On quieter days, you can just walk around and beach bum in those deserted glorious beaches. And if you long for that quite ordinary bathing pool, seek out the alluring Magpupungko Pool in the town of Pilar. The experience is beyond ordinary in this “infinity pool” of green, blue body of water separated from the ocean by a large reef. Whilst the irresistible waters surrounding the island beckon, don’t pass up on the chance for a trip to the mangrove forest in Del Carmen that provides a natural habitat for saltwater crocodiles. This forest is considered the largest mangrove forest reserve in Mindanao.
Surfers are instantaneously rewarded by great perfect waves but for non-surfers, the rewards are glorious pieces of island where the order of the day range from snorkelling, kayaking, exploring, gorging on sumptuous seafood, learn to paddle standing up or sitting down or simply in a hammock watching the day end with the most dramatic of sunset.
There are daily direct flights from Manila and Cebu to Surigao Airport (SUG) or Siargao (IAO) Airport.
*Surf season is between August to November during the ‘habagat’ season as it is locally known.
*Siargao Cup, surfing competition which attracts surfers from around the world is held in September.
What else to see?
Located in Del Carmen with mangroves and rock formations all around. Grab your snorkelling gear and marvel at the abundance of marine life underneath. Along the way, you will admire the magnificent limestones and the sheer beauty of the landscape.
The only waterfall in the island but nonetheless captivating. Cool fresh water runs down into a shallow pool, ideal for bathing.
Another island in the province of Surigao del Norte with mystical caves and wild orchids alongside stalactites, coves, lagoons and many more. Explore its lush vegetation, trek the rugged terrain and gawk at thousands of stingless jellyfish.
SURIGAO DEL SUR: Hinatuan Enchanted River
As the name suggests and if magic truly exists, this is a place where mermaids swim, fairies play and ‘engkantos’ (spirits) stand guard amongst the trees. Tucked away in rainforest in the province of Surigao del Sur, this magical river drives visitors to discover for themselves this unique place that has inspired various folklores. The unusual colours of the river, a mixture of sapphire and jade give off a clear film coating on the surface and reflect the palm trees and flowers lining the river bank. You can peer through the depths and see schools of fish and the myriad of underwater passages that to this day is the subject of extensive exploration in the area. To add to the mystery, the local government carries out a daily ‘fish feeding time’ at 3:00pm accompanied by playing the “Hinatuan Hymn”. Visitors are treated to numerous fish species (most are unknown and large in size) coming together right on cue and disappear after an hour leaving a calm, impeccable river as if they were never there. If fairy tales are made of this, Hinatuan Enchanted River surely don’t disappoint.