I had an airplane ticket to Manila, but nothing else. I knew that I wanted to surf somewhere and check out some of the 7000 islands, but where—I had no clue. Planning and researching too much takes all the excitement out of a trip, so instead of checking everything online before my departure, I decided that I should not get stressed out. The destinations I want to see will come my way.
A girl I met from Gothenburg told me to visit the Siargo Island to surf, but the first thing I thought was that it was a spot only for pro surfers, not like me. But the girl stirs up my curiosity and a deep desire to visit this place started to grow inside of me.
I arrived late at night in Manila. It was hot. I took a cab to my hotel. We passed dirty roads, many, many people and noisy traffic. Little kids were running around after midnight on the street. There was so much going on all at once. During a few seconds, I started wondering what I was doing here. Many people told me it would be dangerous for a woman to travel alone in this kind of location, maybe they were right—was it a good idea to visit the Philippines after all?
The next morning, I left the big city as fast as I could and flew to Siargao Island. I then took the first shuttle heading to General Luna, the island’s main surf town. During our blue sky drive, we passed tropical forests, rice fields, farmers with water buffalos, simple-roofed houses and barefoot kids with their families on the side of the road. It was so peaceful and quiet.
From this moment, I knew it was the place to be. Regrets vanished instantly and I couldn’t stop smiling. Siargao, it will be my pleasure to discover you!
Imagine an island without drunk tourists, no loud music, no beach vendors. Imagine an island with amazing surf spots, a laid-back atmosphere and stunning landscapes. This is Siargao, and if you like healthy food, bonfires, acoustic music nights, interesting travellers and friendly locals, Siargao is made for you. You may not want to leave. I didn’t.
Where to Sleep: Paglaom Hostel
Paglaom Hostel is a cheap and clean place with bunk beds and hammocks. The owners are a Philippines/Sweden friendly couple that work closely with the local community and also support the local kids. The perfect place for the cozy backpackers where you can book surf lessons, surfboards and day trips around the Island. I booked only two nights at first, but after only one day, I instantly extended my stay. Simple living with amazing vibes.
The location: General Luna
There’s not much going on in General Luna as it is a small town. If you were looking for a party island, you’re definitely at the wrong spot! Once a week, there’s an event going on, it can be an acoustic night or an art show. Once a month, enjoy a local jungle party. Nothing more, nothing less. The idea of having only one event at a particular time is really cool, as it allows you to meet everybody at all once. The daily routine of people living around is mainly to surf, eat, sleep and relax, which I absolutely love! As for the budget, the city offers few places with a different price range for everyone. If you’re on a thin budget & don’t want to eat out, go get fresh fish and seafood at the public market, it’s always fresh!
When not surfing…
Go Island hoping!
On my last night, a friend and I hired a boatman together for almost nothing and went on a little trip. There are three spectacular Islands that are worth discovering: Naked Island, Daku Island and Guyam Island. Resorts usually offer day tours to these islands, so it’s convenient and easy! We went to the local market with our motorbikes, grabbed some fruit snacks, some cold beers and went to one of these islands to see the sunset.
We also decided to rent motorbikes when waves were non-existent or too big for us. I packed my camera, something cold to drink & met up with my surf chick to rent one. Why? Because getting lost around an Island is the nicest thing to do! Wind is blowing through your hair and freedom is now your best mate.
Siargao has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes and scenery in the Philippines, so don’t miss out because of surfing. You can find endless dirt roads, deserted beaches, caves, waterfalls, endless rice fields and tons of palm trees. Discover local villages and meet the locals. Stop from time to time, get off your bike and take a deep breath. Enjoy the view and take some pictures. For only $8 per day, you can’t say no to this experience!
Want to explore the Siargao Island but don’t know where to start?
Read our article about our go-to surf spots as well as our favorite things to do while in Philippines.