Take a break from your busy city life and head to Siargao for a relaxing island getaway.
For those who haven’t been to Siargao, an island off the coast of Surigao del Norte in Mindanao, the first thing that probably comes to mind are the island’s famous waves that make it a surfer’s paradise. Often bypassed in favor of more popular beaches in the Philippines, Siargao has been slowly gaining a following, especially vacationers just looking to soak up some rays and relax by the seaside!
With cozy accommodations, hearty beachside meals, exotic lagoons (Siargao is home to the largest mangrove forest in Mindanao!), and underwater adventures just around the corner, this surfer’s haven can also be your own pocket of paradise. We recently headed out there for a weekend of some R&R and here are a few insider tips for those of you raring to go:
How to get there
Though getting there is quite a trip from Manila, the easiest way is via a flight from Cebu that can take you directly to the Sayak Airport in Del Carmen, Siargao. If that’s not a possibility, your second option is to land in Butuan City or Surigao City (via Philippines Airlines) and take a ferry to the island. Budget airlines like Cebu Pacific, though, fly straight to Siargao regularly; check out flight options here.
Where to stay
Depending on what vibe you’re going for and what you decide to do on the island, there are several options and accommodation types for you to choose from. For those who want to surf—what is Siargao without it?—and be part of the local community, Harana Surf Resort and Bravo Beach Resort both offer lessons and board rentals, even for beginners. And with locations that easily access the beach and the famous Cloud 9, you’re off to a great start!
For barkada trips and big groups that want more privacy, though, the Lux Boutique Villa is our personal fave. It’s ideal for accommodations and even parties for the whole gang. (Tip: Make sure you book a private dinner with them, too. Order the organic lechon and ask them to make the leftovers into pork sisig!)
Other great options are Siargao Bleu Resort & Spa, a modern resort with an ocean view pool that prides itself on being the only resort-spa on the island, and Greenhouse Siargao, a bed and breakfast that boasts fantastic service and amazing food—those who stay here don’t even venture out for meals anymore! And then of course there’s Dedon Island Resort (which we’ve featured previously here), for those of you looking for a more upscale and luxurious stay. Reserve this for your honeymoon or a romantic vacation with your beau!
Where to eat and drink
Believe it or not, this secluded island is home to some great international and local cuisine.
Kermit is arguably the best Italian restaurant in the Philippines—yes, that’s right! You must order their pizzas (Gorgonzola and Anchovies, Prosciutto and Arugula), their Papardelle Pasta, and the classic Chicken Parmigiana—you won’t regret the carb overload, we promise!
Shaka, meanwhile, is a healthy-food option for those who are vegan or just into eating clean and green. This joint serves up hearty superfood bowls topped with chia seeds, cacao nibs, and all the good stuff to help keep you (and your beach bod) in tip-top shape! Plus their bowls make great snacks for a pre- or post- surf sesh.
If you are already booked in Harana Surf, then you’re in luck because the resort’s restaurant is also a winner! Be prepared to gobble up delectable local fare. For a night cap, their Espresso Martinis are worth a taste, and with the friendly, warm, and artsy community vibe, you won’t mind hanging around until after dinner. Be sure to take photos of the cool murals by local surfers imprinted on driftwood that surround the restaurant.
Kawayan is the closest thing to a fine dining restaurant on the island. With well-edited menus, imported wines and craft beers, the irony of wearing slippers to a fancy joint is fun—and totally acceptable!
When on the beach, it’s our personal opinion that one must always have Mexican food, and Miguel’s Taqueria and Cerveseria certainly hits the spot! Head here for burritos and tacos that skillfully use local ingredients in their dishes.
For drinks and after-dinner partying head to Viento del Mar for tasty cocktails, a cool crowd, great music, and awesome ambience—think Il Ponticello in its heyday, but with everyone in their beachwear.
Bravo, meanwhile, is the perfect spot for happy hour, and even dinner and drinks. Their tapas are great, and their sangria is the best on the island!
What to do
Though there’s a lot to see on the island and nearby, you can also opt for a relaxing way to get around Siargao. We rented the Galatea Boat and did an island hopping plus snorkeling tour–stopping by Naked Island must not be missed! Enjoy a cooked lunch on the boat that includes grilled seafood and fresh lato (a kind of seaweed our friends helped pick underwater!).
You can also book a Sugba Lagoon tour. Here you’ll find clear blue waters and limestone formations that make for overwhelmingly beautiful Instagram shots. Explore underwater by snorkeling and you’ll discover a wide array of exotic marine life. Adventurers can also paddle board, head to jump off points and explore this area situated in the second largest mangrove system on the island.
To explore the Mangrove Forest in Del Carmen in its entirety, ask your resort to book you a tour with the local boatmen on hand. They’ll take you through thousands—even millions—of mangrove trees and to even more secluded islands. But watch out for the crocodiles, they usually hang out by the riverside on stealth mode!
A visit to the Magpupungko Tidal Pools in Pilar, Siargao is a breathtaking natural wonder that cannot be skipped! When the tide recedes, the water reveals rock formations that are surrounded by these shallow tidal pools—a disappearing island, if you will!
And just in case you need a break from the sea (which we can’t imagine will happen), exploring the island by land is also a fun option. Rent your own scooter, drive around, and allow yourself to get lost.
Though if all else fails, a lazy afternoon by the beach is always a great option to enjoy Siargao’s unspoiled beauty! Time to plan that next weekend vacay, ladies.