Siargao, Philippines

Siargao, The Philippines – Travel Guide

The teardrop-shaped island of Siargao (pronounced shargow) sits on the eastern edge of the Philippines. Exposed to the Pacific Ocean, its shores receive some of the best swells in the whole of Southeast Asia, creating the epic surf for which the island is famous. 

It’s not only surfers enjoying this paradise though, with beautiful beaches, palm trees in abundance and a chilled vibe, the island is a haven for beach bums and nature lovers too. 

Less developed than some other islands, Siargao offers a taste of quiet Filipino life with enough infrastructure to make for a comfortable stay. Many people find themselves drawn into the laid-back lifestyle and end up staying for weeks. 


Siargao Map & Resources

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Siargao, Philippines – Travel Guide for Backpackers

Best Time to Visit Siargao

The best time to visit Siargao depends on what you would like to do during your stay. If you’re heading there to surf, the best time is September to March, but this coincides with Siargao’s rainy season which runs from around October until February. If you want to explore the island and relax on the beach, the summer season between April and August is a good time to visit. 

Siargao beach
The summer season falls between April and August in Siargao.

The shoulder months of September/October and March are good times to visit if you want to combine surfing with other activities. There is less chance of rain and still some dry days. The beginning of the surf season is also when surf competitions are held at Cloud 9, which is great news for those who want to watch the pros but does mean the island and its other surf spots, will be more crowded than usual.


Where to Stay in Siargao

  • General Luna – The main town and hub on the island. This is where the majority of travellers stay, particularly if they are here to surf as it’s a convenient location for reaching the island’s surf spots.
  • Pilar – In the centre of the island, Pilar is a great place to base yourself for exploring some of Siargao’s best-known attractions.
  • San Isidro – A good place to stay if you’re looking to get off the beaten track and enjoy the island without lots of other tourists.
  • Pacifico – A sleepy town with great surfing and a beautiful stretch of palm-backed sand, a peaceful option if you’re here to simply surf or relax away from the crowds.
Local surfers
Surfers in particular tend to stay in General Luna, Siargao.

Best Hostels in Siargao

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Tropical Temple has clean air-conditioned dorms with ensuite bathrooms. The beautiful high-domed lobby is a great place to hang out or sample some food from the onsite restaurant. When you’re not surfing, you can cool off in the pool surrounded by greenery and coconut palms.

Sinag Hostel has cosy eight-bed dorms, a kitchen and good common areas. The staff are very helpful and there is a friendly social atmosphere.

Sunlit Hostel is a very social place without being a party hostel. It has 10-bed dorms with comfortable beds and privacy curtains, as well as single-sex bathrooms. The kitchen is a handy space for preparing your own meals and socialising, but the best part of the hostel is the common room where you can play table tennis, pool, and board games. Alternatively, read in a hammock, catch up on some work or just relax and make some surfing buddies.

Local surfer
Siargao is a great place to make surfing pals!

Mad Monkey Siargao is situated close to Cloud 9 and boasts a pool, restaurant, bar and social areas with games so making new friends is a breeze.

Hiraya Surf Hostel is highly rated by guests and has a pool, onsite bar and shared lounge. The rooms have air conditioning and ensuite bathrooms, although it’s worth noting that the 18-bed dorms have no privacy curtains.


Things to Do in Siargao, Philippines

1. Hit the Waves 

Whether you’re a pro heading to Cloud 9 to ride the world-famous break or a complete beginner, Siargao offers some of the best surfing in Asia

Clould 9 Boardwalk
The Cloud 9 boardwalk.

Jacking Horse near Cloud 9 produces some small waves that are perfect for first-timers or check out Paradise Beach or Secret Beach for some great beginner to intermediate waves – though these spots can get crowded. 

For bigger waves and an empty line up, take a boat out to Daku or Salvacion, two great spots for intermediate surfers.

View of Cloud 9 from Shaka
Siargao is known for its surfing.

2. Explore the Island 

Take to the roads and explore the island. The scenery is stunning and it’s a great way to discover off-the-beaten-track spots and beaches.

3. Go Island Hopping 

Drag yourself away from the surf or the beach and enjoy a day on a boat exploring some of the picture-perfect paradises just off the coast of Siargao.

Beach at Santa Fe
Enjoy the feeling of being on a castaway island!

4. Visit Taktak Falls 

Take a picturesque ride to the far north of the island to visit the only waterfall on Siargao. It is well worth spending some time here to enjoy the stunning setting and take a cooling swim in the pool.

5. Take a Dip in the Rock Pools

Head to Magpupungko Rock Pools and Flats at low tide and enjoy a relaxing dip (or dive) into the crystal clear waters with stunning views over the Pacific Ocean.

6. Discover Tayangban Cave Pool 

Go on an adventure as you’re guided through a cave to swim in the cool blue waters of this natural sinkhole.

7. Enjoy a Sunset From the Bridge

At sunset, locals and travellers alike gather on Catangnan-Cabitoonan Bridge to watch the sun go down. Enjoy the communal atmosphere with a beer from the local drinks stand as skateboarders perform tricks up and down the bridge and the sun sinks behind the coconut palms in a beautiful array of colours.

Sunset from the bridge
Sunset is a nightly event in Siargao!

8. Mix Things Up at Siargao Wakepark

Swap the salty surf for some freshwater sports for the day! Take a session on the lake at Siargao Wakepark to improve your surfing skills or try your hand at wakeboarding, hydrofoiling or the water zipline.

9. Admire the Coconut Trees

Marvel at Siargao’s beauty from the Coconut Trees View Deck where you can admire the countless coconut palms as they stretch out like a carpet for miles to the distant hills, which are also cloaked in the familiar fronds.

Siargao sunset
A beautiful sunset in Siargao.

Food and Drink in Siargao

For cheap local food try Catangnan BBQ close to Mad Monkey Hostel, a street food stall where pork skewers start from just 25PHP (less than $1USD!). It’s a popular place that opens at 3 pm each day and closes when they run out of food so make sure you get there quick!

Another highly-popular spot for cheap eats is Kurvada in the town of General Luna. The buffet-style spread has customers queuing down the street for a taste of the delicious array of local and western foods on offer.

Try the beachfront sports bar Barrel for local food served up alongside a social atmosphere, televised sports and pool tables. Cosmic Siargao has a completely plant-based menu with a vegan twist on local favourites so non-meat eaters can still enjoy some Filipino snacks.

For amazing smoothie bowls and an even better view, head for Shaka Café, which serves all plant-based smoothies, wraps, desserts and more, overlooking Cloud 9. Just across the road, you can find Kawayan Gourmand French Bakery offering delicious paninis and pâtisserie treats.

View of Cloud 9 from Shaka 2
The view of Cloud 9 from Shaka Café.

The poke bowls at Sibol are a must-try as is the pizza at Kermit. Head to CEV for some tasty ceviche and kinilaw, a Filipino version of the Peruvian marinated fish dish.


Getting Around Siargao

Scooter

The most popular and convenient way to get around the island, scooters are available for hire cheaply and easily. Ask your hostel for recommendations, some even have ones to hire direct. Expect to pay around 350PHP (approx. $6USD) per day hire.

E-Bikes

A good alternative for those who aren’t confident on a scooter or don’t have a licence – plus they are better for the environment. These electric bikes still pack a punch with speeds of up to 50kmph! Boost Bikes in General Luna offer rentals for around 490PHP (approx. $9USD) per day.

Tricycle

Sit back and enjoy the ride in a tricycle! They are cheap, convenient and available for hire all over the island.

Siargao sandy beach
Scooters are available for getting from A to B – but don’t ride them on the sand!

How to Get to Siargao

The easiest way to reach Siargao is by plane. Philippine Airlines operate flights from Manila (two hours) and Cebu (one hour). 

Flights are more expensive during the surf season, so book early for the cheapest flights. These can be found for just over a hundred dollars from Manila when booked in advance. 

Flights from Manila during the summer months can be found for as little as $50USD! However, it’s still much cheaper to fly from Cebu, with flights ranging from around $35-85USD and some can be found for less than $30USD during summer.

Another option is to travel from Cebu by boat but this requires a change at Surigao City. Ferries depart Cebu at 7 pm Monday to Saturday taking around 13 hours to reach Surigao, it’s then another 3.5 hours from Surigao to Siargao. The Cebu-Surigao ferry starts at 825PHP (approx. $15USD).


Where to Go Next:

Cagayan de Oro: Switch the waves for some rapids in Cagayan de Oro, the ‘Whitewater Rafting Capital of the Philippines’!

Cebu: Whether you want to soak up some culture in Cebu City or try some diving in Moalboal, the island of Cebu is worth more than a stopover.

Bohol: Check out beautiful Bohol and its Chocolate Hills, named for their colour and appearance rather that the presence of the confectionery, sadly.

Lisa Barham author pic
Lisa Barham | Wanders & World

Having always dreamt of travelling the world, Lisa finally decided to follow that dream in her mid-thirties when she left her nine-to-five in London for life on the road. After trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal and learning to surf in Sri Lanka, she headed for wondrous Southeast Asia, where she can currently be found solo backpacking, navigating through life and unfamiliar streets. Follow her adventures!

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