Every surfing enthusiast in the country knows about Siargao. After all, it’s the Surfing Capital of the Philippines so surely it’s on their bucket list. A tear-drop shaped island in the province of Surigao del Norte in Mindanao, Siargao faces the Pacific Ocean therefore influencing the winds, currents, and waves which make surfing more thrilling and challenging. Apart from being a premier surfing destination in the country, Siargao also boasts of waterfalls, caves, lagoons, and scenic islands with whitesand beaches and blue-green waters.
Named by Conde Nast Traveler readers as the Best Island in the World in 2019, Siargao is definitely a destination not to miss when in the Philippines.
This brief guide to Siargao Island will let you know how to get there, what to do, eat, and drink, where to stay, and must-see spots.
Best Time to Visit
It’s best to visit the Philippines during the dry season. Dry season in the Philippines spans from November through April. These are the summer months in this country.
Be aware that temperatures and humidity levels are particularly high in April and May.
The best time to be a beach bum and explore the islands is from March to May.
TIP: This guide recommends that booking for Siargao Island summer trips should be done as early as possible, at least a month before your travel dates, since resorts get fully booked early.
The period from June to October is the rainy (wet) season and is best avoided due to the high possibility of typhoons. The typhoons can not only be destructive, but most tours and activities are cancelled under such circumstances. Transportation via plane and boat is also seriously impacted as well. This happens frequently so beware!
This guide recommends traveling to Siargao Island in April-May or in November-December, just before and just after the rainy season. This will likely bring fewer crowds, yet pleasant weather, and is also a great time to score a travel deal.
Plug commonly used is Type A but Types B and C are used as well. Bring A to B adapter(s).
There are many ways to get to this destination depending on your starting point. This guide recommends using the following online tools to identify all the available options and cost for each while in Siargao Island: Rome2Rio and PHBUS. We have provided the major ports of entry for this destination below.
Tourists from abroad can get to Siargao via Manila (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) or Cebu (Mactan-Cebu International Airport). From these airports, you can fly direct to Siargao via commercial airlines.
Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have at least two direct flights daily to Siargao from Manila and Cebu. Travel time between Manila and Siargao is around two hours while only one hour between Cebu and Siargao. Fare varies depending on the airline and the date of booking. The earlier you book, the cheaper the fare will be.
Alternatively, you can also book a flight via SkyJet Airlines, a regional airline in the Philippines or Sunlight Air, a boutique airline providing domestic non-scheduled flights.
Sayak (Siargao) Airport (IATA: IAO) is located in Del Carmen, 35 kilometers from the town of General Luna, the main tourist area on the island. From the airport, you can take a van, car rental, multicab, or motorcycle (habal-habal) to get to your resort in General Luna. These vehicles are available outside the airport but you can also book in advance or arrange with your resort to include airport transfer.
Find Flights to Siargao
Tourists from Surigao can take a RORO or fastcraft to get directly to Dapa Port in Siargao. Trips from Surigao start as early as 4:00 AM while Dapa to Surigao starts at 5:00 AM. Travel time for the fastcraft is around 2 hours while RORO usually takes around 4 hours. Fare ranges from P260 ($5.2 USD) to P500 ($10 USD) depending on the vessel and type of accommodation/class.
Dapa Port is 18 kilometers from General Luna. From Dapa, you can ride a van, car rental, multicab or motorcycle (habal-habal) to get to your resort in General Luna. You can find these vehicles outside the port or book in advance via your resort.
Dapat Port also serves vessels departing from Socorro, Bucas Grande Island. The first trip from Socorro to Dapa is at 5:00 AM and the last trip is at 1:00 PM. Travel time is around one hour and the fare is about P100 ($2 USD).
The following are the modes of transportation available in Siargao Island …
SEE & DO
The following is your guide to places to see and activities to enjoy while in Siargao Island.
1 | Beaches
Siargao is not only for surfers as it also has stunning beaches that non-surfers will surely enjoy. If you have a thing for white sand beaches, don’t miss Pacifico Beach, Doot Beach, and Alegria Beach, with the latter being hailed by several other travelers as the most beautiful beach in the island. Secret Beach is also an interesting spot as one needs to walk through the palm jungle to get to this hidden gem.
2 | Cliff Jumping
To make your trip more thrilling and unforgettable, find the courage to try cliff jumping. The highest and most popular in this part of Surigao del Norte is Secret Cliff Jump Sugba Lagoon but it isn’t located exactly in Siargao Island. The credit falls to Tayangban Cave Pool where you can jump off a 7-meter cliff after navigating a dark cave with chest-deep water. Other spots where you can cliff jump are in Magpupungko Rock Pools (4 meters) and Taktak Falls (3-6 meters).
3 | Coconut Trees Viewpoint
Marvel at thousands of coconut trees from the top on this part of the island. Located somewhere in between Siargao Airport and Tayangban Cave Pool, this viewpoint which is one of the most photographed spots in Siargao is simply a road in which its elevation is higher than the palm trees. There’s nothing much to do here but to enjoy the amazing view and take beautiful photos.
4 | Dive Sites and Island Hopping
Go island hopping to see the beautiful beaches and interesting marine life in nearby islands and islets. Blue Cathedral is the best diving spot in the area but it is recommended for advanced divers as it is at over 20 meters with a 20-meter wide hole. Staghorn reef at Daku Coral Beach is at 9 meters while Seeco Reef Coral formation near Naked Island is at 11 meters. The latter is good for certified open water divers. Other islands near Siargao mainland that are popular island hopping destinations are Guyam, Mam-on, and Lanuza.
5 | Natural Pools
Why limit yourself to man made pools when you can also enjoy natural pools? Tayangban Cave Pools and Magpupungko Rock Pools may just be what you need for a refreshing dip into those tempting bluegreen waters. And if swimming isn’t enough, you can unleash your adventurous spirit by cliff jumping which these two gems are also famous for.
6 | Surf Spots
The island isn’t called the Surfing Capital of the Philippines for nothing. Aside from Cloud 9 which is a famous surf break in the area, there are other surf spots for various skill levels. For beginners, Jacking Horse and Guyan are the best options. For short boarders, Stimpys is a great spot to have fun while experienced surfers likely find the thrill they seek in Pacifico and Rock Island.
7 | Taktak Waterfall
The only waterfall in Siargao, Taktak Waterfall is a great place to enjoy the peaceful ambience as it is less touristy compared to other popular spots in the island. It is surrounded by lush greenery so it is perfect when you are looking to escape the scorching heat of the sun and dip into its cold bluegreen waters. You can even cliff jump too or just lounge around.
8 | Nearby Attractions
Though not exactly in Siargao mainland, these destinations are commonly part of almost everyone’s Siargao itinerary. Further away lies Bucas Grande Island that is blessed with wondrous natural attractions like waterfalls and caves including Hagukan Cave where you’ll need to hold your breath for a few seconds to enter as you will need to swim through the entrance and is inaccessible during high tide. The famous Sohoton Cove is also found in Bucas Grande. The cove, which has been declared a national park, is home to spotted stingless jellyfish. On another island is Sugba Lagoon, popular for its diving board but it also boasts of cliff jumping at 8 meters.
NOTE: The Siargao Cup occurs annually in Siargao Island in late September or early October.
EAT & DRINK
The following is your guide to the flavorful food to enjoy and restaurants to try while in Siargao Island.
1 | Azuete Siargao
If you’re craving authentic chicken inasal, Azuete Siargao is just what you’re looking for. In addition to great food made with the freshest ingredients, their prices are reasonable and customer service is impressive. Don’t miss their chicken inasal, of course, as well as their pork BBQ, vegetable skewers, and eggplant salad.
2 | Bravo Restaurant
Bravo Restaurant serves a variety of Spanish favorites and some Asian dishes like pork curry, paella valenciana, patatas bravas, chicken teriyaki skewers, and chorizo iberico. And if you’re looking to experience Siargao’s nightlife, you need not look further. The restaurant also offers vegetarian dishes and a great selection of cocktails.
3 | Buddha
Found at one of the most popular resorts in Siargao which is the Buddha Surf Resort, Buddha Siargao is known for its Asian offerings particularly Thai cuisine as well as vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes. Popular dishes to try include pad thai, mahi-mahi, spring rolls, satay, tom yum, and red chicken curry. They have the best milk tea on the island too!
4 | CEV
There’s nothing like CEV in the island for it is the only restaurant in the island that specializes in ceviches and kinilaw (Philippine ceviche). With their freshest catch of the day transformed into unforgettable flavors, CEV has become one of the most-loved dining spots in Siargao. Some of their dishes are named after the towns in Siargao and the bestsellers include Pacifico, General Luna, Santa Monica, and Santa Fe.
5 | Greenhouse Cafe
For freshest and healthiest dishes, Greenhouse Cafe is a great option. It is located in Greenhouse Siargao, a private boutique guest house in a beachfront setting. Make sure to try the bestsellers which include homemade banana bread, Why Not Coconut (brown rice porridge in coconut milk), Barrel City 2.0 (cheesy garlic bread), and coconut cold brew. However, dining is available to checked in guests only so you need to reserve a house/villa to be able to eat there.
6 | Kermit Restaurant and Pizzeria
Looking for the best pizza in town? You’ll find it in Kermit Restaurant and Pizzeria. They even offer make-you-own-pizza, homemade pasta, and buy 1 take 1 cocktails. With reasonable prices and a great setting, Kermit is one of the restaurants you’ll keep coming back to when on the island.
7 | Kitya’s Place
There are a handful of cozy yet photogenic restaurants in Siargao and Kitya’s Place is one of them. The restaurant serves all-day breakfast, smoothie bowls, desserts, and Asian dishes. They have some options for vegetarians too! And if that isn’t enough, know that they’re eco-friendly as well. The restaurant was built with upcycled materials and practices responsible and sustainable tourism.
8 | Mama’s Grill
Tasty BBQ on a budget? There’s no other place to be but Mama’s Grill. They serve pork, chicken, and seafood BBQ as well as other Filipino favorites like spring rolls, sinigang, and adobo. It can get crowded especially during peak hours so make sure to come early, or at least be prepared to wait for around an hour to be seated.
9 | Shaka Cafe
Another spot in the island that offers all-day breakfast is Shaka Cafe. They serve Instagrammable smoothie bowls, fresh fruit shakes and juices, specialty coffee and healthy versions of burgers and tacos.
KNOWN FOR: Sayongsong, a cone-shaped delicacy made from finely-ground glutinous rice mixed with coconut milk and sugar.
WHERE TO STAY
There are many different types of accommodations available in this destination ranging from hostels to luxurious resorts. The following is your guide to our top choices for each range in Siargao Island.
1 | Point 303 Resort (Budget)
2 | Cherinicole Beach Resort (Mid-Range)
3 | Siargao Island Villas (Luxury | Resort)
When doing research online of where to stay in Siargao Island or a for specific destination, this guide recommends using the following sites to conduct research:
Book your room with these trusted online booking sites. Booking online in the Philippines almost always guarantees the best price and a room when you arrive. We use these sites frequently to get the best prices and enjoy convenient bookings. Click each of the buttons below to find the best place for you at the lowest rates:
TIP: Cherinicole Beach Resort is the best property to experience this destination.
This chart is your guide to get an idea of how much to budget daily in Siargao Island. The actual amounts will depend on YOUR travel style. Keep in mind that these are daily averages … some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less. Prices are in USD.
A bed in a hostel dorm costs from 350 PHP ($7 USD), but smaller dorms can cost from 500 PHP ($10 USD). For a private double, prices start around 700 PHP ($14 USD).
Most budget hotels begin at 700 PHP ($14 USD) per night for a double room and usually include free wifi and breakfast. For a three-star hotel, prices begin around 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night. AirBnB is also widespread throughout the country, with private rooms starting from as little as 500 PHP ($10 USD) per night. For entire apartments, expect to pay at least 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night.
Resorts and luxury accommodations vary greatly from 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) to 5,000+ PHP ($100+ USD). However, there are some really nice resorts and luxury accommodations which are surprisingly affordable.
Local food is extremely cheap, with street food costing under 50 PHP ($1USD). For an inexpensive meal at a local restaurant, prices start around 100 PHP ($2 USD). For a meal at a mid-range restaurant with drinks and table service, expect to pay from 200 PHP ($4 USD). Knowing that their target customers are primarily tourists, Western food venues can be pricey compared to Filipino food. Also, some of the ingredients need to be imported, which contributes to the higher cost. Western food (burgers, pizza, pasta, etc.) is much more expensive but is still relatively affordable at around 200 PHP ($4 USD) for a meal and drink.
Fast food like McDonalds will cost around 200 PHP ($4 USD). A beer at the bar will cost around 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD).
A week’s worth of groceries will cost between 300-600 PHP ($6-12 USD) per person. However, food in this country is so inexpensive, and kitchens & refrigerators are hard to come by, I don’t recommend cooking your meals here since there is plenty of delicious street food to eat at very cheap prices. You won’t make it as good as they do and the food is too delicious to miss!
There are many modes of transportation available in the Philippines and each varies greatly.
Public Transportation is cheap. Bus services on the islands are inexpensive. Local buses (called jeepneys) are the most common type of transportation in towns and cities. The fare is usually between 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD).
On islands without a bus system, a taxi or tricycle is the only form of transport with fares starting at 50-500 PHP ($1-$10) USD for short trips.
Taxis are everywhere, and they’re very cheap. Most fares shouldn’t cost you more than 500 PHP ($10 USD) around town.
To get between islands, you’ll need to take a boat or to fly. There are ferries that connect the island together since they aren’t too far apart but, generally speaking, flights are the most realistic option.
Flights between islands usually cost about 2,000-3500 PHP ($40-70 USD). However, this isn’t the cheapest way to travel. It’s only recommended if you have limited time.
Attractions & Activities
Most attractions and activities in the Philippines are pretty cheap. Most attractions throughout the area are FREE to enter, though some of the more well known and popular ones cost 5-100 PHP ($.10-$2 USD) to enter.
Depending on the activity, most day tours only cost around 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD), oftentimes less. You have more bargaining power if you go with a group. If you are expecting to do some climbing, remember to pack some warm layers. It gets cold at the top!
Other activities such as Island Hopping, scuba diving, helmet diving, swimming with whale sharks, jungle trekking, canyoning, ATVs, jet skis, wakeboarding, cruises, parasailing, horseback riding, cultural experiences, and tours can cost as much as 1,250-5,000+ PHP ($25-100+ USD).
The Philippines is one of the least expensive places to learn how to scuba dive. Learning to scuba dive usually costs about 15,000-20,000 PHP ($300-400 USD), but often includes FREE accommodation for the duration of the course, which lasts three or four days.
Always book your tours and activities when you arrive. Stick to travel agents who are selling on the ground. If a travel agent won’t negotiate with you, move on to the next until you find one that will. Booking tours online is almost always more expensive.
Typical Costs on Siargao Island in 2023:
- Hostel Dorm Bed: 500-1000 PHP ($9–18 USD) night
- Budget Hotel: 1100 PHP ($20 USD) night
- Mid-Range Hotel: 1500 PHP ($31 USD) night
- Street Food: 50-150 PHP ($1–3 USD) meal
- Restaurant Meals: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) meal
- Local Beer: 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD) bottle
- 1.5L Bottle of Water: 38 PHP ($.75 USD) bottle
- Tricycle Ride: 20-100 PHP ($.5-2 USD) ride
- Public Ferry Ride: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) ride
- Domestic Flight: 2,500-3,500 PHP ($45–65 USD) flight
- Island-Hopping: 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD) trip
BEST NO-FEE INTERNATIONAL DEBIT & CREDIT CARDS
The following is some of our best advice on traveling to this destination. This is your guide on what you need to know BEFORE you go to Siargao Island!
Tips & Hacks
The following are this guide’s Top 10 Tips when visiting Siargao Island:
- Be aware that a tourist VISA is only 30 days. You can extend it upon arrival, or within the first 30 days, for an additional 30 days for a fee of approximately 3,000 pesos.
- Don’t buy into the fear factor. The Philippines has an unjustified reputation of being a dangerous place. It’s true there are security guards everywhere, but that is to deter theft.
- Manila is NOT the Philippines. Get outside of the cities to see the real Philippines.
- Don’t over plan. Boats, buses, and even airplane schedules are notoriously unreliable. Be flexible.
- Check the weather. The weather varies greatly throughout the Philippines daily.
- Typhoons can have a huge impact on your plans. Account for this when planning your trip.
- It’s not cool to raise your voice or show outward frustration in public.
- Be polite at all times. Realize that your country’s sense of humor may be different from Filipino humor and take this into account when interacting with Filipinos and while in public places.
- Things move at a slower pace. Accept it … don’t get frustrated … but do account for it.
- Don’t drink the tap water… but stay hydrated! Save money by buying large bottles (6-10 liters) of water and using it to fill your water bottle or hydration bladder in your backpack.
For a complete list of our travel tips & hacks, check out the following guide and be sure to download a FREE copy for yourself.
The Philippines has its own currency called the Philippine Peso. Banks, ATMs, and money-changers can be found on the island. If you are exploring the neighboring islands or provinces, make sure to bring enough cash that will last until the next time you get to an ATM or bank since most tours, transportation, and budget accommodations only accept cash.
Health & Safety
While overall the Philippines is a safe country to visit, as is Siargao Island, you need to use common sense just as you would in any country, especially when traveling, and in a city, town, or area you are unfamiliar with.
Consult your hotel or resort front desk as they are more likely to give you reliable information than a random stranger on the street. Be careful when approaching strangers and selective about who you approach. Always pay attention to your gut feeling and follow it.
There are many things to consider when traveling in order to stay safe … things that we may not be accustomed to during our normal everyday lives. The following are articles about tips on how to stay safe while traveling in the Philippines:
- 6 Common Accidents to Avoid
- How to Beat the Heat in the Philippines
- Taxi Safety Tips: Dos and Don’ts
- Motorbike Safety Tips
- Beach & Ocean Safety Tips
- Sun Safety Tips
Staying fit & healthy can be challenging when traveling in the Philippines.
The tropical Philippines climate requires you to prepare for illnesses that you may not normally be accustomed to.
The following are our Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy while Traveling in the Philippines:
- Maintain a Balanced Diet
- Stay Hydrated but Only Drink Bottled Water
- Get Plenty of Rest
- Allow Your Body Time to Adjust
- Keep Active
- Sanitize Often
- Be Aware of Food Safety Concerns
- Take Your Vitamins
- Practice Safe Sex
- Be Prepared Should You Get Sick
You need to have a local-based SIM card in order to stay connected when in the Philippines. Network giants such as Globe and Smart have SIM cards you can use to make calls, send text messages, and also to connect to the Internet. A SIM card costs around 50 PHP ($1 USD) and usually comes with a FREE load worth 50 PHP ($1 USD). You can buy a card containing a code you can enter on your phone to replenish your load or buy an electronic load that is available almost anywhere in the city.
While you may not have problems with signal strength when in the city, it is not always the case when on islands or in remote areas of a province. So when arranging for transportation pick up, say when renting a boat to take you to and pick you up from the island, it would be best that you make it clear what time you need to be picked up before the boatman leaves.
Recommended Travel Apps
Apps for smartphones and tablets can be useful both before you leave and while you’re traveling. Most are available for iPhones and Android phones.
- Grab (taxis/ride shares)
- Angkas (motorbike ride-hailing)
- WhatsApp (phone calls)
- Skyscanner (flights)
- Rome2Rio (transportation)
- Agoda (accomodations)
- Booking.com (accomodations)
- AirBnB (accomodations)
- Traveloka (flights, accomodations, activities)
- Klook (attractions & activities )
Be certain to download and set up apps BEFORE leaving on your trip to make certain each is installed and working properly.
Trying to decide what to do when traveling to a destination for the first time can be a bit overwhelming given your lack of familiarity with the place along with all of the available options.
We’ve created the following itinerary to help simplify the process and ensure that you get the most out of your trip. Although we provide a 7 day itinerary for this destination, it can always be adjusted to fit the length of your trip.
The secret to a successful and stress-free trip is to start by using a packing list. This will reduce anxiety from the start and ensure that nothing important is forgotten when packing. To make this process easy for you, we’ve created a detailed packing list. Click the link below to download it for FREE now.
Carrying your checklist with you during your travels can be useful when repacking, by helping to ensure that you do not leave anything behind.
Things to Remember
This guide recommends to take note of the following while traveling in Siargao Island or in the Philippines in general.
There is a nationwide ban which prohibits smoking in public places including indoors, the streets, on sidewalks, in restaurants , and on public transportation, requiring smokers to use designated smoking areas. Selling tobacco to and purchasing from or for minors is also prohibited. Violators are subject to fines (up to 5,000 PHP | $100 USD) and even 4 months in prison.
The minimum legal drinking age is 18. Alcohol such as beer and hard drinks can easily be bought in grocery and convenience stores. The most common alcoholic beverage is beer, generally served cold. Local alcoholic drinks include tuba (coconut wine which is usually very strong) and potent moonshine-like clear liquors made from sugar or fruit. Imported beer, wine, and name brand hard alcohol are available but expensive.
Drugs are illegal in the Philippines. Don’t use, buy, or sell any non-prescription drugs while in the Philippines … not even marijuana. It is considered an especially heinous crime to buy from, for, or sell drugs to children. The penalties are severe … up to and including death.
Public nudity is illegal in the Philippines and is not tolerated. Most locals consider it offensive. There are laws which prohibit provocative and erotic clothing and swimwear, therefore carefully consider your clothings and swimwear choices to make certain they are not too revealing.
Foreigners & Expats
If you are not a Filipino citizen, remember that you are a guest when visiting this country … be certain to act accordingly. Respect the people, their customs, and the environment and wlidlife. You can be deported and banned … so behave … but have fun and enjoy all that this wonderful destination has to offer.
Don’t Forget …
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