Travel Diary: Siargao & Solo!
“Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Courageous.”
- Siargao is known to be the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines”.
- Best time to go for those who plan surfing would be August to November. This is when the swell and the wind are at their best, so you’ll find perfect waves to catch.
- September is the Annual Siargao International Surfing Competition so expect Siargao to be crowded during this time.
- Siargao is also best for non-surfers like me where you can enjoy the beautiful islands namely Guyam, Daku and Naked, the unique rock formations of Magpupungko Pool, coral reefs, enchanting lagoons of the Sohoton Cave and more.
How to get there
- Cebu Pacific Airlines is the only carrier that flies every day from Cebu to Siargao.
- Yes, there are direct flights from Manila to Siargao. Skyjet launched this service February 2017!
- Cebu Pacific Airlines also have direct flights from Manila to Siargao.
Via Overnight Ferry
- If you’re on a budget, the cheapest option is to take the overnight ferry from Cebu City to Surigao City and then take a fastcraft to Siargao.
- There are at least two ships leaving Cebu City to Surigao every night at 7PM and arriving in Surigao around 5AM. The boat ride from Surigao to Siargao takes around 3 hours.
HELLO SIARGAO!!! 🙂
How to get around
- Motorbike the entire island. But going solo can be financially challenging, especially if you don’t know how to drive a motorbike. I’m so blessed that I know how to drive, so it was much easier and cheaper to go around the island. I enjoyed driving around the island.
- Motorbike rental for a Honda XRM costs Php350/a day. But I choose the scooter which costs higher by Php150/a day for safety and know-how purposes. Prepare to shell out for fuel.
- Habal-habal for non-drivers is Php20 per way. There are Habal-habals everywhere.
Where to stay/How long to stay
- During my trip, I stayed at Villa Solaria. One of the accommodations with the lowest price. This place is good for those kuripot/budget-friendly ones like me who just needed a place to wash-up and sleep at night.
- Take note that I don’t compromise comfort and safety so rest assured that this place is also perfect for any type of travelers. You can book it via Agoda.
- Famous accommodations according to Agoda include 1. Kermit Surf and Dive Resort 2. Harana 3. Isla Cabana Resort 4. Siargao Bleu Resort and Spa 5. Dedon Island Resort 6. Bravo Resort and etc.
- A minimum of 3 days would be enough stay in Siargao, exclusive of travel time. I stayed for 3 days but still a bitin experience.
What to do/Where to go
Island Hopping with Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cave Tour
- My island hopping itinerary included a trip to the Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cave. This is a must-visit attraction just South-West of Siargao. We (with the couple I met in Siargao) rented a boat to explore the natural cave tunnel where calm deep blue waters, no-sting jellyfish, bats, wild orchids, and stalactites can be seen.
- I was able to jump the cliff of the cave tunnel and for the first time in my life, I felt fearless. I can’t swim well but I took the risk. No regrets! Visitors often call it enchanted because of the rare view that seems like you are entering the secret place on an unknown island. 😉
When traveling solo, it is better if you join another small group to spread the costs. The boat tour to Bucas Grande and Sohoton Caves costs Php5000, but it is good for 8 persons. Plus, you’ll gain new friends. :p
- Next stop was Naked Island, and I thought we would have to be naked to be able to step on the island, but no, (Sayanga!) Haha. 😀
- It’s a small island of about 200 meters long where you can walk around it fully for at least 5 minutes. It has white sand, crystal clear turquoise waters without trees on it. Perfect for IG moments! 😉
- Then we went to Daku Island, Daku means big and yes, it is the biggest among the three islands.
- Another beautiful island, with its fine white sand and with countless coconut palm trees. A small fishing community of an estimated 300 residents lived there without electricity.
- Lastly, Guyam Island is also a paradise. The island is tear-shaped and it was empty when we arrived, and for that afternoon we felt like we own the place.
- It’s the perfect place to take selfies and even to reflect.
Drive to Magpupungko Rock Pool
- Magpupungko rock pool is also one of the best tourist spots in Siargao. It is called as such (pungko– a local term of squat or sitting down) because of its remarkable gigantic rock that is like bending on each other.
- In front of it are strong big waves of the Pacific Ocean. It is really superb how God made them all.
- It has natural crystal-clear sea water pool and unique rock formations and is best enjoyed during low tide. Magpupungko rock pool is located in Pilar, and it took me an hour and a half drive from General Luna.
- You can rent a motorbike for Php500/day or hire a tricycle for Php800-1000/day. The entrance fee is Php50 and parking fee of Php20. Absolutely worth the drive and the money spent.
- And don’t forget to jump off from the rock! 😉
Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) at Jacking Horse
Unfortunately, no photos. I really enjoyed this because I did not spend for it. The tour guide of a small group allowed me to join them for free since this concluded the final activity of the day tour (basin naluoy siya kay nag-inusara ko gatambay and hulat ug guide).
Catch the sunset and the after-sunset (this is my most favorite part of the day!)
- If you are a sunset romantic like myself, you would not miss any sunsets. The best place in Siargao to experience the sunset and the after-sunset (blue hour) is in the Jacking Horse area, you can enjoy this after your SUP (Stand-Up Paddle) in the area.
- If it is low tide, Cloud 9’s boardwalk creates a beautiful silhouette, too.
Night Life in Siargao
- Inquire about the so-called “Benefit Dance”.
- At night, young workers from different resorts gathered and went to a communal dance they call benefit. During a benefit dance, a person can sponsor a dance for Php20 or Php50 and the whole community can dance to it.
- There are parties everywhere, there is the reggae night, the dance night and whatsoever night. I purposely miss the nightlife in Siargao for personal reasons.
Your trip to Siargao won’t be complete without surfing.
Where to eat
Try Kermit’s Pizza
It serves the best pizza in town! 😉 This place is popular so make sure to make reservations in advance.
Have shake at Café LocaCafé Loca is the only café you can find right next to Jacking Horse. A shake costs Php100- Php140. This place tends to be crowded on the afternoon.
Dinner at La Carinderia
They offer a fusion of Italian and a carinderia but there is nothing like carinderia about its price. The food is good but not recommended for rice eater travelers who are hungry since their rice portion is unbelievably small.
Bravo Resort’s Bar & Restaurant
They serve Spanish cuisine. I went there for breakfast before heading to the airport.Food is super good and affordable.
Best before or after surfing. It is an artsy type of cafe that offers healthy bowls served with fruits and homemade granola.The cafe also showcases surfing photography. Cool kaayo! 🙂
This place is perfect for your Instagram feed! This place offers delicious Filipino dishes!Don’t leave without ordering Harana Halo-halo. Sweet and mouthwatering.
Solo Travel Confession
I have always wondered what and how it feels like to travel to a new place on my own terms. I remember how anxious I am about traveling solo, what about my safety, and any untoward experience. Back then, I am unsure of a specific place where I want to experience my first solo travel but one thing myself is sure about is that I want to spend it somewhere unfamiliar, where there are beaches and someplace that gives me the most value for money.
And then there’s Siargao!
Below are the Top 5 reasons to visit Siargao (based on my personal experience)
1. Siargao is a haven still not overrun by mass tourism (as much as I can remember in 2016)
It is known to be the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines”. The word surfing is unfamiliar to me so I thought it would be more fun and bold to try it for the first time in my first solo travel.
It is not only known for the famous boardwalk of Cloud 9 for the surfing enthusiasts and surfers, it is also for non-surfers like me where you can enjoy the beautiful islands namely Guyam, Daku and Naked, the unique rock formations of Magpupungko Pools, coral reefs, enchanting lagoons of the Sohoton Caves and many more.
2. Siargao is a place of simplicity and clarity.
No fancy restaurants, no hustle and bustle, no noise, no traffic and no trash. You will fall in love with the people, the beaches, plus the gastronomic experience. The relaxed and laid-back feeling of the island makes you want to live there.
3. You feel secure.
The locals are really accommodating and helpful! It is untouched, and it can be enjoyed in the safest, most beautiful and simplest ways even if it remains uncommercialized.
4. A year has passed since my first visit and I still consider Siargao to be my favorite island.
The people are warm-hearted, kind and genuine. It is a place where everyone hangs out with everyone. Resort owners hang out with surfers or tricycle drivers, foreigners date locals, and everyone is having a great time.
4. Endless waves of transformation.
Eat Pray Love movie-kind-of-feel the Pinoy version. The year 2016 was a tough year for me and the decision I made to solo travel Siargao is one of the best decision I ever made to date. Being alone, I was able to reflect on the sad things that happened during the year.
As what Liz Gilbert has said, ” In the end, I’ve come to believe in something I call “The Physics of the Quest.” A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity. The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.”
The trip to Siargao will always be special because it made my heart wonderfully and faithfully whole again.
My take on solo travel is that…
Solo travel changes you if you give it a chance. You are brave enough to even embrace the idea of traveling solo so take pleasure in it. It forces you out of your comfort zone, creates a more economical/maparaan version of yourself because of the limited resources you have, makes you try new things, introduces you to new people and slowly without you noticing it – you turn into a new and better version of yourself.
Tipid Tips/Saving Tips for Solo Travel
Tip: When traveling solo, it is better if you join another small group to spread-out costs. Plus, you’ll gain new friends.
Tip: Research about the destination. Do not rely heavily upon and only on technology (it may) fail when you need it the most. Print off addresses or write them down on a sheet of paper other than just on your phone.
Tip: Never keep all of your money in the same place and bring extra cash with you in case of emergency. Keep it hidden in your bag like in your socks, underwear, within your makeup kit or your book.
Tip: Have a tentative itinerary. This allows you to save time, money and effort.
Tip: Never drink too much alcohol and attend late night parties if you think you can’t handle it on your own. This is self-explanatory.
Tip: Arrive somewhere during the day.
Tip: Schedule a budget and track your expenses.
Tip: Be professionally skeptic.
See sample Itinerary and expenses.
’til the next solo travel!
Keep wandering & wondering,
*Some photos are poor in quality because I only used the photos uploaded on my Facebook due to unfavorable incident beyond my control. 😦
*All photos are mine unless otherwise stated. 🙂