When someone thinks of the best island destinations in the Philippines, Boracay, Palawan, and Cebu always dominate the list. But just this year, Conde Nast, a New-York based publishing company recently named Siargao as the best island in the world.
Siargao, an island in the southeastern part of the Philippines that was once out of radar is now the talk of the town. It has become popular not only to local but also to international travelers.
I traveled solo in Siargao for 9 days and 8 nights and to be honest, I find it to be too long. I think 5 days and 4 nights are enough if you’re not into surfing. It’s an opinion not shared by the people I met in the hostel, most of which stayed there for a minimum of 2 weeks because they love surfing.
Flying to Siargao from Manila is probably one of the longest local flights I have ever had; it took almost 3 hours. Upon leaving the Siargao airport, Transportation from Siargao Airport to General Luna is easy, I saw vans waiting outside offering to bring guests to their hotels for 250php. Here is your Siargao Travel Guide.
Where to Stay in Siargao for Solo Traveler?
One thing that made me excited about my visit to Siargao is the idea that I will stay in a hostel again. While searching for accommodation online, I found Hiraya Surf Hostel, one of the top-rated hostels on the island. But there is one thing that you have to consider if you want to book here, you have to walk approximately 5 minutes from the main road and the street going to the hostel is rough and uneven.
Also, the location is a bit far from the town proper, General Luna, about 3 kilometers away, where you can see the bars and restaurants. Most people who stay in this hostel are surfers due to its proximity to Cloud 9, the surfing spot on the island.
The common area is a good place to hang out with other travelers. The hosts make sure that everyone is having a good time. In this area, there is a strong WiFi connection so I was able to do my online stuff.
I met many friends there whom I had lunch and dinner during my stay. Together, we played drinking games, partied at night, shared stories, and toured the islands.
The bed is comfortable but forget about your privacy as there is no curtain; this is a hostel after all. There are 2 big rooms, both are mixed dorms with 16 beds. The room is clean all the time and the shared bathroom has hot showers.
Getting around, people can either hail or rent a scooter. It’s easier to drive your own so I recommend that you learn how to drive a motorbike before going to Siargao (or at least be with someone who can do it).
Where to Eat in Siargao?
Is food in Siargao expensive? The answer is yes, but there are cheaper options by going to the local eateries or carinderia.
If you are a morning person and a fan of granola and yogurt bowls, there are stores to choose from. A bowl is normally priced from 220php or 4usd; for me, that’s expensive. The one in La Carinderia tastes better than others that I’ve tried.
There are choices of grill houses where you can buy BBQ for more or less 100php or 2usd, rice is not yet included. Mama’s Grill is one if not the most famous BBQ house in Siargao. Jade Grill House, on the other hand, has a nice ambiance and a bit cheaper than Mama’s Grill but their food is also delicious.
Having a warm bowl of delicious bulalo is the best after-party food in Siargao. Bulalo is a Filipino stew with beef shanks and bone marrow and in Siargao, there is no better place to go to than Bulalo-an. They only serve bulalo with unlimited rice; it’s so good. The price is around 200php or 4usd.
Other restaurants that offer international cuisines that I tried were Warung for Indonesian food, Felix-A, a Chinese restaurant, which was both a hit and a miss, Miguel’s, a Mexican restaurant (I like their burrito), and Altrove, which is now one of my favorite Italian restaurants.
Of all these restaurants I can easily call Kermit as the best of them all. I can even eat there every day. All of their pizza, pasta, or rice meals are the best. We dined there twice and we probably would have been there more if only the queue wasn’t that long, especially at night. Kermit surpassed all my favorite pizza restos in the Philippines. This is a highly recommended place to dine in at Siargao.
If you are looking for a place to chill by the beach, I recommend to hang out in the afternoon at Bravo Hotel. They have a bar and restaurant by the beach. The place is cozy and I love its ambiance.
Where to Party in Siargao?
I love the island vibes of Siargao in general. It’s nice to see locals and foreign people driving scooters, carrying their surfboards. Everyone looks free-spirited and chill. Siargao is a place to chill in the day time or do activities like surfing and party to meet awesome people at night.
Another thing that I find to be so cool in Siargao is how they organize their party. If you find someone pretty or handsome in the morning, there is a 99.9% chance that you will meet them at night. Night parties are hosted by some bars or resorts.
Here are the schedules of where to party in Siargao.
- Monday: Rumbar
- Tuesday: Jungle Tattoo, Rumbar
- Wednesday: Rumbar
- Thursday: Baile and Rumbar
- Friday: Vivo Bistro, Lumad Hostel, Jungle Tattoo
- Saturday: Harana Surf, Rumbar
- Sunday: Bravo Resort, Kityas Place
If there are any changes, the staff in your place of accommodation should know it. Honestly, I didn’t party that much in Siargao because the “tito” in me always prevails. I did go to a party at Harana and it was an awesome night. My friends at the hostel told me that the party at Baile was great too. Local beer in Siargao starts at 60php.
What to do in Siargao?
Surfing – it’s the first reason people visit Siargao. As of me, I didn’t do any surfing and just watched people having a go at it. Surfing lessons start at 500php per hour but you can haggle for a lower price. Just walk along Cloud 9, many surfing instructors will approach you. Some even offered as low as 300php. The peak season for surfing is from August till November.
Siargao Island hopping – Our island hopping was organized by Hiraya Surf team and we visited 3 islands, Naked, Daku, and Guyam. This is probably the best part of my tour in Siargao not only because of the stunning scenery but also because our big boat turned into a party boat. We drank from the beginning to the end of the tour.
You can easily arrange your island hopping as many tour operators are offering a tour in General Luna. Usually, this kind of tour starts at 1300 php++ or 25usd++ per head.
Roadtrip to Magpupungko and Maasin River – Island hopping in Siargao is not as amazing as you can see in Coron or El Nido but one thing that is hard to beat in Siargao is the road view. I feel like I’m inside a moving painting, the view of the coconut farm from the view deck is amazing.
If you want to save money on your land tour you can hire a scooter for 350php per day, gas is not included. We drove for 45 minutes from General Luna up to Magpupungko in Pilar.
We left General Luna early to go to Magpupungko because for you to appreciate the Magpupungko natural rock pool you need to be there during low tide. There is a parking fee of 20php and an entrance fee of 50php. There is also a restaurant in the area that serves good and yet cheap food; the serving is big too.
On our way back, we had a quick stop at Maasin River, which is famous for its bent coconut trees. People crawl up to the middle of the tree and swing down to the river. There is an entrance fee to get inside and donation to the guide assisting you to swing.
Sugba Lagoon – From General Luna, we drove up to the municipality of Del Carmen for 1 hour. Again, it will save you money if you can comfortably drive a scooter instead of hiring a habal-habal driver to bring you here. It is best to go there with a group to share the fee for the boat. We paid 1500php for a roundtrip boat transfer plus environmental/entrance fee.
From the tourism office, we rode a small boat going to the lagoon for about 20mins. The view is a wide mangrove forest, one of the largest mangrove forests I visited.
Sugba lagoon is impressive with its emerald clear waters from which one can swim and go kayaking. We rented a kayak for 500php good for 3 and paddled around the lagoon.
There is a platform at the center of interlocking lagoons serving as the drop-off point. We rented a table for 50php to leave our stuff in. This is also where the cliff diving spot is located.
There are other activities that you can do in Siargao like freediving, wakeboarding, and yoga.
Siargao instantly climbed on my top 5 favorite islands in the Philippines simply because I love the island vibes. I can imagine I would have loved it more if I visited this island 3 or 5 years ago when there were fewer establishments.
I hope Siargao will not share the same fate as the other popular and crowded destinations in the Philippines. I hope it will maintain its charming island vibes for years to come.
Don’t forget to share this Siargao Travel Guide to your friends if you find it helpful!