Siargao: The Ultimate Travel Guide to the Beach and Surf ParadiseEverything you need to know about the amazing island in The Philippines
Exotic adventures in the Philippines
Siargao in the Philippines is known as a paradise for surfers, but without any intentions of getting swept away by the waves, we went there to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and hang out on the many empty beaches.
Over Christmas and New Year 2017-2018 we spent two weeks on the island. This complete travel guide to Siargao is the result.
We drove on palm-tree-lined roads, swam in amazing blue waters and ate Neapolitan pizzas, Indonesian delicacies and Filipino tacos.
The island proved to have all the best from an infant but modern tourism industry on a clean tropical island filled with exotic adventures.
We fell in love with Siargao.
Table of contents
- What is Siargao?
- When to visit Siargao
- What to do on Siargao
- Where to eat on Siargao
- Where to stay on Siargao
- Our budget and typical prices on Siargao
- How to get around Siargao
- Best tips for visiting Siargao
What is Siargao?
Siargao is an oblong, drop-shaped island in the southeastern Philippines with direct views of the Pacific Ocean.
The island is more exposed to wind and weather than other Filipino islands and that’s why Siargao’s location provides excellent surf conditions. If you surf, the famed Cloud 9 is a must!
Even if you, like us, don’t surf much, there is plenty to do.
Siargao has stunning beaches, nice people and lots of opportunities to swim in crystal clear waters.
And there are so many delicious food options from all over the world – including artistic, fruit-filled smoothie bowls.
Dapa is the largest city on the island, but most tourists choose to live in General Luna on the southeast coast.
General Luna consists of a handful of streets centred around the city’s basketball court.
The harbour is also lively with local restaurants, markets and karaoke, though there are fewer westerners down here.
Most tourists mostly depend on Tourism Road, which extends from the city north to the famous surfing spot Cloud 9.
In General Luna, you can easily walk around, but having a scooter or bike will provide much more flexibility to reach the nearby beaches and restaurants.
Click the icon in the top left corner of the map to find the places we have mentioned in this guide.
When to visit Siargao
The rainy season is generally between November and February.
We visited Siargao during Christmas and New Year and we had plenty of sunshine and high temperatures for most days – interrupted by short rainfall.
Most days it didn’t rain at all but on some days it rained a lot.
You can expect less rain between March and October.
For surfing, the waves are best between August and November. In September, the annual surfing competition takes place.
Apart from Christmas and New Year, this is Siargao’s peak season.
Year-round, the temperatures fluctuate between 22ºC (72ºF) and 32º (90ºF).
What to do on Siargao
General Luna Beaches
There is a beach running along the whole east coast, starting at General Luna.
The most popular part is located where Tourism Road starts to turn north.
This beach is also called “The Cemetery” as it stretches past a local burial site.
It may sound macabre, but we really think it is quite nice that the deceased get the beautiful view and the hotels come in second place.
The Cemetery beach is largely tidal and it is not particularly wide. The water is nice though and there is plenty of shade to be found among the palms.
We lived southwest of General Luna where there is also a nice little beach.
On the northern tip of Siargao you’ll find Alegria Beach (about one and a half hours of driving from General Luna).
The beach is perfect to visit on a day trip.
Due to the remote location, there are few tourists. We mostly met local people who enjoyed the calm waves and soft sand.
It is also possible to stay at resorts in the area.
Also, consider driving a little further from Alegria Beach to Taktak Falls; a waterfall we, unfortunately, did not visit ourselves.
Boat tour to Naked Island, Daku Island and Guyam Island
We didn’t experience Siargao’s best beaches on Siargao, but rather on a boat trip where we visited Naked Island, Daku Island and Guyam Island.
Our drone took flight above all three picturesque islands and we enjoyed a nice day in the sun on the perfect sandy beaches.
Although we visited Siargao over Christmas and New Year, which is the absolute high season, we were almost alone on both Naked Island and Daku Island.
Maybe everyone else was just out surfing.
We paid 1,500 pesos (~ 29 USD / 26 EUR) for a private boat trip without food.
Organized tours usually cost around 1,300 pesos (~ 25 USD / 23 EUR) per person including lunch and can be arranged everywhere on Siargao.
On Daku Island and Guyam Island, we paid 100 pesos and 40 pesos (respectively ~ 2 USD and 1 USD) in entrance fees.
Not exactly expensive for a day in paradise.
Magpupungko Rock Pools
The name is a little difficult to pronounce, but visiting Magpupungko on your trip to Siargao is a must-do if you like clear waters.
And the journey to Magpupungko Rock Pools through Siargao’s picturesque jungled interior is worth the drive all by itself.
Magpupungko is known for its wonderful tide pools and incredible rock formations.
Plan your visit around the low tide – and then head over to the beautiful Magpupungko Beach right next door when the water gets up too high.
Use Tidechart to see when there is low tide at Magpupungko Rock Pools.
When you’re thirsty, it is possible to buy fresh coconuts. There are also a couple of restaurants.
Scooter parking costs 20 pesos (less than half a dollar/euro) and the entrance to Magpupungko costs 50 pesos per person (~ 1 USD / 0.9 EUR).
We do not surf ourselves, but it should be noted that Siargao offers world-class surfing.
There are both beginner waves and bigger swells that challenge the professionals.
If you can’t surf yet, there are plenty of schools, teachers and beginner boards available.
Some breaks can be reached by walking or swimming from General Luna while you need to drive and/or sail to others.
It may be a good idea to bring swimming shoes as the reef can be really sharp.
If you are sore after having chilled too much on the beach and bathed in beautiful waters, consider relaxing even more by getting a massage.
At Pinoy Massage you can pay just 350 pesos (~ 7 USD / 6 EUR) for an hour’s full body massage – an offer we used more than once while we were on Siargao.
If you do not think that vacation and fitness are connected in any way, you can go to Surfit Gym and stay outside eating a burger from Reef Cut Burger without a hint of bad conscience.
If you want more room in your stomach, you can go inside and exercise those calories away.
Even with the fans on fully, it is hot to lift weights in 28°C heat (82°F).
Fortunately, there is free water for all who train here. It may be a good idea to bring your own towel.
The equipment is not in the Olympic class, but for the price – 150 pesos (~ 3 USD / 2.5 EUR) for one day’s training – it’s more than okay.
The machines, barbells, plates, dumbbells and other fitness equipment are good enough for most people – but perhaps not hardcore bodybuilders.
SurFit is owned by a Swedish-Danish Filipino, and the prices for weekly and monthly memberships are very fair.
Where to eat on Siargao
Siargao has a wealth of food options, and we loved both the amount of choices and the general quality of the food.
Note: We visited Siargao before going vegan later in the year.
We’re sure that had we been more aware at the time we would have loved the fully vegan options on the island as well.
Being vegan on Siargao is really easy with a huge number of healthy eateries, fresh fruit and veggies, and we recommend everyone to try eating plant-based on the island.
Best restaurants and cafés
We were so fond of the restaurant at Kermit Surf Resort that we ate there on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve (+ several times for breakfast).
Neapolitan-inspired pizzas and delicious sandwiches are baked in their wood-fired oven, and although nothing can beat the real thing in Italy, Kermit came close to being compared to the Italian originals.
And that’s a comparison Alex does not throw around easily!
Kermit’s menu is full of tasty options.
Apart from the pizzas and sandwiches, there are also plenty of pasta and spaghetti dishes, freshly caught fish, salads, curry dishes and of course appetizers and desserts.
We tried a wide variety of what Kermit served and were really happy about both the food, the atmosphere and, in particular, the service. The waitresses were so cute.
We will never forget when our Christmas dinner was interrupted by a show that the 15-20 Philippine waitresses had practised; a coordinated dance to Mariah Carey’s hit “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. So funny and touching at the same time.
On the way to the market at the harbour at General Luna, you can conveniently stop at Miguel’s Taqueria.
In the small hole in the wall, you can get two tacos or a burrito with steak, chicken, fish or without meat for only 100 pesos (~ 2 USD / 1.75 EUR).
The tortilla is homemade and the ingredients are local. On the table, there are two sauces: a spicy green and a sweeter red one.
The first time we visited, we ordered both the vegetarian tacos and a vegetarian burrito.
Burrito number two got ordered before the first was eaten. That’s how good it was.
Before we left Siargao, we could no longer count on one hand how many times we had visited Miguel’s.
Miguel also serves ice-cold beer for 50 pesos (~ 1 USD / 0.9 EUR).
This is a gem you can’t miss on Siargao.
To make a smoothie bowl where appearance and taste truly go together is an art form that Shaka has perfected.
The sweet Filipino women serve bowl after bowl to hungry surfers, and they are all topped with beautiful exotic fruits cut out neatly in different shapes.
Smoothie bowls with such appetizing names as ¡¡Bom Dia !!, Green Out and Bakunawa Bowl are available for 250 pesos (~ 5 USD / 4.5 EUR).
There is also good tea, coffee and juices served at the small café.
We had a healthy and colourful breakfast at Shaka more than once.
A close competitor to Shaka’s smoothie bowls is Arka Hayahay.
We tried their smoothie bowls with dragon fruit, mango, banana and coconut as well as their peanut butter bomb. Yum!
Both were full of flavour, and although the presentation was not as artistic as Shaka’s, the consistency and taste were actually better.
A smoothie bowl costs 290 pesos (~ 6 USD / 5 EUR)
There are also other breakfast and lunch dishes on the menu.
Opposite the street of Arka Hayahay, we got a freshly baked waffle with almond butter for only 100 pesos (~ 2 USD / 1.75 EUR) at Waffle House.
It was big enough to share and the service was swift.
Reef Cut Burger
Reef Cut Burger serves large burgers in a rustic setting.
The place is right next to the small SurFit fitness centre, and in the evenings you can be lucky to hear karaoke from the other side of the street.
There are both vegan and vegetarian options. The price for a burger is 150 pesos (~ 3 USD / 2.5 EUR).
The restaurant associated with Harana Surf Resort is super cosy with lots of pillows and fairy lights.
The menu is primarily Filipino-inspired, but they also serve a few international classics. Among other things, we ordered hummus with veggie-sticks.
The chef seemed creative and detail-oriented, both in terms of ingredients and presentation.
With sand under our feet and romantic lighting, we enjoyed Warung’s Indonesian dishes for dinner.
If you miss Nasi Goreng or want to try Indonesian food for the first time, Warung is just the place.
Warung is affiliated with Siargao Island Villas, which is one of the island’s more upscale places to stay (still at very reasonable prices).
The dishes at Kawayan were slightly fine-dining oriented, and both the quality and price were higher than at some of the competitors.
Pleasure Point Café
On one of General Luna’s gravel roads, you’ll find Pleasure Point Café, which specializes in feel-good breakfasts and desserts aimed at those with a sweet tooth.
The atmosphere was relaxed and we enjoyed hanging out with the mini cats and the cute dog.
Victoria got a good, but slightly different chia porridge with fruit and cashew nuts and Alex ordered pancakes with apple and cinnamon.
They were a little underbaked but the filling tasted terrific.
RAW makes sandwiches and sells a whole range of nice health products.
We tried a combination of hummus and grilled vegetables on their homemade ciabatta. The grilled vegetables were delicious.
You can also buy whole pieces of bread and an assortment of healthy snacks.
Buddha’s Surf Resort Restaurant
If the food had been great, Buddha’s Surf Resort Restaurant could have easily become one of our favourite places to eat on Siargao.
The decor was nice, the menu had plenty of good options, the world’s cutest little cat lived there and the service was prompt and polite.
Unfortunately, the taste of the food just wasn’t amazing.
There was not much Thai over the Pad Thai that clearly lacked lime and tamarind, and the vegetarian summer rolls were a bit boring.
The food at Buddha’s is definitely not bad, and maybe we just hit the wrong day or chose the wrong dishes, but with so many other exciting dining options on Siargao, we can not wholeheartedly recommend the restaurant.
Surfer bread – pan de coco
You can buy freshly baked “surfer bread” from two small coconut-fired ovens at the church and the basketball court in the middle of General Luna.
The small buns with coconut jam in the middle cost only 5 pesos (next to nothing), so there is no excuse to not buy some after a day at the beach.
At Bravo, mainly Spanish and Middle Eastern-inspired food is served.
We ordered a vegetarian roll with hummus and a veggie burger with a hard bun.
For the price, they were both a bit small to be served as main courses.
The desserts were huge, though.
Bravo is beautifully decorated and is one of the few restaurants on the island that accepts credit cards (with a 2.5% fee).
Fantastic and cheap Filipino food
Like all over the Philippines, Siargao’s best food for the price is available at some of the island’s carenderias – small street restaurants where the food sits in pots, pans and metal trays ready to be served and eaten.
If you drive through the main road Tourism Road out of the central part of General Luna, you will find two small market stalls located side by side after a few hundred metres (before the turn).
Both of these also serve food. Alexander’s favourite was the one closest to the city.
Try the sublime coconut soup with jackfruit and their countless other soups and dishes without meat or fish.
Prices are more than fair. A big serving of rice costs 20 pesos (less than half a dollar/euro) and the dishes (order more than one!) cost between 15 and 30 pesos – meaning you’ll get your belly filled up for about 2 USD / 1.75 EUR.
There are several carenderias around. Alexander was also happy with the choices down at the General Luna harbour.
This is a warning: do not eat food from here!
It is a pity that Aventino’s call their frozen dough with bad ingredients for pizza.
The place gives pizza a bad reputation and we can not avoid taking it personally. Instead, eat your pizza at Kermit.
When we arrived on Siargao, we had been away from Denmark for about a month and a half, and it was nice to have access to a small kitchen so that we could cook ourselves.
We bought groceries like rice, pasta and tomato sauce from one of General Luna’s three supermarkets, and got fresh fruit and vegetables from the market stalls on the main road and at the market by the harbour.
Even if you do not have access to a kitchen, you have to buy fresh mangoes and bananas. They taste heavenly!
Where to stay on Siargao
Two weeks in a private villa
We lived west of General Luna in a private villa for two weeks on Siargao, which we rented quite cheaply through Airbnb.
The hosts Zuss and Sean were lovely and helped with our scooter rental, tour planning and even booked a table for us at Kermit on Christmas Eve.
Siargao Island Villas
With a private beach, a small garden and beautifully decorated rooms, Siargao Island Villas is luxury at reasonable prices.
We have found prices per night for a double room at about 104 USD / 94 EUR per night.
The cosy Indonesian restaurant, Warung, belongs to the hotel and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
The villas must be booked well in advance if you want to make sure you stay with a view of the water.
Luxury: Siargao Bleu Resort and Spa
Siargao Bleu Resort And Spa is Siargao’s best real luxury resort.
With a private beach, hot pool, great villas and top quality service, the perfect vacation is almost secured.
Price-wise, we’re talking about 210 USD / 189 EUR per night for a double room.
Value for money: Ocean 101 Beach Resort
With great rooms, a green garden and a good location close to the ocean and Cloud 9, Ocean 101 Beach Resort is a really nice place to stay if you’re looking for value for money.
Prices for a double room are approximately 50 USD / 45 EUR per night.
Budget: Point 303 Surf Resort
The rooms at Point 303 Surf Resort are sparsely decorated, but the hotel looks fine – especially considering that prices are as low as 20 USD / 17 EUR per night for a double room.
The location just opposite Cloud 9 is perfect if you want to surf – but also to be close to lots of restaurants.
The rest of General Luna is only a short scooter ride from here.
Kermit Surf Resort
Our first choice was to get a bungalow at Kermit, but they were, unfortunately, sold out several months in advance.
If you plan to travel in the high season, it is necessary to book far in advance.
Kermit’s cabins are beautiful and their lovely restaurant is just a few metres away.
There are daily organised trips to Siargao’s attractions (like Magpupungko Rock Pools) and as Kermit is, in essence, a surf resort, there are also organized surfing trips with instructors and surfboard rentals.
Harana Surf Resort
If you live at Harana Surf Resort, you are almost guaranteed a nice stay on Siargao.
The beautiful villas are set among palm trees and come with A/C, a porch and hot water.
At the surf school, you can take anything from 1 to 9-day surfing classes, and a special 7-day package combines surfing and yoga.
Our budget and typical prices on Siargao
Prices for accommodation on Siargao swing between dorm rooms for 7.5 USD / 6.5 EUR per night and luxury villas and resorts that cost more than 225 USD / 200 EUR per night.
We paid 26 USD / 23 EUR per night for our villa, which we rented for 13 days.
Main courses at restaurants generally cost between 100 and 300 pesos (~ 2 to 6 USD / 1.75 to 5 EUR).
Renting a scooter will probably run you about 7 USD / 6 EUR per day.
All in all, we spent around 858 USD / 770 EUR in 13 days on Siargao – which included accommodation, all meals, massages, water, a one-week fitness membership, scooter rental, gasoline and a private boat trip. Flights to and from the island are not included.
So we used what amounts to about 33 USD / 30 EUR per person per day.
Budget and prices are from December 2017 and January 2018.
How to get around Siargao
Flying into the Philippines
The Philippines’ two main international airports are in Manila, the capital, and in Cebu, further south.
There are onwards domestic flights from both Manila and Cebu to Siargao.
Cebu is closer to Siargao but check the flights and prices first to see which airport makes the most sense to you and your itinerary.
From Manila or Cebu to Siargao
South East Asian Airlines, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific all fly from Manila to Sayak Airport on Siargao.
Many planes go over Cebu.
Quite a few flights to Siargao end up getting cancelled due to bad weather.
Therefore, we recommend that you add in the possibility of being delayed hours or even a day or two into your itinerary if you are to catch an international flight after visiting Siargao.
Our flights from Cebu to Siargao were cancelled due to the weather, but luckily we were already given seats on a plane the next morning.
From Siargao’s airport to General Luna
Outside the small airport on Siargao, you’ll see that there are a few drivers standing-by to drive people to their hotels.
Our hosts had arranged that we were picked up in a van together with a couple of others and we paid 300 pesos per person (~ 6 USD / 5 EUR) to be driven to the door.
Renting a scooter on Siargao
We rented a scooter throughout our stay on Siargao, which made our lives on the island far easier and a lot more fun.
If you live centrally in General Luna and expect to jump on organized tours, you may not need to drive a scooter, but if want some more mobility, we can really recommend renting one.
We rented the scooter through our hosts Zuss and Sean for 4,200 pesos (~ 82 USD / 74 EUR) for 12 days, which makes the price per day 350 pesos (~ 7 USD / 6 EUR).
The three-wheeled Binggos seems to be a fun alternative to the scooters.
Best tips for visiting Siargao
- The electrical outlets on Siargao are of type A, B and C and generally feature the flat prongs of USA and Japan or the two round prongs, fitting both most European and Asian appliances. The standard voltage is 220 volts.
- The power will probably go out. Don’t panic, it will soon be back on.
- Wifi is neither stable nor fast. Buying a local SIM-card with 3G can help, but if you work online, you can expect to get a bit frustrated. Some places have much better connections than others, so if fast wifi is important to you, shop around.
- Credit cards are mostly used at upscale places, so you’ll need to carry cash for most restaurants, shops and services. Working ATMs are possible to find around the island, especially in Dapa.
- Have change and smaller bills on you. Many places ask for a small entrance or parking fee.
- Be sure to book your accommodation well in advance if you’re travelling in the high season.
- The sun is strong. Apart from clothes and shade, we use this eco-friendly sunscreen.
- Make sure to bring a good camera! Here’s our guide to lightweight photography gear for high-quality travel content.
Thanks for reading
After almost two months in the Philippines, we reached the conclusion that the Philippines is one of the world’s best travel countries for beach lovers. And divers. And backpackers. And probably most travellers that are keen on an exotic, safe and cheap adventure.
Thank you for reading this guide to Siargao!
Let us finally know what you think in the comments below, and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask away.