SIARGAO ISLAND: A PRACTICAL TRAVEL GUIDE FOR DIY & BUDGET TRAVELERS [UPDATED as of 2021]

Note: As a precautionary measure in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, it is best to check with the authorities the updated travel requirements and possible restrictions that might affect your travel plan. Contact Siargao Tourism office at ptcosdn@gmail.com or at +63 963 890 6838, +63 927 281 8555 to know the latest update.

Remember to always follow the health and safety protocols imposed from your travel origin to your destination. I wish you a safe trip ahead!

Traveling to Siargao Island for the first time? This detailed DIY travel guide is exactly what you need. Scroll down and take note of the outlined information from sample itinerary and budget, best places to visit, top things to do, recommended tours and transports, budget-friendly accommodations, and other travel tips. Have a fun and enjoyable trip ahead!

START HERE!

SIARGAO AT A GLANCE

I heard the instructor’s go signal and found myself paddling with my arms swiftly sliding to the water and back to the surface again and again. I pulled myself up as the long wave moved towards the tip of the surfboard pushing it face down. I felt the force that’s attempting to throw me out to the shores. I breathed, quickly brought my right foot forward unto the board and the other steady, then lifted my arms wide to find my balance. I reckoned it was a good pop! And so there I was dancing, swerving through the waves under a bright, sunny sky.

Sargao Surfing
My first surfing experience in Siargao.

Welcome to the surfing mecca of the Philippines, SIARGAO!

Situated in the province of Surigao del Norte in Mindanao, this teardrop-shaped island which stretches for about 437 square kilometers has long been the go-to destination for surfing in the Philippines. It started in 1980s with the discovery of a break at Tuason point that is constantly having a battering relationship with the ginormous Pacific Ocean resulting to powerful, big waves. The place was too good of a discovery that the surfers called it Cloud 9. Words spread out like traveling long waves, and thus now making Siargao one of the running frontiers in tourism in the country.

Club Tara in Bucas Grande
Club Tara in Bucas Grande.

Apart from surfing, Siargao also has a collection of unique waterfront attractions that draw interest to non-surfers. There is the white, powdery sands of Daku, Guyam and Naked islands; the scenic rock formation and natural tidal pool of Magpupungko; and the enigmatic thoroughfares and verdant islets of Sohoton cove, just to name a few.

WHERE TO STAY IN SIARGAO

When it comes to accommodation in Siargao, any place in General Luna is where you want to be for its close proximity to most of the attractions in the island including the surfing spots near Cloud 9 boardwalk. The public market to buy food items and Mama’s grill if you opt for a quick meal are also only a ride away.

Here are the best properties you can find in General Luna:

MAD MONKEY HOSTEL
– entire dormitory for 6 persons is priced at P2,400+, other dorm rooms is priced at P400-P700 per person
– fun and hip vibe, an ideal place for socials
Click the photo to book or check for more details.
PRIVATE BUNGALOW
– a bungalow good for 4 persons is priced at around P1,400+
– has free access to WiFi
– has functional kitchen
Click the photo to book or check for more details.
VALERIA’S VILLA
– private villa for 4 persons is priced at around P1,700+
– has access to WiFi
Click the photo to book or check for more details.

Other top-value accommodations in General Luna for solo or traveling couple. (Click the link to book or check for more details.)

Club Tara offers a unique accommodation at the heart of Bucas Grande where Sohoton cove is situated. Click the photo for rate and availability.
Club Tara
The beautiful row houses of Club Tara. Click the photo below for rate and availability.

HOW TO GET TO SIARGAO

By Air (Direct Flight)

Among the local destinations, only Manila and Cebu have a direct flight to Siargao at Sayak airport. CebuPacific airline flies from both destinations while Skyjet only offers a direct flight from Manila and Philippine Airlines (PAL) only from Cebu.

Once at Sayak airport, take a public van for P150 or a tricycle or motorcycle for P500 for 2 to 3 persons to General Luna. Travel time is about 45 minutes.

horse shoe rock
The horse shoe rock on the way to Sohoton Cove.

By Air + Sea

Another option is to fly to Surigao del Norte if you are from Manila, Cebu or Ozamiz City. At the airport, take a tricycle or multicab (small light truck) to the port. Take note that there are two separate ports in Surigao. One offers an outrigger boat and the other port has RORO ferry to take you to Dapa port in Siargao. Fare is P260, travel time is 3 hours. Daily trips are available as early as 6:00 a.m. until noon.

At Dapa port, charter a tricycle for P250 good for 4 persons or motorcycle for P200 suitable for 2 persons to take you to General Luna. If you are on a budget, walk ahead to the nearby tricycle terminal beside the market. Fare to General Luna is P30 per person.

Surigao del Norte can also be reached by ferry from Cebu through Cokaliong Shipping Line or Medallion Transport.

By Air + Land + Sea

This can be time consuming but you may take a direct flight to Davao, Cagayan de Oro or Butuan then ride a bus to any of the ports in Surigao del Norte before heading out to Dapa port in Siargao on an outrigger boat or RORO ferry.

General Luna Boulevard Boardwalk
The boardwalk at General Luna boulevard. A school of stingless jellyfish can be found near the area.

BEST TOURIST SPOTS IN SIARGAO

Here are top nine (9) tourist spots that you can cover in a day tour or with an itinerary for 2 to 5 days while in and near Siargao.

CLOUD 9 BOARDWALK

Cloud 9 Boardwalk

The beating heart of Siargao, Cloud 9 is where all surfers of different races and backgrounds meet. It’s a long, serpentine, wooden walkway that takes you to the sea. At the end of the boardwalk is a wooden tower where you can freely watch surfers race against the waves. At sundown, the tower makes for a perfect spot to watch the sun as it sets during the golden hour.  Getting to Cloud 9 would only take a few walk if you are around General Luna.

Rating: 4/5

SUGBA LAGOON

Sugba Lagoon is a vast oasis of calm, emerald waters at the town of Del Carmen, one hour away from General Luna. To get there, you can either charter a boat in General Luna for P1,500 good for 6 persons or drive to Del Carmen tourism office where you can hire a boat to the lagoon for P1,500 good for 6 persons. Entrance fee is P100.

Sugba Lagoon

Jumping off to the water on a springboard is a top activity while here. If it’s not a part in your bucket list, try out their paddle board activity for a fee of P200 per hour. The lagoon might get too crowded so come here as early as 8:00 a.m. to fully own the place.

Rating: 3/5

NAKED ISLAND

Naked Island

Naked Island is a sandbar with nothing else except a soft, creamy white, fine sands. From this side of the world, the sun is totally unobstructed which makes for the right place to get a perfect tan.

Rating: 3/5

DAKU ISLAND

Daku Island

Daku or “big” in the local dialect, is another surfing spot suitable for novice for its easy waves. Like the other two islands, Daku possesses a clear, warm water and powdery, white sands perfect for swimming, snorkeling and beach bumming. There are available huts in the island for P300.  Entrance fee is P100.

Rating: 3/5

GUYAM ISLAND

The island is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get type. It easily bares all its glorious properties as you see it. Because of its smallness in size, the island can be fully covered by just walking around in few minutes.

Guyam Island

Guyam island owns a cluster of beautifully arranged palm trees at the center surrounded by a beach of powdery, white sands on the one side and a coarse rock bed on the other. Entrance fee is P30. Spend the night in the island in a cottage to catch the beautiful sunrise the following day.

Rating: 3/5

MAGPUPUNGKO TIDAL POOL

Magpupungko Tidal Pool

Cliff jump on its beautiful rock formation or swim in its natural pool of clear turquoise water, Magpupungko is an attraction to behold which only shows up on a low tide for 2 to 3 hours. Charter a tricycle or motorcycle to get here from any place in General Luna for a fare of P500. Travel time is close to 45 minutes. Entrance fee is P50.

Rating: 4/5

TAKTAK FALLS

Taktak Falls n Siargao

Reported as the only waterfall in Siargao, Taktak falls is a spring-fed body of water with a spread out cascade leading to a shallow catch basin. To get there, drive further north past Magpupungko to Sta. Monica and take a left turn from the highway to a walking distance that goes to the falls. Entrance fee is P25.

Rating: 2.5/5

SOHOTON COVE

Sohoton Cove

A network of lush green promontories enclosed by white sands and clear, blue waters – Sohoton cove has all the right elements to evoke a wondrous goodness of a tropical paradise. It is located inside Bucas Grande, a group of maze-like nearby islets from Siargao which can be reached by boat from General Luna in 2 hours. Once in Bucas Grande, you will have to charter a small boat to go to Sohoton. Take note that the way in and out is through a cave which is passable only during low tide. There are several fees that will be collected in your visit to Sohoton.

Rating: 4/5

JELLYFISH SANCTUARY (TOJOMAN LAGOON)

Stingless Jellyfish in Siargao

The Tojoman lagoon or locally known as Malubog lagoon because of its water overcast, is home to the non-sting brown jellyfish and is one of the major attractions inside Bucas Grande. Getting here is a usual route in an arranged Bucas Grande tour. A paddler is required while at the sanctuary which cost for P100. Sadly, guests are no longer permitted to swim in the lagoon to avoid the jellyfish being harmed.

Rating: 3/5

TOP THINGS TO DO IN SIARGAO

Here are the top things to do and activities that are worth a try in Siargao.

Surfing in Siargao
A local surfing with his kid on his back.
  1. Go Surfing! Siargao is the surfing capital of the Philippines for a reason. Whether advanced or inexperienced, a trip to Siargao is not complete without it. If the rocky seabed of Cloud 9 is too harsh for you, go to Daku island. It has fine sands and gentle waves to suit your first surfing experience.
  2. Get your perfect tan and go on an island hopping. The islands of Naked, Daku and Guyam are some of the Philippines’ finest. Start your trip to Naked island and freely bare it all (I’m talking about your worries hehe), before proceeding to Daku where you can trade smiles to the friendly fishing community. Cap off your island hopping experience by gracing on a beautiful sunset at Guyam island. The whole day tour would only cost for about P1,500 good for 6 persons.
  3. Experience Bucas Grande! It is costly but definitely worth every dime. Marvel at the beautiful work of nature in Sohoton cove. Enjoy the spotted sting-less jellyfish sanctuary. Swim in the bio-luminescent water inside Hagukan cave. Jump off a 5-meter platform outside Magkukuob Cave. Chill at the low-key resort of Club Tara. There is too much to do while here that you simply cannot miss out!
  4. Cliff jump at Magpupungko Tidal Pool. Feel the adrenaline rush on a 20-feet jump off that will take you deep into its tidal pool.
  5. Taste the spicy melon cocktail and sumptuous pizza of Kermit.
  6. Go on a night party! The night life in Siargao is vibrant. Head out to Rumbar, Viento Del Mar, Jungle Disco, Pagoda or Kermit Surf resort to experience the best party that Siargao can offer.
  7. Tag along with Siargao Environmental Awareness (SEA) Movement and help out in cleaning the beaches of Siargao.
  8. Watch the flock of birds hovering the seas of Bucas Grande.
  9. Catch the beautiful hues of the sunrise and sunset at Cloud 9 boardwalk in General Luna.
Sunset at Cloud 9 boardwalk.
Sunset at Cloud 9 boardwalk.

SIARGAO RECOMMENDED TOURS

All of these tours are powered by Klook. Click each link to book or check for itinerary and other details.

SIARGAO SAMPLE ITINERARY & BUDGET

You can enjoy Siargao by just surfing, going to the beach, partying at night, trading stories with locals and other travelers, and lying flat under a palm tree while reading a book which will save up your travel expenses a lot. But if you insist on going around the top attractions in the island and its neighboring shores which can be costly, here is a sample Siargao DIY itinerary to help you. It is good for 4 days and 3 nights, assumes a party of two and will set back a budget of P7,125.00+ per person, excluding expenses for accommodation, souvenir and other incidentals.

A flock of birds on our exit from Bucas Grande.
A flock of birds on our exit from Bucas Grande.

Tips for this Siargao DIY itinerary:

  1. Go to Magpupungko and Sohoton Cove on a low tide only. Check the tide times ahead and consider your travel time when creating your itinerary.
  2. On your tri-island hopping, bring some food items and ask any local in the island to cook for you for a certain fee to save up.
  3. Pack some lunch and snacks on your Sugba Lagoon and Sohoton Cove tour. Food items in the area are steep in the price.
  4. The estimated budget can still be reduced if you travel in group.

Siargao Standard Rental and Tour Rates:

  1. Surfboard rental only costs P300 per hour, with instructor costs P500 per hour.
  2. Tricycle rental with driver costs P2,000 per day, with a capacity of 5 persons.
  3. Motorbike rental with driver costs P1,000 per day, with a capacity of 2 persons.
  4. Van or SUV rental with driver costs P2,000 per day, with a capacity of 10 persons.
  5. Bike and motorbike rental (without driver) ranges from P300 to P500 depending on the number of days you are renting.
  6. Tri-island hopping tour for Guyam, Daku and Naked costs for about P1,500 for 6 persons.
  7. Tri-island hopping tour with Bucas Grande (Sohoton Cove) from General Luna costs P5,000 for 6 persons.
  8. Chartered boat to Sugba Lagoon at the tourism office in Del Carmen or in General Luna costs around P1,600 for 6 persons. The cost includes lunch for some tour operators.
Kermit Surf Resort and Restaurant
Kermit Surf Resort and Restaurant

Additional Fees per Siargao Attraction (excluded in the rates cited above):

Magpupungko

  • Entrance Fee: P50

Tri-Island Hopping: Naked, Guyam and Daku islands

  • Daku Island Entrance Fee: P100
  • Daku Island Docking Fee: P100
  • Guyam Island Entrance Fee: P30
  • Cottage: P300

Sugba Lagoon

  • Entrance Fee – P50 for local, P100 for foreigner
  • Paddle Board Rental: P200 per hour
  • Kayak Rental: P200 per hour
  • Snorkel Gear – P200

Sohoton Cove

  • Entrance Fee: P50 for locals, P100 for foreigners
  • Environmental Fee: P50
  • Docking fee per boat: P100
  • Boat for Sohoton: P500, good for 6 persons
  • Guide Fee: P330 for 2 guides (2 guides per boat is a requirement)
  • Safety Gear: P40

Jellyfish Sanctuary Tojoman Lagoon

  • Paddler: P100
Another shot of Club Tara in Bucas Grande (Socorro).
Another shot of Club Tara in Bucas Grande (Socorro).

Siargao Rental and Tour Contact Persons: 

Here are some persons that you can contact in Siargao to arrange a tour or transport:

  • Tricycle drivers in Siargao:  Rence +63 907 976 8198, Jun +63 909 794 3128, Romeo +63 915 858 1654
  • Multicab driver in Siargao: Lolong +63 912 270 8159
  • Boatmen for island hopping and Bucas Grande Tour: Pokil +63 930 253 9203, Oliver +63 919 787 1825
  • Land + island hopping tour guide: Loyding +63 905 605 4600,
  • Kermit Resort and Smiling Pig Hostel also arrange an island tour for P750 and P650 per person respectively.
  • Ivy of Cavy’s Homestay offers accommodation and tour package depending on your time of stay. Rate per person is P3,000 for a 4-day and 3-night stay, including a tour for 2 days, entrance fees, breakfast, lunch and transportation for the tour and to and fro the airport. Contact Ivy at +63 907 935 8594
General Luna beach
Pacifico beach and surfing spot, an hour away from Cloud 9 boardwalk in General Luna.

The sample Siargao itinerary below can be shortened to 2 or 3 days, depending on your length of stay.

DAY ONE (budget per person: P1,625)

ActivityTimeBudget
Arrive in Siargao9:00AM
To General Luna10:00AMP75
Lunch12:00PMP200
Land Tour1:00PMP1,000
Magpupungko Tidal PoolP50
Taktak Falls
Tayangban CaveP100
Back to General Luna4:00PM
Freshen Up5:00PM
Sunset at Cloud 96:00PM
Dinner and Socials at Kermit7:00PMP200

DAY TWO (budget per person: P3,100)

ActivityTimeBudget
Breakfast7:00AMP100
Tri-Island and Bucas GrandeP2,000
To Bucas Grande8:00AM
Bucas Grande Tour10:00AM
Sohoton CoveP500
Jellyfish SanctuaryP100
Hagukan cave
Magkukuob Cave
Club TaraP20
Crystal Cave
Tri-Island Hopping2:00PMP50
Naked Island
Daku IslandP100
Guyam IslandP30
Back to General Luna5:00PM
Dinner6:00PMP200
Lights Out!
The tidal pool of Magpupungko.
The tidal pool of Magpupungko.

DAY THREE (budget per person: P1,700)

ActivityTimeBudget
Breakfast07:00AMP100
To Sugba Lagoon8:00AMP800
Enjoy Sugba Lagoon9:30AMP100
Lunch12:00PM
Back to General Luna1:30PM
Chill2:30PM
Surfing4:00PMP500
Sunset at Cloud 96:00PM
Dinner7:00PMP200

DAY FOUR (budget per person: P700)

ActivityTimeBudget
Breakfast07:00AMP100
Surfing8:00AMP500
Freshen Up10:00AMP100
Check out and Depart11:00AM
Sunset in General Luna
Sunset in General Luna.

QUICK FACTS AND TIPS ABOUT SIARGAO

Here are few facts and tips to consider when traveling around Siargao and its nearby islands.

  1. Even with its rising popularity, Siargao has maintained its backpacker atmosphere; keeping the place simple, laid back and rustic with only a soft touch of modernization. Coconut groves are a typical sight in the area.
  2. Public motorcycle and tricycle are the only means of transport to get around the island. Minimum fare for short distance travel is P10. 
  3. Transportation is scarce at night. If you want to go around, rent a bike or schedule a pickup with a motorcycle driver. Note that fare in the evening might surge.
  4. Surfing is all-year round but the best time to visit is during the months of September and October when the waves are at its most suitable state for surfing.
  5. The International and National Surfing Cup is held during September at Cloud 9, near the boardwalk, which is considered as the peak season. During this time, accommodations are mostly fully booked; travelers are advised to arrange accommodation ahead.
  6. The waves in Cloud 9 are big and rough. If you are an inexperienced surfer, it is highly advised to hire an instructor for a fee of P300. Please note that surfing instructors are required of a Siargao Island Surfing Association (SISA) ID. Any instructor with no ID can’t teach surfing.
  7. The seabed in most of the surfing areas are rocky. Expect small scratches when you fall down as you surf.
  8. While in the island, it is best to bring a health kit. Take extra careful in your trip as there is only one major hospital in the island and may not be readily available for complicated operations.
  9. Take note of the tide times. Magpupungko and Sohoton Cove are best visited and much safer during low tide.
  10. When it comes to food, the island has limited choices unless you are in a major hotel. Most restaurants open only during meal time (lunch and dinner only) and shut down operations not later than 9:00 p.m. Also, food is a bit pricey for most of the restaurants; if you are on a tight budget, go to Mama’s Grill.  But to really save up, you can buy food items at the market and cook them at your accommodation if it is allowed.
  11. The island is still lightly explored by tourists, hang out with locals to know more information, tips and special events.
  12.  Avoid haggling with tour operators. The best way to save is to tour in group. Join or invite other travelers if you are traveling solo.
  13. Parties at night are all over the island. The best local parties happen every Friday, feel free to ask the locals for details.
  14. Stack up some cash as there are only 3 ATMs in the island. One at the airport and the other 2 at Dapa port. These ATMs do not accept foreign cards.
  15. Mobile and internet connectivity are average in most of the areas. The more popular choice around the island is SMART cellular. Ocean 101 is near a SMART tower and might be the best place to stay if you heavily rely on internet connection.

USEFUL PHRASES

English is widely understood in Siargao, but in case you want to speak the local tongue, here are phrases that proved to be useful.

English to Siargaonon (which has a direct link to Cebuano language)
Thank You – Salamat
Good Morning – Maayong buntag
Good Afternoon – Maayong hapon
Good Evening – Maayong duyum
How are you? – Kumusta na kaw?
Where is… – Diin ang…

Sohoton Cove
Sohoton Cove

MY TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS IN SIARGAO

What I like?

Before I headed out to Baler and La Union, Siargao was the first place where I tried surfing so it goes without saying that it occupies a special place in my travel memoir. Surfing around Cloud 9 was challenging given its big waves and rough seabeds, but tempting enough to take up your courage and dance with the waves.

Apart from it, I also love the community that is built around Siargao, with both locals and tourists. The vibe is downright of an authentic tropical paradise, no pretense and touch of commercialism.

I also would want to mention that the afternoons here were perfect for me-time. I can remember spending most of it alone, reading under the breezy shade of palm trees.

What I don’t like?

The only concern I had with my Siargao travel was the outrigger boat we chartered to get to and away Sohoton cove from General Luna which seemed weak to withstand the rough seas. Hopefully, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) would look into it and impose certain regulations for local guides, like what is recently done in Balabac, Palawan.

MEET THE BLOGGER

Leaning on our boat at Punta Sibaring 1. This photo was taken during a high tide.

Hey there! I’m Ker, The Fun-sized Traveller. Fun-size because I’m a short guy from the Philippines. Thanks for checking out this virtual block I have started building since my 30th birthday to document my 2nd quarter life. Yup, it’s more of a personal pursuit, but a part of me also wants to give back to the travel community that is why I make it a point to share travel articles out from my trips around Asia.

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