In the Sun-kissed country of the Philippines, there are many options for your travel destinations. One that is rising among tourists and travelers alike is the island of Siargao. The island has definitely been a destination for surfers including international travelers chasing the endless summer and surfing around the world. Backpackers have also been frequent visitors to this island. With social media so prominent in our society, the rest of the world has slowly been watching and admiring the beauty of Siargao. Yes, it’s also how I discovered the island as well. I also befriended a fellow travel blogger who lived most of her life here and was a great source of knowledge when I created my itinerary. Siargao is a rising travel destination and needs to work on its infrastructure. The roads are narrow and tours can be difficult to book ahead of time, its not as easy as more established locations. If you want to go on an island hopping tour, you have to make your way to the pier and negotiate with a handler who is affiliated with a boat and boat captain. If you’re traveling alone or as a couple and want to join a group to divide the cost, you’ll have to politely ask other tourists if they would like to share a boat with you. I’m sure the tour companies will eventually link all the parties together and make it easier to travel within the island like the more popular destination of Boracay, El Nido, and Coron. My advise, use your hotel staff for help. The front desk staff at my hotel went out of there way to acquire the tours I wanted. There are small entrance fees to most destination and attractions mostly in the 50 to 100 pesos range ( under $1 to $2 US Dollars). With the disclaimer out of the way let me show you the beauty of the island.
If you don’t rent a vehicle during your visit, the best way to see the island is via the Inland Tour. Again, as a solo traveler, and unable to connect with others for a shared tour, I had the choice of paying 5,000 pesos (almost $100 US dollars) or pay 1,700 pesos ($32) for a tuk tuk, a tricycle. I wondered how safe a tricycle would be and came to the realization that itwould be fine. They don’t drive fast here and majority of the vehicles are scooters and tricycles so it should be fine. The Binggo tuk tuk did just fine.
The day started early. The driver picked me up at 8 a.m. My hotel was just a mile away from the famed Cloud 9 which is the center of surfing for the Philippines and has been the main draw for the island. It wasn’t part of the tour but since this was a private tour I requested that we visit Cloud 9 first. Within minutes, we were there and I made my way to the famed viewing platform.
The surfers had to use the long walk way to the platform to get passed the reef and enjoy the waves. Surfing classed were offered at the neighboring beach but my day was already filled with activities. I didn’t have time for the classes, maybe on another day. I spent only 30 minutes here, just taking photos and just getting the feel of the place since I had planned to visit on another day.
The next stop would be a roadside photo opportunity that overlooked coconut and palm trees. You can’t miss the Maasin mountain viewing overlook, just look for all the scooters and tourists beside the highway.
The next stop should have been the Maasin River with Instagram famous coconut rope swing over the river. Unfortunately, it was too crowded so I asked the driver to move on to the next stop. Tayangban Cave would be the next stop. It’s a short 15 to 20 minute hike through a cave with a portion of it in chest deep water. The hike is in complete darkness with the guides flashlight the only source of illumination. The rocks can be slippery and there are bats that live in the cave so this hike may not be for everyone. For those who do the hike, they can do a refreshing jump off a boulder into a clear pool at the end of the trail.
The coast was now experiencing the low tide portion of the day so we made our way to the Magpupungko Rock Pools. I made my way down to the beach and to my left, I could see the rocks. It wasn’t anything spectacular. I made my way down and approached the pools and the closer I got, the more beautiful it became. There were multiple pools with one large pool where most of the people congregated. One could also climb up to a rock and jump into the pool. I continued walking looking for a more private pool and once I passed a large rock, there were additional rock pools on the other side. One sole person, a man, was in one of them but the rest were empty.
I chose a pool and walked right in. Here, I stayed for over an hour. I swimming in solitude and just sitting and watching the tide in the distance. For this time, I was at peace. I had no care in the world. The experience left me speechless. Only armed with my GoPro, I had to go to the beach and get my camera to capture this spectacular rock formation. I also spent some time at the large pool watching people jump off the rock. Before you now it, I had been here for almost 2 hours. I knew I couldn’t stay here all day, as the tide would eventually come back and cover the pools, but I wished could. The rock pools exceeded my lofty expectations and I had to force myself back to the parking lot to move on to the next location.
The last location of the day would be Sugba Lagoon. The lagoon can only be accessed by boat so my driver drove me to the harbor where I could acquire one. The office was closed for lunch and it was a great time for me to have lunch as well. While I was having lunch, my driver had approached the other tourists, who were waiting for the boat office to open as well, and he asked if I could join their group to share the cost. Everyone had there max of six people already accounted for. I was prepared to pay the fare of 1600 pesos for the boat. While I was eating, there was a couple at the next table who had noticed I was alone. After they finished, they went to the boat office to see if it was open yet and spoke to the others who they had joined to split the fare. I became the topic of their conversation and they quickly decided they would offer to share the boat with me. I was amazed that they wanted to do this. We got permission to have seven, instead of six, people on the boat. We split the fare and I had someone to interact with, that was more important. After maybe a 15 to 20 minute boat ride, we were at Sugba Lagoon which was surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters. You can just sit in the warm water, swim, kayak, or paddle board. But, the biggest draw is the high platform from which you can dive from, or, jump as would chose to do.
With my new found friends, we took turns jumping from the platform. Most of us did it twice and then I spent the rest of the time swimming and just sitting in the water.
It was now late afternoon and our time here was coming to an end. It was time to board the boat and then the tuk tuk for the ride back to the hotel. The day couldn’t have been anymore perfect. It was sensory overload and my desire for discovery was fulfilled. Siargao was much more than just a surfing destination but an extraordinary island filled with wonder.