By Terence Repelente
Images by Donald Tapan and Louise Santiano
Video by Clarence Rivera
Found west of Surigao Del Norte, approximately 800 kilometers far from the busy streets of Manila, is the country’s own Tahiti. A teardrop-shaped island, which appears like it had been snatched from Polynesia, then shipped from across the Pacific Ocean, like a gift from the gods. And it probably was. The entire island of Siargao, from its unspoiled natural architecture to its rich local culture, is an art only the hands of a deity could create. It is nothing short of heaven.
On the small island, your heart can find whatever it desires. At the end of every street awaits the sea. The turquoise lining of the beaches divide the water from the fine sand. The island sings the quietness of peace, softly screeches the faraway echoes of motorcycles and boat engines, and whispers the striking of waves. Within its tiny stretch of 437 square kilometers, which could be circled in no less than a couple of hours using a motorcycle, Siargao is a paradise gleaming with immense pleasure and promise.
Surfers cross the wooden boardwalk of Cloud 9
A long boardwalk that leads to a three-floor viewing deck
The two-faced island of Guyam
The enchanting tidal pools of Magpupungko
A local surfing coach assisting his student to the surfing point at Cloud 9
Relaxation huts of Daku
The magical Sugba lagoon
Surfing is the main attraction in Siargao. It is, after all, the surfing capital of the Philippines. Its most famous surfing spot (the best in the country and top eight in the world), which can be found at the edge of General Luna, is Cloud 9. Whether you’re a surfer or not, this place is almost impossible not to love. On the beach, a line of motorcycles with customized steel surfboard holders are planted in the sand. At the clear water, local surfing coaches dragging their surfboard-planked students to the surfing point. Above them, a long boardwalk that rests on limestone leads to a three-floor wooden viewing deck. Here, everyone is given a glimpse of what Siargao truly is, an excessive beauty of both nature and mankind. The gushing breath exhaled by the Pacific Ocean and the half-naked bodies dancing with six-foot waves is the usual afternoon sight.
At the last quarter of the year, around September or October, people from all parts of the country and the world flock in Siargao, specifically at Cloud 9. It is the time when waves grow even larger and scream in need of the surfers to dance with them. This is the mark of the eagerly awaited season of surfing.
Magpupungko Tidal Pools
One of the most visited natural attractions in Siargao, Magpupungko offers an entirely different experience. The first thing you’ll notice is the aquamarine water inviting you to take a dip. And like the song of a siren, you’ll immediately fall under its enchantment. The pools are calm and clear, almost like a motionless glass mirror and, just meters away, the ravaging waves. Keeping the divide is a rich reef barrier. Fish and other marine life flourish within the pools, which make it a perfect spot for snorkeling.
In the background, massive naturally carved rocks are perfectly placed against each other and seated above one another. Pungko in Visayan means to sit. Hence, the name. The warm pools have enough depth to allow people to jump from the surrounding gigantic rocks. Accessible by boat or road, this spot is a 45-minute ride from General Luna.
I’ve never been to a place more serene than the Sugba lagoon. This 4,000-hectare sanctuary is 30 minutes away from Del Carmen. The biggest and most diverse mangrove system in the Philippines will be seen on the way via pump boat. Nearing it, you’ll notice the transformation of the water as it progressively goes brighter and clearer. Surrounded by limestone hills dressed in green vegetation, the lagoon opens to the sky like a mouth with a turquoise tongue. Here, you can dive and snorkel within the lagoon’s magical depths or rent a paddle board and skid through the mystical mangrove forest. Standing at the lagoon is a two-floor deck, with a roof that matches the color of the water, perfect for appreciating the sight, drinking beer, and dining.
Scattered around Siargao are islands worth the time and effort to hop to. One of them is the Naked Island. It is exactly what its name implies—a barren strip of white sand in the middle of the sea. Guyam, on the other hand, is an island with a volume of palm trees and other vegetation. It is an uninhabited two-faced island, which is rocky on one side and sandy on the other. Most of the island hopping tours start with Guyam and Naked Island, where tourists can rest and witness the sunset. But if you want an overnight stay on one of Siargao’s islands, Daku is the place for you. On offer are huts and shanties for tourists, who want to experience spending the night there. This is also the perfect island to stay on for a while, eat fresh seafood, drink coconut juice, and just let time pass you by.
When are you going?
Siargao is definitely a national treasure. Everyone, especially Filipinos, should experience the special kind of joy it evokes. Luckily, it’s now pretty accessible. SkyJet Airlines offers a direct flight from Manila to Sayak airport in Siargao, via an 80-seater, four-engine British Aerospace 146-100 jet. This is one of the convenient ways to travel, explore, and experience new adventures that Siargao has to offer.
“We are not just selling the experience. Flying with SkyJet is a lifestyle,” said Dino Reyes-Chua, president of SkyJet Airlines.