Surfing Siargao: Ocean Ecstasy In The Philippines

Siargao Island Surfing

Surfing in the Philippines

Siargao Island, Philippines

I’m paddling away from a four foot wall of crystal blue water, rising up from the ocean and bearing down on my position. I feel a push as it catches my board, faster & faster.

In one quick motion I hop up in a crouch, knees bent, feet wide, arms out, pointing right as the peak of the wave begins to crash & churn on my left.

Dragging my right hand through the water as I race down its face to freedom.

If I had to describe surfing to someone, it would include the word ecstasy.

Surfing In The Philippines

Welcome to Siargao, a tropical island paradise known for its surfing in the Pearl of the Orient Seas. Its just one small island among the 7000 that make up the Philippines.

Yet Siargao boasts a unique mix of excellent surfing, relaxed vibes, deserted beaches, warm water, and a practically unlimited supply of fresh coconuts.

If you’re a surfer, or want to learn, you really need to visit Siargao.

I spent 3 weeks exploring this little slice of heaven and didn’t want to leave. That’s how incredible the island is!

General Luna Siargao

General Luna, Siargao

Siargao Island Paradise

Where is Siargao Island? It’s located in the South East of the country. They have a small airport that you can fly into from Cebu, or another option is the 3 hour ferry from the city of Surigao (careful, SURIGAO and SIARGAO sound similar but are different places!).

I flew from Cebu to Siargao Island in a small plane via Cebu Pacific Airways. Once there, it’s easy to jump on a shuttle to General Luna, the island’s main surf-town.

The 40 minute drive provides a glimpse at life on this island as you pass simple thatched roofed homes on stilts, rice fields, lush tropical forests, barefoot children and large carabao (water buffalo) on the side of the road.

Siargao Boardwalk

Boardwalk at Cloud 9

Siargao Cloud 9

Famous Cloud 9 Surf Break

Surfing In The Philippines

What really sets Siargao apart from other islands in the Philippines is the surfing! With over 15 different surf breaks around the island, both on & offshore, there are plenty of options for every skill level.

Just rent a small motorcycle with board rack for $8 a day.

Surfboard rentals cost about the same. The selection isn’t the greatest (boards are difficult to ship here), but Fat Lips Surf Shop has decent stuff.

To reach offshore breaks you need to hire a local outrigger boat, called a banca, to take you there. Round up a group or wait at the beach for other surfers to join you. It only costs about $5 per person.

Your captain will hang out on the boat (or go surfing with you) until you’re finished. How cool is that? One of our captains was only 15 years old!

Siargao Island Surfing

Time To Hit the Waves (Shot on GoPole Evo)

Siargao Surf Breaks

There are many different surf spots around Siargao. I’ve listed some of the most popular below. My favorites were offshore — usually less crowded due to the need for hirig a boat to reach them.

The boat ride adds to the surfing experience anyway!

Cloud 9

Cloud 9 is the most popular break on Siargao, and the location of some international surf competitions. It’s a powerful high-tide reef break that produces consistent barrels both left & right. For advanced surfers only.

Quicksilver

Located next to Cloud 9, this right-hand wave is smaller, but still breaks on the same shallow reef. It can often be crowded.

Stimpy’s

If you like lefts, Stimpy’s is great. It’s a 10 minute boat ride offshore, which means it can be less crowded. There are actually two breaks here, the inside one is larger. Best at low to mid tide.

Rock Island

Nearby to Stimpy’s is Rock Island, pictured in the first image. A similar setup only this one is a right, and only good when the wind is just right. It’s a sweet spot for photos with that giant rocky outcropping in the background.

Daku Reef

Daku is another offshore right-hand break, about 10 minutes by boat from the local fish market. When it’s good, this is one of my favorite waves. The current is strong though, so it can be a long paddle back after you catch one.

Cemetery

I actually never made it out to Cemetery. Located in front of an actual cemetery, it’s a long 15 minute paddle from shore. But if you’re willing to get out there, you’ll be rewarded with no crowd. Best at low tide.

G1

Many surfing classes go here, as well as locals, so it can be crowded. It’s a 15 minute motorcycle ride away from General Luna. G1 breaks both left & right, and is best at high tide. There is another break right beside it too.

Siargao Island Boat

Captain Lito & His First Mate

Siargao Island Surfing

Surfing with PrAna Board Shorts

Riding Waves With PrAna

Before traveling to the Philippines for my Siargao surfing trip, the adventure enthusiasts at PrAna hooked me up with their colorful Seaton Board Shorts, which I wore almost every day!

No need for a shirt and shoes while island hopping in the Philippines…

Surfing has quickly become my favorite adventure sport. It’s not easy to learn, but with a few lessons and lots of practice, you’ll be completely hooked.

The better you get, the more addicted you become.

It’s the challenge of learning to read and move with the water. Making split-second decisions in a fast-paced environment. The threat of danger should a wave send you crashing into the reef below.

The unmatched feeling of accomplishment after a successful ride!

Sunset Philippines

Stunning Siargao Sunsets

Visiting Siargao

While the waves are rockin’ at Siargao year round, most people who visit for surfing do so in the fall (September/October). You’ll find all kinds of guesthouses, bungalows, and surf resorts around General Luna for as low as $10 a night.

I stayed at a few different places, but my favorite was Kermit Surf Resort. Proper island-style accommodation with a super friendly hostel-like vibe & common area. They make excellent wood-fired pizza and other authentic Italian dishes (the Philippines is not really known for its food).

In fact writing about Siargao is just convincing me to go back.

The slow pace of life, cheap accommodation, incredible surfing, lack of tourists, and laid back attitudes makes it one of my favorite island destinations. Oh, and did I mention the epic sunsets every afternoon? ★

More Information

Location: Siargao Island, Philippines
Accommodation: Kermit Siargao
Useful Notes: Even if you’re not a surfer, there are other things to do on Siargao. Like island hopping, snorkeling, diving, sunbathing, kayaking mangroves, etc. Bring cash, there are no ATMs in General Luna. WiFi isn’t super reliable either.
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Philippines
Suggested Reading: When The Elephants Dance

READ NEXT: Climbing Bangkok’s Ghost Tower

Have you ever been surfing before? Would you try it? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Prana

Any Questions Or Comments?

Thanks for leaving a comment, I appreciate your feedback. However please use your real name only and treat everyone with respect. Lets have a meaningful conversation!

56 Comments

  1. Locals are happy to take your money But not happy to share their waves. Never seen anywhere in the world as bad as cloud 9. Get used to being dropped in on by agro locals.

  2. So happy you went to the Philippines! I went this past September and actually ended up surfing at a place called Duli Beach near El Nido. Not as great of waves as I heard Siargao has, but still fun. :)

  3. Hey Man,
    Just returned from a 10 day surf & learn trip in Siargao. Stayed with Kermit Resort too. Your article along with others convinced me to give this island and Kermit a look and it was a great choice. So thanks. My last day, I got up on my board consistently which got me hooked. I was having a hard time with the pop-up.
    Wondering, do you have any other recommendations for surf trips? I want to do something like this again, but would like to see something new. If not, probably wouldn’t have problem going back….i didn’t want to leave.

  4. Reading this page makes my itchy feet so excited to wander Siargao this coming September , although I am not a surf enthusiast :”)

  5. Hello there! This sounds like a perfect place for me! I only have from the 23-26th to travel from Manila (flight in the afternoon on the 26th) and was wondering if you think that will be enough time for Siargao! If you think it’s too tight, would you happen to have any other recommendations for places (lots of nature, quiet, peaceful, not too far to get to from Manila)? I was also looking into Cebu. Thanks so much in advance for any advice you can offer :D

  6. Hi Matthew Siargao sounds amazing, I really want to go there! I’m on a surf trip at the mo and so don’t reach Philippines until June, bit worried that there won’t be any waves then though, as i’ve read that it is flat at that time but also others say there are waves all year round? xx

  7. Hello,

    I’m looking for a photographer who could photograph my husband during a surfing session. It’s to make him a birthday present. Do you know of any? thanks you

  8. I love the Philippines but never did surf.. Probably because I’ve never tried it before. Can you learn to get up on a wave after just a lesson or two? I can water ski (I know it’s totally different), so maybe I could get the handle of surfing too? Great posts here. Thanks.

  9. I love Siargao! It’s my favorite Island in the Philippines :) My boyfriend and I stayed at Buddhas Surf Resort. We really enjoyed the atmosphere and the friendly people there! Nice Pictures especially your Board shorts haha

  10. Great photos you got there.
    I tried surfing twice, once in Baler and another in Daet. The first time I couldn’t even stand on board, the second I could let it drift for few seconds. Looking at that capture with the surfer flying high above the whitecap made me want to go back to the beach. I can surf like that too!!!

  11. I am so glad to found your blog about the Philippines and learning about Siargao Island. So many people seem to bypass it on their tour of Asia but I am happy you were able to introduce me to a new place! I’ll have to ask my relatives about it since I really only know little bits and pieces! Looking forward to more posts!

  12. I grew up in the Philippines ages ago (I´m 64 now) and all I can say is that this country is the most beautiful and charming place in the world ! It´s also called “Where Asia wear´s a smile” and that definitely is true. Besides that. there´s a lot more to Siargao to see here. Way up North you can find landscapes like in Irland and the biggest rice terraces in the world. In the middle a bustling metropolis (I skip in my age), further down the majority of islands (Visayas), with each Island having it´s own unique charm, and way down South Muslim Republic (hopefully now with Duterte´s new policies) a great vast land to visit. Now imagine all these Islands spotted with volcanoes you can climb, and vast jungles with endemic flora and fauna. Not to mention the seas inhabitants. Food is not worthing? WRONG ! It´s simply different, but appetizing.

    So you see, there is a lot more to the Philippines than simply surfing (and I know you will hate me for this remark). But I was a surfer myself, and I know what I am talking about !
    Cheers everyone – MABUHAY !
    R.

  13. Siargao is becoming more and more popular with non-surfing travelers as well. Although I enjoy the occasional visit to GL I prefer the north shores, starting at Pacifico and moving through Bay-Bay, Burgos, Alegria and Tangbo. With road improvements continuing it won’t be long and you will be able to go between Alegria (best white-sand beaches on the island) and GL in about 30 minutes.

  14. Thank you for visiting our country and for leaving a positive feedback, I hope you can visit again and try to visit other places like Cagayan de Oro, the best place if you want to try Water rafting, you can also visit Dahilayan, the place that has the longest zip line in the Philippines.

  15. Stop publicising siargao and its surf spots, crowds ruin these places…friends don’t let friends teach looks how to surf…you obviously haven’t much surfing experience if you have to start go somewhere appropriate for your skill level. There are not year round waves in the Philippines stop trying to monetize and exploit places you visit Siargao does not need the masses of wanna be surf kooks visiting or ruining its vibe. There is no place for beginners to do anything but get in the way at any of the spots your trying to expose.

  16. When I first saw your pic with you standing next to your boatman taken on the GoPole Evo, I thought I was looking at an American named Ned who’s been living here for awhile. The resemblance is a almost uncanny-though Ned is a bit more muscular.

    Check out his YT channel “Philippine Dreams” and see for yourself !

  17. Wow! from Iceland to Siargao–you always give the best travel advice.
    Siargao is my favorite island in the Philippines too. It’s worth visiting while it’s still not heavily commercialized (like other islands Boracay and Palawan). It’s really back to the basics. You can’t even find an ATM machine around GL! (so bring enough cash–which was my mistake!)
    Hope you come back to Siargao next surfing season!

  18. I love your blog! Very informative, inspiring & entertaining all rolled into one! Thank you for that. I was in Manila & Puerto Princesa on Palawan in late 2014. Really enjoyed it, and the food was great! I have a few restaurant recommendations for anyone visiting those areas. A few of my favorites in Puerto Princesa were Kinabuch’s, Ugong Rock Grill, and a little vegan/vegetarian place called Ima’s. As we were eating at Kinabuch’s, we started to recognized it from the show Bizarre Foods. We ended up there completely by chance and the food, drinks, atmosphere were very good. You don’t have to order the bizarre stuff unless that’s what you’re into! I also really loved a restaurant called Leslie’s which is high up on a hill overlooking a lake in the city of Tagaytay, which is south of Manila. The temps in Tagatay much cooler there, scenic, and the food was delicious. Just a few suggestions I would offer for anyone who might be in those areas & wondering where to eat in the PI! :)

  19. Hey Matt! Glad you liked Siargao. I’m from PH but I haven’t been there yet. I noticed that you said PH is not known for the food they serve (sad to hear that but there are actually lots of good food here but mostly are dishes that are good to be partnered with rice). Anyway, come back and visit Boracay island (it’s a famous tourist spot here though and could be really crowded during peak season – Summer).

      1. Great choice visiting Siargao. This was my favorite stop when I was in the Philippines. One week led to one month and i am itching like you to return. Did you ever go to the Jungle parties ? Maybe you should do some writing on those if you made it that way

  20. Man, your are crazy. When I grow up I want to be like you :D. The Siargao Sunset photo is amazing. Thanks for sharing man

  21. Great article, thanks for the tips! Barry and I are planning to learn to surf on our South East Asia trip (Oct onwards) this year! We’re starting off in Lombok (mainly to climb Mount Rinjani!) and are also planning to take some surf lessons down at Kuta beach, but we are also heading to the Philippines so will try and make it here too – hopefully with a little surf experience by then!

  22. Thanks for another interesting and travel appetite rising article.
    But what about internet there? Any decent connection to knock out some work in between surfing sets??

  23. Hey Matt:

    Guess you won’t be heading to ประเทศไทย anytime soon. Good post. I was looking into Bucas Grande. Did you jump over for a day or two to check out it?

    Did you find Siargao still recovering from the typhoon a view years back?

  24. Please keep on another article. I am highly interested to know more about surfing. What is the main problem in surfing at summer?

  25. Looks like a great place to surf! Surfing really is addictive. Not just riding the waves, but also that feeling you get when you’re sitting on your board out past the waves looking at the ocean. It’s great!