DIY: Siargao (non-surfer) COMPLETE GUIDE

Since I will try my best to give you a detailed itinerary about Siargao, this might be a long post!

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Siargao group of islands in Surigao del Norte, Mindanao is considered as the best surfing destination in the Philippines.

According to locals, waves can go as high as coconut trees during typhoon season. No wonder why it is a destination that is sought after by surfing enthusiasts, both foreigners and locals. But Siargao is not limited to surfing alone. For less adventurous and sporty people like me, the group of islands has a lot more to offer other than riding with the waves. Here is a detailed itinerary and guide for first-timers (like us!)

– THE BASICS –

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When to visit:

They say that the best time to visit is during the typhoon season and the fiesta, which is at around September to early October. Take note that there is a price surge during these times for this is when surfing competitions are held. Try to check for Cebu Pacific’s latest promo fares for June-September, the “summer season” in Siargao.

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Basically, go there on September if you’re a surfer since waves are nice. For non-surfers like me, it’s okay to go during their summer season, but the waves are quite flat if you want to give surfing a shot.

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How long should you stay?

Let me tell you that 4 days isn’t enough! First, there is only 1 flight per day returning to Cebu (12:15pm) so 1 day will really be sort of wasted for traveling. But you can sneak in a bit of surfing at around 6 am. If your flight is at 12, better leave at around 10:30AM. We only had 2.5 days and it was so bitin. We weren’t able to visit Bucas Grande/Sohoton because of the tight schedule. I recommend staying for 4 whole days for a complete (but still a bitin) experience.

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How we got there:

There is no direct flight from Manila-Siargao. There are a lot of options to get to the destination. We took the Manila-Cebu-Siargao (Sayak Domestic Airport) route, all by plane. Total plane ride is approximately 2 hours, and the hassle part is waiting for the connecting flight. I guess this is the quickest (but most expensive) route to take. Cebu Pacific is the sole carrier offering flights to Siargao Airport.

Another way chosen by most locals is the Manila-Surigao route. From Surigao airport, head to the port going to Dapa. I’ve heard that it is a 3-hour ferry ride that costs about 250 php, one way.

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Getting around:

From Sayak airport – You can take a van for 300 php/head or a habal-habal (motorcycle) for 200 php /head. It will take 40 minutes to reach the resorts in General Luna (the main tourist hub and surfing spot).

There are many options for exploring the area:

1. Habal-habal – Just wait at the main road and the locals will offer you a habal-habal ride for 20 php per way.

2. Bike rental – 250 php per day

3. Motorcycle rental (recommended) – For as low as 350php /day for 3 days minimum. For a one/two-day rental, prepare to shell out 400php per day. Fuel is no problem since there are a lot of stores who sell such for 40 php per 1L bottle of coke.

Where to stay:

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We stayed at Bravo Resort in General Luna. It is around 2,900 php/night with the following amenities: Aircon, Dipping Pool, Free Wifi, a common area where you can relax, private hot & cold shower, villa type with an extra day bed. You can book via airbnb.

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Bravo has a small dipping pool

You can save 400 php if you choose not to use their aircon, which they highly recommend ’cause their rooms are well-ventilated (and weather-proof!) Most people who stay here are foreigners and they have an in-house restaurant that serves Spanish cuisine.

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The common area for guests

The common are is probably my favorite part of the hotel. After a long day, we just relax and use the free wifi over a few bottles of beer and cocktails (Robby lang). It’s so relaxing! I really recommend the resort plus the staff are very hospitable.

Looking for budget-friendly inns? Fret not, they have a lot. Just ask for locals to guide you to inns that are within your budget. I saw signages of air-conditioned rooms for 600 php a night and fan rooms for 149 php, good for 12 hours. Just stroll around the island to find good deals.

Online booking? Check out www.airbnb.com for hassle-free reservations. For instant booking, check out www.booking.com or www.agoda.com

Where to eat:

Food in Siargao is generally affordable. I remember us having lunch at this small restaurant. We only paid 140 php for 2 cups of rice, pork steak, puso ng saging and tuna. Water is 5php per glass.

Some popular food places in General Luna:

1. Aventino’s Pizza, they can deliver to your resort. Their specialty pizza costs 350 php, good for 3 pax already.

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2. Bravo Resort’s bar & restaurant – they serve Spanish cuisine. Head here at night time to enjoy a few bottles of beer, cocktails or maybe some wine and tapas.

3. Mama’s Grill is famous for their ihaw-ihaw.

4. Siargao Bleu – One of the few restaurants that serve a variety of seafood. Contrary to Siargao beng an island, there are not much  seafood choices aside from tuna and shells. Our guide said that restaurants have to order in advance for seafood supply such as shrimp, crabs and other variety of fish.

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5. Shaka Coffee – A more artsy type of cafe that showcases surfing photography as well.

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Additional Tips and Important Reminders:

EAT ON TIME AND BRING BAON – Most places to eat open only during meal hours, unless you opt to eat at the restaurants of major hotels. Mama’s grill for example, only opens during lunch & dinner time, so if you are fond of eating late lunch, better adjust your meal time when you’re in the island. Local restaurants close at around 9pm. Bring snacks as there are only limited choices in the island.

HANG OUT WITH THE LOCALS – They are very friendly and helpful! During our first night, we met kuya Ronnie, a very kind local who hitched us a ride going to the restaurant and back to our hotel. I recommend getting to know the locals so they could also share information and experiences about the island.

SAVE THEIR NUMBERS – Just in case you do not want to rent a motorcycle or bike, do not forget to save the kuya habal-habals’ numbers. Bars and restaurants are not really the walking distance type, so it’s better to text those kuyas to pick you up and bring you back to your destination. Pay an exact amount for most of them do not have change.

ASK THE LOCALS ABOUT THE EVENTS AROUND THE AREA – Most bars have daily specials, discounts, great deals and happenings so better ask the locals the “in thing” for the night. They will even push you to “join the fun” and enjoy the night instead of staying inside your hotel.

– THINGS TO DO 

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Go Island Hopping and beach bumming – Boat rentals are available at 1200php for a big boat good for 8 people already. The guide will take you to 3 islands:

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Daku Island

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Guyam Island

Take a dip at Magpupungko Tidal Pool – these are rock formations that appear to be like tiny pools during low tide.

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Take note that swimming during high tide is strictly prohibited. You should come here at around 11am. Take a habal-habal to Pilar and the ride will take about 40 minutes. Entrance fee is 50 php.

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Swim at Tayangban Cave – This is a newly opened cave pool wherein you can enjoy swimming in spring water. The pool has a depth of 10ft and you can explore the cave at about 20 minutes. Entrance fee is 20 php without the cave and + 50 php if you wish to enter.

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Chase the Milky Way and go stargazing – The amazing thing about pitch black skies is that you’ll be able to see the milky way with your naked eye! For enthusiasts like me, seeing the milky way’s beauty made me so excited for astrophotography. Just check the weather and pray for clear skies. Wake up at 3am and you’ll see the milky way just above you when you’re in General Luna.

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Catch the sunrise in General Luna & take a sunset photo op at Cloud 9 – FREE! Talk about beautiful long exposure shots of pinkish and orange hues, plus the silhouette effect.

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For those who are fond of dramatic selfies, better make sure not to miss these.

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Take Photos of the beautiful scenery and the people – Siargao is so photogenic. I literally captured a thousand photos and I had a hard time picking which ones to post. I bet you’ll have a difficult time too!

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Try surfing lessons – Ironic but Siargao is still the best spot in the Philippines so if you’re up for a challenge, try it out for 500php per hour.

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Surfing instructor fee is already included.

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If not, take a stroll along the boardwalk.

Go diving – Surigao is surrounded by Mangroves which means that marine life is abundant. I don’t really have an idea about the costs but they said that it’s a good spot for diving.

Visit Taktak Falls – It is located in Sta. Monica. I am not sure of this for we haven’t visited the place. maybe next time!

Enjoy local food & hangout at local bars – There are lots of ihaw-ihaw places and bars. Most foreigners hang out for a couple of drinks and socializing during the night. They have “disco” days, just ask the locals about it. They also have open KTV for the singers out there. Ha ha.

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Rent a motorbike – Exploring and getting lost in a city you have never been to is one of the more thrilling parts in traveling. Just be careful and remember that there is a speed limit of 20kph. Motorbike rental can go as low as 350 php per day.

Visit Bucas Grande and Sohoton Caves – This is the most expensive activity in Siargao, and it is considered as the number 1 activity in the island. It is 2 hours away from General Luna, 1 boat ride  plus land trip. You will be needing a good weather and a whole day to visit the place. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time so we skipped this. Plus the cost is 3,500. We were only 2 in the trip so we found it quite expensive. Don’t miss this one though.

FINALLY, OUR SUGGESTED 5 DAY ITINERARY –

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Day 01

1400 Arrive Sayak, Hire habal-habal (200php)

1500 Check-in, habal-habal to Cloud 9 (20php)

1600 Have coffee at Shaka Cafe (100php)

1700 Surfing Lessons (500php/hour)

1900 Tidy up & Dinner at Mama’s Grill (200 php)

2030 Have cocktails/beer at Bravo (200 php)

Total:  1440 php

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Day 02

0600 Wake Up & quick breakfast

0730 Head to town for island hopping (20php)

0745 Visit 3 islands (Php 1200)

** for a group of 7, 172php each)

– Naked

– Daku

– Guyam

** You can have lunch at Daku island. 150/kilo of tuna + 130 paluto fee

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** Cottage rental is at 250 php. Table rental is 150 php

1500 Head back to hotel to tidy up and rest for a bit (20php)

1630 head to Cloud 9 and have coffee (80php), catch the sunset (FREE!)

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Additional costs: Dinner est 150 php

Total cost: Island Hopping : 172 php

      Transpo: 40 php

    Lunch Approx: 150 php

      = 512 php

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Day 03

0600 Wake up

0730 Head to Tayangban Cave (350php for whole tour)

0830 Arrive Tayangban Cave, Swim and explore (70php)

1030 Leave for Magpupungko Tidal Pool

1100 Arrive Magpupungko (50php)

1300 Leave for Town, late lunch and then free time

** est lunch and dinner 300 php

Total: 770 php

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Day 04

0230 Wake up to catch the Milky way (South East) Use a compass to locate

0600 Wake up again and have breakfast, Habal habal to meet up point (20 php)

0730 Leave for Bucas Grande/ Sohoton (Php 3,500)

** For a group of 7, 500 php each)

1600 Arrive Hotel, Tidy up (20php)

1700 FREE time, dinner, etc. Est (150 for dinner 20php habal habal)

Cost: 710 php

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Day 05

0430 Catch the sunrise in General Luna

0530 Head to Cloud 9 (20php)

0600 Surfboard rental (200php)

0800 Back to the hotel, tidy up, breakfast (20php)

1000 Check out and leave for airport (200php)

Total: 440 php

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5 days total approximate cost for 5 days: 3,872 php

Without surfing:  3,172 php

With 4 nights accommodation @250/night: 1,000

Total approx budget w/o airfare: 4,872 php

Total approx budget w/o surfing & airfare: 4,172 php

That’s not too bad for the number of activities given 🙂

– HOW TO SAVE UP ON COSTS –

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If you’re traveling with a friend or two, it’s better if you join another small group to cut costs on boat rentals. Plus, you’ll meet new friends.

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If the place is walkable, do a little bit of exercise instead of renting a habal-habal

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Eat at smaller carinderias instead of known places.

Search for promo fares!!

Opt for a homestay if you’re not picky and if you don’t want to shell out money for accommodation

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You can actually find more ways to save and generally, the place is affordable contrary to the belief that Siargao is an expensive destination to visit.

Our trusted local guides:

For Habal-Habal, Magpupungko and Tayangban Cave:

Kuya Marlon – 09192628951

For Island Hopping and Motorbike rental:

Kuya Ronnie – 09483792229

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We just got back and we’re still having a vacation hangover. We’ll definitely visit Siargao again! Though the fare is quire expensive other than other destinations, I assure you that it’s worth it Like this post? Please feel free to share this. <3

8 Comments

  • Tiffany says:

    Thanks for posting even if you just got back. I was looking for an updated blog about Siargao. 🙂

  • Hi Livi! Thanks for this very detailed travel guide! My friends and I will be travelling to Siargao next month and I was looking for a sample 5-day itinerary. So glad I found your blog 🙂

    Project Gora

  • Daphnie says:

    Hi. I’m planning a Siargao trip this May and found your DIY Siargao post. Super happy that you posted costs together with your pictures as I’m doing my budget. Thanks.

    I have some questions for you, if you don’t mind:

    1. If I want to do the island hopping trip, where exactly do we need to go to find boatmen who does these trips? I don’t necessary want to use the tour package offered by my resort.

    2. When you do the island hopping, do the boatmen take care of their own meals?

    3. If one wants to take a beginner’s surf lesson, where does one find an instructor? If you walk along Cloud 9 area, are there instructors offering their services?

    Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Hi Daphne! thank you! 🙂

      Answers to your questions:

      1. If I want to do the island hopping trip, where exactly do we need to go to find boatmen who does these trips? I don’t necessary want to use the tour package offered by my resort.
      *** You can rent a habal-habal or you can just pay 20 pesos one way and ask them to bring you to the market/boat area. From there you can haggle the price of the island hopping fee. =)

      2. When you do the island hopping, do the boatmen take care of their own meals?
      *** Yes, but a serving of tuna is big enough to share to the boatman as well =)

      3. If one wants to take a beginner’s surf lesson, where does one find an instructor? If you walk along Cloud 9 area, are there instructors offering their services?
      *** You can proceed to cloud 9 and there are several people who’ll offer you lessons. Just haggle =)

      Hope this helps =) Thank you and enjoy!

  • Fevelyn Lagundi Cac says:

    How to book?

    Available dates for Dec 2017.

  • how to book po.. for december..

  • Astrid says:

    Hi! This is very helpful! Thank u for being very detailed with the costs. My friend and I are going this October and we dont have any itinerary yet. I just want to ask if you guys have booked the island tours, hotels etc prior or just booked them once you guys have arrived?

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