n our opinion, the Philippines are one of the most beautiful destinations in South East Asia. And with over 7000 islands to choose from, you may wonder which place to visit first. Well, wonder no longer, you should pick Siargao without a doubt.
Originally, we had planned to spend only 6 nights on this smallish island in order to see as much of the Philippines as possible. But sometimes plans are made to be overthrown, and after the first nights, we already had fallen in love with this gem of an island and stayed for over two weeks!
We explored a lot, got to see many of the hottest spots on Siargao and discovered even some hidden secrets. If you can only get to one place in the Philippines, consider going to Siargao as it has everything you could wish for: paradise beaches, crystal clear blue water, seemingly endless palm tree forests, amazing surf spots, and even fluorescent caves to explore.
Hi! Nice to meet you, we are Marina and Ben. We live in Berlin and travel the world full-time 🚀
This is a simplified map of Siargao and for your convenience, we marked all the highlights we discovered during our stay. In the next section, we're describing each spot in more detail.
One reason why we stayed much longer in Siargao than initially expected was that there are just so many fun and unique activities to be found. Below is the full list of our favorite activities and spots that we can highly recommend. Enjoy!
If you’ve heard of Siargao before, chances are you’re a surfer, right? Well, we didn’t really have any experience riding waves so far, so Ben was especially excited as we realized that Siargao is THE spot when it comes to surfing in the Philippines.
Around the area called Cloud 9, you’ll find perfect surf conditions for both absolute beginners and experienced pros. Could 9 features a fantastic pier that’s also great for just watching other surfers, though you’ll need to pay 50-100 PHP (ca. 1-2 €) to get access. Now if you’re a beginner, you can safe that money and just walk left towards the beach in front of the pier and you’ll find a lot of locals offering surf lessons. From our experience, an hour with a coach costs 500 PHP (9€) and should be enough for the first session. Do not forget to put sunscreen on though, otherwise you’ll be properly crispy after only several minutes out in the ocean (Ben may or may not have had the pleasure of this experience…).
Besides the surfing fun, you’ll find several cafes, bars and small restaurants around the beach. We absolutely loved the vibe here, and it’s even a great spot to grab breakfast and relax in a hammock.
Even if you’re not a big fan of motorbikes or even a bit hesitant to ride one in South East Asia, it’s 3000% worth it to get one on Siargao. You’ll love the absolute freedom of roaming around on your own terms and it’s much cheaper than renting a car. Depending on how long you rent a bike for, prices could get as low as 300 PHP (5€) per day. Every other cafe or street store seems to rent out bikes, we had a great experience with “Off Shore Cafe” at Cloud 9.
When we landed in Siargao, the first thing we were amazed by was the abundance of palm trees. Now we think palm trees are clearly the superior species of trees: they look fantastic on any photo, they carry delicious coco nuts and it’s great to climb them ;) Anyway, one thing we loved doing with our motor bike was to drive up a bit north of General Luna to explore the palm tree forests. If you search for “Magpungko Rock Pools” on a map and go that way, you’re bound to arrive at a high point that let’s you look over the vast tree tops up. It’s fantastic.
A bit further up the street, you’ll notice that the road is staying pretty straight for quite a while. The photographer in you will rejoice in excitement since this is the perfect spot to take fantastic shots, especially with a drone.
Not far from the pittoresque palm tree street, you’ll cross a small river via a red bridge called “Maasin Bridge”. The first time we drove this way we completely missed the spot, so keep your eyes open.
Now this is a spot showcases how quickly the locals pick up on something that could be “a thing” for tourists. In December 2018, this spot was apparently not widely known yet and all you could do was climb the conveniently bent palm tree hovering over the river. Four months later, there was a proper shelter to park our bike (for a small charge) and the locals had by now attached a swing rope to the tree for some extra fun. You can even rent a small canoe and paddle further up the stream.
The swing is a bit daring but a lot of fun, highly recommended. If you come a bit earlier in the morning, you’ll even have it to yourself and you can take some fun photos.
Another 15min ride further north from the “Bent Tree”, you’ll find the Tayangban Cave Pools. Be warned, it’s going to get wet and you’ll most likely leave all your belongings at the entrance. So bring your water proof gear if you plan on taking pictures. Flip Flops are fine, though proper under water shoes are much more comfortable.
This one is a bit more on the adventures side of activities, so Ben had a lot of fun. You’ll have a guide showing you the way through a cave that’s partly submerged in comparably cold water. It get’s pitch dark - though you’ll be given torches - and you’ll explore your way through the cave past bats and astonishing rock structures. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with a small lagoon featuring opportunities to jump into the deep, though it’s not necessarily a mind-bending highlight to be looking forward to. The cave adventure itself is one of the best Ben had though, especially because the guide was super hilarious.
It’s places like these that make you wonder if mother nature really goes about creating landscapes without any intention. The Magpungko Rock Pools can best be described as your private pool within the ocean, filled with the most amazing crystal clear blue water. Well, maybe not so “private” nowadays, but you know what we mean.
Make sure to check the level of the tides before you embark on your trip to the Magpungko Rock Pools. Only during the hours around low tide, you’ll be fully able to enjoy the pools that otherwise will just be fully covered by the ocean. We used this handy website to check the tidal times.
Also, it might be handy to ask locals if the place is actually open, as when we first arrived we could not enter due to ongoing constructions.
Compared to the busy life of General Luna, Pacifico is tranquility at its best. The ride from General Luna might be a bit long, but you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic white sand beach as well as solid waves for surfing.
We especially liked the Pacifico Beach Resort right at the entry of the town, offering a chill luxury vibe at decent prices, especially if you intend to stay over night. If you do so, you could even take your bike even further north to visit Alegria Beach, probably one of the most remote spots on Siargao.
Even for just a day trip, we highly recommend coming here, enjoy fantastic food and relax on the beach while sipping a coconut cocktail.
It’s time to scratch some of those 7.000 Filipino islands of the “Been-There-Done-That-Map”. If you’re traveling around the Philippines a bit, you know island hopping is a thing in this country. The Siargao tour is very relaxed and especially fun if you come with friends and share the boat.
This activity is one of the best known ones especially around General Luna. At the pier and a few other beach spots, you’ll find plenty of captains offering their long-tail boats to take you around the three closest islands: Naked Island, Guyam Island, and Daku Island. For the whole day, a boat costs 1500 PHP (25€) and fits up to six people. The cool thing: you can decide when you leave, which islands to target first and when to return home. That’s much more freedom compared to boat tours in El Nido for instance. Disclaimer: the boats are pretty loud at full speed, so ear plugs will come in handy.
It’s up to you when you start your tour, but we would suggest to go as early as possible to avoid the crowds on your first island. Now the first stop will either be Guyam or Naked Island and it depends on what you’re after. Here’s what we think:
Option 1: Go to Guyam Island first
Option 2: Go to Naked Island first
We went with option 1 and loved it, though we considered going a second time just to get Naked Island during bright sunny hours for even better drone shots.
Between Naked Island and Guyam Island, you’ll stop over on Daku Island, which is the biggest of the three. There, you’ll have time to explore forest and hike up the hill, relax on the beach and enjoy your lunch. Now, you could bring your own fresh food (e.g. fish and fruits) from the local markets at General Luna and the people on Daku will happily prepare a feast for you. Alternatively, you can also buy some food on Daku, though they might not have all your desired options. Lastly, you can find cozy beach huts on Daku that you can rent for your group, offering shade and great spot to open a beer or two.
The Sohoton Cove is definitely a special destination. The landscape looks amazing (especially if you bring a drone), the water is ridiculously blue, there are various caves to explore and even dive through AND it’s super far away from the main spots in Siargao and probably will cost quite a bit in total.
Mainly, there are two ways to get there and it depends a bit on how much time you want to spend in this area.
Option 1: One day trip from General Luna
Option 2: Three day trip with over night stay
Once you’ve made your way to Sohoton, there are plenty of things you can explore (cliff jumps, fluorescent caves, a jelly fish lake and more). Most of them involve hiring a tour guide that will take you around in a smaller boat. Depending on your choice, it will cost 1000 - 2000 PHP for the boat again.
We unfortunately were not lucky with the weather and it was raining constantly during our stay and we gotta say if that happens, you don’t really have a lot of options and can’t easily get back either. If the sun is on your side, you’ll be able swim and paddle through the bluest water and explore luminescent caves where the water sparkles when splashing around.
You’ll find plenty of signs offering tours to the Sugba Lagoon in General Luna, usually costing 1500 PHP (25€) per person. Alternatively, you can go directly to the place with your motorbike, which will take you around 1.5h to get there.
We personally couldn’t fit the lagoon into our schedule as we went for the longer Sohoton Cove adventure, but friends told us that the area looks potentially as amazing as Sohoton itself. At the lagoon, you can rent big wooden rafts and paddle boards, jump from diving spots with different heights (one even 10m high!) or just relax and swim.
If the whole journey to Sohoton Cove might be too much for you, we believe the Sugba Lagoon is a perfect alternative to experience amazing blue water and see the fantastic mountain island landscapes.
While we were roaming around the island with our bike, we met the friendly folks of “Wander Melon Siargao” who are the first to organize a Jeepney road trip through Siargao. The crowd seemed super fun and people were enjoying the ride even on the roof of the truck.
Last but not least, the pier at Cloud 9 is a fantastic spot to watch the sun do it’s thing - may it be for sunrise or sunset. Lay back, enjoy the surf vibe, have a drink or get a fresh smoothy bowl as a tasty snack.
Most travelers stay in the area of General Luna, and we’d also recommend to look for a place to stay there. Alternatively, you could venture out to Pacifico, where it's a bit remote but much more peaceful.
Despite the increase in tourism over the last years (and judging from all the busy construction sites, there is more to come), General Luna is a nice area to stay in. It has a mostly laid back vibe and distances aren’t very far. You'll find a lot of hipster places and even really good coffee in quite a few coffee shops.
Below, you can find a few spots that we have either stayed at, got recommended from friends or walked in to just take a look. Message us if you have any questions!
Best affordable accommodations (€)
Amazing mid range (€€)
Crazy awesome luxury hotels & resorts (€€€€)
If you want to get out of the somewhat busy life of General Luna, we can highly recommend staying at Pacifico. We found two places that you might like:
We flew in to Manila, the capital of the Philippines. If you're arriving from Europe, that's probably where you'll also land.
And to get to Siargao, we have great news: it's pretty simple to reach. You can take a direct flight from Manila or Cebu, we flew in with Cebu Air and had no complaints. You’ll land at one of the tiniest airports we have ever seen, which is actually quite nice as your luggage will arrive fast and you’re good to go.
You could rent a car directly at the airport, but we recommend getting a motorbike once you arrive at your final destination. There are usually minivans waiting already, taking you directly to your hotel, for 300 PHP (5€) per person.
The best time to visit Siargao will depend on what you’re after:
We spent the better part of March on Siargao and had only 2 days of rain. So we can confirm that in this period, you’ll probably have a pretty sunny time. And don’t worry about your weather app constantly showing rain and thunderstorm. Seems to be tough to predict the weather in the Philippines.
This is the peak surfing season, especially in the east of the Philippines. So if you’re a surfer, the best times are from end of July until early November. In September, they even host the ‘Cloud 9 Surfing Cup’, which is an official WSL Pro event.
Here are a few things that we initially didn't think about when we went to the Philippines. You don't need to do the same mistake, just stock up before: