Siargao Beyond the Surf
By Bernard L. Supetran
Siargao Island in the Pacific seaboard off northeastern Mindanao is synonymous to surfing. Named by CNN Go travel portal as the world’s eighth best surf spot, it is regarded as the country’s surfing mecca with its Cloud 9, known for its perfect barreling right hand reef break but laden with sharp corals.
Named after the chewy chocolate candy bar with which foreign surfers subsisted on when it was yet a best-kept secret, this spot lures the world’s best in the annual International Surfing Cup every September to wow the crowd as they vie for handsome cash prizes.
The villages along the Pacific coast also has scores of hidden surf spots which are ideal for newbies.But beyond the adrenaline-pumping waves, visitors have nine travel options to make them feel like walking on the proverbial Cloud 9.
- Island-hopping. A popular activity in Gen. Luna (GL) town is a visit to the islands of Guyam, Daku and Naked islands sandbar whose contour is shaped by the changing tide. You can also request kayaks and stand-up paddle (SUP) boards and paddle around the islands.In the northern town of San Benito, you can hop around Pagbasayan, Litalit and Cambinling Naked Island, and Kangkangon White Beach. There is also a stunning sandbar as wide as a football field which appears at low tide.
- Sugba Lagoon and Mangrove cruise. Del Carmen town hosts a natural wonder found only in this part of the archipelago—a sprawling 4,000-hectare mangrove forest which extends almost infinitely. This expansive ecosystem maintains ecological balance by providing rich breeding grounds for aquatic life, including a rare saltwater crocodile specie. Tucked in the interior limestone cliffs is Sugba Lagoon which is ideal for kayaking, SUP paddling, snorkeling and platform diving. The municipal government operates boat tours. Upon returning, cool off with the great-tasting halo-halo at the nearby Krokodeilos Restaurant.
- Magpupungko Rock. A rare geological formation in Pilar town which forms a natural crystal-clear seawater pool at low tide, it is ideal for rock diving and snorkeling. Called a tidal flat, it is best to visit before noon so you can enjoy the natural pool and come close to the iconic rock. Nearby is a vast stretch of beige fine sand beach and picnic cottages for a simple but sumptuous lunch.
- Skimboarding. A variant of surfing,this sport rides the waves in a different fashion using a shorter board. The village of Pacifico in San Isidro town is noted for small waves ideal for skimboarding. It also has a beige powdery beach dotted by quaint resorts where you can stay, camp out,have a cold beer and make new friends.
- Scuba Diving.From the surface, you can plunge into depths to admire the island rich marine life. Palaka Dive Center in GL can take you to the amazing underwater world of San Benito and Blue Cathedral at 100 feet below the surface.
- Taktak Falls. A resort formed by the refreshing icy waters of this waterfall tucked in the vegetation of Sta. Monica. With a natural basin, it is a perfect wind-down after beach-bumming. The town has a postcard-pretty boardwalk and public plaza punctuated with a Spanish-period old bronze cannon and ruins of a fortress wall.
- Staycation. Travelers can bask in cozy tropical resorts in their comfy rooms and greeneries while gazing at the ocean’s horizon. Among the ideal staycation hideaways is the Balinese-themed all-suite Siargao Bleu Resort & Spa which is home to the island’s biggest swimming pool. There is never a dull and boring moment with the various in-house activities such as water aerobics, yoga, cooking classes, bartending sessions, swimming tutorials for children, Zumba, and kayaking and stand-up paddling, while fitness buffs can stay in tip-top shape at the gym. There are movie nights so you can catch up on the Hollywood hits, while munching on post-dinner snacks.spoil yourself with a rejuvenating massage at the Bleu Spa, the resort’s relaxation haven, to recharge you for your new adventures the next day.
- Culinary journey. An exciting part of every trip is the local cuisine. Siargao takes pride in its unique blend of seafood and international dishes, because of the foreign tourists and expats who have made the island their refuge. Despite the logistical challenges, restos and bars spring up surprising concoctions you can sink your teeth into. At Bleu Restaurant, the leading seafood outlet, you can choose from a wide array of ocean’s bounty ranging from blue marlin, tuna, salmon, osyters, squid, crab, fish and shrimp, pastas, Filipino classics, and everything in between. At night, you can sip cocktails, wines, and spirits at the Bleu Bar while being caressed by the breeze or playing billiards.
- Bucas Grande Island. Across Siargaois Socorro town which is part of the archipelago which can be reachable by passenger pumpboats from Dapa port. The main island of Bucas Grande boasts of pockets of fine beaches, a lagoon of stingless jellyfish, a hilltop zipline, cave pools, rock islands, subterranean waterways and the mesmerizing Sohoton Cove which is framed by limestone cliffs. Once an obscure attraction, this serendipityis a fitting conclusion to an exhilarating journey to the south.