The following is a guest post by Josh and Mulan.
If you enjoy exploring places whose beauty has not yet been spoilt by commercialism then maybe it is time for you to visit the tear drop shaped Siargao in the Philippines.
Siargao is not your typical surfer's paradise. For one, despite the fact that an annual international surfing competition has been held here in recent years, its beauty remains unspoiled by development.
In fact you will probably find this place very primitive compared to other island getaway destinations as there are no overbearing hotels or resorts littering its pristine white beaches.
Instead you will find are an assortment of shanties and huts all offering free Wi-Fi connection for to stay in ensuring that whilst you are cut off from fast paced living you can still update your travel blog.
How to Get There
Siargao, the surfing capital of the Philippines, is famous for its cloud 9 wave.
To get there, you can take a plane from Manila to Surigao City which is the nearest city to Siargao itself.
Major airlines like Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines have flights to and from Surigao City several times a week.
From Surigao airport, you will need to go to the main pier and ride a ferry heading to Dapa, the port of entry for the island.
The ferry ride will take between two and a half to five hours depending on the type of boat you select (The RORO is the slowest but also the most comfortable).
Cebu Pacific has direct flights from Cebu to Siargao three times a week. This happens to be the most convenient and least expensive way to travel.
Packing List for Siargao
1. Sunblock, sunblock, sunblock
2. Insect repellant
3. Your surfing gear
4. Your itsy bitsy bikini or board shorts
5. Bottled water
6. Money in local currencies (as there are still many establishments that do not accept credit cards and foreign currencies)
Best Places to Visit
1. General Luna – if your only purpose is to surf then GL is the place to be as this is where you will catch the best waves.
2. Sohoton Cave – quite far from Siargao but definitely worth the tiring two hour pump boat ride. This lagoon/cave can only be accessed during low tide as it is submerged under water most of the time. If you're familiar with the beauty of the Palawan or Phi Phi islands then you should definitely head here for Sohoton is just as beautiful as those two.
3. Naked Island – why Naked? The small island is basically a heap of fine white sand. Even trees and shrubs are non-existent. That is why it generally feels hotter compared to nearby places as there is no respite from the sun. You can walk the entire island in just a few minutes.
4. Dacu Island – compared to the famous (and crowded) Boracay Island, Dacu provides a better ambience. The bright emerald color of the water, the powder-like white sand and the romantic sunset views are some of the best on offer. Add to that the fact it is just a few leaps from General Luna and you will never tire of this setting.
5. Mamon Island – is situated near La Janoza Island. In between these two islands you will find an ideal place for snorkelling. The corals are simply breath-taking. From General Luna, you'll need an hour to reach this spot by pump boat so plan ahead.
Things to Do
1. Surf in the early morning – you'll be impressed to see local kids as young as 8 years old surfing like pro's and pulling off some pretty audacious moves. If you are new to surfing, have one of the locals teach you how to paddle out and balance on a surfboard. Don't miss this opportunity to hit the waves or you'll make a million surfers cry!
2. Visit Tiktikan Lake – this lake is included in the Sohoton Tour package. There is an entrance fee of Php 10 per person. If you would like to explore more by riding a boat, there is an additional fee of Php 5. The lake is vast and very calm. It is also incredibly scenic so take your camera if possible.
3. Swim with stingless jellyfish – similar to the Jellyfish Lake in Palau, it is possible to swim with jellyfish in Sohoton Cave without fear of being stung by them. At first, swimming with a school of jellyfish might feel awkward or weird as they will swarm you like bees but this is one experience that you should not miss and better than swimming with old faithful who was caught a couple of islands over some 80 years ago.
There are so many things to enjoy in Siargao. It is no wonder that surf enthusiasts from all over the world keep coming back year after year.
In fact a decent number of foreigners have built businesses there and now live on the island year round which tells you something about the place.
And before you leave, don't forget to buy a few bottles of the speciality mango rum, you won't be disappointed.
About the Author – Josh and Mulan run the travel blog www.londonlaunchpad.com which deals with their adventures around London and the world beyond. Connect with them at any time for travel chat, tips and advice on the website or at London Launchpad Facebook.