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A Guide to Siargao: The Philippine Island Voted Best in Asia


Siargao is a tiny teardrop-shaped island at the foot of the Philippine archipelago. In 2020, Condé Nast Traveler gave Siargo the distinction of being the best island in Asia. Despite the influx of new infrastructure since, Siargao has retained its unique charm. While we’re more than a little biased, here is a list of why we think this island should be your next destination:

1. Getting there

Siargao is reachable by propeller plane from all three of the country’s major cities. En route, make sure to catch a view of Sohoton Cove, a series of bright blue lagoons and karst limestone mountains, which is best seen from the sky.

Upon arrival, hop into any of the shuttles parked outside the airport for a one-hour drive through rolling green hills into the city center of General Luna.

2. Getting around Siargao

General Luna is a traveler’s paradise. Most of Siargao’s famous beaches, hotels, and restaurants exist along a 5-km stretch of road. Let your feet take you where they wish, but if you’re feeling extra adventurous, motorcycles are by far the best way to explore the town. Motorcycles can be rented for as low as P350 ($5) a day. Pick a favorite among the bikes lined up all along the main highway. For travelers who prefer a little less adrenaline, tricycles – the local version of the tuktuk – can take you from point A to point B for P20 ($0.50) per person as often as you need.

3. Eat

Siargao is a veritable foodie destination. True to its name, Cev makes the best ceviches on the island; Warung offers authentic Indonesian fare. (We highly recommend their beef rendang.); and Shaka serves Instagram-worthy acai bowls, which you can eat from a swing tied to coconut trees on the beach. After a particularly tiring surf lesson, you can head over to Kermit for wood-fired sourdough pizzas, or opt for Bulan, which serves theirs with this amazing hot honey that will change your life. Have diet restrictions? Kali Ma Café offers excellent plant-based whole foods with a great view of their yoga dojo. Or a sweet tooth? Leche Ice Cream churns unique Filipino flavors like banana cream pie, champorado at tuyo (aka chocolate pudding and sun-dried fish), and coconut peanut brittle.

4. Party

If Siargao does one other thing as well as surfing, it’s the nightlife. Parties are rotated equitably among the bars on the island. Your tricycle driver is your best bet for insider information on where the crowds will be each night.

Jungle Disco will have you drinking in the middle of the literal jungle; Harana throws a mean party in a bahay kubo – a stilt house design indigenous to the Philippines – that’s been outfitted with a well-stocked bar; and Bravo Beach Resort’s DJs will have you dancing in your bikini in their beach-front pool before you know it.

5. Surf Siargao

Siargao has long-been hailed as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, and Cloud 9 is arguably the city’s most famous surfing spot. While Cloud 9 hosts a World Surf League pro event every year, the main surf break here is beginner-friendly because it gives large, right-handed barrels that break over shallow waters. Intermediate surfers can try the breaks at Cemetery, Dako, and Salvacion, whereas expert surfers can try their hands at Pacifico, Tuason, and Stimpies. Tuason in particular offers large world-class barrels with heavy hold downs. Plan ahead, and don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Surfboard rentals cost P200 ($4) an hour. P500 ($10) will get you 60-minutes with a surf instructor. The experience? Priceless.

6. See Siargao

Seventy-two hours is much too short to see everything that this island has to offer, but no one will blame you for trying. Book the quintessential island-hopping experience, which covers Naked Island, Daku Island, and Guyam Island. Ride a bangka through lush mangroves to reach Sugba Lagoon, and jump off the famous dive board located here. Climb a bent palm and rope swing into Maasin Secret River. Take a selfie along Palm Road, which has palm trees as far as the eye can see. Wake up at dawn and head to the Magpupungko Rock Pools, which are only accessible during low tide. Swim with jellyfish in Tojoman Lagoon. Before you leave, consider spending a day with Lokal Lab, a Siargao-based NGO that supports local communities with sustainable arts, education, and livelihood projects.

It’s easy to fall for Siargao’s white beaches and consistent surf. On this island, the beer is always cold, and the food is warm and well-made. But that is only half of the picture. Spend enough time here, and we guarantee that you will never want to leave. The community is close-knit and exceptionally warm. Whether you’re a local, a traveler trying to find yourself, or an expatriate on vacation, Siargao will feel like home from the get-go. Days are as slow or fast as you want them, and nights are as quiet or loud as you need. There is a reason why this island was voted as the best in Asia (if not the world). Come to the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, and see for yourself.