Updated October, 2017
At Fat Lips Surf Shop, our goal is to have the most up-to-date and complete set of FAQs around to help you plan your dream surf holiday. Click on the question to go directly to the answer or read through the complete set of FAQs to get familiar with this beautiful little island.
NOTE: If you're a local business owner and would like to link to this page on your website or use our FAQs in any manner, that's great, please contact us.
- Siargao basic info
- Do I need a visa when visiting the Philippines?
- What's the best time of year to go?
- How do I get to Siargao? (updated)
- Where should I stay in Cebu?
- I'm travelling alone. Is Siargao a good place for me?
- What should I pack?
- Should I bring my non-surfing partner to the island?
- Will I have the best holiday of my life in Siargao?
- Do they speak English there?
- How can I get money on the island?
- Can I use my credit cards in Siargao?
Getting here :
siargao basic info
Siargao is a small, teardrop shaped island located in Surigao Del Norte province, Philippines. Siargao is known as the 'surf capital of the Philippines' due to it's many world-class, uncrowded, and picture perfect surf spots. The island covers approximately 437 square/km but you'll be spending most of you time in the few square kilometers around the towns of General Luna and Cloud 9. This is the main surfing area and therefore where most tourists will stay. This is also where you'll find most of the resorts, bars, and activities. However, there is also great surf on the North of the island around the towns of Pacifico and Burgos. Typically the North is much quieter than the G.L/C9 area, there aren't any bars or parties, and the surf line-ups are practically empty. So if you're looking to surf uncrowded waves, get further off the beaten path, and don't care too much for the partying aspect, then you may want to look into staying a few days or even your whole trip in a resort in Pacifico.
Grabbing a motorbike and cruising around the island makes for a great day out. The 'island highway' is a two-lane road that winds around Siargao's coast offering great views of the ocean and jungle as it passes through small, remote villages and towns. This road has recently been paved making the trip much more comfortable and now you could drive all around the island in about three or four hours depending how fast you like to drive. It takes about an hour to drive to the Northern tip of the island where Pacifico and Burgos are.
In the last year or two Siargao has started exploding as a tourist destination for surfers and non-surfers alike. This is due to the fact that unlike a lot of destinations in Asia, Siargao has remained relatively unknown and has yet to be overrun with tourism. This means you get the white, sandy beaches, the coconut trees, the crystal-clear water, and friendly, curious locals without the hordes of tourists, pollution, noise, neon billboards, and other crap associated with places like Bali or Thailand. In every way, Siargao is that perfect little island in the South Pacific that you've always dreamed of going to....just don't forget your camera!
But don't worry, although this is a small, remote island in the South Pacific it still has all the Western comforts you'll need to enjoy your vacation. Accommodation ranges from budget / backpacker hostels to luxurious beach-front resorts and villas. Food ranges from cheap, local BBQ huts to stylish, authentic European and Western restaurants. There are small supermarkets with imported food and drinks. There's a great party scene, yet the night life isn't so crazy that it disturbs your vacation (or your sleep). Each bar or club in Siargao is unique with its own vibe so you won't be lacking in places to party and mingle, but understand this isn't Boracay with it's row after row of noisy clubs either.
And the surfing.... crystal clear Pacific waters breaking over immaculate coral reefs and you in nothing but a pair of boardshorts or a bikini. With surf spots ranging from 'beginner' to 'totally f***ing insane' you'll be sure to find waves that are perfect for your level. Sure there's a few other places in the world that have as good or better waves, but nowhere has this balance of world-class surf breaks, friendly locals, and uncrowded line-ups. In fact, I often arrive a surf spot to find I'm completely alone or with just two or three locals in the line-up. Yup, that's Siargao, if we get to the spot and see a dozen people already in the water then we start complaining about how 'crowded' it's becoming! Ha ha.
(This however, does NOT apply to Cloud 9, or 'Crowd 9' as the locals call it. Due to its famous name and easy access, Cloud 9 does get very crowded at times, especially during the peak season of September through December.
Siargao is the kind of place that changes people. It'll make you question who you are and what you want out of life. You'll meet the most amazing people. You'll de-stress and unwind. You'll rediscover the simple life.
Siargao is a breath of fresh air. It's slow food and fast waves. It's getting in touch with nature, for all it's raw power and beauty. It's not having to check your phone every two minutes. If just life... real people, real connections, real experiences...real life.
Do I need a visa when visiting the Philippines?
For most developed countries, visitors are granted a (free) 30 days visa upon arrival.
Should you wish to stay for longer than one month the visa can be extended for another month in Surigao City, a three hour ferry ride from the Dapa ferry terminal in Siargao. The cost of a one month visa extension is about 3300 pesos and it's very quick and easy to obtain. In fact, you can take the ferry to Surigao, get your visa, then get the ferry back to Siarao in the same day. The staff at the Department of Immigration are all very nice and helpful.
After your first 30 day (free) visa and then first one-month extension it's still possible to extend further without much trouble. You'll have to go back to Surigao again but this time they'll give you a two-month extension. That's right, the first time you go to extend you will only be given one more month, but after that extensions are given two months at a time and you can continue to do this for well over a year before ever having to leave the Philippines.
NOTE: After you first one-month extension and when you apply for your first two-month extension you will have to apply for a tourist ID card while you're doing the visa in the Department of Immigration. The cost of this is around 4000php. So the costs associated with visas looks roughly like this
first 30 days - free
first extension (one month) - around 3300php
next extension (two months) plus ID card - around 7800php
future extensions after this point ( two months) - around 4000php each time
HOT TIP!!! If you know that you will be staying in the Philippines for more than one month it is possible to apply for a two month visa upon arrival in the Philippines. This will save you time and money as you won't need to go to Surigao city after the first month to get an extension. Here's how: Upon arrival from an international flight line up for the immigration inspection as usual, when approaching the counter tell the immigration officer that you would like a two month visa. You will be led into a small office where you will pay around 2800php and be given a 59 day visa. Again, if you're planning to stay more than one month then before you clear immigration ask for a 2 month visa
What's the best time of year to go?
Well that depends on your own preferences:
If it's a romantic holiday and you want nothing but blue skies and sunshine, then it's better to avoid the winter months (Dec – March) because that's the rainy season.
If you want the surf to be pumpin' hard, offshore, and barreling then come from end of September to late November. This is the peak season in Siargao.
If you wanna avoid surfing in crowded line-ups then come from December to April. The winter is a great time to surf in Siargao because we have solid waves everyday during the winter but because it's the rainy season we have much less tourists. For me, this has become my favorite time of year to surf. You won't find any barrels cause the wind is a bit onshore but there's many spots protected from the wind and it's generally head high to double overhead all winter long.
If you wanna learn how to surf then avoid the peak season of Sept to end of November. It's probably best to come during the summer months when the waves are smaller and the weather is great.
In short: the year starts with great winter waves that cool off by about April. Heading into the summer the waves get really small but the weather is amazing. As summer gives way to fall the big waves arrive and we hit the peak season with Cloud 9 barelling everyday until about December. Then the winter comes and brings the consistent, big waves but onshore winds with it. However, there are still days with little to no wind in the winter and we'll see a few barreling days here and there.
How do I get to Siargao? (updated)
Manila and Cebu are the main entry ports into the Philippines, so first book your international flights to either of these destinations. Cebu is closest to Siargao and is a much nicer city than Manila so I'd try to fly into Cebu from abroad if possible
Please note that you must have an onward or return ticket booked when coming into the Philippines or you won't be allowed to enter the country. You need to show this at check-in so have a copy of your return ticket with you or a picture of it on your phone.
Next you will have to book your domestic flights to Siargao separately. Cebu Pacific Air and Skyjet Air are the only airlines currently flying to Siargao so check their websites for tickets. There is a direct flight from Manila to Siargao daily with Skyjet Air and a direct flight from Cebu to Siargao with Cebu Pacific Air daily.
*Cebu Pacific Air will also start daily, non-stop flights from Manila this December (2017) and they currently have a daily flight from Manila to Siargao with a lay-over in Cebu.
NOTE: Siargao and Surigao are NOT the same place. Please check carefully where you are booking your ticket.
**You could also fly from anywhere in the Philippines to Surigao city and then take a 3 hour ferry to Siargao island. Tickets are usually cheaper to fly to Surigao rather than Siargao. So if you're on a tight budget or flights to Siargao are sold out this might be a good option however it does require additional travel time and hassle.
You can also take an overnight ferry from Cebu to Surigao city and then take the ferry (3 hours) to Siargao. It's a much cheaper way to travel and will give you a good dose of the local culture. The ferry is also a great option if you have surfboards because there are no additional baggage fees.
Rates: economy class (no a/c) : about 1000php, tourist / business class (with a/c) about 1200php.
Where to buy: Tickets may be purchased on arrival at the ferry port (terminal 1) but I suggest buying them in advance at the Traveller's Lounge in SM Mall Cebu to make sure you get a ticket because occasionally it does sell out.
Schedule: Gates open at 4pm, ferry leaves at 7pm and arrives at about 8am in Surigao city. There are no ferry from Cebu to Surigao on Sundays and no ferry from Surigao to Cebu on Saturdays.
Transferring: Once you arrive at the port in Surigao simply buy a ticket for the next available ferry to Siargao.
From Manila: It would be possible to get to Siargao by ferry from Manila but it seems like it would be quite the hassle. You'd need to take a 30-hour ferry ride from Manila to Butuan and then a 6 hour bus ride from Butuan to Surigao, and finally the 3 hour ferry to Siargao island. If this does interest you, i'm sure you can find all the info somewhere on the internet but I have no personal experience in doing this, except 2nd hand information, sorry.
Where should I stay in Cebu?
There are a number of great hotels in Cebu that will cost anywhere from 1800 – 3500php per night. Check Trip Advisor or Bookings.com and pick whichever seems to suit your needs. Ayala Mall is in the heart of the city so it's best to book one around that area.
Some recommendations based on my own experiences staying in dozens of hotels in Cebu.
The Quest Hotel: Conveniently located next to Ayala Mall with an impressive lobby and great restaurant with breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets. Around 3000php per night.
Best Western Plus Lux: Amazing roof-top with Infiniti pool, work-out area, and lounge chairs. Rooms are modern and tastefully decorated. Best bet for a romantic night. Priced around 4000php per night.
The Well Hotel: Located close to Mango Square and Ayala Mall, the Well Hotel is a great choice for a reasonably priced hotel with rooms from 1500 - 2000php per night. This hotel is fairly new so the rooms are nicely decorated, have big, soft beds, a nice bathroom, and the hotel has an overal clean and comfy atmosphere.
I'm travelling alone. Is Siargao a good place for me?
Sure. Siargao is a great place to make connections and build lasting friendships. Many travellers come here alone so you'll have no trouble finding people who also want to hang-out, surf, and share the good times. The Filipinos here are warm and friendly and you'll make quite a few local friends while you're here as well. Staying at a budget traveller accommodation such as the Paglaom Hostel or The Smiling Pig hostel is a great place to meet people. If you're by yourself, then Siargao is a great choice for your destination.
What should I pack?
Not much. If you can't fit everything in a backpack then you're bringing too much. These days you can buy almost anything you need in Siargao. Bring your medications with you of course, there aren't any good pharmacies here, and try to bring plenty of cash. It's not always easy to take-out money on the island.
Should I bring my non-surfing partner to the island?
Sure. You two can have a romantic vacation with white sandy beaches, cocktails, romantic dinners, and plenty of Kodak moments. Just don't leave him or her alone in the hotel all day while you go surfing. That's just selfish. If you're gonna bring a partner then I suggest surfing just once a day and spending the other half the day doing activities that will make your partner happy. Nobody wants an unhappy partner moping around and causing fights while you're trying to have the time of your life. Be fair with your time or come alone.
Will I have the best holiday of my life in Siargao?
Yes, absolutely. This is why so many people extend there holiday for days, weeks, or even months after arriving on the island. The worst part about a holiday in Siargao is when you have to leave.
Siargao Island :
Do they speak English there?
Yes. The Philippines is an English-speaking country in the heart of Asia. Young and old; everyone speaks English to some degree in Siargao. Because of this, you'll actually get closer to the locals and their culture here than you could in non-English speaking countries.
How can I get money on the island?
There is an ATM in the city of General Luna (close to Cloud 9) but it is often out of money or offline so you can't rely on that one. There are three bank machines in the city of Dapa, which is about a half hour motorbike drive away. These ATM's are also often out of money so don't count on them at the last minute either. They accept most international credit and debit cards. The newest bank in Dapa, DBP, is a major bank in the Philippines so it seems withdrawing money on the island is getting easier, but we still suggest bringing as much money as you think you'll need with you. Best is to take out the cash in Cebu or Manila and then not have to worry about it while you're here.
A few of the bigger resorts and stores will do cash back on credit cards. Ocean 101 resort does cash-back at 5% making it the cheapest one around. You can also do cashback at Ronaldo's Restaurant, T. Jabinas general store, and another couple places around town.
Money can be changed at Palawan Express and a couple others places in General Luna. They accept USD and EUR as well as some other major currencies.
There's also a Palawan Express and Cebuanahere in General Luna for domestic money transfers.
There's also a Western Union in Dapa in case you screw up really badly and need Mommy and Daddy to bail you out... and we've all been there!
Can I use my credit cards in Siargao?
Traditionally Siargao was a 'cash only' kind of place but this has been changing rapidly as most major resorts and a lot of restaurants and shops accept credit cards now. You may also do cash-back on your credit card at the ATMs around or at various locations around town. However, for ease, I still recommend bringing as much cash as you think you'll need in Siargao.
Is Siargao kid friendly?
Yes, Siargao is one of the most kid-friendly places on Earth. You'll find plenty of activities for the kids and most of the resorts and restaurants are kid-friendly. Local kids are friendly and smiley and are seen playing in the streets everywhere. Now there are many direct flights from Manila so you'll find plenty of families walking around Siargao on the weekends.
Do tourists get ripped-off in Siargao?
No, not really. I guess foreigners might pay a bit more than the locals for motorcycle taxi rides or hair cuts or in some small, cash businesses, but I don't really worry about it. As foreigners we have enough money and the locals don't, so if you pay slightly more than a poor local I think that's alright. However, foreigners get ripped-off a lot less in Siargao than most other places in Asia and most resorts/restaurants have standard prices for everyone.
Where should I stay?
I haven't really heard of any 'bad' resorts so I think most any will be fine, check Trip advisor or Booking.com and pick whichever one suits your needs best. Try to stay in the Cloud 9 or General Luna area as this is where the surfing and tourist services area located. If you really wanna get remote and away from people there's also great waves up North in the Pacifico area. See the 1st question in these FAQs, 'Siargao basic info.'
What currency is used in the Philippines?
The Filipino peso (PHP) is most commonly used on the island. You'll have trouble using anything else, even US dollars. Try to bring enough cash for the whole visit as money can be hard to get from the ATMs.
What's the weather like?
Usually it's hot and sunny with blue skies over white sand beaches. The exception is the winter from about December to March when it's the rainy season. But the rain usually stops for a few hours every day and that's when we grab our boards and go get some wicked surf cause it's pumpin' pretty good in those months. Night times in Siargao gets a bit cooler than the day but not by much. You'd still be uncomfortable in anything more than a t-shirt and shorts (unless it's the rainy season, then a light rain jacket will help a lot).
What should I expect for food in Siargao?
The local, Filipino-style food mostly consists of home-cooked dishes from take-out shops during lunch and BBQ restaurants at dinner. You will probably end up eating a lot of BBQ in Siargao because it's healthy, cheap, and absolutely delicious. BBQ restaurants offer foods such as tuna steaks, pork chops, chicken legs, local sausages, and veggie kebabs grilled with a sweet or spicy BBQ sauce. These local BBQ's are popular spots for tourists and locals alike to gather, eat, drink, and chat after a good day of surf.
There's also a great selection of authentic European and Western foods available at the resorts or restaurants located throughout General Luna and Cloud 9. This is because many of the resort owners are Europeans from counties such as: France, Spain, and Italy so they invite chefs from their own countries to come and run the restaurants in their resorts.
As well as European / Western food, the resorts and restaurants around Siargao also offer high-quality, local Filipino dishes such as pork or chicken adobo for when you want to try the local cuisine.
The seafood in Siargao conists of mostly fish and squid but can also includes shrimp, crab, clams, or lobster. However, seafood isn't as common as you'd think. The local diet mostly consists of fish, pork, chicken, and a whole of rice.
NOTE: Please see our recommendations page for some of our favorite restaurants in Siargao. Here are just a couple of the places we'd recommend around here:
Harana Surf Resort: High-quality, Filipino dishes in a upscale, clean & comfortable atmosphere.
Kermit Surf Resort: Siargao's most famous restaurant, the menu is mostly Italian and their oven-fired pizza is famous around the country.
Kalinaw Resort: An upscale, French restaurant that's a little more pricey than the other spots but definitely worth it. Try it for any kind of celebrations or a nice meal on your last night in Siargao.
Mamma's BBQ: Siargao's most popular local BBQ spot. On any given night you'll find this place packed with locals and foreigners alike. Cheap, delicious, and a taste of the local culture!
What's the nightlife like? (updated)
Due to the explosion of bars and party spots over the last year this answer had to be completely rewritten. There has been a major explosion in the amount of bars and party spots in Siargao over the last year or so and Siargao is becoming known as much for it's partying as it is for the surf. From local discos and karaoke bars to upscale resorts with international DJs and swanky cocktail menus, new spots are opening all the time and now there's a party somewhere every night of the week. Here's a few examples (but not all!)
Tuesday night ~ Art night at Viento Del Mar with a live, acoustic band
Thursday night~ Thirsty Thursday at Hot Spot in Cloud 9.
Friday night ~ Pre-drinks at Viento Del Mar with international DJs and cocktails until midnight then head to the local-style 'Jungle Party' to mix with the locals and get down to the electronic, dance hall, and hip hop beats till the sun comes up. You gotta try the 'Jungle Juice'!
Saturday night ~ Espresso Martini night at Harana Surf Resort
Sunday night ~ After Surf Sundays at Bravo Beach Resort with sangria and drink / food specials
Every full moon ~ Full Moon Party at Octopus Beach Bar. Imagine partying on a moonlit beach with a couple hundred of your closest friends!
Is there anything to do besides surf?
Yes! Although Siargao started off as a surfing destination, lately it has become a popular vacation place for surfers and non-surfers alike. Thanks to it's natural beauty and clean, pristine beaches Siargao has become a great choice for anyone looking for that tropical island vacation in the South Pacific. Here's a few ideas of what to do when you're in Siargao:
Magpupunko Rock Pools: a natural swimming pool carved out of the sea-bed that appears at low tide. Swim and snorkel alongside tropical fish and enjoy a day at the beach.
Drunken Caribou: getting wasted with new friends while riding local cows through the jungle.
Yoga: A lot of the bigger resorts offer daily yoga classes with trained instructors in some of the most breath-taking settings you can imagine. Check out Greenhouse Resort, Lotus Shores, or Kermit Resort for more info.
Scuba-diving or free-diving courses at Palaka Dive Centre. From 1/2 day intro classes to getting fully certified, Palaka is the place to be to start new adventures in the Ocean.
Deep-sea fishing. Siargao's waters are full of big fish such as Marlin, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi. Sign up for a deep-sea fishing trip and try your luck in the open waters over the Philippine Trench which is just over a kilometer out to sea from Siargao.
Island hopping: Visit three instagram-worthy islands, stop for a buffet, local-style lunch, and swim and snorkel on the white sand beaches. Contact us for inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sugba Lagoon: Take a pump boat through low-lying mangrove forests and end up in an enchanted lagoon for a buffet lunch with SUPS and snorkel & masks provided for swimming and playing while the meal is prepared. Contact us for inquiries at email@example.com
Motorbike rides: Hire a fully automatic scooter or a semi-automatic Honda XRM and take a cruise around the island highway passing through jungles and stopping in villages or beaches to take in the views and snag a few pictures.
Cock fights: Every Sunday in General Luna. Not something I'd do regularly to be honest, but definately a big part of the local culture and something worth checking out while you're here. I've been and it's really not too bloody or as gross as you'd imagine. Grab a few pesos and place a bet while you're at it to see if it's your lucky day!
Corregor Island: A newly opened attraction featuring a hike up a small mountain, buffet lunch, and swimming and playing on a deserted, tropical island. Be among the first to ever see this island with the naked eye!
Partying: Take in Siargao's burgeoning party scene with great places to hang and meet new friends every night.
Relaxing: At the end of the day, we all come to Siargao to relax and unwind. Whether lazing by the beach or in a hammock at your hotel, Siargao is the perfect place to just forget the everyday stresses of the modern world and totally unwind and find your happy place again. Bring a good book!
Massage: Siargao is a great place to get a massage, we recommend Nemil's Massage Parlour in front of Harana Surf Resort or most resorts can arrange a massage in the comfort of your own room. Ask your front desk!
Is it easy to rent a motorbike in Siargao?
Yes. At Fat Lips Surfshop we have a fleet of automatic and semi-automatic motorbikes for rent and there are also plenty of other rental shops or resorts providing motorbikes for rent.
At Fat Lips we have the all-new 2017 Honda XRM semi-automatic motobikes and 2017 Honda Beat automatic scooters for rent. The XRM is designed for on and off-road use and is the most common bike in the Philippines. It has 4 gears but no clutch, making it a 'semi-automatic' bike. The gears are changed with a foot pedal similar to other bikes but without having to operate a hand clutch.
The condition of rental bikes in Siargao range from brand new to almost garbage. The most common problems on these bikes are the electric starter not working, headlights not working, brakes not working well, insurance/registration expired, and seat storage compartment lock broken. So check the bike carefully before you accept it. So make sure you know what you're getting when you agree on the price and accept the bike.
Standard rental price is 400php per day, but can be negotiated depending on length of stay and condition of the bike..
If you have experience with clutched bikes and would like a 'real' motorbike, then there are several options available such as a Honda XR150, just ask around for a bike with a clutch.
If you simply aren't comfortable with operating your own motorbike please see our 'How do I get around?' section for other modes of transportation on the island.
What area of Siargao should I stay in?
The main surfing and tourist area stretches from the town of General Luna to the village of Cloud 9 along the East coast of Siargao and this is where you'll probably want to be staying. Most of the resorts are located in this area but check carefully as some resorts are located far from these areas.
The General Luna / Cloud 9 area is the tourist center and is full of resorts, restaurants, and bars. Some people however, would prefer a quieter spot with less people, noise, and distractions. Somewhere to get closer to nature, and further from people. So if this is you then you might want to stay in the North of Siargao island somewhere around the town's of Burgos or Pacifico. There is great, uncrowded surf up there and not much else. For accomodations in the North of the island, check Jaffe resort or Bamboo Garden.
I've heard the Philippines has a lot of corruption. How might this affect me?
Although it may or may not be corrupt in the Philippines this won't in any way affect your vacation. I have been travelling here for almost six years and corruption has never touched me in any way.
How can I get around Siargao? (updated)
Most people chose to rent motorcycles/scooters for the duration of their stay. Motorbike is the most common way for locals and foreigners to get around. The most common motorbike for rent is a Honda XRM 125, this is a 'semi-automatic' bike with gears that are changed with a foot pedal but without a hand-operated clutch. There are also scooters for rent with neither gears or clutches to operate, just turn the gas handle and away you go! Bikes usually rent for 400php per day but are negotiable depeding on length or stay. We have new, all-working motorbikes to rent here at Fat Lips Surfshop
If you don't feel comfortable operating a motorbike yourself there are plenty of motorcycle taxis driving around Cloud 9 and General Luna at all hours looking for customers. Just look for an empty motorcycle taxi and raise your hand to flag him down. Short trips usually cost 20 – 50php per head.
~Bicycles are also widely available for rent and usually cost around 250php per day.
~Alternatively, you can probably just walk to most places you wanna go around the surfing/tourist areas.
Getting to / from the airport: Shuttle vans with air-conditioning and comfortable seats can be booked through your hotel and usually cost 300 - 350php for a one-way ride to / from the airport. You may also take a motorcyle taxi to the airport but the cost is around 500php and won't be as comfortable as taking a van.
Is Siargao 'gay friendly'?
Yes. The Philippines has one of the most relaxed and welcoming attitudes towards the LBGT community, and Siargao is no different. There is a large and vibrant gay and transgender community in Siargao.
Siargao sounds too good to be true. Is it really that great?
Until now, Siargao is still off the beaten-path and most people have never heard of it. This means that Siargao hasn't been over-run with tourists and hasn't been affected by all the negatives of big-business tourism. Things are still cheap, locals are still friendly, the views haven't been spoiled, and the surf is uncrowded. Nothing but white, sandy beaches and good vibes. I'm sure coming to Siargao will be one of the best decisions you ever make. Every single day I talk to tourists who are absolutely blown-away with how much they love this little island. It's a magical place that has a deep and lasting impression on everyone who visits. In fact, given the chance, most people will extend their vacation here for as long as they can or start making plans to return as soon as they get home. Just be careful, because once you've been touched by Siargao you'll never stop wanting to come back.
Safety Concerns :
Is it safe?
Yes. I'm sure that if you really tried to get yourself into trouble you could, but I've never seen or heard of any dangerous stuff happening to tourists here. In terms of politics, instability, violent crimes, that kind of stuff; Siargao is perfectly safe and you don't need to worry about anything. However, break-ins and theft are quite common. This is just natural anywhere you have rich tourists and poor locals side by side. So ask your resort if this has been a issue for them and what steps you can do to prevent theft. Hide you money and valuables well when you go out and don't leave money/valuables in your bike's storage box, they're easily and commonly broken in to.
Is there any Malaria or Dengue fever in Siargao?
The Philippines is considered a malaria-free country. I have heard of a few cases of Dengue over the years that I've been living here but it's certainly not common. I wouldn't waste any time worrying about getting dengue in Siargao. However, mosquitos are prevalent and very annoying so it's a good idea to buy some mosquito spray. In Fat Lips we have a range or regular and all-nautral mosquito repellants and sprays to choose from.
Are there any dangerous animals, insects, or sea-life to worry about?
No, there aren't any dangerous animals on Siargao island and there aren't any sharks or big predatory fish/animals in the water.
There are however some small, translucent blue jelly-fish called blue-bubbles. They're only around when there are strong onshore winds, so you probably won't even see any during your trip, but their sting does hurt and itch for quite awhile.
There are also sea-urchins in the shallow water. If you step one one of these the symptoms range from mild-discomfort to severe pain, fatigue, fever, swelling, and infection. You can usually spot the urchins quite easily because of their menacing black and spiky appearance and although people do occassionaly step on them, it usually just causes some pain, discomfort, and a few days off surfing. The best way to avoid stepping on urchins is either to wear reef booties or watch carefully where you're walking when you're in shallow water.
Are there any Islamic militants or terrorists around Siargao?
No, absolutely not. This should be the furthest thing from your mind. In fact, recently a memoradum was signed by Siargao and Surigao's top government and military officials declaring Siargao and its surrounding islands 'Insurgency free'. It always has been, but now it's official. You might see on the news or hear from you friends about Islamic terrorists in the Southern Philippines, but that's very, very far from us and we weren't in the marshal law or affected areas. Life in Siargao continues as normal.
What should I do if I need medical attention?
For small emergencies such as requiring stitches or minor motorbike accidents, there's a clinic in General Luna on the boardwalk close to the market. However, if you can wait, it's probably best to go to the main hospital in Dapa. For larger accidents, you may need to take a boat to the mainland, boats can be chartered 24 hours a day for medical emergencies. The hospital here is small and underfunded so they're only equipped to handle basic problems but the staff are friendly and they'll do the best they can. This is a good time to remind you to drive safely around Siargao and don't enter waves above your skill level.
For general health concerns, sickness, or illnesses there is a good clinic called the J.D.C clinic in the city of Dapa, a half hour motorbike ride from G.L / Cloud 9. The clinic is run by Dr. Chloe Digal who is also the Chief of Hospital at Dapa Hospital.
There are a couple small pharmacies on the island to buy prescriptions but if you have any pre-existing health conditions that require medication you should definately bring enough with you for your trip. Also, you can't buy contact lenses or contact lens solution on the island, so make sure you bring enough for your trip.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as pain-killers, flu-relievers, and such can be bought at most corner stores.
Is there a good surf shop there?
Ya there's a couple, so don't worry about bringing anything or needing anything. Fat Lips surfshop has everything you need at fair and reasonable prices.
Is there a lot of 'localism' in Siargao?
No, not compared to other surf spots around the world. The locals in Siargao are very friendly, welcoming, and laid-back... they're just out there having fun like everyone else. However, surfing around Cloud 9 can get pretty competitive especially when it's big. The locals are really good at surfing and prefer this spot so you may find it frustrating when every wave you wanna go for already has somebody rippin' along it.. So if you're an intermediate level surfer or just wanna avoid 'Crowd 9" it's best to go to one of the many other waves around Siargao where there will be less people and therefore, more chances for you to catch waves. But again, I wanna stress that the locals are super friendly and relaxed, there's very little 'localism' around here.. the waves are fair game for everyone. Show respect, stay out of people's way, and don't surf in spots above your level and you'll be fine!
Is surfing dangerous (in Siargao)?
If you surf with caution, use common sense, and don't surf in spots above your skill level then there really aren't many dangers present in surfing Siargao.
The main 'danger' in Siargao is cutting your feet on the reef when you wipe-out. These reef cuts can be painful and annoying but that's about it. However, they can get infected so it's important to clean your cuts with alcohol and an antiseptic solution such as Betadine when you return from the surf . . You can avoid reef cuts by wearing surf booties but most people prefer surfing without booties despite the occasional reef cut.
There are jelly-fish from time to time with a painful sting. Jellyfish are present when the winds are strong onshore in the winter months, so if you're here anytime from Spring to Fall you probably won't see any. See: Are there any dangerous or sea-life animals in Siargao?
In extreme situations people have been badly hurt. Broken bones do happen in Cloud 9. But this is usually due to someone surfing waves that are above their skill level. Stick to waves that suit your ability and exercise caution and you'll be absolutely fine. If you're a beginner, then it's important to have a qualified instructor with you who can keep you safe at all times.
Should I bring my own surfboard?
If you have one and would like to bring it, then bring it. I get asked this question quite a lot and usually tell people that if you're really picky about what board you use then it's probably best to bring it from home. On the other hand, we have over 70 rental boards to choose from at Fat Lips reasonable prices, and you're free to change the board as often as you like. For these reasons most people choose to leave the boards at home and rent one once they arrive in Siargao. Travelling with a big surfboard bag can be quite a stressful experience!
Taking surfboards on flights: On most International flights you can select and pay for the sports equipment option when you are booking your plane tickets. On flights from Cebu/Manila to Siargao there is no 'sports equipment' option listed but you can just book the regular baggage allowance when you book the flight and they will let you use this to check in your surfboard bag.
If you haven't booked and pre-paid for baggage then Cebu Pacific Air charges 200 pesos/kg at the airport check-in counter, not sure what Skyjet Air charges sorry.
You can bring your boards on any ferry at no additional charge.
I'm a total beginner. Is Siarago a good place to learn surfing?
Yes. Most of the tourists that come here are surfing for the first time or almost the first time. There are plenty of beginner surfing spots and qualified instructors to have you surfing like a pro in no time.
Ok, I've made it to General Luna / Cloud 9... so how do I start my surf holiday?
Beginner surfers: Talk to your resort about surf lessons. All of the resorts in Siargao will be more than happy to arrange this for you. The resort will provide the surf board and instructor and he will give you basic surfing lessons and advice.
Note, if you are a beginner, then an instructor is crucial to your learning and enjoying surfing, this is not the right time to be trying to save a couple dollars. Without an instructor you simply won't enjoy your experience and then the money you spent coming here will be for nothing.
Intermediate – advanced surfers: You'll need to get yourself familiar with the surf spots, the tides, and get yourself a board (if you didn't bring one). The board is easy, just visit Fat Lips Surf shop where we have a great selection of short-boards for rent and a few for sale.
To see the size of the waves and when the high or low tide is use Magicseaweed.com. You can find Siargao's surf spots listed on the website and check when the high and low tides are. This is very important as some spots work better at high tide while others work better at low tide. So when and where you go surfing will be depend on the tides. The tides change by about 50minutes each day so you need to check the tides daily. Tomorrow's high tide won't be the same time as today's!
However, the best way to find a suitable surf spot is to ask around. Ask the resort staff, ask locals, ask other travellers who have been here longer than you. Once you hear about a spot that sounds good to you, make sure to ask if it's a high tide or low tide spot.
In general, Cloud 9, Quiksilver, Tuason, Guian, Pacifico, and Dako work best at high tide while Stimpys, Rock Island, and Cemetery are all good at low tide. Please see our surf spot guide for a more complete break-down of the surf spots around the island.
Note: Some surf spots can be accessed by walk or motorbike but some spots require hiring a boat to reach, this can be costly if you are alone, so try to join a small group (2-6 people) to share the costs of the boat. Boats can be hired directly from the piers in General Luna or Cloud 9 and the cost is usually 200 pesos per person for a return trip to the surf spot. If you are alone, generally the minimum is 500 - 600 pesos to hire a boat.
Don't worry if finding a surf spot is starting to sound too complicated, it's not. Just start a conversation with someone at your hotel and ask them where's good to surf today. Some resorts will organize a surf session everyday that anyone can join. Anyway, after a day or two on the island you'll have already made friends to surf with and have a general idea of when and where you should go surfing. Using the information available on Magicseaweed and planning your own trips are best foradvanced surfers. For intermediate surfers I'd suggest just following your resorts advice on where to surf.
Can I email you with any questions not covered here?
Sure, we'd love to hear from you! Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on facebook at: Fatlipssurfshopsiargao.