30 THINGS TO DO IN SIARGAO ISLAND, PHILIPPINES: THE BUCKET LIST
In the south of the Philippines is an island entirely covered with palm trees. It boasts the best waves in the country and attracts surfers from all over the world. It also happened to be my home for the last month of 2017. Siargao was my island home for 35 days. I adventured on land and sea to create this bucket list of tourist spots in Siargao. While the island is known as a surfing hotspot there are so many awesome things to do in Siargao that don’t involve the waves. Here is the ultimate Siargao bucket list!
30 Awesome Things to do in Siargao
#1 Surf some waves!
This list of things to do in Siargao has to begin with the surf, it is after all the surfing capital of the Philippines. Siargao hosts the ‘Cloud 9 Surfing Cup’ each September, an official WSL Pro event. It also boasts waves almost all year-round, similar to surfing hotspots like Oahu, Hawaii.
The beauty of surfing on Siargao is that there is a surf break for all levels. Personally, I suck at surfing so I hit up the beginner waves at Jacking Horse. I did enjoy watching the seasoned surfers tearing up the bigger waves out at Cloud 9.
If the waves aren’t rolling in nicely at the beach breaks you can pay $4-5 USD to ride a boat out to an island break less than an hour from Siargao and surf the afternoon away in the middle of the ocean.
These are some of the popular surf breaks in Siargao and what you can expect at each of them.
Cloud 9: This is the most famous surf break on Siargao and has some nice barrels. We spent many mornings watching the experts carve it up from the three-story hut that sits out over the water.
Jacking Horse: The most accessible beginner wave on the island. A great spot for learning how to catch a wave but often crowded with surf lessons and it has a strong tide. Lots of paddling if you aren’t a gun. Some of the local longboarders tear it up here!
Stimpys: A consistent left-hander, which is a great place for short-boarders to have a little fun.
Pacifico: Although its a long drive (up to an hour) from General Luna, at Pacifico, you will find some of the biggest surf on Siargao.
Rock Island: Take the boat out for a fast-moving right-hander. Best for experienced surfers.
Guyan (Secret Beach): Head on past the trespassing signs and enjoy small rolling waves great for beginners. It’s about 30 minutes from General Luna.
If you don’t surf there are still plenty of things to do in Siargao! I only surfed three times in Siargao during the whole month. If you are wondering what to do in Siargao if you aren’t a surfer this list has got you covered.
#2 Cloud 9 Pier
One of my favorite things to do in Siargao was to wake up for sunrise and chill out on the end of the Cloud 9 pier. Sometimes surfers were tearing it up and watching that was awesome. Other times I watched the sun slowly rise in the distance. Hardly anyone wakes up to head out there except for a few others, quietly enjoying the start of the day at Cloud 9. If you had out here for sunset you will find yourself sharing the hut at the end of the pier with quite the crowd. It doesn’t get the perfect sunrise or sunset due to its location but it’s one of your best bets if you are in General Luna. I wrote a full blog post about the best sunsets spots on Siargao best sunsets spots on Siargao.
#3 Magpungko Rock Pools
Magpupungko Rock Pools on Siargao Island are one of the most popular things to do and easily my favorite day trip on the island. Just a 45-minute moped drive from the main tourist area of General Luna, the rock pools are exposed at low tide and are an awesome spot for hours of exploring and cliff jumping.
The crystal clear blue water had me speechless. This is an epic little area, with coves, caves, and cliff jumping spots aplenty. There are multiple spots to get your backflip on if you are into a bit of a jump. I advise wearing water shoes or just regular shoes like me as the rocks are very jagged and sharp to climb.
Full Blog Post: Magpupungko Rock Pools on Siargao Island
#4 Tayangban Cave Pools
Tayangban Cave Pool was one of the highlights of my many adventures throughout Siargao. It was one of the best caving experiences I have had in Asia. For 15 minutes you swim and float in darkness, only aided by torches. Bats fly around you until you finally emerge to the open cave pool where you can cliff jump from seven meters.
Immediately after descending through the opening, we were chest deep in water. We swam through the dark caves, guided by a solitary torch. From time to time bats swooped down on us and eerie noises shot out from the distance. The water was mostly chest height so you could walk through in most sections if you prefer.
The cave opened up after fifteen minutes with a huge archway that helped to breach the darkness and welcome us back to the sunlight. It was then just a short swim to the open pool, which is the end of the tour. Many people call it a day here but there is a cliff jump spot into the 18ft deep water. That was a big bonus for us and made it one of our favorite places to visit in Siargao!
Full Blog Post: Tayangban Cave Pool (Cliff Jump)
#5 Coconut Palm Forest at the Top of the Road
This is a spot you will likely drive to without even planning on it. On the way to destinations like Pacifico, Tayangban Cave Pool or Mapgpupungko Rock Pool you will pass through an area we called ‘top of the road’. I’m not sure if this is a local/official name or something we came up with.
It’s halfway to Magpupungko and you will know when you have arrived. You will veer around a sharp corner and all of a sudden be looking out over thousands of coconut palms. I think we pulled over almost every time we came here to check it out.
One morning we came for sunset. Even though it is not a spot to see the sun come over the horizon, the colors were so beautiful as the light slowly broke out over the palms. We did have to wake up at 4 in the morning for that mission. Sunset in the palms is nice and at both sunrise and sunset, you can get some light rays shooting through the palms!
#6 Sugba Lagoon
Sugba Lagoon is one of the most popular things to do on Siargao. It’s a short day trip from General Luna, Siargao to a spectacular lagoon surrounded by epic mountains. The day trip costs around 1500 pesos (30 USD) per person or more if you book it in the tourist are of General Luna. However, we managed to find a way to get to Sugba Lagoon for 300 pesos (5 USD) per person.
Despite being a recommended as one of the popular Siargao tourist spots, Sugba Lagoon isn’t overcrowded such as spots like Kayangan Lake in Coron. You won’t have the lagoon to yourselves but it’s a big enough area to find your own piece of paradise to chill, take photos and hang out. It is a 4000-hectare sanctuary, which you will enjoy on the drive in as well as while you hang out in the main lagoon. Activities at Sugba Lagoon include renting a big wood raft, SUP boards, diving board, swimming and relaxing in the cafe.
Full Blog Post: Sugba Lagoon (Cheap Local Route)
#7 Island Hopping – Guyam, Daku and Naked Island
There are so many awesome things to do in Siargao Island but one of the most popular activities is to get off the island and go island hopping from Siargao. There are three beautiful islands only a short long-tail boat trip away from General Luna, which is the tourist part of Siargao. Guyam Island, Daku Island, and Naked Island are the three stops along the tour, which includes pick-up, drop-off, and a seafood lunch.
Guyam Island is a tiny island covered in palms. You can walk from one side to the other in about 50 steps! It’s a beautiful little Oasis!
Daku Island is the biggest island of the tour and a great place for a swim and lunch. Small huts line the beach, perfect for chilling in the shade and enjoying a seafood banquet!
Naked Island is a small sandbar, which earned its name by literally just being sand. A few bits of grass are growing on it now but it is a great little stretch to hang out with mates!
Full Blog Post: Island Hopping in Siargao
#8 Tak Tak Waterfall
Heading up to TakTak waterfall in Santa Monica is a full- day adventure to the north part of the island. From General Luna, the waterfall is 1.5-hour drive but is well worth the effort. We enjoyed the waterfall to ourselves. Cliff jumping, tree jumping, and exploration to the top of the falls were the highlights of the adventure. It’s one of the less touristy things to do in Siargao. It’s the only waterfall on Siargao but a pretty damn cool one!
Full Blog Post: Tak Tak Falls – The Only Waterfall on Siargao
#9 Alegria Beach
The first thing I noticed at Alegria Beach on Siargao was the white sand and crystal clear water. Coconut palms lined the beach. It could have been a postcard. This wasn’t one of the popular Siargao tourist spots with just a few locals hanging back on the grass behind the beach. It is quite a long drive to Alegria Beach from General Luna. It can take about an hour driving.
There is quite a bit of reef at this beach but there is still water deep enough to swim in, which isn’t too common on Siargao. One of the hardest things to do in Siargao is to find a beach where you can swim without being near a reef. Alegria isn’t perfect but you can get fully submerged in parts without stepping on sharp rocks.
Full Blog Post: Alegria Beach – The Best Beach on Siargao
#10 Santa Monica Pier
In the very north of the island is one of the least touristy things to do in Siargao. In the town of Santa Monica is a huge pier. We headed out here after a day of visiting Alegria Beach and Tak Tak Falls. Siargao isn’t the best island for sunsets as the main Siargao tourist spots don’t really face west at the sun. However, this is one spot where you can watch the sun drop down over the horizon on the ocean.
Sitting out on the end of the pier, we watched as the fisherman packed up after a day of work and chatted with a few young kids. The drive back to General Luna in the dark isn’t too fun but we stopped halfway in the dark, turned off our moped lights. It was then that we were blown away by the epic blanket of stars. It was the best starscape I have seen in my entire life! Fireflies buzzed around us and we couldn’t have been more grateful to be on Siargao in those moments!
#11 Shaka Cafe Smoothie Bowls
This is not a food blog but there are a few spots that will make it on this list you need to try! Shaka is the standout and an obligatory acai bowl is in order from this chill little cafe right by Cloud 9 surf break. With lots of different smoothie bowl options, you can’t go wrong especially with a coffee included for $6 USD. Not a bad way to kickstart your day! Don’t forget to upload a photo of your bowl to Instagram because these bowls are works of art.
#12 Pacifico Beach
It may seem like a long drive but a visit to Pacifico beach is one of the things to do in Siargao that you will not regret. Far away from the crowded waves of Jacking Horse in General Luna, Pacifico gives you that North Shore, Oahu small surf town feel. A few resorts and homestays are nestled in the dense palm trees that line the pristine stretch of beach that is Pacifico.
The drive towards and past Pacifico is beautiful with winding roads leading you along the coast and in and out of palm tree forests.
#13 Beach Clean-up
Halfway through my stay on Siargao, I received an invite on Instagram from @thesuncrew.
The Sun Crew is an organization in Pacifico that has over 40 registered kids who they help in a number of ways. Some of the kids stay with The Sun crew, others came and hang out and do activities. Each weekend they organize a beach clean-up at 9 am on Saturday to help keep Pacifico Clean. More importantly, the kids learn early on that rubbish can have a negative impact on the environment and keeping it clean is instilled in them at an early age.
After the beach clean-up, the kids have a surf and a big lunch, which is kind of the reward for the clean-up, although they had just as much fun running around picking up the trash with us!
This was just one big family and was one of my favorite things to do in Siargao. Thanks so much to The Sun Crew for inviting us and to the 40+ kids for making us laugh for four hours straight.
#14 Hit up one of the nightly parties!
We didn’t party too hard on Siargao but we ventured out into the nightlife four or five times in the month. One of the most popular things to do in Siargao is to surf during the day and party at night then repeat that every day for the entire trip.
The bars in Siargao actually have a cool system that works well for the partiers but also the clubs. Each night is a different venue and the bars share the nights of the week. If you feel like partying just ask anyone where the party is at that night. They will give you the pre-pre location, pre-location and the actual party, which will kick off around 11 pm.
Bravo, Rum Bar and Viento seem to be the popular picks throughout the week but hands down you can’t leave Siargao until you have had the ‘Jungle’ experience. Each Friday night there is a wooden shed with open walls that fill to max capacity and becomes one hell of a party. During the day it looks like a place you would keep your horses but come Friday night you don’t want to be anywhere else!
#15 Secret Beach
I mentioned this spot earlier in the surfing section but I think it deserves its own bullet point. Secret Beach or Guyan Beach is about 30 minutes drive from General Luna. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see 20 motorbikes with surf racks parked in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road. You’ll need to walk through the palm jungle for about 15 minutes up and down a few hills until you will reach the coast. Here you will find a small surf break with good intermediate waves.
The walk to the beach is reason enough to visit but this whole experience just exudes island vibes.
#16 Dapa Town
While it might not be high on your agenda of things to do in Siargao, to visit the main town of the island, I always like to check things like that out. In Dapa you will get to see Siargao life beyond the tourists. We did some grocery shopping here, had to visit the pharmacy (none in General Luna), left from Dapa port to visit Socorro and had lunch here on the way up north several times. Life on Siargao is pretty relaxed whether by the surf or not.
Tip: We had a burrito and shake at the Mexican place in Dapa for $1.50 USD. No complaints.
#17 Sunset at the Secret Mangrove Wharf
Just before you reach Del Carmen, a small town in the northeast of Siargao you will unknowingly pass one of the best sunset spots on the island. This is one of my favorite things to do in Siargao and each time I visited this magic spot I was the only tourist around.
The wharf extends out towards the mangroves which are the focal piece of the view along with the perfectly still water. When we first saw this water so still, we knew it would be an amazing spot for a colorful reflection if the sunset blew up. We were in luck.
A local took us out in a small boat and we also sent the drone up on every occasion we visited this spot. From the sky, this complex mangrove system only gets more and more epic.
Full Blog Post: Secret Sunset Spot – Del Carmen Mangrove Wharf
#18 Visit Corregidor Island
It’s not a common thing to do in Siargao but it was one of my favorite spots in the region. Corregidor Island is about 30 minutes by longtail boat from General Luna. It isn’t normally included in the daily island-hopping trips. Often it is a stand-alone adventure with resorts like Kermit offering tours to Corregidor.
On Corregidor, a small number of locals live in the village. Beautiful beaches cover every inch of coastline. It is one of the few islands in the area, which has an elevation. This means hiking. we hiked to the top of Corregidor, which is covered in long grass and palms. It’s a landscape you don’t see very often.
#19 Join a local Karaoke Party
It pains me to say this because Karaoke almost drove me insane a few times in Siargao. When a local family has a birthday or just feels like it, they fire up the karaoke machine and settle in for a 12-hour jam session. This involves some bangers and great vocals, although the majority of the day is often a very loud, off-key blasting, which you are hopefully not next door to.
The most important part is that the Filipinos love karaoke and they fire up the machine at any chance. Filipinos also love welcoming people to share in their fun, food, and family so don’t be surprised if you get invited in or find a way to invite yourself in if you are similar to some of my friends.
We spent a couple of nights hijacking a local family’s karaoke party and I watched as my friends slaughtered some classic tunes in a way that made me never want to hear those songs again. It’s always a great laugh and a good chance to hang out with some locals and get beyond the language barrier with the help of some classic anthems!
#20 Watch the Sunset at Cloud 9 Pier
I mentioned earlier in this post that the Cloud 9 pier can get a little busy at night but it’s all relative. You will have space to sit down on the edge of the hut and watch as the pastels in the sky burn and slowly dim. Watch the last surfers retire from the waves below as the sky darkens.
#21 Chill Sessions at Kermit Restaurant
Hanging out at Kermit was one of my favorite things to do in Siargao. The breakfast wasn’t necessarily cheap but for $5 USD you got a choice from french toast, a big bowl of fresh fruit, bacon, and eggs etc. Also included was a coffee and a fruit smoothie. Pretty decent value if you ask me.
The Wifi on Siargao is pretty unreliable all over the island. Kermit wasn’t perfect but it was always a good place to start the endless wifi search. Out the back, they have a few pull-up bars and a slack line. We tried very hard to learn to slackline but that shit is hard! My mate and I would work out on the bars at Kermit and then jog the 3 kilometers down to Cloud 9 for sunset. Island life!
Kermit is a chill resort and it looked like the place I would want to stay if I wasn’t a tightass budget backpacker!
#22 Visit Sohoton Cove in Socorro
Our favorite day on Siargao… wasn’t actually on Siargao. We island hopped on the ferry from Dapa and then a few small boats to Socorro then Sohoton Cove.
We visited so many cool spots in one day that I will list each one individually:
Blue Lagoon (Titikan Lagoon)
Water so blue it reminded me of Kawasan Falls. I don’t understand how something can be so milky blue right next to crystal clear water around the corner. We arrived at the Blue Lagoon and took a short tour in a private boat up and down the lagoon. It’s similar to the lagoons in El Nido.
Tip: this is the most epic place to drone from. You won’t see it until you are in the air!
Venture deep into this epic cave system. I mean really deep. We walked several hundred meters into the cave with our guide. Watch out for stalagmites and bats. You can also squeeze down a small tube for several hundred meters. It’s so tight that we all came out covered in mud! This is not one for claustrophobes!
This was the craziest damn cave ever! To start with you swim in an entire way to the back, which extends over 30m. Once inside Hagukan Cave, if you splash the water you will soon discover why this is labeled as the luminescent cave. The water will glow electric blue as you splash. We were like a big bunch of kids splashing about, fascinated by the glow!
We thought the Hagukan Cave would be by far the best cave and the highlight of the day but shortly after we visited Magkuku-ob Cave. You swim into the cave then climb up into the cave before emerging at a 5-meter cliff jump back into the lagoon where you began! What an adventure spot this is.
Club Tara Resort Diving Board
Our tour guide parked the bought at a pier to a bit of a random looking resort. However, it had a 5-meter diving board. They knew us too well. 30 flips and crash-landings later my head was full of water and we had the best time! Definitely, try and stop here if your guide is up for it.
Behind the resort is a huge lake, which I am having trouble locating the name of. Definitely, make the five-minute walk over the hill to check out how peaceful it is.
Sunset in Sohoton
Finally, you should end your day on a beach or in your boat like us, enjoying this epic region as the sky lights up. We were blessed with an absolute belter of a sunset. Fiery red marked the end of the best day ever!
#23 Go Cliff Jumping in Siargao
Siargao is a small island in the Philippines that from first glance may seem to have no cliff jumping opportunities and maybe cliff jumping is just not of the things to do in Siargao. In fact, when I first arrived I thought there would be no jumping for my next 30 days on the island. Throughout our adventures, during the month we ended up finding quite a few spots ranging from 3m to 8m.
Tayangban Cave Pool: 7 meters
Magpupungko Tide Pools: 4 meters
Magkuku-ob Cave: 5 meters
Sugba Lagoon Diving Board: 3 meters
Club Tara Diving Board: 5 meters
Tak Tak Falls: 3-6 meters
Full Blog Post: 6 Awesome Cliff Jumping Spots in Siargao
#24 Find the Best Local Cheap Eats
We had a month to try the good, the bad and the not so good. We were on a budget so the price is just as important as taste to us. These were our favorite budget eats:
Miguels: Awesome burritos and tacos for $1.50 in General Luna. Prepared quick and goes down great with a San Miguel Beer.
Ronaldo’s: It’s the local favorite. They serve just about any food but the best is the bbq chicken which they do out the front on the bbq. It takes forever to get your food but its pretty cheap and very good quality. Go with a group of friends and hang out for quite a while before you get your food! A chicken curry is only $2 to give you an idea of the price.
Aventinos: After a long day of adventuring you don’t always want to wait an hour at Ronaldo’s. When we wanted something quick and cheap we headed to Aventinos pizza. It’s super cheap and you can get a huge pizza for as low as $2.50 and obviously more expensive with different toppings.
There are quite a few more but those were our three go-to cheap spots to eat in Siargao.
#25 Go Off-Road on Random Roads into the Jungle
The beauty of Siargao is that is so raw and the island atmosphere is so real! General Luna is touristy but 90% of the island is not touristy at all. Jump on your moped and go for a drive. Turn off onto some random dirt tracks during golden hour and watch the light rays shine through the palms as you get eaten alive by mosquitoes. Getting lost in the jungle was one of our favorite things to do in Siargao during golden hour.
#26 Shoot Photos on Siargao’s Most Epic Road
At either sunrise, sunset or just whenever head down just pass ‘Top of the Road’ and you will be on a long stretch of road. Coconut palms line this road and it’s not til you send a drone up that you will fully understand how awesome this road is. If you don’t fly a drone then no worries. It’s still the best road on the island for photos. We shot both from the air and down on ground-level and they are my favorite shots of the trip.
#27 Climb a Coconut Palm to the Top
If you love a challenge, try to copy the masterful locals who scale a coconut palm in seconds. The first few steps up the cuts in the tree are easy until you find yourself tired and 10-meters high in a palm. This might just be one of the hardest things to do in Siargao.
#28 The Bent Palm
While there are many palms that have grown sideways on Siargao (They can’t all be perfect!), there is one that has had an extra little bit of attention than the others. We hung out with @jacob from Beautiful Destinations for a day on Siargao and he posted an epic shot of this bent palm we had seen earlier that day. We didn’t think we could live up to his photo but we went back at a different time of day and had a blast in this cool little spot taking some photos and getting glass in our feet while wading down the river!
#29 Coconut Palm Forest for Sunset or Sunrise
Hanging out inside the coconut palm forest is so damn cool. I was just overwhelmed no matter which way I turned. Thousands of palms, small pools of water, light rays shining through, small fires burning off rubbish, pet pigs squealing and small wooden huts. It’s an amazing place to explore and once again if you drone, send it up here and look around. It’s not one of the commonly suggested things to do in Siargao but you won’t regret it!
#30 Hang Out with the Locals
No matter how many awesome things there are to see or how many waves to ride, the most important thing in each destination I visit is the locals. You are visiting their home. Not only should you treat every inch of their land with respect but these are the people you want to hang out with if they give you the chance. This is one of the best things to do in Siargao and I encourage you to go out of your way to meet a local at karaoke, a surf, a chat at breakfast in the hostel, a beach cleanup or a full-day adventure. Think not what can they do for me but how can you help them. Our favorite day on Siargao was the beach clean-up we did at Pacifico with all the local kids and surfers. The people in Siargao are pretty chill and happy to share a joke with them.
Siargao is a beautiful island. Treat this island with respect. Leave it better than you found it and be proud of your actions. Make a positive impact during your visit. I hope this Siargao travel blog has given you an idea of just how beautiful Siargao is!