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Siargao: Every Surfer’s Garden of Eden

Paradise means different things to different people.

Some might imagine a lush tropic locale, dense with blooming flowers and sparkling lagoons. Or maybe they’ll think of a serene beach, with white sand next to blue water shaded by palm trees.

In Siargao, a Philippine island just off the east coast of the main island chain, you can find both these beautiful examples and many more wonders of the natural world. And if you’re a surfer, there’s even more to love about Siargao.

The island is home to some of the best surfing in the Pacific, including the famous Cloud 9 – a reef wave now known as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines.” Where once only day-tripping locals and extremely adventurous foreign surfers partook of this amazing surf break, now people come from far and wide to ride the waves and take part in international surfing competitions.

Photo taken by Matt Herradura Photography

Trips to Siargao

So you’re an avid surfer looking to experience the thrill of Cloud 9′s hollow tubes, or you’re an adventurous spirit looking to relax among the waterfalls and mangrove swamps of Siargao’s amazing landscape. How do you go about getting to this tropical paradise?

First, you’ll have to get to the Philippines. From the mainland you can take a motor launch to reach the island, or fly from the island of Cebu. You can also fly from Manila to Surigao, then take the daily ferry to Siargao.

Once you arrive in Siargao, you’ll have a few options for lodging. There are hotels close to the town center if you want to be near the hub of the island’s action. For a more leisurely stay, consider the many resorts closer to the beach or Cloud 9.

Must-Do Activities in Siargao

Yes, it was surfing that put Siargao on the tourist map. But the non-surfing activities are just as much of a draw for adventurous and nature-loving travelers. When you’re planning a visit, make time for at least a few of the following activities even if your main goal is to ride the waves.

Diving & Snorkeling: The reefs around Siargao and the surrounding islands are home to an incredible variety of tropical fish and coral. The colors you’ll see once you’re underwater will blow your mind.

  • Lagoon Visits: The lagoon on Siargao, in the municipality of General Luna, is beautiful and provides some of the smoothest sailing you could ever hope to find. But Sohoton Lagoon is deserving of a whole day’s exploration – the entrance through a natural cave tunnel leads you into a magical pool set in the midst of jungle cliffs, where you can swim with the fish into underwater caves and around incredible rock formations.
  • Jungle Treks: The natural beauty of Siargao isn’t limited to water-based wonder. A walk through the island’s jungle leads you into a paradise of exotic creatures like six-foot-long monitor lizards, toucans, and all kinds of other birds. Siargao is also one of the few places in the world where you can still encounter bush babies (small lemurs) in the wild.
  • Boat Trips: There’s nothing better than exploring every corner of an island destination, but in Siargao the only way to hit all the hot spots is by boat. A day’s worth of island hopping can lead you to an assortment of beaches, surf breaks, islets, and even climbable caves.

Surfing in Siargao

But of course, no trip to Siargao would be complete without renting a surfboard and hanging ten. The surf season runs from August to March, with the best days occurring in September and October.

Siargao’s insane waves are caused by the Philippine Trench. Just 30 miles from the island, the seabed drops to a depth of 10,000 meters. This incredible depth generates monster swells when typhoons and other tropical storms pass through the area. The waves of Siargao are known for their amazingly hollow tubes – barrels so incredible that you’ll dream about them for the rest of your life.

Cloud 9 is certainly the most famous of Siargao’s surfing destinations, but there are other breaks equally worth checking out. Visit Daku Island, Tuason Point, Tuesday Rock, Guyam Island, or other breaks for a slightly less crowded surf day. But remember to wear booties or other foot protection when the breaks are on a reef, as they frequently are in Siargao.

Whether you want to hit the waves or the jungle, the beach or the lagoon, one visit to Siargao is all it takes to discover why the island is truly a modern-day Garden of Eden.

Tess Pajaron is part of the team behind Open Colleges, Australia’s provider of  TAFEcourses equivalent and travelagentcourses . She has traveled to many different countries and loves to discover new places.

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