Siargao Island is famous for surfing and many surfers from around the world flock to Cloud 9 all year round. I’m not a surfer and what I’m going to share are budget and travel tips and what to expect when you arrive in Siargao.
Located off the east coast of mainland Mindanao, getting here by plane from Cebu is the most convenient way. If you’re coming from Manila, you have to fly to Cebu and catch a connecting flight to Siargao. Flight time from Cebu is around one hour. After landing on Siargao, you will be greeted by van drivers going to your accommodation. Rate per person is Php 300. You can bargain but don’t accept amount higher than that. Travel time from airport to General Luna is roughly 45 minutes.
Alternatively, if you’re coming from mainland Mindanao, jump off point is at Surigao City port. There are several ferry schedules during the day but these are not fixed and depend on demand. The best time to go to the port is early in the morning. Fare starts at Php 200. Sailing time is two to three hours depending on the kind of ferry. At Siargao port, you will be greeted by habal-habal (two-wheeled motorclyes) drivers. Rate is Php 200 per motorcycle going to General Luna.
Tip: There is only one bank with ATM in Siargao, Eastwest Bank. It is located near the port. Withdraw enough money as going there is a bit of a hassle.
General Luna is the municipality where all the action is. Upon arrival, the first thing you have to do is rent a motorcylce as transportation in the island is inconvenient. The island is pretty huge too and a motorcylce will be your best friend. Rate is Php 350 per day. You can bargain but don’t accept higher than that.
Accommodations abound in Siargao and budget travelers have many options too. The cheapest accommodation I found is Dormitel. Their 8-bed airconditioned dorm room costs Php 200 per night and location is just in front of Cloud 9. Unfortunately, I found Dormitel after I paid for my accommodation at Villa Solaria. The rate is Php 300 on a 12-bed non-airconditioned room. The room is open and dogs of the owner freely roam inside and worse dogs even do their thing inside the room and I have to call the employees to clean the mess each time.
Food in Siargao is affordable. Most hostels and hotels have their own restaurants. Each meal would set you back Php 150 to 200. If you want to go where locals eat, head to the market in General Luna where you can eat food for Php 50 to 80.
Budget for Activities
1. Island hopping
Php 1500 per boat for seven to eight persons. You will visit three islands namely Naked, Daku, and Guyam. Among the three, I love Naked island the most. No, you won’t find any naked swimming there or whatever. It was called naked because it’s only made up of white sand, more like sandbar in a form of an island. Jump off point for island hopping is in front of General Luna market. You can buy some meat and seafood from the market before hopping onto your boat as food option is limited in those islands, but there is facility for cooking or you can have the locals cook your food for a fee. The fee that I paid together with seven others was Php 800.
Board rental is Php 200 per hour. Coach fee per hour is Php 300.
3. Ride around the island
Ride around the island is more or less 100 kilometers. You will need four liters of gas which is Php 200 (1 liter is Php 40 to 50). Along the way, you will visit Magpupungko rock formation. Entrance is Php 50 plus motorcylce parking fee of Php 20.
Up north of the island is Taktak Falls, the road going inside is a bit rough but the motorcycle can endure it, trust me. Entrance fee including parking is Php 50.
There are patches of dirt road but they are being paved at the moment. Majority of the length of circumferential road is smooth which makes riding around overall pleasant, and add the beautiful scenery and you will have the best motorcylce ride of your life.
Getting out of Siargao should be easy if you take a plane but if you’re going to take a ferry, be sure to be at the port as early as 5am. The first ferry leaves around that time and last ferry for the day leaves around 1pm. However, if you arrive late like I did at 9am, the tickets were already sold out and I had to beg that I need to leave that day. Alternatively, book a ticket in advance.
Overall, Siargao Island is a nice place to relax and enjoy without breaking the bank.