We all know that Siargao is the primary surfer’s destination in the Philippines. But to say that it is only for surfing is like saying basketball is a game played with a ball. Indeed, Siargao is not just about surfing. There are lovely pockets of paradise that are within reach from the coast—paradises such as sandbars made of powdery white sand, secluded islands, and secret pools.
It was raining all day the day before. So in our sleep, we prayed that we’d wake up to a beautiful, sunny weather. Well, someone must have heard us because we woke up to a cool, windless dawn with a fantastic sunrise welcoming the day.
In just a few minutes, fiery colors lit the sky like a kaleidoscope. The sounds of waves crashing on the rocky flats made us realize that we are listening to a natural symphony. Mother Nature is simply awesome!
While enjoying this spectacle of nature, early-rising surfers took advantage of the emptiness and peace and rode the waves.
We went back to our room, got our things ready, and showered. Our assigned boatman Roel wasn’t there yet (we made arrangements with him the day before), so we helped ourselves with a huge breakfast of toast, scrambled eggs, and coffee.
Half an hour after taking our breakfast, Roel arrived and announced that the boat was ready. Nanette and Jessica, two of Ocean Pacific Inn’s staff, asked if they could go with us. The girls have set foot on the islands we are about to visit a couple of times, but apparently, the destinations are so awesome that they want to visit the islands again. Of course, Sweetie and I gladly let them accompany us.
Check the fourth picture and look at how small our pump boat is.
As we left Cloud 9, the number of surfers taking advantage of the morning waves started to increase. Now, look closely at the lower one-third of the photo below. Can you see that the color of the water is different from that of the rest of the photo?
Well, that’s because we were actually riding higher than them. Yes, that should give you an idea of just how big the waves are in Siargao. And just think about it: this is just the start of the surfing season!
Just check out that powerful wave! Some can ride on it, some won’t, and some just wipe off it. Wohoo! That’s the excitement of surfing.
Cloud 9 isn’t just the only surf break in Siargao. Here, we passed by another lesser known surf spot called Cemetery because it is just right in front of General Luna’s public cemetery. Look at those mighty waves.
More than half an hour later, we docked at General Luna’s Baywalk to buy some ingredients for lunch. This is also where the town’s population congregates after a hard day’s work.
The girls headed to the wet market to buy some fresh seafood, vegetables, spices, and condiments for our lunch. Would you believe that we bought two large fish, a kilo of shrimp, a kilo of squid and other ingredients for only P500? Yes, it’s that affordable! If we bought the same quantity in Cebu, we would have to shell out twice that amount!
While the girls shopped for our midday meal, I took a short stroll around the Baywalk. Apparently, it was almost deserted when I went there; but I could imagine children playing, teenagers giggling, mommies chatting, and men toasting to good health while watching the sunset or gazing up the stars.
Discos, parties, and festivals are frequently held here. If you’re a night owl or if you’re overwhelmed by the peace and quiet in Cloud 9, then you should definitely head off to the Baywalk after sundown.
Also, the public market near the Baywalk is where fishermen make their first stop in the morning where they can sell their catch. If you want to get the freshest fish for your tinola, then you need to be at the market at the crack of dawn.
We made a special video about our island hopping adventure in Siargao. As you can see, it is not a surprise why Siargao is a favorite destination for everyone, from locals to foreign tourists.
“All present and accounted for?” Roel asked. We nodded yes, and we were on our way to our first destination.
Now, if you look at a map of the Philippines, you would notice that Siargao directly faces the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, we were actually cruising at the edge of the Pacific Ocean!
The sea, understandably, was really choppy even on a fine day. However, that didn’t bother the fishermen in the area who were on board smaller boats than ours! We, on the other hand, held on to our boat’s edge until our knuckles turned white. Roel wasn’t perturbed even one bit!
Half an hour later, the sea calmed down a bit as we approached Naked Island, a gorgeous sandbar in the middle of the sea. Roel, a very experienced boatman, said that the sandbar changes positions depending on the tide.
The first thing that caught our attention was not the sand but the flock of little terns that rested happily on the sandbar. Our arrival, apparently, disturbed their sunbathing. Hehehe!
I was able to zoom at them and take this unusually sharp photo of the terns. Terns are small graceful seabirds that are found almost everywhere in the world. Up close, they are quite slender and lightly built. They have narrow wings, long bills, and forked tails. Terns feed on small fish, crabs, mollusks, and shellfish.
Naked Island is devoid of any feature except for scattered remains of corals, rocks and shells as well as a marker of some sort in the middle of the sandbar. This is probably a resting place for fishermen before they head out to the wet market in General Luna.
When visiting here, it is advisable to wear sunglasses. The white sand reflects a huge amount of sunlight to your eyes, which can cause temporary blindness.
What an exquisite paradise! Naked Island’s sand is as fine as powder. Then check out that clear, clean water!
Of course, we couldn’t resist that water, which is a perfect balm for a hot, sunny day like this!
Once we had our fill of Naked Island, we headed out to our next destination—neighboring Daku Island where we will have our lunch. Daku, in the Visayan language, means big; and it’s the biggest island here save for mainland Siargao.
Aside from Siargao mainland, Daku Island is the only populated island in the area. But it’s just a tiny community of less than a hundred families. When we docked on its awesome white-sand beach, we saw a tiny chapel, a small community center, a single sari-sari store, and a day-care center.
Tourism and fishing appear to be the main source of livelihood here.
The Daku Island community erected a few, open-air cottages where visitors can relax and take their lunch while enjoying the beach. Cottages can be rented at a minimal price.
Small, isolated communities like this never fail to amaze us. Despite being far from civilization, these people seem to be happier and more contented in living a simple life than those folks living in so-called sophisticated ultramodern cities that are ripe with stress and chaos.
Local boys prepared a sumptuous lunch using the fish and squid that we bought from General Luna. Nearby, a few locals placed their focus—and their money—in playing a popular card game called Tong-its.
While waiting for our meal, Sweetie and I checked out Daku Island’s gorgeous beach. Yes, it was hot and sunny, but that’s okay. We enjoyed a gorgeous view of the sea and the surrounding islands.
Again, we couldn’t resist the blue ocean beckoning us to come to her cool embrace. So, we just dived in and enjoyed the water.
Notice the sand embankment on the left in the photo below. It may look insignificant, but that’s actually twice my height!
An hour later, Jessica and Nanette called us to come over, which meant that lunch was ready. When we got to our cottage, we had a piping, mouthwatering hot feast on the table.
Yummy, isn’t it? For lunch, we ate grilled shellfish, grilled fish, kinilaw (raw fish mixed with vinegar and spices), tihi-tihi (sea urchin served in vinegar and spices), and adobong nukos (squid cooked adobo style). Juicy watermelons capped our midday meal.
A filling lunch and a dozen stories (courtesy of Roel) later, we packed up and headed to our next destination—Guyam Island. Although we were cruising in open water, the sea is relatively shallow in this part of Siargao.
Guyam Island is less than a hundred meters in length. Just like many isolated islets in the Philippines, it has a groove of coconuts growing at its center. How these trees are able to survive in a small island that is totally exposed to the sea is beyond us.
Just like in Daku Island and Naked Island, Guyam Island’s shore is carpeted with fine powdery sand. Burying our feet into the warm, moist, soft sand was really therapeutic.
At the center of the shady groove are cottages, benches, and tables where island hoppers can relax and eat their meals. These facilities are available at very minimal prices.
Roel said that there is a full-time caretaker who watches over Guyam Island (talk about being lonely!), but we didn’t see him when we went there for a visit. We had the island to ourselves!
While most of the island is made up of fine sand, the entire western side is carpeted with razor-sharp rocks that provide plenty of hiding spaces for crabs, mollusks, and other small sea creatures. This makes it a great feeding ground for seabirds.
Although Guyam Island is a usual stopover for vacationers, we didn’t stay long because we still had an hour’s worth of cruising to our next destination, which is to the northeast of Siargao.
Along the way, we saw the waves picking up. Naturally, surfers from all over Siargao gleefully met and welcomed these waves.
Watch out for next post, which features another unique natural wonder in Siargao.