Disclaimer: This blog post about Siargao was written last July 2021, the information listed here may not be updated. Due to the Super Typhoon Odette that devastated the island last December of 2021, a number of restaurants and establishments on this list may have closed. Nonetheless, let’s encourage tourism and continuously support Siargao’s recovery.
Planning a Trip in a Pandemic is Stressful AF
The stress of planning a flight in the middle of a pandemic is something I would not wish on anyone. Please expect sudden flight cancellations, rebooking, and having to replan your whole trip again and again. Yes, your flight might be tomorrow already, but out of the blue, the government may decide to put your city in hard lockdown once again. And no, you got no choice but to follow and let go.
Our safety should be our first priority. If you have an upcoming flight, it will serve as extra protection to be fully vaccinated. Congratulations if you already are. But if not and you’ve done a bunch of registrations for COVID-19 vaccinations already, may the odds be ever in your favor… I hope you get an actual schedule!
I do get our desire to escape and get away from the suffocating isolation that is the city in the middle of the pandemic. The prolonged emotional turmoil from being confined in our houses and the anxiety of still not knowing what the future holds are exhausting. We long for that chance to travel for leisure again, to enjoy a vacation, taste life, fill our souls, and live our days without worries.
If You Want Paradise? Siargao is The Place for You!
If paradise is what you’re looking for, well Siargao is the best place for you! Siargao is a tear-shaped island in the Philippines known as one of the top surfing spots in the country. In 2019, Siargao was named by Conde Nast Traveler readers as the Best Island in the World. Also, many people who visited Siargao as tourists decided to stay permanently because they appreciated the simplicity of life and the absolute beauty of the island. And if you’d want to do a bit of soul-searching, Siargao is just about the perfect place to do so. Here’s a blog I wrote about life lessons the island thought me during my 8-day stay last July 2021.
To help you guys a little bit with planning your trip, I’ll list down everything you need to know. Straight to the point! Don’t worry. I got you all covered and I promise to not miss any detail!
Pre-Flight Requirements (for Guests Not Invited by Siargao Residents)
Because of the pandemic, Siargao has additional requirements that you would need to prepare before the day of your flight:
Negative RT-PRC or Saliva Test Result valid 48 hours upon release of results
Confirmation of DOT-Accredited Hotel for at least 2-Nights Stay
Letter of Acceptance (care of your hostel or accomodation)
Email Confirmation of Siargao Provincial Tourism Office (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Travel Itinerary (optional)
You also need to make sure to register for the E-Health Pass and download the TRAZE app on your phone. You will be needing these when you land at Sayak Airport or Siargao Airport.
To get updated on the latest news about Siargao, I would recommend for you to Like the Siargao Tourism Assistance Center on Facebook. You can also message them directly if you have any pressing questions or concerns.
Tips for Preparing your Siargao Trip: PRE-FLIGHT
Length of Stay – You should stay in Siargao for as long as you can! My friends and I stayed there for one whole week, but we still felt like time quickly flew by. You can choose to stay for maybe 2 weeks? Another idea is you can arrive there, and stay there indefinitely while delaying your return flight as much as you can. I mean, if you are doing remote work, this is totally possible.
Choosing Hotels – I would recommend not using third-party apps when booking accommodation for your stay. This is because it would be a hassle to call or get in touch with agents if it so happens that your trip gets canceled and has to be rebooked to a later date. Book your hotels directly using their websites or social media pages.
Ask first if there are rooms available for your travel dates. Observe how long they take to respond and also ask if they have unlimited rebooking. Pick a hotel that you can easily communicate with either through your emails or social media messages. They should be able to handle quick back-to-back conversations because you will need their help with gathering your requirements. Your choice of hotel should be also flexible and accommodating. They need to be understanding because the pandemic can cause our plans to change out of the blue. My friends and I booked Lampara Siargao a year before our trip to the island finally pushed through. We’re super thankful for the wonderful experience we had during our stay. You can read the hostel review of Lampara Siargao here.
Taking your RT-PRC or Saliva Test – Take your RT-PRC or Saliva test 2 days before your flight. The airport is very strict when it comes to counting down the hours from the release of your test result. If you got your results over 48 hours before the supposed departure of your flight, they will question you. We actually got in trouble with this because our results came earlier than the 24 hours waiting time that the lab advertised. We had to reach out to the lab to correct the release date so that our test results would still be valid when we arrived at the airport.
Sending your Requirements via Email to Siargao LGU – Send your flight details, hotel booking, negative RT-PRC or Saliva test result, and valid id’s to email@example.com at least the day before your flight. I would recommend at least 2 days before your flight because it might take some time for them to reply with the confirmation. Some even call them directly for follow-up.
Once you have everything ready, I personally would recommend you print everything on paper, but having everything saved on your phone is enough. Also, make sure to save the number of the Siargao LGU on your phone because you might have to contact them if the airport staff is blocking you. Once you received their confirmation, you should be good to go.
Hotlines of the Provincial Tourism Office: 0963-890-6038 or 0927-2818555.
Luggage – Yes, just get extra luggage already. You will need it. I tell you!
For contact tracing, you will need to scan a QR code at the Siargao airport using the TRAZE app. You will also need to present your E-Health Pass for them to scan along with your valid ID’s. There’s also a Php. 20 environmental fee that they will collect before you get out of the airport.
Transporation – There are Shuttle Services waiting outside the airport that you can ride to bring you directly to your hotel. We paid about 300 pesos each for our shuttle service and the travel time was about 45 minutes before we finally reached our hostel. You can also arrange or ask if the shuttle can pick you up from your hotel on the day of your return flight.
Tricycles in General Luna is about Php. 20 per person if your destination is within General Luna and one tricycle can ride about 5-6 people.
The main mode of transportation that people are riding in Siargao though are Automatic Motorcycles or Scooters. That’s why I would also recommend that you get your driver’s license before your trip. (If you need help with that, I’ve also written a couple of blogs about getting your Philippine Driver’s License in a pandemic.) Scooters can be rented for about Php. 250-500 pesos depending on when and who you get it from. You can ask your hotel if they have scooters available for rent or you can also ask your booked tours if they have. No worries though because the locals are also happy to help you find scooters if you really need them. (If you wanna learn how to ride a scooter, you can also check out my blog on learning how to ride a motorcycle).
Riding scooters in Siargao is really easy because there is only one straight main road. You might just have difficulties with the dirt roads that are not yet developed. Just be careful with that okay. Also, always make sure that you and your passenger wear helmets and have your face masks on when you drive.
Things to Do in Siargao
Restaurant and Resort Hopping – We ate out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and boy was the food good! Many resorts are also open to anyone, even if you aren’t staying there. You can enter and just dine in or have coffee with your friends. There are also a lot of spots where you can stay for hours which is important if you’re working remotely. Another good thing is a lot of restaurants also have Happy Hour every day at around 4 pm. It’s so early because all restaurants close already by 8:00 PM. Click here to check out the Master List of Restaurants in Siargao for Breakfast and Coffee, and for Lunch and Dinner!
Surfing – There are a lot of surfing spots in Siargao, but Cloud 9 has got to be my friends’ and my favorite because we are already friends with the surf instructors there. They never run out of waves to surf in Cloud 9, but the instructors will also advise you of the best time to surf each day. Half an hour of surfing is about Php. 500. You can store your items in a locker for Php. 50. For pictures, you can have somebody take pictures of your when you surf. We paid Php. 500 pesos for our pictures for all 6 of us already!
Beach Bumming – One thing that you will realize when you’re in Siargao is how you don’t really have to plan about everything. Take the time to relax and just appreciate the great views of the island. Lay on the sand or swim by the shores of the beach. A lot of hostels and resorts have beachfront that you can hang out in. But if you want a change of scenery, you can also check out Malinao Beach or Secret Beach. You got a motorcycle, go ahead and ride there. Nothing’s stopping you.
We booked our tours in advance with Gotmarked Tours. Gotmarked offers land tour and island tour which takes up about the whole day. We were pretty happy with our experience with them and would definitely recommend you guys to check them out. They were always on time and the tour guides they provided with us were all so kind and accommodating. There was also no rush and we were able to enjoy all of the places we visited during the tours.
Gotmarked picked us up from the hotel. Their van is pretty spacious and can accommodate up to 14 pax. True, that you can do a DIY land tour with a motorcycle, but that would be super exhausting!
Mapupungko Rock Pools and Flats – This was the first stop of our land tour. We had to leave our hostel bright and early to catch up with the low tide. Several natural rock formations stand tall amidst the flooring which is mostly corals. Watch your step because there are holes where the water isn’t as shallow as one might think. Your leg might just slip in or get stuck. My friends and I spent a lot of time swimming in the pools. The water is very clear and you can also see a lot of fish swimming by. Just a warning that the pools are quite deep so be careful.
Coconut Road – A long-winding road lined up by seemingly endless coconut trees on both sides. This is a popular place for taking solo and group pictures, but just be prepared to line up and wait for your turn. Also, you might have to dodge passing scooters and cars before you continue posing.
Sugba Lagoon – A boat will bring you and your friends to Sugba Lagoon, where you’ll suddenly wonder if you’re somehow teleported to El Nido, Palawan. Sugba Lagoon is like a playground hidden by mangroves right in the middle of the sea where you can do a bunch of fun activities. Face your fears and take a leap of faith by jumping off Sugba Lagoon’s 4-meter-high diving board. For Php. 300, you can also kayak or paddleboard around the lagoon. My friends and I paddled around the perimeter of Sugba Lagoon and saw a bunch of jellyfishes just swarming about!
Maasin River – Another popular picture-taking spot that I’m sure you guys have seen on Instagram! You’ll certainly get Bali vibes from the bamboo raft and crooked palm tree backdrop. For Php. 20, a very flamboyant and enthusiastic photographer will not only take your pictures but also direct you on what to do to get some perfect shots. Plus points if you’re handsome (I wasn’t his type, but my friend was), because he’s gonna make sure you look the best. There are also diving boards here where you can jump off from, but they removed the swing that used to be by the coconut tree.
Coconut View Deck – There are so many coconut trees in Siargao and well, this is just more and more of that. This was a quick stop for picture taking before the land tour ended.
There was no van for the island tour so we had to go straight to the port of General Luna to ride our boat. We had to sign up for a couple of waivers and also pay a Php. 50 environmental fee before meeting our tour guide and hopping on the boat. They will also have snorkeling goggles for rent for about Php. 50 each.
Before visiting your first island, you guys will stop for about 15 minutes to do some snorkeling in the middle of the sea. I heard from my friends that they were able to see a bunch of really beautiful coral formations and fishes under the sea. Yes, I was also there and I put my head underwater and swam around, but as someone who cannot see without his glasses, snorkeling is pretty useless with me. Haha.
Naked Island – No this is not the island to get naked. But if you’re that confident, you can go ahead. Just a warning that your naked body would be seen by boats even miles away. There is nowhere to hide in Naked Island because it is bare. There’s basically nothing on this island, but white sand and a very hot sun. More than an hour here and you’ll be fried like an egg.
Daku Island – This is where we eat, and boy was the food good! A variety of seafood and fruits for group sharing. Normally, this would be a boodle fight where we would use our fingers to eat directly on the banana leaf, but because of the pandemic, it became more like a buffet. We collected our food on our own plates and ate with plastic gloves. We spent some time walking around Daku Island because it was pretty big. We even saw Andie Eigenmann here having Lechon with her family and friends. I saw the Lechon before I saw her, because man, I imagine that tasted delicious!
Guyam Island – This was our last stop and there wasn’t really anything to do here, but that was the point. It was so relaxing here on this island. This was probably my favorite. You could just chill by the hammocks and not worry about a single thing. It’s windy and the coconut trees just give you the right amount of shade from the very hot sun. They also sell some really weird mango shakes here. I enjoyed a tall glass of mango coffee. Sounds weird, but it was actually quite tasteful. We kinda just chilled here until it was time to go home and end our island tour.
DIY Corregidor Tour
Corregidor Island – We arranged for a DIY tour to reach Corregidor Island during our last day. We directly contacted the boat we rode during our island tour. We paid a total of Php. 3000 to rent out a boat to take us to the island. On Corregidor, we paid Php. 40 pesos for the environmental fee. The beach in Corregidor is beautiful already, but you can do some trekking through the barangay (yes, people live there), and up the hills, for you to arrive at a Batanes-like scenery. Corregidor Island must be the most beautiful island we’ve visited out of all of the others we went to in Siargao. It’s captivating and you’ll feel like you’re inside one of those romantic Filipino telenovelas we used to watch on TV when we were kids.
Join Groups if You Want More Insight!
If you need more information about Siargao or advice on how to plan for your trip, I highly encourage that you also join Siargao Travel Groups on Facebook. The people are very nice and they are super quick and happy to answer your questions.
Having joined these groups actually helped us a bunch of times, especially when we were anxious if our trip would actually push through. SPOILER: Our initial plan for April 2021 didn’t push through because Siargao blocked anyone from Metro Manila from entering their Island because of the lockdown. We rebooked about 7 times before we finally arrived in Siargao last July 2021. It was months of struggle, but we had the absolute best time in Siargao! I know you guys will too, and I wish you all the luck in your Siargao Trip Planning!
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