Ahh, Siargao Island in the Philippines. Where there’s coconut trees as far as the eye can see, crystal clear water, dreamy waves and some of the best food you’ll ever taste.
If you’re thinking about visiting Siargao, Philippines, you’ve come to the right place! I know the journey there seems long and possibly a hassle, but I can assure you that it’s totally worth it and you will be so happy you made the trek to Siargao Island.
- How to Pronounce “Siargao”
- Where Is Siargao Island Located?
- How to Get to Siargao Island From Manila & Cebu
- Travelling to Philippines Requirements
- The Best Month to Visit Siargao
- What to Expect in Siargao, Philippines
- How to Get Around on Siargao Island
- Currency & How to Get Money in Siargao
- Where to Stay on Siargao: Best Siargao Island Philippines Hotels & Resorts
- Best Restaurants & Where to Eat in Siargao
- Top Things to Do in Siargao
- Siargao Island Packing List Essentials
How to Pronounce “Siargao”
First things first: if you’re going to visit Siargao, you want to be able to say it properly! It’s pronounced “sharg-ow”.
Where Is Siargao Island Located?
The Philippines are an archipelago of islands in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. Siargao Island is a small, tear-drop-shaped island in the southeast of the Philippines, just north of Mindanao.
How to Get to Siargao Island From Manila & Cebu
Getting from Manila to Siargao or from Cebu to Siargao is easy. There are many non-stop flights on airlines like Philippines Air, Sunlight Air, Cebu Pacific and Cebgo.
Cebu to Siargao flights take approximately one hour and 15 minutes. Manila to Siargao flights take approximately two and a half hours.
If you’re a wary flyer, there’s no need to worry about the size of the plane for these flights. I was expecting a tiny prop plane but the prop planes they use are comparable to the sizes of planes you’re used to flying on.
Travelling to Philippines Requirements
To enter the Philippines, US, Canada, UK and most EU country citizens, do not need a visa for visits under 30 days. Here’s what you do need:
- Passport with at least six months validity and space for an entry stamp.
- Proof of onward travel (aka a flight booked to your home country or next destination).
The Philippines also removed the requirement for a COVID test or vaccine as of July 2023.
The Best Month to Visit Siargao
Weather wise, April through September will give you sunny weather with the least amount of rain, though it’s also the busiest time of year to visit Siargao Island.
If you’re visiting for surf alone, go between September and March. The best waves are in September and October, with little rain, but they stay strong through the winter and rainy months! Plus, the island has way fewer tourists in the rainy winter months.
What to Expect in Siargao, Philippines
Siargao Island is very safe for travelers. Siargao is also an ideal destination for solo female travel as well because there is so much to do and it’s so easy to meet people with the activities like surfing, freediving and group tours.
All that being said, it’s still wise to lock up your stuff and not leave valuables in your scooter seat or in plain site in your hotel room. Petty theft happens in even the safest places and while it’s not the end of the world, it will probably ruin your trip.
When you land at Siargao, Philippines airport (IAO), you’ll be greeted by sweeping views of the ocean, small island lagoons and endless fields of coconut trees. The entire island is mountainous with coconut and banana trees, and you’ll love seeing all the open space and farmland as you ride to General Luna.
My husband and I were absolutely blown away by the amount of food options and the quality of the food in Siargao. Some serious investment has gone into the General Luna area and there are quality restaurants everywhere. While there’s certainly Filipino food to be had, tacos, ceviche, Israeli food, pizza and acai bowls are everywhere!
My favorite part about the food is how they incorporate local foods and produce like ube, calamansai and coconut into everything. I’d read the menu description of a familiar dish but it’d have all kinds of foreign ingredients listed. When the meal came out, it’d be the freshest, best version of the dish I ever had.
Everywhere we ate seemed to have quality hygiene practices and neither my husband or I got sick.
As far as drinking water in Siargao, you’ll want to stick with filtered water only and avoid drinking anything from the tap. I recommend brushing your teeth with bottled water as well—just to be safe.
Fortunately, drinking plenty of fresh, clean water isn’t a hassle at all in Siargao. Almost every restaurant or hotel you go to will provide you with clean drinking water. Similarly, you don’t need to be concerned about the water or ice in restaurant drinks because they use filtered. (Keep in mind that this may not hold true if you go out of tourism areas in Siargao).
Siargao was much more developed than I expected. The roads are smooth and you’ll see power lines lining them almost everywhere! And as far as accommodations, they have pretty much everything you’d expect in the West in the hotels and hostels.
Power outages are common throughout the Philippines, especially on remote islands, though it wasn’t much of a problem during our week on Siargao Island. The power only went out once.
As far as WiFi goes, you can find it at most hotels and restaurants, but don’t expect the signal or speed to be strong. Our hotel had Starlink and even that wasn’t very fast or reliable. There are certainly places you can get work done, like certain cafes, but plan on searching to find a reliable spot.
The People & Culture
The Siargao people are hands-down my favorite part about Siargao. Everyone, everyone, is so kind and welcoming. Like they’re genuinely happy to see you and want you to have a great stay. Not a single local we met was pretentious or unwelcoming. The best part of our trip was hanging out with locals.
How to Get Around on Siargao Island
Scooters on Siargao
Scooter is the ideal and most common method of transportation in Siargao. You can easily find one for rent once you arrive in General Luna for around $6 per day. I recommend asking your hotel and any surf or rental shops around because many offer rentals and can help you.
If you plan on surfing, it’s crucial that you get a scooter with a board rack. You may have more trouble finding a scooter with a rack than without, but it’s worth waiting and looking around until you find one. While it’s possible to ride a scooter while holding a surfboard (you’ll see locals do it), it’s an accident waiting to happen, especially if you’re new to scooters.
Also, don’t forget to ask for a helmet when you rent your scooter! The driving is pretty tame on the island and you’ll likely only be going short distances if you’re staying in General Luna, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Car Rentals Siargao
While you can rent a car in Siargao, it’s not going to be as straightforward as booking on Expedia and picking it up at the airport. You’ll want to arrange a transfer from the airport to your hotel and then rent a car in town at one of the local car rental spots. This is something I’d definitely ask your hotel about, because they’ll have suggestions!
If you decide not to rent any form of transportation while on Siargao Island, you can get around easy enough on Tuk Tuks that are basically everywhere, eagerly waiting to pick someone up. Tuk Tuks are three-wheeled rickshaws powered by a motorcycle.
If you want to visit one of the faraway sites, like Magpupungko, you’ll be able to book a tour that handles the transportation.
Currency & How to Get Money in Siargao
Cash is DEFINITELY king in Siargao. I think we only paid with credit card at two different places are entire trip. This is why it’s crucial you have PLENTY of USD to exchange while you’re there, or go to the ATM, which limits you to a max of 10,000 pesos per day (~$175).
Where to Use an ATM (And Avoid Scams)
You’ll see quite a few ATMs throughout General Luna, but you should only use the BDO Bank Machines or the ATM at Cantilan Bank. And keep in mind that the ATMs often run out, so it’s best to go early in the day.
Be sure to avoid the blue Euro Net ATMs. They have high fees and give you a shit exchange rate.
Where to Exchange Money
If you need to exchange cash, it’s super easy. Just go to Palawan Express in General Luna!
Where to Stay on Siargao: Best Siargao Island Philippines Hotels & Resorts
When it comes to accommodation in Siargao, you have options ranging from quiet, tucked-away retreats to party hostels in the middle of town. Below, I’ve listed the best places to stay in the General Luna area on Siargao Island to narrow down your search!
Budget Accommodations (Under $50)
Happiness Hostel Siargao – Happiness Hostel is one of the best hostels in Siargao. It’s located right on Siargao’s main drag, Tourism Road, across the street from the ocean and close to some of the best Siargao surf spots. The dreamy dorms are dripping in clean, boho aesthetic and every bunk is like your own private room. Each bunk has a sliding door you can close for privacy, a fan, charging station and small area to hang your clothes. Plus they offer scooter rentals, board rentals, yoga and more.
Ozen Freediving Hostel – If you’re looking for a peaceful stay where you can focus on freediving, yoga and relaxation, stay at Ozen Freediving Hostel. The property offers privates and there’s a brand new 10-bed dorm now accepting guests, as well! It’s located right around the corner from Sunset Bridge and walking distance to tons of restaurants and the bay where you hop on a boat to go dive or surf. They have all the gear you’ll need to freedive, if you don’t have your own, and you can trust that you’re in capable hands with their instructors.
Ilakai Hostel – This cozy hostel has excellent vibes and extremely friendly staff. They have both a dorm and plenty of privates, plus an on-site gym which is extremely rare for a hostel! It’s tucked back on a part of Tourism Road that’s not as busy as the main town of General Luna but still has plenty going on. You’re walking distance to the bay where you hire boats, close to Sunset Bridge and right next to Ozen Freediving Hostel, should you want to freedive!
Mad Monkey Hostel Siargao – If you’re looking for a grand time, stay at Mad Monkey Hostel. The pool, on-site bar and nightly activities practically guarantee you’ll have a blast and make friends. The rooms are air conditioned with comfy beds and it’s walking distance from General Luna Beach and plenty of restaurants.
Mid-Range Accommodations ($50-150)
Harana Surf Resort Siargao – Harana is the place to stay if you want to be right on the beach and surf every day, but even if you don’t surf, it’s still a killer spot. There’s an on-site restaurant, stunning landscaping and a surf school and instructors right on site. Plus, the rooms are cozy and will give you all the boho island feels.
Soultribe Beach Retreat – If you want a truly relaxing and restful vacation, Soultribe has everything you need right on site. You won’t have to leave the premises the entire trip if you don’t want to! It’s right on the beach about 20 minutes outside of town, and they have a pool, yoga, massage, restaurant and basically anything you want. Plus, you’ll love the dreamy outdoor showers!
Lubihan Siargao – This is one of the best budget hotels in Siargao—and it’s where we stayed! It’s a small boutique hotel right in the main drag of General Luna. Lubihan is walking distance to SO MANY restaurants, bars and stores. There’s not much in the way of amenities but the rooms are super clean and cozy with comfortable beds, and the staff are really helpful. Plus many of the upstairs rooms have balconies.
The River Hideaway – If you’re looking to unplug and get off the grid for a romantic getaway, run don’t walk to book this hidden gem. This dreamy den is just 20 minutes from General Luna, tucked along the river in the jungle. The rooms are more like small apartments with wifi, a kitchen and a private balcony with amazing views of the river. You can fully immerse yourself in nature here—especially by swimming in the river!
Tanaw Villas – Villa with a private pool? Yes please! These private villas will become your favorite island escape. They are beautifully designed with wifi and air conditioning, and the on-site staff are happy to help with whatever you need. Plus, it’s located just a short walk from General Luna Beach.
Kalipay Resort Siargao – For modern luxury on Siargao just outside General Luna Beach, stay at Kalipay. Every suite has air conditioning, a fridge and mini bar and the grounds are stunning. You’ll love the restaurant and pool, plus there’s bicycle and car rentals available on site!
Best Restaurants & Where to Eat in Siargao
CEV: Ceviche & Kinilaw Shack
We ate at SO many great restaurants on Siargao Island but CEV was our favorite by far. Trust me when I say you’ve never had ceviche like this, or this GOOD! This open-air restaurant has great vibes, great drinks and an overall stellar menu.
Prepare to be AMAZED by the tacos here. The tacos come in orders of two and after I tried the Tacos de Carnitas, I went on to order two more orders! Everything we tried on the menu is excellent, including the sangria. You’ll also appreciate the amazing service. Las Barricas has the sweetest servers!
Happiness Hostel Restaurant (Accepts Credit Card)
Go here for excellent Mediterranean food, solid happy hour and boho aesthetic. I recommend siting on the swings at the bar or swimming in the pool right in the restaurant. It’s a great spot for breakfast lunch or dinner. My husband and I went for breakfast and loved both the meals above. We went back for lunch on a different day and the chicken shawarma pita was to die for!
Beach Baby (Air Conditioned)
Ah, this breakfast spot was my favorite place to spend lazy mornings and binge-read A Court of Thorns and Roses. Why? Because they have A/C (which is a rarity in Siargao), and a delicious Ayurveda inspired menu with juices, smoothies, bowls, omelettes and pancakes!
La Mesa (Accepts Credit Card)
This is such a cute spot! It’s indoor/outdoor with a modernish boho style and asian menu. The Satay and Shrimp Pad Thai were superb, along with the watermelon-basil gin and tonic. It’s easy to miss because it’s tucked between two businesses, so follow your map to find it!
Bravo Beach Resort (Accepts Credit Card)
Bravo is a great spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s right on the water with a small pool and bench seating along the side for more relaxed drinking and dining. Everything we tried on the menu was great, but our absolute favorite was the white chocolate coconut cheesecake. They also have an amazing drink menu, with our favorite drink being the Pomada!
This small Thai restaurant seriously delivers. I recommend eating in the room upstairs because there’s awesome wall art and a small air conditioner. You can’t go wrong with the green curry (it’s surprisingly good) and you’ll love how they wrap your Pad Thai up in an omelette (pictured). Be sure to finish off with mango sticky rice or Thai tea and you’ll be 100% satisfied.
Cat & Gun
This small cafe is walking distance from Ozen Freediving and Mad Monkey Hostel. We stopped here after freediving at Ozen and had amazing bagel breakfast sandwiches and fresh juice. It also seems to have decent Wifi as I saw multiple people working on their computers here. Plus, the staff are SO sweet! I believe it’s family-owned.
Roots offers fusion cuisine, inspired by foods from around the globe, with an emphasis on incorporating Filipino ingredients. It’s on the fancier side and you could definitely dress up for dinner here! When ordering, it’s best to get a few plates and share so you can try everything. You’ll love how passionate the servers are about the food and how much detail goes into each dish. Price-wise, it’s not expensive by Western standards but it was the most expensive restaurant we ate at in Siargao.
Shaka Cafe at Cloud 9
You can’t visit Siargao and not eat at Shaka Cafe! It’s right on the beach in front of Cloud 9 and has a swoon-worthy breakfast for any palate. Picture colorful smoothie bowls, chia puddings, fresh baked banana bread and muffins, sandwiches and more! Plus, it opens at 6:30am so can grab breakfast during those morning surf or freediving sessions. That beautiful bowl pictured on the right above is the “Bom Dia” and the taste lives up to the presentation!
Mama Coco is where it’s at if you want to rehydrate with a fresh coconut water or cool off with a coconut ice cream treat. There’s a small window where you order and they call your name when your coconuts are ready!
Lokanto Siargao (Air Conditioned)
Lokanto Siagao has solid Mediterranean food, WiFi and, most importantly, air conditioning! You’ll love the curated interior and sparkly water glasses, and the menu has the best mediterranean staples like Lassi, Kebabs and Gyros.
Goodies (Accepts Credit Card)
Situated right across from Happiness Hostel, Goodies has an enticing sustainable gift shop and international restaurant. You can get everything from salad and pasta dishes to stir fry and charcuterie! We just had a quick meal here but my pasta was delicious and we loved talking to our friendly server about Odette—the class five typhoon that destroyed most of Siargao Island in 2021.
Top Things to Do in Siargao
On Siargao Island, the sun rises at around 5:30am, so plan to wake up early and make the most of your day. The island is a nature paradise and you’ll be spending most of your day outside, so be sure to wear deodorant and sunscreen, and pack water, a towel and a change of clothes or coverup.
Also keep in mind that the tides change dramatically throughout the day and you’ll need to pay attention to when high tide or low tide is for surfing most spots.
Siargao Philippines Surfing
Siargao Philippines surf if perfect for all levels. Don’t be intimidated by the notoriety of Cloud 9, there are plenty of breaks for beginners and intermediate surfers, too!
Below are the best surf spots in Siargao, though there are many more breaks than this list!
- Jacking Horse – Right, good for beginners
- Cemetery – Left and right, good for beginner/intermediate
- Daku Reef – Right, good for intermediate to advanced, need to take a boat, go early to beat the crowds
- Stimpy’s – Left, best for advanced surfers, need to take a boat
- Quicksilver – Right, best for advanced surfers when it’s big, great for beginners when it’s small during summer
- Cloud 9 – Right, best for advanced surfers
- Pacifico – Left, best for advanced surfers, hour ride from General Luna
- Tuason’s Point – Left, best for advanced but spots for intermediate and beginners too when swell isn’t too big
Most breaks in Siargao are over shallow reef so it’s crucial you fall off your board flat (not diving) and are extra careful to not cut up your feet or body. If you do get cut on the reef, be sure to throughly clean the cut/wound with iodine to prevent infection.
I recommend getting surf lessons in Siargao at Harana Surf Resort. The resort is situated on the beach right in front of Tuason’s Point, so it’s incredibly convenient to just walk back and hop in the water when the swell isn’t too big. All the surf instructors here are experts at what they do. You can trust that you will learn to surf and be in capable hands.
Harana also offers multi-day surf courses and a surf camp that includes surf lessons, accommodation at Harana, lunch, yoga and more!
I did lessons here with the instructor Mike and he was an amazing surf instructor and all around enjoyable person to hangout with on the water!
Renting a Surfboard
There are so many places to rent a surf board in Siargao. You’ll likely even be able to rent a board at your hotel! And if you’re doing surf lessons, usually they have a board for you.
But if you’re looking for a sick shop and where I recommend, rent your board at Fat Lips. It’s located right next to Noods Wok Bar & Dao Chow on Tourism Road. They have an awesome selection of quality boards and the staff are so friendly and helpful.
No matter where you rent your board, BE SURE to take a thorough video of the board and all dings and scratches so you’re not liable for something you didn’t do when you return the surfboard.
Board rentals should cost you around $6-7 per day, depending how long you rent for.
Freediving in Siargao at Ozen Freediving Hostel
Siargao has some of the best and most convenient freediving of anywhere I’ve been! The water is deep and crystal clear (with 100% vis most days!), and it takes about 25 minutes get from Ozen Freediving Hostel to the dive spot and IN the water. The owner, Jen, is about the most laid-back and friendly person ever and you’ll immediately want to stick around to dive and hangout once you meet her. I also watched her climb up the trunk of a papaya tree in about ten seconds—so yeah she’s extremely cool!
I did three line training sessions with three different instructors and all of them were amazing in the water and focused on safety first. This is an excellent place to get Molchanovs freediving certification or simply train. And if you’re not interested in training, Ozen also offers fun diving day trips to some of the coolest reefs I’ve ever seen!
Coconut Tree Lookout Point
The coconut tree lookout point is just a stop along the side of the road in Siargao. It’s an amazing spot for a photo (or just to enjoy with your eyes) and it’s an easy scooter ride from General Luna. We stopped one our way to Magpupungko Rock Pools.
Food & Drinks at Sunset Bridge
Okay, I was seriously surprised when we pulled up to Sunset Bridge and I saw what a BIG DEAL sunset is there. The entire bridge is lined with vendors selling food, drinks, ice cream, cocktails, jewelry and more. It’s definitely worth going to for sunset one evening—just be sure to go hungry! You can also jump of the bridge if you’re feeling daring—many people do.
Maasin River Siargao
We didn’t make time to do the Maasin River, but I wish we had! It’s just a 25-minute ride from General Luna and if you type “Maasin Bridge River Swing” into your map it will take you right to it. The swing is gone now but there’s a platform next to the iconic coconut tree you can jump off of.
You can also do kayak tours in the river or ride a bamboo raft down it! Overall, it’s a stunning area to just take in the jungle and enjoy the sounds.
Magpupungko Rock Pools
The Magpupungko Rock Pools are one of the coolest attractions on Siargao and one of my favorites. Magpupungko is about a 45-minute drive from General Luna and you’ll need to plan your visit for when it’s low tide, so the pools are accessible. The drive alone is one of the best parts of the trip because it’s so scenic and serene through the jungle-lined roads. Definitely wear your water shoes to this spot, too!
When the ocean pulls back along the coast at low tide, it reveals the rock pools. They are clear, blue and turquoise pools of varying depths that you can swim and snorkel in! You’ll see fish inside along with some coral and starfish. There are also a couple high points on the rocks that you can jump into the water from (just make sure it’s a deep spot).
This is one of the most popular attractions in Siargao so go early if you want to beat the crowds.
Get a Massage on Siargao
You can’t go to Southeast Asia and not take advantage of the amazingly affordable massages. You just can’t!
My husband and I got two massages during our week in Siargao and I’m still regretting not getting at least double that! We went to Emerald Resort and every masseuse was amazing. The 60-minute Thai massage was 800 pesos ($14) and the Swedish was 600 ($11). You can make a reservation by calling or stopping by.
Other than Emerald, you’ll see advertisements for massages all over the island and your hotel may even have a massage service on-site.
Visit Bugak Spring & Beto Spring
Visiting Bugak and Beto Spring is a super easy activity that’s perfect for a day when you don’t really feel like doing much but don’t want to sit in your hotel all day. Either spring is only a 20-minute scooter ride from General Luna and they are only a 10-minute drive apart, so you can easily do both in under two hours. It’s an absolute must that you wear water shoes for either spring because there are really sharp rocks. Each spring entry fee is under a dollar per person, so make sure to bring change or small bills, as well.
Bugak Spring is a small, crystal-clear pool that connects with the river. It’s shallow and great for wading in while admiring the tropical views. This would be a great spot to enjoy beers, if you pack a few.
Beto Spring is a much bigger spring that joins a river. There’s a big tree hanging over the river with a rope swing for you to swing into the water, too. It’s a really cool property overall and there are a few spots you could sit down and relax or eat a packed lunch.
Island Hopping Tour
Taking an island hopping boat tour to Guyam, Daku and Naked Island is a hugely popular activity in Siargao. For roughly $20-$40, you’ll spend a day on a boat stopping at three paradisiacal islands with lunch included (usually). It’s a great opportunity to work on your tan, appreciate Siargao’s crystal clear water and reef, and have an overall relaxing time. There are tons of vendors offering these tours, so I recommend asking your hotel if they recommend someone or can help you arrange it.
Siargao Island Packing List Essentials
As far as what to pack for Siargao, you really don’t need much. You’ll be wearing a swimsuit most of your trip and it’s so warm that when you do wear clothes, you can get away with thin dresses, shorts and tank tops. Plus, there’s excellent shopping in Siargao and you’ll probably want to buy a few cool tanks or shirts to bring home.
Aside from your usual toiletries and clothes, I listed the absolute essentials you must add to your Siargao packing list below, along with links to purchase the versions I recommend.