The island of Siargao sits off Surigao del Norte at Mindanao’s north-east tip, right in the path of strong ocean waves rushing in unobstructed from the Pacific Ocean. Beach perfectionists may turn up their noses at the island’s coral-encrusted east coast, but surfers love Siargao, converging on the island between August to November to ride the waves propelled by the offshore habagat (south-west monsoon).
With the addition of an airport, newly paved roads, and several new resorts, Siargao has made a family-friendly turn in the past decade. No longer is this island getaway a secret known only to surfers and Surigaonon families: couples with young kids now flock to Siargao as surely as solo-traveling surfers enticed by Cloud 9’s ferocious reputation. Siargao’s holistic-living appeal helps draw them in, too — health buffs gravitate to the island’s regular yoga sessions and vegan restaurant menus.
Only 10 years ago, motorcycles were your only transportation option for traveling on the island’s dirt paths. Now, air-conditioned vans take families to Siargao’s non-surfing attractions, mainly located far from the surfing spots on the island’s east coast. The hidden Sugba Lagoon, the placid Magpupungko pools and the fine beaches on the islets off Siargao (Naked, Guyam and Daku islands, among others) cement Siargao’s appeal to family travelers.
Anybody staying on the island needs to adjust to its more spartan facilities, and Siargao still has some way to go before it’s completely ready for the kind of family tourism you see on other islands. But if you’ve got an adventurous brood, it must just be the perfect getaway for you.
Prime time: Peak surfing season is between July and November. March to May offers better island-hopping weather — ideal conditions for family travelers.
Stay and play: High-end resorts and a lot of budget B&Bs
Tuck in: There are around 20 restaurants in Siargao, some of which attached to local resorts, and most are located in General Luna town
Stock up: Think small — General Luna town hosts family-run groceries, sari-sari stores and the occasional deli with expat appeal.
Shop stops: Mom-and-pop souvenir shops along Tourism Road sell shell necklaces, pearls, tiny surfboard magnets and T-shirts. Hello Felice, near Cloud 9, offers curated art souvenirs and art workshops.
Action and adventure: Siargao’s surf schools offer lessons for newbies (though the island’s strong waves may not be ideal for beginners). Other popular activities around Siargao include diving, snorkeling and boat-hopping.
Average daily cost for food and drink: About P500-P700 per family member
In case of medical emergency: The 50-bed Siargao District Hospital in Dapa town offers basic medical services, but you’ll need to be medevacked to the Mindanao mainland or Manila for urgent emergency treatment.
Lights out: Siargao is a small town, and it shuts down early — many locals turn in by 9pm — but that means you’ll be all set to wake up before sunrise to catch the best waves.
Also read: Why Bohol’s worth spending a week at
This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of Smile magazine.