Siargao Island

From the pristine beaches of Siargao Island, vibing with the locals, learning to surf, exploring the hidden waterfalls and secluded gems of Camiguin island, to the very peak of the Mindanao mountain ranges- a sweet serenade and early sunrise glow from the very mount Apo backdrop and trailing morning dew and fog. The newly opened scenic coastal road bring in a breathe of fresh air and accessible route that made this trip fun, memorable on every sharp turn and descent- every carenderia stop for food, coffee and local fruits. Each small town stops and City passing by leaving a magical imprints of wonderful memory created. I’d like to share with you our itinerary and the incredible places we have been to.

This is a welcome note to our journey and road trip through the beautiful Island of Mindanao | Part 1: The journey to beautiful Siargao Island.

12 am Philippine time; The road to Surigao City

Early morning monotone stereo sound in a 1980’s built land cruiser, the headlight play bare bone morse code. A right touch of light glare and attention. Both ways. Communication at its very basic but understandably crucial. This is road trip in the Philippines. Sliding one lane to another. Crossing the median lane as I drift into a trance of bliss. Relaxed and at ease. This rational elation I can’t contain. My friend Dan Dan, whose been on this road many times, driving full confidence and control. This wheel, this excitement, this adrenaline abode a swift change of darkness to an inviting energy of exploit. He brings us to a re-collection of adventure. This early pitch dark surrounds me a lingering taste only an early trip barely a street light flickering through the early morning.

Every bridge, every tight turn it calls for adventure as the soft background music illuminate the blackness of black 2 am. We are alone on this road, a collection of fog we hit here and there, the moon untouched it hangs tender but strong and mighty in the sky. The uneven temperature drop accumulated moisture make its way into the air conditioned car as it build up in a corner window. 

There is something about this classic toyota ride that leave a wonderful euphoria. Each solid box angle into a perfect corner somehow dwarf the highway and shorten the travel time.

We made it early to the Surigao pier incredibly fast and smooth two hour drive. A hint of idle ghost like town sweep the streets and party goers zigzag their way back home. Dan Dan makes a trip inside to collect a one way ticket ride on a Ro-Ro boat to take the vehicle across into the island of Siargao. The kids awake this early morning and collectively yawn to a conversation that turn laughter and even a smart and foolish outburst. 

The land cruiser make its way into the tightly packed lower section of the boat after two big wheeler and few other vehicle fill it to inches from each other. This boat is ready to sail as we make our way to the upper deck. Time check, 0600 am.

the route to the Macapagal Port, Surigao Del Norte to take the 4 hour (ro-ro) ferry that takes you to the Island of Siargao | click on the photo above for directions via the Butuan City

The early morning glow penetrate the senses and the gut throwing acidic push. The boat sail into sunrise as we snack a little bit to a soft breakfast together with the kids. The wind blows through the open upper deck, evenly blowing everyones hair one way and directing our attention into a beautiful illuminated Mindanao Island one side and an open pacific ocean the other.

It is a bit of an overwhelming welcome- your feet can only steady as you absorb the facade of the beautifully lit morning ray of sun into valleys of greens and uninhabited white sandy coves.

Four hours in our travel we make our way into inlets and turqouise waters and coconut hillside of Siargao. Early morning fisherman are already back from the sea at ten in the morning. The pumboat make its way at every direction with its loud diesel powered engine knocking at the last passenger out of their sweet slumber.

our wonderful friend Daniel and tour guide with his mint condition Land Cruiser 70 series | a quick pose shortly after unloading his vehicle from the Ro-Ro Reina Veronica boat

Just 6 months into one of the biggest typhoon the island has endured- devastating anything and almost everything along its path, stood still strikingly the resilience of the people and the determination to withstand adversity. The people triumphed over and showed resilience. That is the heart of every Filipino.

Business are re-opening and locals are at full force to reclaim this paradise as they continue to play an important and vital role in tourism. I quickly learned the hardwork they put in to speaking the main language Tagalog and many speak intelligible english. The people here are a wonderful welcome.

A hint of the devastated part of the mainland paint a picture of mangled steel open court in most of the barangay (town) hall that is being restored and worked on like crumpled paper. Many structure hold its very strong foundation but most wooden structures, huts, and houses that face the ocean are completely leveled off. The roads are now open, the hillside have cleared up debris and a hint of growing branch bring greenery, the people continue to restore what’s left, and many business have resumed, re-opening to the public.

Morals of the locals continue to uplift each and everyone. It is incredible to say the least what they have endured. This short article can only attest to what an incredible comeback the Island has and continue to become, one street at a time. One that I myself will continue to look back on.

clockwise from the top: exploring naked Island and enjoying a boodle lunch at Daku Island | the pristine Guyam Island | India ejoys a fresh coconut juice treat

Island hopping

We take a whole day of fun as we hop one island to another. We anchored first at naked island exactly ten in the morning. The white sandy shoreline sparkle a clear blue and turquoise water as visible starfish scatter around defining the shallow waters inviting an imminent dive and fun in the warm pacific waters.

We had a wonderful boodle lunch at Daku island with a generous serving of the days fresh seafood catch, grilled pork, chicken and a variety of tropical fruits. We quickly made our way to Guyam island after lunch for a wonderful relaxing time and enjoyed one of the best served fruit juices on the island.

Our last trip of the day was a nice dip in the pristine white sandy hidden island just before high tide. It was truly a paradise as clear waters complimented the blue summer sky above. The children enjoyed every bit of the remaining time as they used up every last of the remaining energy they had.

General Luna

After exploring the islands we made our way down to the local tourist spots within General Luna. Island vibe with the locals and tourist alike gather along the busy and popular food destination with a wide variety of menu from BBQ and grill to pasta and noodles or simply enjoy your craving for breakfast all day. This is home to many, the jet setters, jet lag tourist or the transient travelers alike find comfort in the food they serve. At the very heart of General Luna just as the road take a soft turn you find Kurvada, or in bisaya- kurbada, literally means a curve or soft turn along a highway. This is definitely a cheap alternative to enjoy great serving of delicious home cooked meal with wonderful people serving you. This place truly set the mood for a wonderful island retreat with a modern relaxing twist of comfort the whole family can enjoy.

above: the busy Kurvada restaurant along tourism road in the municipality of Genaral Luna, Surigao Del Norte | below: ice and roll baby ice cream hut.

A stroll down tourism road will take you to a small hut with a delightful menu of rolled ice cream. The ice and roll baby is home to– home made ice cream with ube jam and your choice of fruits and or a shot of liquor! A delightful way to soak in the island vibe. Bring an umbrella or two or just enjoy the tropical rain as it rolls in with the vibe.

The very first encounter with the human drone!

We prepared for the next days adventure to Maasin River and Magpupungko tidal pools after the wonderful night out of food hunting. What’s more fun as you travel the Philippines are the creative and truly genuine people of the island. Drive down the scenic palm tree road and you will meet genuine surprises along the way as locals sell handcrafted gift like bamboo straws. They will gladly take photos and video clips for you and the family surrounded by lush coconut hillside vegetation Siargao is known for. A coordinated dance like movement capture a drone like effect on the recorded clip. Hence the name human drone! Watch the fun and short clip below. You definitely will not want to miss palm tree view deck and the scenic palm tree road for wonderful photo opportunities.

Tidal pools and Maasin River

We explored the tidal pools in Magpupunko during low tide, an ideal time to travel with children. The whole family enjoyed a quick dip into the warm waters. A quick lunch there and we were off to Maasin river. This place is well know for the Maasin bridge river swing, where you can get on a platform and jump into the river. Another way of enjoying the river is the wonderful but less popular canoe tour that can take you deep in the river to enjoy a tranquil encounter with nature. The tour ends into a small lagoon where the whole family can enjoy a wonderful, peaceful and relaxing swim. The locals here can bring you fresh buko juice upon request straight from the coconut tree. This is one of the best places I have been to with the family and the place you should never miss.

clockwise for the top: Maasin river canoe tour, Magpupungko tidal pools

Recommended places to dine

Kermit restaurant has delicious adobe baked pizza and wonderful Italian menu. The place fills up quickly but the food is worth the wait. The atmosphere is open integrating the island vibe and wonderful Italian serving. A wonderful twist to consider in your island food adventure.

Surfing 101

One should never leave the Island without having to learn, or attempt to surf. The locals at babal surf crew can walk you through step by step on how to surf. It is located in the famous cloud 9 surfing area where local and international surfing competition is held each year. The local surf instructors guide you step by step from the very basic stances to surfing the reef break. They are very professional and affordable for the price of 500 peso (10 USD) each hour per person. They can take photos for you for a few extra bucks more.

our wonderful surf instructor watching the kids as the adults take turn to enjoy the waves.

We concluded this trip with few scratches and bruises, sun burnt skin and soar muscles, but our hearts filled with wonderful memories of the people, the island vibe, friendship and incredible food. All in all a wonderful kickstarter and gateway to our Mindanao adventure! See you next time as we continue our Mindanao road trip series. Daghang salamat! You can watch the 6 part series trailer here on our youtube channel.

Thank you for the coffee!

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