I am a very lucky girl being surrounded by friends who are willing to spend around 2.5 weeks of their vacation with me. After having an amazing time in the Philippines 2018 with different island hopping, the Philippines were calling again. This time with other people (except Mila) and an other island, not less amazing
than the year before, but let's go through the journey step by step :)
As mentioned, this time we left the Gspändlinis from last year at home. It was time for some girls power or how we called it - tripletrouble :) as I was travelling with Mila and Simone. Before we
could re-unite, as the two started their vacation two days earlier and with some days in Camotes, I arrived from Singapore and decided
to stay for one night not too far form the airport, at Hotel Mayoo which is perfect for a quick
stop as all I needed first was a pool! When I arrived, everything looked different than the year before. Reason - the new international terminal opened and I could not find the ATM's where I had
them in mind the year before. So I decided to walk in the heat and my luggage to the national terminal where the ATM was out of order. Not sure what I should do I decided heading back to the
international terminal and - surprise - the ATM's showed up outside of the terminal which i would have seen when taking another exit door.
Then, next surprise, the settings of my Bankcard to withdrawl money somehow did not get saved and I didn't get any out of it. Luckily I still had some roaming to change the setting online and
then I heard the releiving noise from the machine :).
Life is easier when having cash - next stop was the Globe shelter to get a local simcard and then I took a taxi to the hotel and you know now why I needed the pool so desperatley and I finally
made it after getting lost with the elevator system. Right on time for the sunset I was at the pool, yessaa.
After all the exhausting travel, I booked a relaxing massage. It was that relaxing, that I forgot my beloved Garmin watch there and it has never been found again in the hotel. I hope she is
living a happy life now in the Philippines, there are worse places on earth to get retired :).
Too tired for getting out, I went for a light dinner at the inhouse restaurant
Uma - was very delicious!
After having enough of travels and airports, it was time the next day to get to the local terminal and flying to our island for the next 10 days - Siargao - yay! And, furthermore to re-unite with
the girls - triple yay!
The fun started at the airport already. We were finally re-united and additionally, Milas father and his wife joined us for some days on the island too as this year's program didn't allow us
to visit them in Dalaguete.
After a short flight (it was not even possible to play the fun plane game at Cebu Pacific due to time constraints), we arrived in Siargao and got transferred (transfer is 300 pesos per person to
General Luna) to our stop for the next days - the Romantic Beach Villa. We got a huge villa with direct beach and pool access which we enjoyed after having a Mahi Mahi lunch and drinking
fresh coconut :)
In the evening we enjoyed a very delicious dinner at the Bliss restaurant which just got opened 6 days ago by that time and is managed by symphatetic Swiss Guys from Bern :). The food was
very delicious and for us it was clear that it was not the last time being there :).
When we returned home, we had an unromantic experience at the bathroom as there was a coackroach joining us who had to be removed by a brave local! :)
Friends and Family on the island
When your travel plans are crossing the plans of your friends: As Milas and my former working colleague Martin was on the island with two friends for surfing, we did also catch up regularly
(mostly on the evenings for dinner and a drink) and enjoyed cool and fun company with the boys (Martin, Patrick aka Giovanni and at least for one evening Joao aka. Schwan :)) and having Milas
father and his wife on the island for some days too, we could enjoy some day activities together.
In order not to bore you what we've done day by day, I split the activities into different sections:
Trips and what to do on the island
- Siargao is known as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines. Obviously, this is the main thing to do. You also get the perfect wave for beginners and surfing instructors can be found at every
corner which make it easy for the first Surfing experience. As I tried it in the past and i am not really made for board sport, I did not try it by myself but enjoyed watching a lot when even
small kids where catching their first waves!
Of course there are other surf spots too for the more advanced surfers where you usually go out by boat to catch the waves.
- Renting motorbikes. It is the easiest way to ride along the island and you are just more flexible. Traffic is not too bad (sometimes a bit busy at general luna) and there are amazing roads,
surrounded by palms and you will enjoy the ride. Helmets are not mandatory, we insisted on it and were lucky to get them on both rentals although we were more or less the only one seen with
- Book the 3-island hopping tour which brings you to the three islands nearby. We started around 2 pm which was great just to see the sunset on the last island. You will see:
Guyam Island - only a 10 minutes boatride away. Very cute island with some palmtrees. When Mila was there 4 years ago, she was almost the only one there. Now it is getting more crowded
already and doesn't seem to be a secret spot anymore.
Dako Island - it's a bigger island with a restaurant. It's very cool for swimming and playing beach volleyball into it.
Naked Island - basically a sandbar, with no shade. you could also do some snorkelling around which we didn't but enjoyed a beautiful sunset over there.
- Going to Cloud9 - do the Cloud9 Board walk and enjoy watching the surfers at
this world-known surf sport.
- Heading north with a stop at Magbupungko Rock
formations. You can jump there from a stone into the rockpools. It is very touristy yes but you can walk a bit further and it gets less crowded. Has to be visited during low tide. Take the
drone with you if you have one :). Drive further up north to Pacifico Beach - a beautiful
beach where you also get delicious meals!
- Beach CleanUp! As you probably know, plastic is a real problem especially on those islands. It is important to protect paradises like Siargao (by hearing they want to get an international
airport the alarm bells are ringing already). That's why we wanted to do something and join the movement which happen actually every Saturday. Unfortunately we were a bit too late as we were
waiting at the wrong spot but we could catch up with the volunteers and the kids and see how they get educated how to treat nature and why it is important. Can highly recommend to support the
SEA Movement Philippines!
- Sunset Yoga at Kawili Beach Resort. Was very cool
and the perfect mix between stretching and activating your core muscles.
- Riding the motorbike further up to North to Alegria Beach. We returned the same way,
but might be also worth to ride along the island down east :)
Wakeboard Park - as I told you I am not really good on a board, but I was happy taking
the job as a photographer to see Mila in Action. They introduced it very nicely and helped to stand on the board. You get in total 90 minutes and max. 6 pax and is definitively something fun
for people who would like to try it out. And for the other it is very cool to watch as well!
- Massage! We had one at Sole Spa which was ok but we got much better Massages at the Sirene Spa and booking over facebook in advance made it easy for us to plan :).
- Swimming in Siargao is possible during high tide. When low tide the water is too low and to get the most out of beautiful beaches, it makes sense to get island hopping. Either the 3
island trip I mentioned before - or, alternatively - and it really blown our mind away - book a private boat tour to
Mam'on! Ok we also had perfect weather condition - the water there was crystalclear and deep turquoise, the island surrounded by palmtrees and what was even more amazing: We were mostly
the only one there. Curious how long this will remain a secret spot. I feel very blessed to had the opportunity given to discover such a gem. And yes, it would have been another fantastic
drone spot :) This is one definition of paradise.
We did also stop at the island opposite but as it was low tide we didn't go on the island, just stopped for a quick snorkelling which was also the only one we did on this vacation.
What you shouldn't do
- To forget the drone at home (sorry Jürg :)) Honestly, Siargao is the perfect island for amazing drone shoots! There is no restriction (yet) of not using drones and there are great locations
for getting amazing pictures and videos out of it.
- Coming without Cash. Payment is required usually in cash. There are two ATM's in town which sometimes work, sometimes not. If possible get enough before you arrive there :)
- Leave your pocket lamp back home. Sometimes there are shorter or longer power outages. And in general, a pocket lamp is always a good item to take on your travels :).
- Expecting good internet signal. It was a bit of a challenge to booking our flight back to Cebu (thank you Charlie for your great assistance :)) or to book the second accommodation.
Food & Drinks
Eating great food while being on holidays is important. The great thing on Siargao being a surfers paradise is that it is attracting people around the world (I haven't seen many Asian people as
on other islands, but many European, American and Australian) and that's why the island offers a huge food and drink variety for everyone. Here is an overview of what we have tried (yes,
there are still restaurants we didn't go :))
- As mentioned, you should not miss out an evening at Bliss. Winnie is an
excellent cook and we enjoyed every course. Special mention to the Rigatoni with meatballs and the worldclass chocolate mousse!
Mamas Grill: Completely different set up, not
for fine dining but very delicious options you get from the grill.
Shaka Cafe for delicious Smoothie Bowls at Cloud9
Sushi Nori for yum Sushi Snacks. Especially the
Sushi Tacos were very yum! (Thanks Sandra for the tip :))
Banana White Beach - cool location for apero and snacks
La Carinderia - various italian dishes and it tasted very good too!
Bravo - I had a delicious
Tuna Poke Bowl. There was live music and a cool place for dinner.
CEV- it opened 6 months ago only and became No. 1 on Tripadvisor already! After
we have savored the raw fish bowl we know why. It is truly amazing and I am curious to see when the battle for Nr. 1 is on between Bliss and Ceviche :) In the evening (after 9 pm I think) the
CEV turns into the Loose Keys Bar.
Altrov'é - a great spot for delicious, oven-baked Pizza. There is
also Kermit's nearby which we haven't tried but Altrov'é was yum!
Buddha - Fancy some Thai Food? Buddha is your place!
Miguel's Taqueria - the place for yum Tacos
Bite - you can't leave the Philippines without having tried my favorite dessert of the Philippines - Mangofloat. This is the place where you get it. Sooo yumm!
Pacifico Beach up north (between
Magbupungko and Alegria Beach) - yum food and beautiful view
The famous Bullox Bar up north (between Pacifico Beach and Alegria Beach) - they
had the best (and the most) Bukos (=Coconuts) ready for us. Additionally a delicious Chicken Adobo and the view and the beach was just wow!
Another thing I like in Siargao is that the place to be for drinks varies every evening and during the day you'll find out by speaking to others :) The places to be after midnight is either the
Rum Bar or the Jungle Party - however we didn't make it to the Jungle Party. Where we used to hang out:
Where to stay
The place to be where you have all the restaurants and tour operator and accommodation is General Luna. However I can imagine that in the near future the North has a bright future too if General
Luna gets too crowded. The thing I do also like is that there are not huge hotel complexes, rather small accommodations with some villas and bungalows. There is a huge variety, I've only been to
two and I can both recommend it:
Romantic Beach Villa - ok the pool is probably 10m2 and not 100 as advertised on the
website :). The Villas are well located, direct beach access and restaurants and bars in walking distances. However I still recommend to get a motorbike, Cloud 9 e.g. is around 2 km
Villa Maya - a bit more exclusive, located closer to Cloud9 but a bit on the hill - beautiful views from up
there, but also a bit remote.
At both resorts the people were very friendly and helpful..
On the list for next time
When I look back it's fun as we were worried first if 10 days being on one island could be too much. Consider it with last year where we had the same timeframe and were on 4 different islands.
But I have to say as there is so much to do in Siargao, we were never bored and there are even some (popular) things we have not done:
Sugba Lagoon - definitively something on the list for next time
Sohoton Cove - where you can swim with stingless
JUNGLE PARTY :)
And who knows, if I'll ever make it to Siargao again, I might give the surfboard another chance :). We had an amazing time and one additional day in Cebu for some more shopping, Sushi and Massage
before heading to a new country, Taiwan was calling!