I hesitated a bit about writing this entry because Siargao is mind-numbingly beautiful and my vocabulary would never be enough to articulate its charms. But I guess that’s why there are pictures and you know the threadbare saying. I apologize in advance for my clumsy and inadequate attempts at describing this place. This will be more like a photo album peppered with commentary.
How to get there. As of this writing there is no direct flight to Siargao from Manila. Cebu Pacific flies Manila-Cebu-Siargao and back. Stopovers can seem like a real chore sometimes but I thought these flights were really doable. Make sure to book both flights at the same time for easy transfer. I had some time for lunch in Cebu on the way home and opted for buffet at Waterfront which I don’t recommend (options and quantity, sure, but underwhelming food) but I’m sure there are great options you can explore to make this a fun side trip.
My friend Karmi and I stayed at Sagana Resort which is one of many resorts along the shores of Cloud 9, the famed surf spot of Siargao. It has cottage style accommodations (only two of which are air-conditioned) with one large common area in the middle where guests take their meals and hang out.
Staying here felt more like staying at owners Susan and Gerry’s home (and I guess that’s what I did since they do live at the resort) in that they’re very hands-on with operations and they’re always around to arrange trips for you and/or answer questions about the weather/tide/whatever.
I loved how their small menu changed with every meal. And how I was free to pull out whatever I wanted from the fridge as long as I wrote it down on a small notepad assigned to my cottage. All three meals are included in your room rate but if you wish to dine out after breakfast, that can be arranged and room rates adjusted.
The best part of staying at Sagana Resort was its proximity to Cloud 9 and the viewing dock. I quietly made my way out to the shore very early one morning…
…and only a stone’s throw away was this.
There are many islands to check out in Siargao so it’s a great idea to set aside at least half a day to island hop. I’m told a rented boat shouldn’t cost you more than P1,500. Susan packed us a cooler with beer and water. I grabbed a bag of chips and we were off to Daku Island.
Perfect day. Calm waters. There didn’t seem much to do here except lay back and take it all in between dips and sips.
The weather turned markedly gloomier by the time we started setting off for our next stop Naked Island but we forged on anyway. The boatman wasn’t panicking so we should be okay, right?
Naked Island is actually a sandbar. What you see above is about the length of it. By the time we got there, gloomy had turned into angry dark clouds + strong winds + a light shower.
By the time I actually stepped on the island and took this shot, the wind was so strong that there was a bit of a sandstorm situation going on which was painful but the situation of being out at sea on a tiny sandbar with no cover was what was truly terrifying. But also absolutely exhilarating. It was one of those moments that made me feel small in a good way. But it’s probably only amusing to look back because we all lived.
I don’t think we even stayed five minutes. We hopped on our boat and made our way back to Sagana and hunkered down for a rainy night in.
A really beautiful sight not to be missed in Siargao is the Magpupungko Pools. I only got to see it on my second trip over because while Gerry was emphasizing the importance of being early and urging me not to linger over breakfast, I didn’t quite grasp the urgency and did exactly that. The tidal pools are only visible during low tide so it’s essential that you head out early.
We didn’t even bother with breakfast on our second try. We also had arranged with a habal-habal (the most common form of transportation around town) driver the day before to pick us up at 6AM. The ride is about an hour long and it shouldn’t cost you more than P700 for a round trip.
It’s a long ride and you’ll need to manually decompress your butt cheeks when you get there but the reward is worth it. Because for an entrance fee of P50 (but only when there’s someone manning the gate, ha!), you get to experience this:
The Magpupungko Pools are really rocks and boulders underneath the water that surface during low tide when there is just enough water to turn the spaces in between into, well, pools.
The water is crystal clear and the marine life lush. The huge boulder you see in the distance that sits on another rock is what gives this place its name – pungko in the local dialect means ‘sit’ or ‘squat’.
Isn’t that amazing? It’s probably been there for god-knows-how-long but it made me nervous every time we passed under it. But what a breathtaking sight!
To cap off the trip, Karmi and I walked the stretch of shore by Cloud 9 like an old married couple. We were there just in time for a magical sunset.