Apparently, I still have a few more posts in line for my Siargao Series 🙂
Dubbed as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, Siargao must seem intimidating for the nonsurfers to visit. Quite surprisingly though, there are many interesting things to do other than ride the waves. Here are four activities I did during my visits to the island:
Eat Eat Eat
If you haven’t already figured out from my previous post, Siargao has some sophisticated food choices, considering that it is an island. They aren’t cheap too. I am reminded of Bali’s vibrant food scene whenever I think of the growing number of cafés and restaurants on General Luna, the island’s famous strip along the equally famous surfing spots.
Cafe Loka was the first cafe I went to during my last visit
I drank all my pinapple juice
Hop the surrounding Islands
For a mere 1,500 pesos, a group of four to six people can already rent a boat for the entire day to visit the three main islands surrounding Siargao. Naked, Daku, and Guyam Islands, each appropriately named, have their own unique qualities, making all of them a must see.
For one, Naked Island, is simply that – a raw piece of land free of substantial vegetation. Daku, the Visayan term for “big,” is (as you’ve already guessed) the largest of all three and, in my opinion, has the palest white sands. While Guyam, meaning small (according to our guide) is the only island that has rocky shores similar to that of Siargao’s.
Visit the Magpupungko Tidal Flats and Pools
The Magpupungko Tidal Flats and Pools are truly a wonder to behold. On the other side of General Luna, is another beach with trenches that become natural pools during the low tide. Just a little farther towards the tip of the flats, there is even a greater sight. As monstrous waves slam into the rocks, the waters make it look like you’ve reached the edge of the world.
Siargao is nowhere near as rowdy as Boracay Island, where the Philippine’s biggest beach parties happen. But neither is it dead at night. Not only does General Luna have events during the weekends, they have one every evening of the week! And because the area is relatively small, almost all the locals (and expats) know where these happenings will be. So if you ever feel like merrymaking, just ask around.
Here are all the best restaurants and cafés that I tried in Siargao (in no particular order):
1. Shaka Siargao
A quaint cafe for those looking for a healthier alternative. Smoothies, juices, coffee, tea, and powerbowls are what make up their menu. Shaka caught my eye last year, while Douglas and I were walking from Cloud 9, Siargao’s surfing spot, to our resort. We ordered a smoothie instead of a powerbowl. Although, I can’t say that was a mistake since the drink was impressively creamy, and had more fruit than ice – something that you can’t come across Cebu very often. I was still a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to try their powerbowls that first try, so this time I meant to get it.
AND. IT. WAS. HEAVENLY.
2. Lux Siargao Boutique Resort
Okay, so this is a resort that has its own restaurant (as are the other ones down this list) and I actually failed to come here on my second visit. However, I was lucky enough to have had a poke bowl there with Douglas 🙂
I tried their kinilaw, which is chopped up raw fish drenched in vinegar, on my first try last year, and I was surprised to have liked it. I don’t usually like kinilaw. But Kermit Resort had their twist on it, and the sour taste of vinegar was in good balance. It didn’t hurt my throat. This made me ask what else could be good on Kermit’s menu. So I made it a personal mission to go back. This time, I got their Honey Mustard Chicken Wrap. I believe it’s meant to be a snack under their menu, but it’s big enough to be very fulfilling.
4. Bravo Beach Resort
I already told you what I thought about their resort on my previous post. It may not be my top one, but it’s absolutely worth the try. I had the pork coconut curry, which is almost like humba, a Filipino favorite, with that curry aftertaste and a good amount of shredded coconut on the side.
5. Wind Del Mar
I had my best meal on the island from Viento. A resort that’s conveniently located next to Bravo. I had their chicken adobo, which they served with mashed potatoes instead of rice. If you’re Filipino, you know how much we love our rice. But I wasn’t disappointed at all. The chicken adobo and the mashed potato worked well together in sweet perfection.
6. Miguel’s Taqueria y Cerveceria
I think this is the only Mexican place on the entire island, but I could be wrong. Please do correct me if you know other places. Also, it isn’t a restaurant per se. It’s more like a stall with a couple of wooden chairs and plastic tables on the side.
I’m not sure what legit Mexican burritos taste like, but I know when it taste good. I also ordered their fish taco, which I liked because the fish wasn’t too soft underneath the scrap/batter. It was all evenly cooked.
7. Buddha’s Surf Resort
I also failed to come here during my last visit, but it wouldn’t be fair to this place if I didn’t at least mention it. It’s where Douglas and I had our Valentine’s dinner. awwe. But the chicken curry we had was good, mind you. A little watery than I would have liked, but nonetheless flavorsome.
Address: Barangay 5,, Tourism Rd, General Luna, Surigao del Norte
Wifi: Only in the Restaurant. Barely reaches the room.
I first found out about Bravo in 2016, when my boyfriend and I went there for drinks one night. We were both so amazed at how lively and full their restaurant was, that we regretted not staying in this resort. The place we were staying in at the time was dead during the night. Here, it was filled with all sorts of travellers who brought with them their youthful energy. Some were eagerly playing cards on the table next to ours, while most were just talking in a bubble of enthusiasm. Just observing this was already fun for us. So as we were about to go home, Douglas and I agreed that we’d stay in Bravo the next time we came to visit Siargao.
Well, I followed through on that agreement sans Douglas (sorry babe), and Bravo Beach Resort did not disappoint.
1. It’s super clean.
You know how sand just accumulates inside your room or bathroom after you get inside from the beach? Hate that. Luckily, that had never happened in Bravo because they clean the rooms every day. For a mere 920 pesos per bed per night, that’s quite luxury.
And for the sake of comparison, we paid 2,000 pesos/night for our room, in our previous resort, but the staff didn’t bother to clean it at all.
2. It’s spacious.
Although I shared the room with four other people, it was still big enough that it didn’t feel cramped.
3. It’s got lockers inside.
Because where else would we put our valuables away from the strangers we’re sleeping with? Bring your own padlocks.
1. The Bed
It was quite comfortable. I can’t say the same for the pillows and the blankets though. I would say that the pillows touch the fine line between being comfortable and not so much. The blankets are so thin that it felt like I had no blanket at all. I got cold every night, even when we set the airconditioning higher (also thanks to the night breeze).
2. The Bath Necessities
They offer one beach towel, one room towel, and an unlimited supply of toilet rolls. That’s it. So bring your own necessities 🙂
3. The Toilet and The Shower
These two are in separate doors, which makes the place even more comfortable. You don’t have to wait for your roomate to finish showering, just so you can take a dump.
1. Free Breakfast
You would think that paying 920 pesos a night won’t get you much for breakfast. Wrong. Bravo’s got quite a good selection of food. Out of the options, you can pick at least three orders for no extra charge. And just to compare (again), our previous resort only had the usual egg, rice, and bacon for breakfast. How boring.
2. The other meals
The food in Bravo is far from disappointing. It’s actually one of the restaurants that I would keep going back to. But even though the food I had there were all flavorful, I can’t say that they were the best.
Aside from that, they’re mostly focused on Spanish cuisines, which I don’t mind but a little variety would have been interesting. Anyway, I was able to visit other restaurants, so I won’t dwell on that.
They have the best signature drink though, which is called a Pomada – a cocktail of gin and lime and probably honey (?) Who knows. They mix it with crushed ice, so it’s like drinking a 7-Eleven Slurpee. It’s perfect for the tropical heat. It’s what everbody was drinking over there, I noticed.
3. The Plunge Pool
Their adorable plunge pool is right in front of the restaurant. Sometimes, it can get crowded with men with perfect abs, so it makes for a good view. LOL. Or you know, it’s useful for when you want to take a dip after that monster of a burger.
4. The Sofas
Their restaurant also makes for a great spot to hangout in; this is obviously why it’s always packed from the afternoons into the evenings. When everybody just feels like lounging around, Bravo’s sofa beds are there for you. Plus, the wind coming through this place is heaven sent!
I saw that people don’t really use Bravo’s beach for swimming. Women mostly just lay on the sand to tan and that’s it, which is a waste because Bravo’s beach is clean, calm, and less rockly than most of Siargao’s shores. They also have the best views of the sunrise and the sunset. Bravo placed themselves in such a good spot that it makes me mad that I don’t live there.
For part one, an introduction to my how i met these newfound friends, please click here.
In the afternoon, after our island hopping, the 6 of us (refresher: Matthias, Jonathan, Me, Rebecca, Marianne, and Gerard) stayed at the resort’s restaurant for some drinks. About 10 minutes in, a couple of Caucasian guys also joined us for a chat. We stayed there for about two hours or so, and talked about the countries that we’ve been to, how long we (well, they) have been travelling, and some other things that I can barely remember. The pomada, which is a cocktail mixed with gin and lime, at Bravo Beach Resort is strong. I kid, I kid. I wasn’t drunk, but it is strong.
Somewhere between our conversations, we made plans to go to the resort next door since that was where it was going to be poppin’ -according to our island hopping guide. And it was true. As it seems, every resort on the island have already established and agreed on their schedules as to when they can host parties. So Viento Del Mar, the resort just next door, it was.
Rebecca and I got there before 9 p.m., after we’ve showered and got ready, and ate dinner. Viento has really good food, btw. They put their own twist on the Filipino classic, chicken adobo.
Marianne and Gerard came to see us shortly after we finished eating. When 11 rolled around, that’s when the crowd kept coming in. People have started playing beerpong on one of the dining tables, and some have already gathered on the dance floor. There was actually a DJ (who knew)! I think he played something somewhere between EDM and Reggae. If those genres got married and had a baby, that would be it. Siargao’s cool like that.
By this time I’ve had my second drink, which makes it sound like this is going to be a wild story. It’s not. It’s just a replay of ordinary events. FOR THE BLOG!
The next thing I knew, the place was packed and loud! More and more people were standing around holding drinks (which was mostly either a beer or the 50 peso rum and coke in plastic cups – I just had to tell you how cheap it was), and greeting others that I’m sure they didn’t even know. Some were happy to be talking on the shore, while others were seated by the bar. Everyone seemed excited to have started conversations with these new people. It was a pretty sight, and it made me admire this island all the more. Tourists, locals, and expats didn’t create a bubble within themselves. Anyone was welcome to join their circle. There was no hierarchy; no judgment.
We are constantly warned about the dangers of solo travel, that we forget that there are good things – and people- that come out of it.
As soon as the clock struck midnight, all my new friends greeted me a happy birthday with excitement that I didn’t know I could get from people I barely knew. It was as if I’d known them since forever. They bought me a mojito as a birthday gift which, at first, I declined out of habit. But when you meet new people who are just as excited for your birthday as your own mother, it’s hard for you to say no. Even the bartenders greeted me a happy birthday by drinking shots after I clinked my mojito glass with theirs. Matthias, whom I already said hi to earlier in the night, came to me to give me a hug and greet me a happy birthday. He was inebriated now, but I appreciated the gesture. He seemed truly happy. Thank goodness for alcohol, right?
Just kidding. To all the younger readers, if any, drink in moderation and only when you’re 21 or older.
This moment really just made me realize how we can meet genuine people in our travels, especially on solo trips. We are constantly warned about the dangers of solo travel, that we forget that there are good things – and people- that come out of it. I understand that we shouldn’t let our guards down, but I also believe that we should be open enough to enjoy the gifts of solo travel. It might even bring us relationships that will last lifetimes. And for the pessimists who say that I couldn’t possibly have seen my new friend’s true colors. I say this: I refuse to let that thought ruin my impression of them. I am not letting negativity soil that.
Okay, so I said in my previous post that I wanted to be alone for my birthday. Yeah that didn’t happen. But as you know, you meet people and plans change.
The first people I befriended were two brothers from the Netherlands. We rode on the same propeller plane. Matthias and Jonathan were seated together while I was in the same row, but at the other side of the aisle. Right after the captain turned off the seatbelt sign, Matthias stood up to get a jacket from the overhead bin, since this tiny aircraft was getting surprisingly cold. He had been wearing only a tank top and khaki shorts. This amused me, so I made a comment about the temperature. Our conversation started there and only stopped once we retreated to our respective resorts.
The second is a beautiful Irish lady, Rebecca, who also came as a solo traveler. She’s been traveling for two months, and will be done after her sixth. She was my roommate for the three nights I stayed in Siargao (did I forget to mention that I’m back in the city?). She was really nice to let me stick with her – from eating breakfast, to lazing under the sun, to napping on the beach sofas. For the outsider, it might have looked like we were bestfriends who came backpacking together from Ireland (or from Australia since that’s where Rebecca lived before travelling). Funnily enough, we also left Siargao on the same day!
If only I didn’t look like such a local.
For other people, this would have been weird. But Rebecca seemed like such a sport about it; so did Marianne and Gerard, whom Rebecca and I met while we went island hopping. We were in a small pump boat that had 9 other people on it, including the local boatmen. And aside from those boatmen, Mariane, Gerard, and I were the only Filipinos there. We hit it off after I approaced them on the shore, telling them I wanted a way to take my bikini shots without feeling embarrassed. They were so nice to have offered to take my pictures. Gerard ended up instructing me how to pose, while taking my pictures.
The following is an excerpt from my personal travel journal
Day One. Time is 9:37. Check in is at 14:00. Do I wait?
I am seated by the reception table, hunched over my phone, with a cold glass of lemonade in one hand. I am beginning to wonder if this was a good idea – coming here for my birthday weekend. Alone.
I wanted to celebrate my birthday peacefully; away from those who are more eager to throw me a party than I am about having one. I’m sick of celebrating the fact that I am another year closer to a midlife crisis. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy being surrounded by the people I love, but a birthday’s just another normal day for me.
There was just a strong desire to be by myself, really. Here, now, is that opportunity. But whom am I kidding? That particular need’s always been strong. I’ve had plenty of alone time even while I was in the city. It’s become a hobby. And yet, seeing all these strangers talking in groups and some couples seated together, I’m starting to doubt my decision. All of the sudden, I’ve shied away from the idea of a great travel opportunity, and now I’ve taken refuge in my phone.
I did meet a couple of Dutch men on the plane coming here, though. I believe we’ve made plans to meet up. Still, they’re not staying in my resort, so at this moment I’m still by my lonesome.
I could go somewhere. I did already rent a scooter, for the day, for 250 pesos. The only problem is the thought of me driving it around. I am intimidated by it. As it turns out, the scooter isn’t as light as I thought it would be. But I’ll have to “just do it” eventually. Otherwise, what a waste of 250 would that be.
I fell in love with you in 2016, and now you’ve pulled me in even deeper.
You are probably the only island I’ve ever been to, in the Philippines, that’s made me feel like I wasn’t in our own country. I love how you keep everyone here on their guards, because we might just stay longer if we’re not careful. I admire how you’ve influenced everyone living here to keep you clean and green, forcing restaurants to use metal or stems as straws.
You fill me with adoration every time i stop to take in the moment. Even just looking at your street now, it makes me giddy with excitement.
I love how, as I’m sitting here, both locals and expats passing on their motorbikes, will look me in the eye and nod their heads, as if they know me. And i find it cute hearing people shout the names of passers by because, here, everyone knows. Every. Body. Save for the tourists.
It’s great here. It’s beautiful. Watch out Siargao, I might just move to this island.