OUR SIARGAO ISLAND BUDGET & 4-DAYS ITINERARY
Welcome to Siargao! The fastest way to get to Siargao is to fly with Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines via Cebu. The plane lands at Siargao Domestic Airport which is on the west side of the island. Transfer to accommodation will be via minivan, tricycle or taxi. We chose the minivan option as we had already travelled for 30 hours and were exhausted. The minivans are air-conditioned and we were piled in with several other travellers. The trip from Siargao Airport to General Luna is approximately 50 minutes.
Most visitors to Siargao stay in General Luna or Cloud 9 in the south-east of the island where there are a range of Siargao hotels. General Luna is one of the larger towns where there is a multitude of shops, resorts, homestays, restaurants and tour companies. Cloud 9 is also one of the most popular surfing areas on the island. Our Siargao accommodation was at Nine Clouds Homestay at Cloud 9.
Head into town to organise an island hopping boat tour. Before arriving in Siargao, we read some blog posts recommending tours organised by Kermit Surf Resort & Restaurant. Kermit arranges group tours that include the tour cost, admission fees and lunch. If you wish to organise a private tour, it’s best to head to independent surf stores or to wander down to the harbour to enquire in person. We asked for a quote from Kermit before walking down Tourism Road to try our luck. We arranged a private boat tour for the next day at Jose’s Surf Shop with relative ease.
The main hub for dining is all along Tourism Road. There is a plethora of eateries offering grilled meat, seafood and vegetables, tacos and woodfire pizzas. On our first night, we stopped in at Yeah Yeah Tacos where we ate their famous tacos and washed them down with a beer.
Day 1 Expenses
|Airport Transfer||PHP 300 per person|
|Private Boat Tour||PHP 1,500|
|Tricycle Transfer (Evening)||PHP 80|
7:00amDepart for a morning of azure blues, pristine sands and lazing underneath palm trees. Unfortunately, we were a bit unorganised this morning. As we opted not to hire a scooter during our stay, we relied on tricycles to ferry us between Cloud Nine and General Luna. If you don’t have your own transport or arrange a transfer with a group tour, we’d recommend pre-booking transport if travelling early in the mornings. Arriving at Jose’s Surf Shop, we ordered a rushed breakfast at the neighbouring Fayayeh Bar which delayed our departure and our aim to get ahead of the crowds. The first stop on our island hopping experience was Guyam Island. Approximately 10 minutes away, Guyam Island is a circular island paradise with a throng of palm trees in the middle. It’s surrounded by shallow and exposed rocks that peak out from the aquamarine water. You’ll find a sandy basketball court, hammocks swaying between palm trees and warm shallow waters for swimming.
Our next stop was Naked Island. In hindsight, we should have requested our boat captain to take us here first. The oval sand island features nothing but sand, hence its name. We arrived mid-morning and thus the small strip was quite crowded with several other boats dropping off passengers.
The last stop, Daku Island, is the largest and the only inhabited and commercialised island of the three islands. Here, wooden cabanas are available to hire along the beach. Shacks sell snacks and cold drinks. On the edge of the palm tree grove, locals sit behind piles of coconuts, waiting with their machetes to serve a heaving green coconut to their next customer. We chose to lay our towel underneath the palm trees (we kept a wary eye out for falling coconuts!) and drank fresh coconut water from a coconut for only PHP 50.
We decided to eat lunch back on Siargao as we knew there would be more options. We stopped in at Barrel Sports Bar & Grill ordering chicken shawarma and chicken pesto quesadillas. Yum!
The Jacking Horse Trail at Cloud 9 is a popular spot to watch the sun go down. It’s the perfect location to lay down your beach towel, buy a San Miguel from one of the stands and wait for the sinking sun to cast a fiery orange glow across the sky.
You’ll notice a number of restaurants along Tourism Road emitting wafting smoke and it’s likely to be from their open grill. We spotted the queue outside Mama’s Grill on our first night so we made it a point to return. We’re so glad that we did as it was our favourite meal on Siargao! Choose your dinner selection from the fridge menu and watch as it goes from the kitchen to the BBQ grill in seconds. The spicy chorizo was our top pick of the night!
Day 2 Expenses
|Tricycle Transfer (Morning)||PHP 40|
|Tricycle Transfer (Afternoon)||PHP 40|
|Tricycle Transfers (Evening)||PHP 80|
Given our previous misfortune of injury by scooter hire, we chose to hire a tricycle driver for the day to drive us to Sugba Lagoon, Magpupungko Rock Pools and the Maasin Rope Swing Bridge. Practically all the tricycle drivers hang a laminated A4 sign in their vehicle offering this land tour option. We arranged to do this with one of the drivers who drove us back to our accommodation the day before.
The tricycle ride to visit Sugba Lagoon took us from General Luna across to the town of Del Carmen in the west. The ride was approximately 1 hour by road. It’s not the most comfortable travel option and the motorbike is very loud, however, it’s relatively cheap and convenient.
The Del Carmen Tourism Centre handles the sale of tour tickets to Sugba Lagoon as well as transport to the lagoon. The booking process takes place in one room and is not the most organised process but stay in line and eventually you will get booked onto a tour.
We opted to do Tour C which includes transport to and from Sugba Lagoon, admission into the lagoon and 3 hours to explore the area. The boat costs PHP 1,600 per boat. If you’re travelling solo or as a couple, try to find another pair or small group to split the cost of the boat. Fortunately, we were able to split this cost with a Spanish couple. This was a great result for us as the saving went towards our kayak and SUP rental which we had forgotten to budget for!
The boat ride to the lagoon takes approximately 40 minutes. You’re given 3 hours to explore the area which is more than enough in our opinion. We rented a kayak for 1 hour and paddled around to a cove away from the main docking area. Bevan jumped off the diving platform in our second hour and then we spent our last hour on a SUP and flying our drone.
Be Aware! Sugba Lagoon is a protected wildlife area. Visitors are not permitted to bring in any plastic water bottles and food. Smoking is prohibited. The main docking area features a two storey building where spotters “rent” the tables to visitors at PHP 20 each. Food and drinks are not available for sale. We recommend taking as little as possible or one bag between two people as there are no lockers to store your bags and unless you have a dry bag, the kayaks will not keep your bags dry.
We ate a quick lunch at Del Carmen before heading to Magpupunko Beach & Tidal Rock Pools. This popular spot on the east coast is renowned for its tidal rock pools which become exposed at low tide. We visited during mid-April and low tide was mid-afternoon. Our visit coincided with Easter Monday so it was very crowded with many families and visitors swimming in the shallow pools. If you walk a bit further around the large boulder, fewer people swim in the rock pools and there is a small beach if you want to keep your belongings away from the salt water. Before leaving, we stopped for a fresh coconut and a halo-halo dessert.
Our last stop for the day was at Maasin River which has become Insta-famous for the rope swing on the bended palm tree. We paid the entrance fee (PHP 20 per person) to enter the river area before Bevan had a go at shimmy-ing up the tree before swinging into the river below!
TIP: For those wanting the golden photo opportunity without the crowds, we expect that early morning would be the best time to visit. As we visited in the afternoon, there was a large group swinging off the rope and the drone was pointing into direct sunlight making for less than ideal photography conditions.
Craving fried chicken? KFC has not arrived in Siargao but the next best thing has – CFC Chicken. Luckily, this restaurant was right next to our accommodation. We opted for the CFC Burger and Master Fried Chicken. The serving of french fries is on the small side but whatever seasoning they put on the fried chicken is absolutely ace.
Day 3 Expenses
|Tricycle Driver (Whole Day Tour)||PHP 1,500|
|Sugba Lagoon Boat Hire||PHP 1,600 per boat (try to find people to split this with)|
|Sugba Lagoon Entrance||PHP 200 per person|
|Sugba Lagoon Environmental Tax||PHP 100 per person|
|Sugba Lagoon Kayak/SUP Hire||PHP 300 per hour|
|Magpupunko Rock Pools Entrance||PHP 50 per person|
|Magpupunko Rock Pools Parking||PHP 5-20 depending on vehicle|
|Magpupunko Rock Pools Food||PHP 120|
|Massin River Entrance||PHP 20 per person|
|Massin River Rope Swing||By donation|
Rise early and head to Cloud 9 boardwalk for sunrise. Starting the day with the sun rising over the ocean is breathtaking and well worth it.
Cloud 9 has become renowned for being the best spot for beginner surfers. By chance, we walked around to Jackson Trail and Bevan was convinced to grab a board and head into the water. If you’re a beginner/amateur surfer, we’d recommend paying the additional PHP 200 for an hour with an instructor or guide. The instructors are patient and will help you find your balance as you attempt to stand on your board and navigate the gentle waves.
After all the morning exercise, it’s time for a pick-me-up. We grabbed a coffee at Cafe Loka, which is conveniently positioned between the surf schools and Cloud 9 boardwalk. They also serve breakfast and juices if you’re keen to linger a bit longer but we planned a cafe crawl and decided to eat breakfast at the next stop.
We followed the path along the beach to arrive at Shaka Cafe. The breakfast bowls are the most Instagrammable and tastiest on the island. By this time, the sun was already burning the back of our necks so we opted to sit under the shade of the palm trees. We can recommend the Bom Dia and Cloud 9 Kook bowls.
The best coffee we tasted on the island is at Fili Beans Espresso. As the bar stools were occupied, we sat on cushions in the restaurant of Harana Surf Resort.
Our hungry bellies took us to brunch at The Pleasure Point Cafe. Tucked away on a dirt road off the main road, we devoured a plate of veggie crepes, chia and coconut pudding and mini pancakes with mango and caramel sauce. The coffee is made with beans grown and roasted in the Philippines the cafe sells ice-cream for PHP 50.
From The Pleasure Point Cafe, we opted to wander along Tourism Road browsing at shops and practicing our street photography. Make sure to check out Mispo Shop (opposite Boyum’s), a beautiful boutique selling hand-woven bags, artisanal jewellery and sand free towels.
Alternative Afternoon: Head up to Pacifico Beach to watch the sunset. As we did not hire scooters on the island and we were reluctant to hire a tricycle driver again, we decided to skip this trip. We have seen photos and read accounts of a quieter town and beautiful empty beach; perhaps we’ll make it up that way next time! Travel time from General Luna to Pacifico is about a 1 hour drive.
Our last dinner on the island was at Naribu Grill. The same restaurant concept as Mama’s Grill, this eatery is run entirely by women with the warmest smiles.
Day 4 Expenses
|Surfing Lesson||PHP 200 per hour|
|Surfboard Rental||PHP 300 half day, PHP 400 full day|
|Coffee||PHP 120 + 220|
|Tricycle Transfer (Evening)||PHP 80|
It was time to leave this island paradise. Head back to Siargao Domestic Airport sporting a new tan and a longing to return again someday.
For a more comprehensive travel guide for Siargao Island, including where to eat and what to know, check out our blog post Siargao Island Travel Guide for Non-Surfers.
Day 5 Expenses
|Airport Transfer||PHP 300 per person (arranged with our homestay the day prior)|
Summary of our expenses to help you budget a trip to Siargao
|Accommodation||3,000||Cloud Nine Homestay - 4 nights|
|Food & Drink||5,150||Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner plus a few extras|
|Activities||1,140||Kayak/SUP Rental, Rope Swing, Surfing|
|Admission Fees & Taxes||740||Sugba Lagoon, Maasin River|
|Tour Costs||2,300||Island Hopping, Sugba Lagoon Boat|
|Transportation||3,030||Airport Transfers, Driver Hire Land Tour, Tricycle Transfers|
Are you travelling to Siargao? Pop any questions to us in the comments below!