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Feature: Be wowed in Siargao

From being virtually unknown to being one of the country’s fastest emerging tourist destinations, Siargao Island has long been a secret of surfing enthusiasts all over the world for the thick, hollow tubes of waves that hit its coasts. For those who don’t really know much about the island, The Daily 10 gives you some facts you may need to help you plan your trip.

1. Siargao is a tear-shaped island off the coast of Surigao del Norte. Its coast is lined by white sandy beaches, points and reefs. The land area is mostly covered by mangrove swamps, rainforests, islets and lagoons. The big waves are due to the winds and currents coming in uninterrupted from the Pacific Ocean.

2. Cloud 9 is the place on the island that catapulted it to fame, being hailed as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines. It is where surfers can ride “perfect waves” without boating out into the ocean. In September, local and international surfers gather there for the annual Siargao Cup, which makes it overcrowded and thus, being nicknamed “Crowd 9.”

3. Surfing is not limited to Cloud 9. Other areas of the island are blessed with wild waves as well especially during the southwest monsoon from August to November, when the waves are off the charts as the wind goes offshore.

4. General Luna is the town where Cloud 9 is and it’s also where things get social. On the main street are bars and restaurants that serve cheap beer and pulutan. The scene is not very luxurious, it’s street and laidback. Of course, you can also chill at the bars and restaurants of your resort.

5. Accommodations in Siargao range from the economy to the luxurious types, spanning all budgets. Some of them even have wi-fi access so you can stay connected. A simple Google search for “Siargao resorts” will produce many options.

6. Shopping in Siargao is somewhat limited to cater to needs, more than wants. Just like any small town, Gen. Luna has basic supplies like food and medicines. Don’t expect much else. Surf shops in Cloud 9, however, have more to offer. Accessories, beachwear, surfing and boogie boarding necessities and other beach-related trinkets are available.

7. It is important to know that there are no banks and ATM machines on the island, so come prepared. Cash is the only means of payment for most products and services. If you run out of money, you have to go to the Surigao mainland to withdraw (which is hours away by boat).

8. Boat trips are a way to experience Siargao’s wildlife. Take a leisurely trip on Sohoton Lagoon to see the jungles and swim into caves with bats, fishes and stalactites. There are also other places to see by boat, each with wild plants, orchids and corals. Just ask around Gen. Luna to find out more.

9. Aside from surfing and boating, Siargao has a lot of other activities to offer to tourists. The Blue Cathedral is a beautiful dive spot for experienced divers. The smaller islands surrounding Siargao has some great sites for snorkeling. Fishing, sailing, caving and mountain-biking are among other things to do.

10. The easiest way to get to Siargao is to take a connecting flight from Manila to Cebu to Siargao. Cebu Pacific flies to Siargao daily. You can also fly to Surigao and take a four-hour RORO ride to the island if the Cebu Pacific flights are all booked, which is usually the case during peak season. (Ed Biado, Manila Standard Today)

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