Siargao an island east of Surigao City with its beautiful white sand beaches and sea waves ideal for surfing is now one of the hottest tourist destinations of the Philippines. The closure of Boracay Island in the Visayas to the tourists will probably make Siargao and alternative destination to tourists who love tropical island beaches. Those who do won’t be disappointed because the island abounds with scenic terrains, white sand beaches, coves, lagoons, lakes, caves, caverns and other features delightful to tourists.
The island is dubbed as the surfing capital of the Philippines. Filipinos and international surfers flock to the island to enjoy what is one of the best waves for surfing in the Philippines or even the world. The local government of Surigao del Norte hosts an annual surfing competition that attracts not only local but international surfers as well. This makes the hotels and other establishment fully booked especially during that event.
Although surfing is the prime tourist attraction of Siargao especially to foreigners, its exotic white sand beaches are comparable or even better than the other preferred beach destinations in the Philippines. A must do activity in a visit to Siargao is island hopping which covers Naked, Daku and Guyam islands. Those are smaller and separate islands that are part of Siargao. A trip to said islands is arranged with a local tourism establishment which provides with a motorized boat whose operators also act as guide.
Naked island is a sand bar that can be seen as a shiny white strip of land on the sea off the shore of Gen. Luna the starting point of the island hopping trip. It is probably called naked because it is devoid of vegetation. The sand bar is just about 200 meters long with white powdery sand on its surface. Although the turquoise sea water is delightful, the absence of vegetation and shed make the visit and the swimming there ideal for only a few hours.
The largest place in the island hopping destination is Daku Island which is a Visayan word for big or large. It is the only inhabited island of the three. Its white beach rivals the beauty of other finest beaches in the Philippines with its white sand and pristine turquoise water. Coconut palms line the shore of the island that make it as a typical image of a tropical island paradise. From its shore one can see the figure of the scenic main island of Siargao. In between these two islands is the azure sea with clean water which is a pleasant sight in a clear day. Island hopping is almost a day long activity, and since Daku is the only inhabited island and the most vegetated, tourists prefer to eat their lunch in this island. Foods consisting mainly of sea foods, fruits and drinks can be bought from the local residents.
The island nearest to Gen. Luna by motorized boat is Guyam. It is a tiny uninhabited island with sparse vegetation. Most of the plant that grows there are coconuts which also serve as shelter from the sunlight to the tourists. Its attraction is also its white sand beach and turquoise sea water.
Island hopping will not be complete without going to the so called “secret island”. It is not an island in the real sense of the word but rather a shallow portion of the sea off the shore of Guyam. During low tide the water is only about a hip or chest deep to an average adult person so that even children can enjoy dipping or swimming in the water. The water is cool, clear and pristine so that one feels that it is refreshing and invigorating to the body when he is in it. Children should wear their life vest while in the water. The boat operators also serve as the watch and lifeguard to their passengers while they are in the water. The visit to the secret island and the return of the boat to Gen. Luna conclude the island hopping activity.
To fully enjoy one’s visit to the islands of Siargao, he should also look for the other attractions it has to offer and there are aplenty. One of them is a journey to Bucas Grande Island where the Sohoton Cove Eco-Tourism Park is located. However, the motorized boat ride going there is not short considering that it will take about two hours travel in reaching the marine park from the starting point in Gen. Luna. Its quite a long boat ride with an encounter of some big waves sometimes. Nearing the destination, a visitor enjoys the view of the sea , the rocky islets, and rocks with unusual shapes. Finally, the boat arrives at the visitors reception building which is located along a cove. The visitors can have a brief stay there and order their foods for meal in preparation for their first tour which is a sting less jelly fish sanctuary in a lagoon.
Two-person capacity small paddle boats carry the travelers to the jelly fish sanctuary. The waters leading to it is clean, clear and calm considering that they are surrounded by islets. The waters by themselves look spectacular. Along the way, visitors see strips of land and small hills and cliffs that host some species of wild plants and animals. There are native pine trees and magkuno or iron trees, pitcher and other wild plants whose growth is stunted by the steep slope and mountain like and mostly limestone ground where they grow. There are also giant bats that sleep and hang in tree branches. And finally, there is the lagoon which is the haven of the sting-less jelly fish. Although the place is suitable for swimming, visitors are not allowed to jump overboard in that particular area to protect the sea creatures.
Another activities are tour to the caves and some diving adventures. The starting point of the trip is the reception building at side of the lagoon, and this time with a ride on a motorized boat with larger seating capacity. The travelers are provided with hard hats as protection of their heads when they enter the caves filled with stalactites. The entrance and exit points for the destination is the water filled Sohoton Cave in which a boat can go through. Upon entering it on boat, visitors are told by the guide to lower their upper body lest their heads bump stalactites or hit by falling rocks from the cave’s roof. Beyond the cave’s exit is a lagoon surrounded with small hills. The boat then heads to a cave called Hagukan, and those who are daring enough are led by the guide to swim underwater in a cave and hold his breath until they reach the caves’ exit with the guides accompanying them all the way. The adventurers return to the cave’s mouth in the same manner as they did in reaching its exit. The other allure of this venture is that the water in the cave glows as one splashes it.
Included in the itinerary in the visit to the marine eco-tourism park is a tour to another cave. The mouth of the cave is small and narrow so that adventurers enter it by lying down facing upward. Reaching outside the cave, they make their way to a high ground and end up in a wooden diving platform on a cliff. The only way for them to get back to the boat is to jump into the water below. Those who are non swimmer or those with a faint of heart should not fear or worry since the guide will accompany them all the way into the water. All those who are there should jump because some people at the back are waiting for their turn to do so. Those who hesitate and are too afraid to dive are forced to do it by the guide who push them down into the water with his company of course. This kind of scene often draw laughter and amusement from the people below who are on the boats.
Aside from those already mentioned attractions, the island of Siargao has a lot more to offer for the tourists to enjoy. All they need are more time to stay there and bigger budget. For me, its safe to say that visitors in the island will be satisfied with their stay to enjoy its tourist class white sand beaches and other natural terrain features that are worthy of explorations and adventures.