It takes less than an hour, 50 minutes to be exact, to go from Davao to Surigao del Norte’s island-paradise that is Siargao. If I were 50 years younger (that will make me 25) and 50 pounds lighter (a lightweight in boxing), I would want to live the life of a surfer/beach bum there. Siargao’s Gen. Luna — I’ve stayed at Maharlika Hostel is the main surfing area which boasts of world class waves, making its “Cloud 9” (where an international surfing championship is scheduled in mid-September) a major, major tourist destination. I think Davao City, Mati, Samal, Gov. Genoroso — and other coastal cities can learn from what Siargaonons are doing to keeping its environs PRISTINELY CLEAN — free from 1x use plastic. And the barangay tanod are at the helms of the island’s CLEANLINESS program. The governor, the mayors and their kagawads deserve well-earned commendations. I can cite 2 very good examples. We took the 40-minute motorized banka rude to the SUGBA lagoon. The ride was breathtaking: islets of mangroves with forested hills in the backdrop amidst very, very clean sea waters. I believe this is the same view that old-time islanders experienced many decades ago — and it remains UNSPOILED to thus day.
The 2nd example is the famous SOHOTON park, cove, and cavern. The boat ride (again on very clear waters) is about 2 hours. We viewed awesome limestone cliffs forested with viridian mangroves and age-old MAGKUNO (iron-wood) trees. And entering the Sohoton cavern, one is greeted by its luminous waters — simply SPECTACULAR! And the local barangay tourism officials, the guides and the boatmen (ex-fishermen!) do a wonderful job in keeping the area CLEAN.
The choices are many — from cheap to expensively chic — world-class hotels and villas. There’s one called “NAY PALAD” which charges Php 300T a night (no, we did not book there).
I saw 1 art gallery — open 24 hrs! — but I never saw the artist-owner (probably out surfing). There are many street murals, excellently done, of surfing scenes and marine lifw.
RESTOS and CAFES
Cuisine — you name it Gen Luna has them: Pilipino, Thai, Indonesian, Spanish, French, Italian. And the excellent were the restos we are in: BRAVO, KERMIT, SHAKA, KAWAYAN GOURMAND, LIGHTHOUSE, and the beachside carinderya at Magpupungko. Chris Pamintuan has a resto-bar called Cantina Luna — but we missed him the 3x we went there (Sorry, Alice).
KAWAYAN GOURMAND is a French bakery owned by a 28-yr old Frenchman who visited the island to surf — fell in love with the place and a native girl, so he decided to stay for good. We chanced on old-friend from DVO — Kim Honasan, a surfing aficionado, who happily lives there now.
SIARGAO — Gen. Luna, Pacifico, Pilar, Del Carmen, Malinao — is experiencing a TOURISM boom much like the early days of Boracay. Real estate costs have skyrocketed but not peaked.
Perhaps that’s why a certain DVO politician is now one of the biggest land owners there — a fact confirmed by 5 local persons.
So if you have 3-4 vacation days, go to Siargao — WONDERFUL!