Siargao on two wheels

By Bernard L Supetran July 30,2016

siargaoWhy not do a Jay Taruc, mount a motorcycle, take Instagram-worthy snapshots of sights along the road, and do a diary of the odyssey on your social media account?

Down south in the Pacific seaboard is the famed Siargao Island, named by the prestigious CNN Go travel website as the world’s eighth best surfing site.

Not only is it the country’s surfing mecca, it is also a haven for some gorgeous motorcycling with its scenic views and well-paved roads recently completed.

In the past, there were jokes about how motorists also rode the waves as they negotiate the bumpy and muddy potholed circumferential road around island. But that is a thing of past, and driving around is a breeze minus the pasaway buses, jeeps and 18-wheeler trucks.

Siargao can be reached by air via a Cebu Pacific connecting flight to Cebu, which makes going there a bit costly.

On the way back, you can take an early morning boat trip to Surigao City, and from there take a mid-day flight to Manila via Philippine Airlines.

Here’s a simple travel guide on how you can enjoy the shore, surf, sea and more of sunny Siargao.

Pit Stop No. 1: Bakhaw Mangrove Forest

Del Carmen town is the air gateway, being the home to the Sayak Airport where you can commence your journey on two wheels.

Since you will be arriving in the afternoon, it would be best if you can pre-arrange your motorcycle rental with your hotel for a seamless travel.

This rustic town boasts of a 4,000-hectare contiguous mangrove forest, the biggest of its in kind in the country, which has helped maintain the island’s ecological balance by providing rich breeding grounds to aquatic life.

Rent a small pumpboat at the pier to navigate this vast expanse of greens and take it all the way to Sugba Lagoon, a hidden cove tucked inside the limestone cliffs.

This body of water shuts you out from the outside world, and whose deafening silence is only shattered by chirping birds and the sounds that you make.

Pit Stop No. 2: Gen. Luna (GL) 

Named after the kickass soldier in the Heneral Luna blockbuster movie, this town is the tourism hub of Siargao, being home to the Cloud 9 surfing spot and the island’s best boutique resorts.

siargao-naked-beachYou can choose from a wide array of places to stay—from the spartan to the posh. The Balinese-themed Siargao Bleu Resort and Spa, one of the island’s newest accommodations, offer value-for-money luxury to travelers with its well-appointed rooms and resort facilities.

The triple-A resort boasts of a 1,600-square meter swimming pool where you can get confidence-building measures in stand-up paddle board before taking on the sea.

Since there are no tour operators in Siargao, the resort functions as the de facto travel agent which can consolidate all your land, sea and air transport, as well as recreational activities.

The resort will gladly guide you if you want to go island-hopping or indulge in water sports such as stand-up paddling, kayaking and scuba diving.

If you’re not comfortable driving on two wheels, you can either piggy-back ride with a driver on the habal-habal (the vernacular for motorcycle) or be provided with a van.

Feast on seafood at the Bleu Restaurant, sip your favorite spirit at the Bleu Bar, and get pampered with a rejuvenating massage at the Bleu Spa before you hit the sack.

You can also scout the neighborhood for grilled delights, specialty dishes, home-style pizzas or drinks for a nightcap in the cozy restos and bars nearby.

Start the next day with a surf lesson at Cloud 9, which is known for its perfect barreling right hand reef break. Instructors are always present at the surf site waiting for guests who want to get their feet wet, quite literally, in surfing.

Named after the popular chocolate bar with which foreign surfers subsisted on when it was yet a best-kept secret, this spot lures the world’s best every September during the International Surfing Cup, which offers some handsome cash prizes.

After completing your surfing 101, you can embark on an adventure in GL’s string of islets with fine sand beaches and crystalline waters.

First stop is Naked Island, a sandbar shaped by the changing tide. The more sizable Guyam and Daku islands have vegetation and are lined with coconut trees and native cottages ideal for intimate picnics. You can do this in the late afternoon so you can catch the sun as it dramatically fades in the horizon at dusk.

Pit Stop No. 3: Magpupungko Rock

Located in Pilar town, this geological icon forms a gin-clear natural pool at low tide, and is ideal for rock diving and freediving. So-called because of a huge boulder sitting by, it has a beige talcum beach, azure waters. The sleepy shores will beckon you to frolic in it.

Come summertime, the laid-back town bursts with action in the International Gamefishing Competition which pits the world’s best anglers.

Pit Stop No. 4: Pacifico Beach

A few minutes away from Magpupungko is the coastal barangay of Pacifico in San Isidro town, the center of skimboarding because of its relatively smaller waves compared to Cloud 9. As its name suggests, this long beach looks out into the vast ocean.

The village has an array of interesting affordable accommodations, the most notable of which is the Jafe Surf and Sail Camp Resort, a museum of sorts because of the assortment of vintage photographs, maps and curio items put together by the amiable American owner Jack McCormack.

Pit Stop No. 5: Sta. Monica

Further up north is Taktak Falls in Sta. Monica, a 50-foot drop whose green icy natural pool is a refreshing respite to road trippers.

The most popular in the island, the fall has a spacious, deep pool where you can do a Tarzan dive by hanging on a vine.

This town, known as Sapao in the olden days, also has what every beach bum looks for—a powdery white sand beach.

Located in the village of Alegria, what makes this this long stretch unique is it has been the nesting ground of colonies of juvenile pawikan or sea turtles which are eventually released into the ocean.

Upon reaching Sta. Monica, you have almost circumnavigated the island’s main roads and swung by the major attractions. It’s time to head back leisurely to your homebase in GL to prepare for your departure the next day.

With so its unexpected sights and sounds, your Siargao “motorcycle diaries,” whether be it on Instagram or the good old notebook, will surely be worth revisiting again and again.

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