Siargao Surfing Island Philippines: Nature's ongoing canvas

by Nickie Wang

Cebu Pacific Air is the only domestic airline in the Philippines that flies to Siargao airport, one of the smallest airports I’ve been to so far. Well then again, most of the time, we just land our small plane on a small strip anyway.

Surfers around the globe will visit the Siargao Surfing Islands of the Philippines to enjoy the cloud 9 perfect wave.

When our boat reached the islet called Naked Island I thought I was in paradise. The clear turquoise waters were so calm and inviting. A full 360-degree view gave nothing but a scene of the waters kissing the blue sky while clouds of every imaginable form floated aimlessly.

I jumped off the boat we were riding for 20 minutes and marveled at Mother Nature’s spectacular canvass. No photograph can give justice to this wonder, I silently told myself.

And because of its seclusion anyone can actually go skinny-dipping without being bothered by ogling onlookers. I wanted to swim without my clothes on but I was with people whom I have only met for the fist time so totally dismissed the whole idea. Nonetheless I took a dip in the waters as if I’m my body was thirsty for it.

True to its name, Naked Island is an isolated 200 meter-long sand bar accessible by boat from General Luna, a municipality that boasts 27 km coastline of powdery white sand. It’s a piece of heaven and anyone would not mind staying there to swim and frolic in the sand with all the privacy he can get. But actually, Naked Island is just one of the stunning and mesmerizing gems in Siargao. Move around the island and see how this charming place can literally tame your psyche.

Off to Siargao

Getting to Siargao is an adventure in itself. The trip is not for the fainthearted because one will experience a literal bumpy ride. Although the Department of Tourism is already eyeing a direct flight from Manila to Del Carmen (the lone airport on the island), for now, tourists would have to take an hour and a half plane ride from Manila to Surigao del Norte, then by a two-hour ferry ride from Surigao City Pier to Siargao’s main entry point, Dapa Municipality Pier.

From the jetty port, the traveler will experience another challenging one-hour rough ride going to Pilar and General Luna, where most accommodations can be found. But as most tourists and surfers who have been to the island say, all the hours travelling are worth it once you see the majestic scenery that the tear-shaped island can offer. Seeing a rainbow every now and then is just a bonus—passing and distant rains are notorious in the area.

Siargao is a tropical island in the Philippine Sea. It sits on the eastern tip of Surigao del Norte, making it one of two places in the Philippines to experience sunrise ahead of the other parts of the country (the other one is the Caraga Town in Davao.)

Due to the island’s location, the winds and currents coming from the Pacific Ocean continuously influence the rock formations on its coastline and on the surrounding coconut islets. Majority of the magnificent rock formations are located in Magpupungko, which is also a swimming den during low tide when the waters are washed out and several lagoons are revealed.

Half a billion peso has been invested for road networks, port enhancement and the other tourism infrastructure for Siargao since it became a popular surfing destination. According to Tourism Department Secretary Alberto Lim, Siargao is one of the agency’s top priorities along with the other tourist destinations in Central Philippines. The island remains unspoiled by commercialism thus it attracts weekend backpackers who want to escape the busy life in the city. Lim said the province attracts around 39,000 visitors a year.

General Luna Mayor Jaime Rusillon told Standard Today that the municipality is planning to have a biodiversity park. Currently being lobbied to the national government, the park aims to highlight the island’s exuberant flora and fauna. Del Carmen itself is home to a dense mangrove forest reserve, which is the second largest in the country.

The big fish

Locals in Siargao are well aware of the importance of the mangrove trees that abound the whole island. They know for a fact that mangrove forests serve as breeding ground for fish and other marine life. Local government is keen in educating its people about the significance of these reserves to their livelihood.

Apart from farming, fishing is the main livelihood in Siargao thus big fish like Wahoo and Billfish are no stranger to its people. Last month, the island hosted the 4th Siargao International Gamefishing Tournament. The event was participated in by 73 foreign and local anglers and gamefishing enthusiast from 16 different countries. The biggest catch was a billfish that weighed around 32 kilograms.

Switzerland’s Rolf Trachler won the P50,000 first prize in the Main Division —Biggest Billfish Category, Philippines’ Voltaire Esparago, a native Surigaonon, got P30,000 second prize and Joseph Lee settled for P10,000 third prize.

 

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