Surf’s Up Part 1: Budget Surf Spots in the Philippines You Should Visit
Imagine yourself seized in the heat of summer, perspiring, and uneasy, desperate to kill time when you could have been doing something more entertaining and thrilling. This is a common thing for many of us nowadays, moments when the temperature is too overwhelming and the eagerness to travel is off the charts. And yes, I do know how it feels like to be a bum on a hot summer day. Add the fact that you are low on budget and luxurious resorts just won’t do, enjoying summer may prove to be harder than expected. You’ll realize soon enough, just as I did, that there are so many things in store, if you only know what to look for. Just ask yourself one important thing: would summer be ever the same without a little surf?
The next important question would be the location. The Philippines is one of the most blessed countries in terms of natural resources. The archipelago is unique in its geography and shape, and its bodies of water are inarguably one of the best in the world. I am witness to its gifts as I was born in the country, and have travelled in and out of it countless times. And I’m telling you, if you don’t want to splurge on travelling and surfing, the Philippines is one you shouldn’t miss out. This article will splendor you with the best locations in the country as well as useful information in this exhilarating activity during the summer season. Surf’s up! Are you ready?
Siargao, Surigao del Norte
I’m not going to cliffhang you, because I know for a fact that you deserve the best. And when I speak of the best, I’m speaking of the Surfing Capital in the Phillipines, and ranked 8th in the world’s best surfing spots- Siargao is the real deal. Located at the tail end of the archipelago, the Siargao Island is the mecca of all surfing activities and with good reasons, considering that waves can reach up to 7 feet high. Surfers across the globe visit the island for its one of a kind waves, leaving both professionals and amateurs amazed.
Cloud 9 Beach Siargao
The world-famous Cloud 9 Beach is housed in the islands, and is actually the one which surfers crave for. Sagana Resort is one of the best resorts out there, offering an unsurpassed access to the renowned beach and its astounding waves. Have yourself taught by the pros, or when you’re not feeling it, lay on the beach and read in the relaxing sway of the hammock. Just imagine it!
Special packages consist of 3 night stays complete with 3 meals a day, 2 surfing sessions, a massage and return to airport transfers for a reasonable price of Php 18,000.00 (that’s roughly $360). If you happen to have a partner, then the rates become better as you only have to pay PHP 13,000 per person ($260).
Cebu Pacific Airline has regular trips to Siargao departing Cebu at 11:45am and returning from Siargao Island (Sayak Airport) at 12:45pm. If you have a same day flight to Manila, you can choose to check-in your luggage directly to Manila and get your boarding pass to Manila from Siargao Airport. The other way is to Surigao (this option takes a lot longer) from Manila via PAL Express. Pal Express has daily flights from Manila to Surigao. Flights currently depart at 10:20am from Manila and 12:00pm from Surigao City.
If you choose to take the Surigao route, you will need to get a boat from Surigao to Dapa in Siargao Island. Once you reached Dapa port in Siargao, Cloud Nine in General Luna can be reached by either public jeepney, motorbike (habal-habal, or private van.)
The best time to go surfing in Siargao is from July to November, when the easterly Mindanao current feeds the islands with waves that come from one of the deepest parts of the Pacific. This is the height of the surfing season in the island. Make sure you note that on your planner because you deserve this!
Oh the romantic vibe of Baler, you wouldn’t know that this place is a haven for surfing enthusiasts. Its rich history is astounding on its own, but the waves crashing on the coast will surely make you crave for some surfing action. It is considered as one of the most popular surfing destinations in the country, mainly because of its proximity to Manila. In fact, there are a variety of surfing spots in the place, choose what suits your surfing needs!
Sabang beach, typically delivers small to medium size waves which is good if you are a beginner in surfing. If you’re up to some real clean and quality waves in Baler, then the Cemento Beach is the best location for you. Not only is it perfect for advanced surfers, it also hosts local surfing competitions. And I assure you, there are no dull moments in a surfing battle! Another spot you can access is the Charlie’s Point where provides medium size breaks. This is a good place to go since its just walking distance from Baler Town Proper!
Surfing lessons with instructors cost P350-400/hour. If you prefer DIY, surf board rentals cost just P200 per hour, P400 for half a day and P800-1000 for the whole day. You’ll need to rent a boat to get to the deep parts where the bigger waves are, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous.
Trips from Manila to Baler usually take around 6 to 7 hours depending on traffic. Direct transportation is quite limited, so what you can do is to ride any bus going to Cabanatuan and move to a van or bus to Baler. Also, get ready for the zigzag roads of Aurora!
The Bicol region in the Philippines is glorified with large bodies of water that makes it a picturesque view among the many islands in the country. It is an exciting escape for many Filipinos as it offers a wide array of activities and wonderful sceneries featuring the perfect cone of the Mayon Volcano. But Bicol is not all volcanoes and good food, it is also a dwelling for the best water sports in the nation. Camarines Norte, situated in the southwest part of the Bicol peninsula provides that extra ump.
You wouldn’t be shocked to know that the surf culture is growing in these parts. One of the main attractions in the area is the Bagasbas Beach, known not only for its fine sands, but to the big rolls its waters can provide. Usually, the big waves come from July to November, and even span up until January if you’re lucky. This makes it suitable for both novice and expert! It is an ideal spot for any surfing enthusiast because it is more accessible from the country’s capital.
You’ll get there after an 8-hour bus ride bound for Daet, Camarines Norte. Fare from Manila usually costs aroiund Php 700 ($14). It will take you as far as the town center, and after that, take a 15 minute tricycle ride to Bagasbas Beach. That will just cost you Php 30. You can also opt to travel by plane. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to the place. You’ll have to book a plane from Manila to Naga, Camarines Sur, which will take around 40 minutes and take a 2 hour bus ride to Daet. From there you will need a trike ride to go to the beach.
Once you get there, you will have access to one of the best surfing spots in the country. That’s worth more than $15 if you ask me. When you’re there, you can choose to rent a surfing board paired with an instructor for about Php 400 ($8). You can use the board for an hour, but if you want to have it whole day round, you can ask the management there personally so they can give you their rates. Don’t worry, I am sure that its cheaper than you expect!
The Philippines is one of the most gifted locations in the world, an archipelago that is not only picturesque but also offers a variety of exciting activities you can enjoy. Surfing is one of the best activities you can relish on in the nation, as many surfing spots offer exhilarating fun that won’t hurt in the pockets. Siargao, Baler and Camarines Sur are only few locations where you can appreciate the wonders of surfing. Watch out for the second volume of my surfing travel guide in the Philippines. Until then, surf’s up!
If you want to extend your stay in Manila, you may want to read these:
Watch out for Surfing in the Philippines Part 2, coming out on April 30, 2017.