Palm Viewpoint, the backdrop of many an influencer

[Vlog] What’s Your Siargao Story?

February was my birthday month. I wanted to dust off my backpack and get away from it all. Siargao was one of those places I kept putting off because it’s one of the Philippines’ 7,107 islands that I thought I could visit any time. If Taiwan was the highlight of my 2019, my gut told me Siargao is it for 2020. I knew it was time to go.

(Scroll to the bottom if you want to go straight to the vlog!)

Sugba Lagoon was closed for renovation from January 10 to February 10, 2020. It now has a sturdier dive board and bigger docking area.

Not-so-naked in Naked Island. This is part of the three-island tour of My Siargao Guide for ₱2,000 per person.
There’s a ₱50 entrance fee to Cloud 9’s famous boardwalk. It’s right next to Jacking Horse, the perfect spot for beginner surfers.
A local surfer in Pilar Beach

Back then, COVID-19 was an impending pandemic, but most of us in the Philippines were hopeful—more like in denial, actually—that it would not spread in our country. I was one of the few people who wore a mask in my Cebu Pacific flight to this teardrop-shaped island in Surigao del Norte, Mindanao.

Kate was here in Secret Beach.

Maasin River, where you’ll find the famous palm tree swing
Guiwan Beach

My favorite breakfast spot in General Luna, Kook Café. If the dog got your attention, read more about the dogs of Siargao.

My cousins from New York joined me in my first few days. For the rest of my two-week adventure, I was alone. But as most solo travelers would know, you aren’t really “alone” in your travels. I made new friends from different countries. Thanks to all its accolades, Siargao has become one of the top island getaways in the world. At times I forgot I was in the Philippines and felt like I was partying in Europe. I also ran into friends and acquaintances who’ve decided to quit their toxic corporate jobs in Manila and move to Siargao for an enviable life of sand, sea, and surf.

Sunset Bridge

Palm Viewpoint, the backdrop of many an influencer
If you didn’t order a smoothie bowl from Shaka Café, did you really go to Siargao?
Low tide in Cloud 9

It started as a secret surfing destination, but now travel writers are calling Siargao the Bali of decades ago. While many are condemning the upsurge of tourism in Siargao (they are afraid it’s turning into the new Boracay or Kuta), I’m hoping Siargao’s conscientious business owners will indeed look at Boracay as an example of tourism gone wrong and do their best to keep Siargao sustainable and eco-friendly.

I highly recommend Lampara Boutique Hostel for surfers and solo backpackers like myself. They treat you like family here. Pictured is the glamping area in front of the beach.
Lampara Hostel’s treehouse-inspired lounge
Lampara’s Lolo and Milo the puppy have their own adorable Instagram accounts. Read more about the dogs of Siargao here.

Team Lampara! Solo travel is like being in school again (the college of life). People from all over the world are brought together in the same classroom (the hostel or tour group). You may or may not see each other again, but you’ll always remember that brief moment in your journey where you were like a family.

I admit my intentions were mostly hedonistic, but my stay in Siargao was also about immersion. I wanted to see if I, too, could give up the city life for this slow-paced island life. Could I permanently stay away from the trappings of the world? I don’t have a final answer or plan yet, but I do know that I fell in love with Siargao.

Who would’ve thought that days after my trip, COVID-19 would become a full-blown pandemic? I still had sand in my aqua shoes, while my laundered bikinis were hanging to dry in my house back in Luzon when quarantine was announced.

I needed a break from the nightly parties at General Luna, so escaped to San Isidro up north, where there’s no mobile phone signal. I booked a stay in Common Grounds. Check out this hut I had all to myself.
San Isidro (one-hour drive from General Luna) is the perfect spot to practice your motorbiking. There are hardly any vehicles or humans on the road.

From my hut in Common Grounds, I drove my motorbike for 20 minutes to Alegria Beach and had it all to myself. Not many tourists go to the northern part of Siargao. Come here if you need to escape General Luna’s party scene for a day or two.

I’m currently stuck in the longest lockdown in the world. Siargao was my last memory of travel before the toll of quarantine made the days a little hazier and our collective emotions a little heavier.

But I’ll never forget my birthday trip. It was one for the books. Watch my vlog for the highlights:

What was the last big trip you took before the pandemic?