One of the beaches in San Isidro, Siargao

San Isidro: Siargao’s Not-So-Secret Getaway

Siargao, the surfing capital of the Philippines, started welcoming back local tourists on November 23, while the island’s Sayak Airport reopened on December 1. “As Siargao reopens to travelers, subject to minimum health and safety standards, the people of the island will regain their livelihood and share their paradise to our kababayans once more with the same level of hospitality they have always been known for,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on the DOT Facebook page.

I remember going on a two-week trip to Siargao right before the pandemic. I flew back home right before the Metro Manila quarantine was announced, followed by the Luzon quarantine—the longest in the world. My waterproof backpack is from Decathlon.

Bamboo Garden, the only spot I found with decent Wi-Fi in San Isidro

I am neither promoting nor condemning travel during the pandemic. What is more important to me is that we, as empathic and logical humans beings, listen to science-based information and incorporate the most basic steps to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus—wash your hands regularly, social distance, and wear that goddamn mask over your nose AND mouth.

If you choose to travel now and in the next few months, please travel responsibly. As travel blogger Nomadic Matt said, “There’s a safe way to reduce risk and travel.” Read his full statement here.

Pacifico Beach, San Isidro, Siargao
Pacifico Bigwish Resort
The quirky Jafe Resort in San Isidro, Siargao

If you’re planning to book a trip to Siargao soon, I hope you’ll go beyond General Luna, home to Siargao’s famous Cloud 9 and partying scene (pre-COVID). Most tourists staying in General Luna plan a half-day day trip (through a local guide or DIY with their rented mopeds) to San Isidro, around 43km away. That’s about an hour via car or two hours via motorbike or tricycle.

But San Isidro deserves more than just a few hours of your time. I took a break from General Luna’s partying scene and went on a solo three-day trip to San Isidro. There’s absolutely no mobile signal there, except for this spot near Bigwish Resort that the locals call “Wi-Fi Hill,” which has no Wi-Fi but gets a decent a mobile signal. You’ll know you’re there when you see a bunch of people by the bushes doing the Asian squat while talking on their phones.

One of the beaches in San Isidro, Siargao
I had Alegria Beach 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.
Gotta love Filipino humor! When in San Isidro, get your tapsilog breakfast at Tapsihan Ni Lebron James at Dwayne Wade.

As for Wi-Fi, there are some resorts that have Wi-Fi, but it works only if 1-2 people are using it, max.

Just enjoy the unplugged life. Things to do in San Isidro include: lounge at the beach, surf (but their waves are for more advanced surfers), look for the island’s only waterfall at the northernmost part, rent a motorbike and enjoy the scenery, and have long unscheduled meals without a care in the world.

Taktak Falls in northern Siargao

I drove my rented moped around San Isidro.
San Isidro is the perfect spot to practice your motorbiking. There are hardly any vehicles or humans on the road.

Mapupungko, San Isidro’s scenic sand beach with natural rock formations and tidal pools, was closed when I was there. Environmentalists said that the rocks have turned white from the tourists’ sunblock residue (gasp!) so they needed the place to cleanse and heal naturally.

San Isidro isn’t exactly a big secret spot in Siargao. It’s just that it doesn’t have as many attractions as General Luna, the waves are for more advanced surfers, and the absence of mobile signal deters tourists from staying too long. But that’s what makes it the perfect escape.

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 Ground. Check out this hut I had all to myself.
The café in Common Ground
Entrance to Common Ground

Requirements for Siargao tourists arriving via Surigao City or Sayak Airport effective December 1, 2020:

1. Negative result on RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours before the date of arrival
2. Surigao del Norte e-health pass (Click here to see how you can get one)
3. Valid identification card
4. Confirmed booking from any of the resort, hotel, or hostel in the province with CAO/PCAO
5. Travel itinerary in Surigao del Norte
6. Roundtrip ticket

For Surigao del Norte residents, government workers on official business, and private authorized persons outside their residence, click here.

Siargao’s curfew is strictly enforced from 11:00pm to 4:00am daily. Travel safe. Travel responsibly.