As we see ourselves… We want to live as we see ourselves and not how other people see us. We want to discover our inner self, our deepest emotions, even the fragile ones. But, we want to know all these things without fear, regret and desperate sadness.
Hence, using the excuse of “soul searching”, we embark on a journey. This could be during a gap year or a long vacation (two weeks to a month) away from work, or just quitting and leaving everything you know behind and set out backpacking.
In search of rediscovering myself, I set out on a 8-day vacation to the Philippines, where I grew up. And 4 of those days, I spent it in the lovely island of Siargao.
Where do I start about this gorgeous island full of life, wonders, excitement yet peaceful and serene all at the same time?
Its gorgeous waters that are emerald and blue, its sands that are soft and smooth, its clean fresh air, its green trees and fields that never get boring, its friendly people who are lively, beautiful and kind-hearted, and the quiet peaceful sound of nature. It is an island where you can really appreciate everything within it. Seas, waves, sands, mangroves, lagoons, rivers, natural pools, trees, forests, stars, shooting stars, the Milky Way, fireflies, marine life… just LIFE everywhere.
I wanted to go somewhere new, somewhere I have never visited in the Philippines and it is exactly what I got. A brand new environment that showed me – life is beautiful.
I will include a “simple” guide on how to get around, where to stay, etc. But my purpose there wasn’t for detailed blogging at that time. It was only to relax, so I will mostly write about my experiences.
How to get there:
Either by boat or plane.
If you are taking the boat, you have to go to Surigao then travel again by island. And finally, taking another boat to the island itself.
I opted for the plane ride. It only took me an hour from Cebu city and the view was gorgeous. It will cost you less than 100 USD so it is pretty affordable. Just don’t forget to book in advance since it will become more expensive as your departure date comes closer.
How to get around:
- You can rent a motorcycle. This is if you want to discover every bit of the island and see what it has to offer.
- You can rent a bicycle. This is given if your accommodation is near the surf spot or other restaurants. But you cannot obviously travel long distances to where the other beaches and natural pools are at.
- You can take the public transportation. This is somewhat similar to the bicycle and public transportation is so rare.
- You can walk. For miles and miles and miles without an end. Unless your resort is near where you want to go.
I recommend riding the motorcycle. If you do not know, ask a friend to drive you OR find a driver? My friend drove me around. Lucky me.
There are loads of cheap accommodations. Surf camps, hostels, guesthouses, etc. except hotels. This island does not need a hotel. EVER, imo. The budget to stay in the island is relatively low.
I stayed at my friend’s (her parent’s) resort Arka Hayahay. It cost me around 35 USD a night. For around 35 USD, I had my own room, with a huge bed, a bathroom and breakfast.. It is like a local hotel. It is super clean. I recommend you guys check it out. They also have rooms for groups.
What to eat:
There are many carenderias/street food stalls to eat in Siargao. BUT! There is this barbecue place I went to on my last day and the food was INCREDIBLE. I had not had good barbecue in so long. This place is called Mama’s Grill. Mama, you make one heck of a barbecue. It is cheap and clean and yummy. This place is usually crowded since even the locals love the food so don’t forget to get there early!
I had my breakfasts at Arka Hayahay so it was not a problem for me. They have great pancakes.
These are the things I did while in Siargao, except eat and sleep.
- Rock pool
Ask people where you can find the rock pool and they might most probably tell you about the Magpupungko Beach. The beach itself is very relaxing and chill. However, you can only walk to the rock pool during low tide. It is a pool made by huge reefs. THIS was my favorite place in Siargao.
- Island hopping
There are 3 islands you can go to for island hopping from Siargao, Daku, Naked and Guyam. I only went to Naked Island and Daku.
Naked Island was a huge sandbar that resulted to it becoming an island. Well, that’s how I see it anyway. There is no shade so be prepared to be burnt. Really bad. No trees, whatsoever. Just a small bench and a tent-looking thing without a roof. It was absolutely nice to have the island all to ourselves.
Then we headed to Daku Island. Daku meaning “big” in Bisaya. This island has trees and huts you can rent. The sand is so fine that it is almost like flour. I never discovered the island but me and my friends just chilled on the water and talked, took crazy pictures.
Sad to say, I failed at standing up on the board when I caught the wave. The experience however, left me wanting to try surfing again. The thrill to try to stand up until you succeed was incredible. It was also very tiring and my ribs hurt from supporting myself on the board.
So many locals visit Siargao for surfing as it is one of the surfing hubs in the Philippines. There are so many talented surfers in the island and it is amazing to watch.
You can hire a local to teach you how to surf including the board for rent for more or less 10 USD for 1~2 hours I think. My friend, Bren taught me so… though I did pay him, no worries.
Do take note that the surf locations are reefy so it will hurt your feet if you are not used to stepping on those reefs. It hurt me soooo baaaaaaad. You can get some aqua shoes if you like, I saw a few people wearing those even while they were surfing. I WAS NOT PREPARED AT ALL.
- Discovering the island
I spent most of my time in the resort reading my book or just thinking about myself and what I want to do later on in life. I did go to boardwalk in Cloud 9 – where you can find many surfers. But the main reason I went to this place was for the sunset.
Sunrises, sunsets, it doesn’t matter. Siargao has the best rises and sets to offer, it is amazing.
There are other things to do on the island. Such as discovering the cave pool, which is near Mapupungko Beach. Go kayaking or paddle boarding. Maybe swim with some non-stinging jelly fish? All these activities are affordable and the islanders are friendly, so never be afraid to approach them and at the same time be nice to them!
It was mostly a time for me to de-stress everything piled on my shoulders over the years and just… enjoy doing nothing. Chilling and getting a tan without worrying how dark I would look after or about my allergic reaction to long exposure to the sun. (LOL! I know, it is insane.)
No words can explain what I saw and what I felt there. You have to experience the island yourself. Interact with the people. And remember, don’t make nature mad at you, keep the island, the environment clean.
I had an awesome time. My friends taught me how to be confident and how to be and feel myself again. I regained my confidence in the island, more than I had. Which also let me realize that I don’t need to be so shy about how I look or what my size is. I just need to keep working hard on being fit that’s all. Despite knowing it will be difficult to gain the confidence I had lost during my 5 years here in Korea and I am sure it won’t take 5 months to get it back. I am willing to try and I am confident that I will make it. Thank you.
With these thoughts in mind, I found a wonderful friendship with these two friends in college whom I thought I will never be close to. But post about friendship will be for another time.