Tropical Treasure: In Siargao for the First Time
"I wouldn't want to influence you."
On the first evening, enjoying the alfresco setting at La Carinderia, one of the quaint independent establishments dotted along a part of General Luna, I overheard this conversation between two tourists meeting over for dinner. One seemed quite familiar with the town, while the other, new to the unknown, sought recommendations. I wouldn't want to influence you, he answered.
It’s often a premise in this age that when we prepare to visit a new terrain, we seek advice from friends, family, or even acquaintances for their opinions. We rummage through the stories online and let them wash over us.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t spend hours on the internet searching for places to stay, restaurants to try, what to do, etc.—the little details that we get caught up with that we sometimes forget why we’re going in the first place. To be honest, searching for these kinds of information is exhausting. I concluded my search with no specific details saved (okay, maybe one or two) and surrendered myself to the unknown.
It was a turbulent flight from Manila to Siargao. We were close to the island once the sky cleared up. And all I could see was green below. Mangroves and palm trees, and many more mangroves and palm trees. It was so stunningly green! It’s even more green when you’re in land. On the way to town, the sides of the roads were filled with palm trees as far as the eyes can see.
The warm days and balmy nights we spent traversing through Siargao were guided by a certain kind of influence. We went ahead and said yes.
It’s sunrise. Surf’s up!
Renting a motorbike was a brand new concept when we were asked if we wanted to rent one as soon as we checked in to our little resort. Why, yes, sure! And as you learn when you’re in Siargao, it’s the best way to explore the island. There are no traffic lights in this side of the world. You’re free as a bird.
Cloud 9 on General Luna is a popular surfing spot—most people come to Siargao for the waves. While I had intended not to involve myself in any surfing activities, serendipity had other plans. It was hard to say no. We’ll meet tomorrow at sunrise here, said the instructor. It was a totally random meeting on Cloud 9. He was a a total stranger but he looked legit.
Without a doubt, it was one of the best experiences of my life! I now understand why people are attracted to surfing. It’s a meditation so surreal and profound and exciting at the same time. It’s just you, your board, and the waves. Well, I guess it’s just you and the waves, once you’ve gotten used to the surfing board. I could do this again tomorrow, I said to myself. Ha! My whole body was aching the next day—even laughing was a chore.
The day started on a high and it kept getting better and better. I shake my head in disbelief at times. Is this real?
We hopped on a boat and our captain took us snorkeling to the marine sanctuary. It has no name, it is simple the sanctuary—and what an underwater wonderland it was! Corals upon corals upon corals. Tropical fishes who look at me wide-eyed with curiosity. Perhaps my lack of knowledge in marine biology will fail me here but I saw the most beautiful long and vibrantly yellow fish. It was delicate and it moved so elegantly. We ought to see more of the oceans, us humans.
Naked Island, Daku Island, and Guyam Island are the three little islets that aren’t from from the main island of Siargao. They all have different characters and they’re all a joy to visit.
Naked Island is beautifully bare. You can stand in the middle of it, spin around, and there’s nothing to hinder your sight. The ocean in amazingly 720 degrees! Lunch down time was spent in Daku Island and its friendly island dogs—they were adorable. We went to the market before boarding the boat—locals that will cook for you for a fee. Lastly, Guyam Island is the cutest island. It’s so tiny and has palm trees growing all over it. This place was made for chilling, there are bamboo mats and hammocks. There’s a fruit shake stand, too, for beating the heat.
And the water! Oh—the water was so incredibly blue. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Starry starry night
Siargao is such a delight. The next day, we ventured off General Luna to indulge in saltwater in Magpupungko Rock Pools. The ride is almost an hour from town. When the tide is low, usually from morning until afternoon, the rock pools emerge. There are all sorts of different sizes and depth. From a distance, I saw the waves crashing into the reef. Meanwhile, I was floating peacefully in the rock pool that I called my own.
We stopped by the Enchanted River on the way to Magpupungko. You can go there on the way back as well. If you’re lucky, with a beautiful sunset too. This is where you’ll find the Instagram famous Bent Palm Tree. The one that people climb and jump off of to the river. I haven’t heard about this tree prior and it’s amazing to think that a little lowly tree, one that locals grew up with, would become a celebrity. We took a boat ride up to the end of the river—oh! It was enchanting, indeed. Unforgettable!
The last stop was Sugba Lagoon. This was where we tested our strength in kayaking—not in physical condition, but in patience and coordination. Kayaking is a real test! There’s something about jumping off of things and here you can jump off the board and straight into the lagoon. It’s a beautiful sight but what was memorable for me was the boat ride through the mangroves. The sun sank into the horizon. My mind, elated with beautiful experiences.
The five days we spent in Siargao was full to the brim with highs and I would never forget this one scene. On the way back to Blauset House II, managing the bumpy ride on the Honda Mio we've rented, we stopped in the middle of the narrow street. There, shadows of palm trees wrapped the edges of the cloudless celestial sky. I was intensely mesmerised. It was just like looking through outerspace. It was so pure and so bright.
We turned off the engine to enjoy the quiet and the full starry night, filled with appreciation for the unexpected of the unexpected.