Philippines > Surigao del Norte
Surigao del Norte
Home to one of the most consistent and quality surf breaks not only in the Philippines but also in the whole world, this province has established itself to be the country's leading destination for wave riders. Although most tourists flock to Siargao Island for its world-class waves, there's actually more to Surigao del Norte than just surfing. If you want to go sightseeing and bond with nature, Bucas Grande Island is definitely not to miss.
How to Get There
There are direct flights daily (1.7 hours) from Manila to Surigao City, the provincial capital. A local carrier also offers flights (1 hour) from Cebu to either Surigao City or Siargao Island daily. If, for any reason, these flights are unavailable, you can fly from Manila (1.5 hours) or Cebu (45 minutes) to Butuan City (2.5 hours away from Surigao City).
Lipata Port in Surigao City serves ferries running to and from Cebu (9.5 hours) and Liloan in Southern Leyte (4 hours). As of latest update, no more ferries ply the Manila-Surigao City direct route. One has to take first a Manila-Cebu ferry (34 hours) and take another ferry from Cebu to Surigao City.
There are regular bus trips via RORO (roll-on/roll-off) vessels from Manila to Surigao City passing through Bicol region and the provinces of Samar and Leyte. A trip will take more than a day. Meanwhile, there are buses and vans going to Surigao City from other transit points in Mindanao such as Butuan City (2.5 hours) and Davao City (14 hours).
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Where to Stay
There are a number of accommodation options available in Surigao del Norte that range from budget inns to high-end hotels and resorts. Depending on where you plan to spend your nights, you can choose from the list below.
- Le Chard Place [Bed & Breakfast], Surigao City - This might not be located at the city center but still an accommodation of choice for many travelers because of its proximity to the city's transport terminal and airport. There is also a mall nearby. An air-conditioned room for two costs Php 1,050 while a family room for 5 costs Php 2,100, all inclusive of breakfast. You may reach them at 09478908891.
- Miami City Suites, Surigao City - Conveniently located at the heart of the city, this hotel is just a stone's throw away from business establishments such as shopping malls, restaurants, and banks. For Php 1,200, you can have an air-conditioned room and delectable breakfast for 2. Inquire about other rooms and rates through 09228767909.
- Club Tara Resort, Socorro, Bucas Grande Island - If you want to splurge on accommodation while you're in enchanting Sohoton, this place is best for you. It has its own restaurant, pool, and poolside bar. Although considered high-end, you can still get a room at a reasonable price. For instance, their air-conditioned dormitory-type family room with its own balcony and can accommodate up to 12 persons can cost as low as Php 1,300 per head. This comes with free breakfast and free use of its amenities and private beach. Call them at 0917522500 to inquire.
- Cinnamon Island Cottages, Socorro, Bucas Grande Island - This is one of at least three open-air accommodation options in Sohoton managed by local environmental groups or cooperatives. A fan cottage for 5 can be rented for Php 2,500 inclusive of breakfast. No electricity, no communications signal, no loud sounds - this place represents rural living well (almost). If you want more convenience, you can opt to stay in any of the two air-conditioned cottages, powered by a generator, for Php 3,000. It can also accommodate up to 5 persons but not inclusive of breakfast. You may reach them at 09488205835.
- Point 303 Resort, General Luna, Siargao Island - Standing directly across the beach facing the world-famous Cloud 9 break, you might think that this place carries a hefty price tag. Truth is, you can get an air-conditioned room for as low as Php 625 per head per night (sharing for 4). Fan rooms are even cheaper. Contact them at 09109890725.
- Happy Gecko Siargao Backpackers Hostel, General Luna, Siargao Island - Need I mention that this is best for backpackers? I think the name says it all. For just Php 250 a night, you can stay in a dormitory-type fan room just few walks away from Cloud 9. Within the compound where it stands, there's a budget restaurant and grocery store. It has a kitchen too where you can cook your own food. Reach them at 09999937413.
Where to Eat
What's a trip without food trip right? If only beautiful sights could fill empty stomachs, you no longer have to think about where and what to eat. Bad news is, that's not the way it works. But, the good news is, you'll never run out of dining options when you're in Surigao del Norte. Here are few dining places which stood out based on personal experience.
- Dale's Foodhauz, Surigao City - Located well within the city center, this unassuming restaurant offers some of the best dishes I've tasted during our Surigao trip. They serve different types of boodle meals everyday for Php 850 good for 5 persons. Leave some space in your tummy after the main course for some desserts. Buko Halo (Filipino Halo-halo served inside a young coconut) is their best, affordably priced at Php 95 per serving.
- Ronaldo's Inn & Restobar, General Luna, Siargao Island - Although most if not all accommodations in Siargao have restaurants, food in these restaurants can be quite expensive. If you're looking for food that's good for both your taste buds and your pocket, try to eat at Ronaldo's. Freshly-cooked Filipino dishes, noodles and flame-grilled barbecue are some of their specialties. A meal ranges from Php 70 to Php 120 per head.
Top Things to See and Do
If you ask me if you can visit all of Surigao del Norte's prized attractions in just a couple of days, I'll definitely say yes. But be forewarned, when you're already there, you might actually find two days to be such a short time. You'll want to stay there longer, live there if possible (well it is possible). The sea, the sand, the surf...everything just implores you to stay, or come back if you really need to leave.
Click on each destination or adventure for a detailed travel guide. As preferences may vary from person to person, I have listed down different options on how you can visit these attractions and the things you can do in each of these. Below you can also find a suggested itinerary and sample costing to help you plan your trip.
I chose Butuan City as entry point since a local budget carrier offers direct flights from Manila to this city at much cheaper rates (promo fares). Manila-Surigao City flights are available through another carrier, albeit more expensive. Besides, Butuan is an ideal transit point if you also want to visit Surigao del Sur.
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The expenses for Surigao del Norte trip can vary significantly depending on your transport, food, and accommodation preferences. Take advantage of promo airfares as transport can be a huge cost item. Below estimates are based on a 5-person tour. The more you are in a group, the cheaper the costs will be.
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Surfing. As a surfer wannabe, I really enjoy surfing, and this is why I like Siargao in Surigao del Norte a lot! The mini adventures in Sohoton Cove such as cave diving and cliff diving are also great!
It's not a surprise why this place is dubbed as the surfing capital of the Philippines. Waves are really huge. You'll love it when you are surfing but definitely not when you're onboard an outrigger boat travelling to and from Siargao. The trip can be dizzying.
To make the most out of your stay in this part of the Philippines, and to save on costs as well, you can include Surigao del Sur in your itinerary.
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