Exploring: Siargao, Philippines
Posted: Sep 11 2019
With so many of KAYU’s most talented artisan partners hailing from the Philippines, it’s no surprise that we’re more than partial to this island nation. In recent years, Siargao has made a name for itself as the crown jewel of the archipelago, with dream-worthy surfing, brilliant, dazzling beaches, and a remote tropical landscape dotted with coconut trees creating a particular vision of paradise that’s tough to resist. Book your trip and you might just find yourself overstaying your vacation days—in this laid-back, anything-goes destination, the toughest part is getting back on the plane to depart.
Where To Stay
We’ve got one word for you: luxe. Nay Palad is the picture of island glamour, with a cluster of villas set on a private beach that redefines the word “picturesque”. Billed as a true “choose your own adventure” story, Nay Palad offers everything from kayak trips through the ancient mangrove forest to top-notch spa treatments.
Impossibly ideal surfing is one of Siargao’s main siren-songs, and wave-seekers should opt to stay at Bravo. This sustainable-minded resort offers rooms just steps away from the island’s white-sand beaches, so there’s nothing standing between you and some of the world’s best breaks. After a sesh, head to their onsite restaurant to soak up a live music set.
Perfectly located for first-time island visitors, Katmon House’s sleek, understated digs make it an easy choice. Airy, welcoming guest rooms with private terraces let out into a modern common area complete with kitchen—so even those who can resist the island’s many tempting activities will feel right at home.
An enticing blend of island-casual and boho-chic, Kali Villa’s style inspires a zen vibe from the moment you set foot inside. Be sure to book a guesthouse room with a pool view and lounge away the afternoon in their tasseled hammock chairs under glowing lanterns as the sunsets.
What To Do
Visit this breathtaking cove to take in the full beauty of Siargao. Local guides can help you navigate all the most jaw-dropping caves and lagoons—just don’t forget your waterproof phone case, since you’ll absolutely want to snap a photo (or a few dozen) on this day trip.
The surf spot that put Siargao on the map, Cloud 9 is nothing short of legendary. But even if you’ve never stood on a board before, you can take advantage of this must-see spot—surf instructors line the coast waiting for the chance to give you a vacay memory you’ll never forget.
You’ve undoubtedly seen photos of this famous spot, where a conveniently placed palm tree makes for an unforgettable swing perch. Just make sure your travel companion is poised and ready to get the ultimate shot as you swing and jump into the cool blue water.
If you’re lucky enough to have one of the motorbikes most use to get around the island at your disposal, you can make the 45-minute jaunt to these majestic rock pools, which form on the white sand beach and become irresistible during low tide.
Who doesn’t want to be described as an “island hopper”? It’s easy to take in the sights of Naked Island, Daku Island and Guyam Island from a starting point in General Luna, the main tourist area of Siargao. Ranging from the stark sand landscape of Naked Island to the lush palm-dotted Daku Island, each stop is more beautiful than the last. Book a tour that includes a fresh seafood lunch—the experience of lounging on a nearly-private beach while enjoying local delicacies is pure paradise.
Where To Eat
Siargao might not be the first place you expect to find world-class Italian food, and yet Kermit delivers. An imported Italian brick pizza oven is the secret to some of the restaurant’s most drool-worthy dishes, but be sure you don’t skip out on lesser-known treats like their signature cocktails, either.
Even if you’re not staying at Bravo Beach Resort, their restaurant is worth the trip. A menu of classic Spanish cuisine is created using ultra-fresh ingredients, with local and international favorites peppered in to keep diners of all stripes satisfied.
The ultimate pit-stop for early birds en route to catch some waves at Cloud 9, Shaka’s all-day menu focuses on hip-meets-healthy breakfast bowls, smoothies, and of course the ultimate cup of coffee to fuel the rest of your island adventuring.
With an emphasis on organic ingredients and supporting sustainability on the island and beyond, Kali Ma feels more like a wellness excursion than a lunch spot—aptly so, considering it’s located on the grounds of a sought-after yoga retreat. Snack on ingredient-driven dishes like breakfast burritos and kimchi at this vegan cafe, or pick up a soul-satisfying kombucha slushie to sip on your way to the mat.
Loose Keys Bar: Newcomers, take note: Kinilaw is the Filipino version of Ceviche—but it’s undeniably delicious no matter what you call it. There’s no better way to taste the flavors of island life than at CEV…except maybe by pairing a bowl of Kinilaw with a drink from the adjacent Loose Keys Bar, an edgy, moto-inspired multifunctional space which is home to all manner of music and art events.
Where To Shop
Pick up a sporty swimsuit or signature logo tee from this local high-performance surf brand, which puts sustainability front-and-center. Kudo not only produces truly eco-conscious surf apparel and gear but also uses its roots in the community to lead eco-education and bolster the careers of native athletes.
Seeking some retail therapy? Non-surfers might be surprised to find that most shops cater to the sport that made the island famous, so clothing strongly skews toward the surf-related. But that doesn’t mean you’ll only find the same surf brands you’d see in the U.S. at Fat Lips. The island’s largest surf shop focuses on locally owned, independent Filipino brands—so even non-surfers will want to pick up a souvenir and support them.