When was the last time you listen to yourself? When was the last time you disregard people’s opinions and finally put yourself first? When was the last time you made a decision from the bottom of your heart so that for once, it’s you who you value?
I did it a week before my flight. I was just watching a vlog about Siargao. They say, if it excites you and scares you at the same time, it only means you should do it. So the next morning? I found myself booked on a flight that will replenish my soul.
Lesson #1: Just do it.
There are plenty of ways on how to go to Siargao. In my case, I took the Butuan-Surigao-Siargao Itinerary (which I think is the cheapest way if you are not going to consider a promo fare). Arriving at Butuan Airport, there are vans going directly to Surigao for P200 for a 2-3 hours ride.
Important Note: The last trip of the ferry off to Siargao Island is 11 am. I missed mine so with no choice but to stay at Surigao City, I checked in to Surigao Tourist Inn for a night and waited till morning. The next day, I picked up all the sleepy efforts that I have and went to the port for me to catch the early trip. It was a good 2 hour sailing for P250.
Lesson #2: If not flying directly to Siargao, book a super early flight.
Arriving at Dapa Port, since I was on a very very tight budget, I took the tricycle going to GL (General Luna, the big town of the island) for only P30. I swear to the gods of western mythology, locals in Siargao are very friendly. There was this girl who really exerted effort and approached me and even accompanied me to my hostel. That means we took habal for P20. Not bad right? Thank you po, ate!
I made reservations at Footprints Homestay while I was stuck at Surigao City. Did I make the right choice choosing them on hostel world? No, because I think I made a perfect choice. HAHAHA cheesy and cliché but yes! The owners, David and Apple are super friendly! Even Marie and Maymay. They know what’s inside your heart even if you are too shy to say it. The first meeting with them, I know I am going to have a family in Siargao.
- At Footprints Homestay, they have a total of 10 bunk beds (6-bed dorm and 4-bed dorm) with individual fans, mosquito nets, and lockers. They have a shared kitchen that is well-equipped, a very spacious chillout area, mini garden, and communal toilet and shower. Bonus? Their toilets have a bidet, man. A holy fricking bidet! That itself is life. Other than that, what I love about Footprints is that everyone is free to pet their dogs! Their location is peaceful as well. It was 5 minutes away from Cloud 9 by scooter and a 2-minute walk away from the beach. I swear, if you stay there, you’ll stay with your family!
I was so excited on my first day on the island. There was something about that place because it was different than everywhere I’ve been in the Philippines. So I explored and walked around the area near where I am staying. I saw how chill and laid back this island is. Boys and girls walking around in their board shorts and bikinis under the sun without even caring, surfers driving around with their motorcycles carrying their beautiful surfboards, and full of free-spirited bunch of people. Damn, how much I am going to enjoy my stay there.
The same day after I kill time and spent my afternoon reading a book on a hammock at their chillout area, I walked to the beach and had a good hour dip. Since I was wanting to catch some waves, I went to Cloud 9, because I thought I would surf. I sat there sipping a bottle of beer admiring the place until I realized that it was too late for an afternoon and for me to do what I was about to do so I waited for the sunset instead.
Me and Marie, the manager of the hostel, went to Barrel to have some Shawarma. I never enjoyed my shawarma like that before that night. If ever you are in Siargao, this place is good for your tummy during the day and during the night because they are open 24/7! Try their garlic rice and I swear, you will love it! It was like the best garlic rice ever, swear.
The nightlife in Siargao is fantastic. I learned that all the bars on the island give way to each other when it comes to partying. They have different operations. Like there’s a specific bar that will open on a specific night so that all the people will meet and party at the same place. Cool idea, isn’t it?
After having our dinner at Barrel, we meet the owners of the hostel, Apple, David, and all of their dogs at Baile. And I have never seen the biggest karaoke in my life! I think it was nice to get invited on the first night. We had beers as a pre-game while we sang in front of everybody else. I sang two songs: Love Bug and Boys Don’t Cry.
Saturday night is Rumbar night. So we went there right away around 11. People dancing to some upbeat reggae song. And with island lights everywhere, I crossed the crowd of the island party. Somebody handed me a bottle of red horse and they yelled “Welcome to Siargaoooo!” at me. It was crazy!
Went to bed around 2 or 3? And I read “good night, top bunker.” written on the wall on my side and then I smiled because I don’t know if I was just drunk or I was really happy.
Marie woke me up at 8 am and I almost forgot that I made plans with hostel people about surfing in the morning. MY HANGOVER IS KILLING THE HELL OUT OF ME. But I don’t wanna kill the joy, so I went anyway.
Lesson #3: Be present, live in the moment.
We rode motorbikes with our surfboards hanging on the side for almost 20 minutes. Went on a pretty long muddy jungle trek, and there it goes. A surfing spot! They call it Secret Spot because, well, I think it is illegal to go there without the permission of the property owner. But what the hell, correct? Once you’re in, you’re in. And we were already in!
My head was like breaking under the Siargao sun as I paddle my way away from the shore. I did catch some waves. But definitely not the good ones. Because heck, the hangover is legit, man. Cannot concentrate. So I went out of the waters earlier than expected and just sat on the shore and drank soda. It was a nice morning because it rained hard, and I was dreaming of my dream again: feeling like a castaway in Survivor. Imagining how can I outcast all these amazing surfers if, during the first challenge, I am curing my hangover. But that’s it.
So the others still wanted to surf and I head back to the hostel together with the other hostel mates and I hop on a motorcycle of this lovely English couple. They are so nice! So after putting the board back, I grabbed myself some lunch, went upstairs to the hostel’s chill area, and cradled in one of the hammocks. I was just reading a book and the next thing I knew, I am already sleeping. With my outfit still kinda wet, I slept. Hahaha this is the island life that I was talking about to all of my friends! You go to the waters, and then you go out, you chill and you go back again when you’re completely dried up. Man, was my hair and skin salty.
On the second day, I just decided to relax a bit. Read books and drink coffee and talked to the new soul who just arrived in the hostel. Pretty fun to chill out and not worry for the day.
Lesson #4: There will always be someone willing to help or tag along on an adventure.
On that evening, the lovely English couple organized a little Rum and Coke party with a few people and we talked almost everything from films to education to cities to music, etc. It was fairly nice.
The party in Siargao starts at 11, so I went outside. Sunday night is Hotspot night. Grabbed a couple of beers, sang reggae with the crowd, and went to bed.
Today was all about island hopping turned island hoping. I made plans with 2 lovely girls the night before about joining a group of people that will go to three islands. But I did snooze my alarm 7x to wake up a little bit late. Did I just change my mind last minute? No worries!
They went surfing. And as I woke up on the top bunk this morning, I saw “Face your fears today!” written on the wall inside my dorm. So I decided to rent a motorbike and explore the island on my own. I was hesitant to get one on the first day and not getting a motorbike sooner was my first regret. I almost forgot how fun it is to ride one on an island!
Lesson #5: Goodbye comfort zone! Even if you found out that it’s not for you, you have a new experience.
I drove from our hostel to Bake Siargao(Owned by Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters) to get myself some coffee and breakfast. From there I decided to go to Magpupungko Rockpools alone! I would never think that I would dedicate the 3rd day all for myself.
Going to the town of Pilar took me 1 hour and 20 minutes. I never thought it was a very long ride! But I enjoyed it really much. Removed my clothes, put sunscreen, my headband and my shades because I want to get golden, I was driving on a very long road with coconut trees all around me and there were just me and my motorbike. Holy yes, felt like I was in a movie.
When I arrived at Magpupungko, it was still high tide so I got myself lunch and a bottle of beer and just admired the view and smiled at people.
After that, I was ready to go to the rock pools. Very amazing.
When I arrived back at the hostel, they were having rum and coke and making mango float and grilling a fish. I joined in. Man, it was simple but that was by far the greatest dinner I had so far. After the pre-game at the chillout, we went to Rumbar again, had a couple of beers, and went home for the mango float. Freaking delicious!
I was about to join another tour again going to Sugba Lagoon. But what did I do? Canceled it last minute. AGAIN! I knew the organizers are going to be pissed and I could really force myself to go to the tour, but my heart is telling me to spend the last whole day surfing and go around with my new friends.
Lesson #6: Sometimes it’s okay to just feel highly motivated to do nothing.
I set my alarm 6:30 to stroll around the island but I snoozed it until 7:30. Me being me. 4th day felt like a lazy day for me. So I drove around and went to Harana, a place where there is a little cafe called Filibeans. I went back to the hostel and my friends, guess what? Eating mango float for breakfast! Who can say no to this food, right?
At 10:30, me, Sophie and Jacs went to Jacking Horse to catch some waves. But it gets pretty windy so Jacs and I just decided to just chill out and have some coffee while watching Sophie surfing up. It was pretty fun though because we had a quick photoshoot session there!
I spent the rest of the day all for myself. Walked around under the Siargao sun and all of a sudden I realized that it was my last day on the island and I didn’t really want to go just yet! It all came down to a lot of factors such as I haven’t seen half of the island yet, I still got a lot of surfing to do and I was just starting to fall in love with this amazing place. It went by so fast! One day I was clueless and shy, the next day I know I was packing to go.
Me, Sophie and Remi walked all the way from our hostel to Mama’s Grill to get ourselves a rewarding dinner. The place was a bit jump packed and we had to wait for a table. The food must be delicious! After finishing my plate of delicious food, I knew it was worth the wait.
My last night’s pre-game was simple yet fun. We had rum and coke and played a drinking game, which I quit because I can’t afford to drink a half-full glass of brandy if I lose. After about a couple of hours, we went to the party! That night’s party was in Octopus. And in Siargao, same party, same people. It felt like going to a reunion with your pals. In my case, it’s like a party with newfound friends and some people that I met somewhere else on the island. Everywhere I went, I bumped with the same faces which gave me the feeling I belong.
Lesson #7: You can always go at your own pace. Work on your timetable and not worry about taking a chill day.
We danced all night because it was raining real hard outside and it was hella fantastic.
After the rain slowed down a bit, we walked back to the hostel shortcut thru the beach. And it rained hard again. We didn’t care about being all soaked from rain but our phones though! So we ran thru the beach and then to the road as if it was an early morning jog.
Before we sleep, we agreed on having coffee at Bake Siargao before I leave the island if it wouldn’t rain in the morning.
And nature has this nasty habit of doing what and what not you expect from it. It was still raining. So we only had instant coffee at our hostel.
That morning was peaceful yet gloomy. It was sooooo hard to pack my things back to my bag while watching my friends planning to go surfing after lunch. Boy, was I jealous? I could have it postponed one more day if my flight back to Manila isn’t gonna happen early in the morning at Butuan City. And feeling sad to leave doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go.
Saying my byes to the friends that I met in the hostel was melancholy. With real hugs coming from me, it was really a great time meeting all those beautiful and colorful souls.
Lesson #8: Auf Wiedersehen
I hate goodbyes. That’s the reason why I love the German phrase “Auf Wiedersehen” because it means “until we meet again”, and that’s a hell lot better and less painful to say than “Goodbye”. I don’t know if I’m making sense here but I said it.
I left the hostel as fast as I can before I frown. And with my backpack heavier than before, I went back to Dapa Port and took the ferry to Surigao City. Had a quick lunch when I arrived then had another van ride to Butuan. I had to check in to Flor Al Mansion until the next morning for my flight back.
Sitting inside the plane, looking outside the window before the takeoff, I was leaving with a heavy heart. Goodbyes hurt more than anything when you know deep down inside, you’re impossible to say hello again to the travelers that became your friends. But who knows, right? We could meet again! It’s just so hard to leave until you leave. And the next thing I know, I was back in Manila. Same old traffic, same old busy people.
Lesson #9: File a month-long vacation leave the next time you come back to Siargao.
Life is right now. Not yesterday and definitely not yet tomorrow.
As you all know, I have this little tradition of going to a place I’ve never been to every new year. I started it last couple of years with my friends. But it seems like 2018 isn’t the year for that! I stopped inviting friends who don’t really want to go so yes, Lesson #1, I just did it.
My solo travel to Siargao, even though it wasn’t really much, has changed my life in plenty of ways. It improved my mental health, I became a bit braver, it taught me what independence really means, I learned so much more to love about being alone, I was forced to socialize with people that normally I might not and more importantly, to love myself more.
Lesson #10: Always put yourself first before anything else. And most importantly, guard your little lonely heart.
When you watched vlogs and read blogs about Siargao, they will tell you the same famous places to go to. But I don’t know if I intentionally missed the famous tours in Siargao. Maybe I came there not to see what bloggers wanted me to see, maybe I really came there to live at the moment.
7-day Budget Breakdown:
All Fares (Airfare not included) P1,741
Siargao, starting today, you are now my go-to island whenever I feel like having a break from everything in life. This time, I know I will keep coming back for more.
Coming back to you real soon,