Siargao Island Series: Sailing to Paradise
It was already a busy morning at Surigao City’s Boulevard. People were arriving in flocks only to be told to wait for the next vessel to take them to Siargao Island.
It was a good thing we were able to secure tickets beforehand. Now the only thing left to do was wait for the vessel to sail from Surigao City.
The sun was slowly rising against the black sky. The engines roared to life. I was so excited. It was finally happening! After three visits to Surigao City, I finally get to board a boat for Siargao.
The two-hour boat ride was nothing short of exciting. It was my first time so I did not know what to expect. I couldn’t fathom sitting inside the cabin so I opted to stand outside to see everything our boat would pass by.
All sorts of people could be found in the boat we had boarded from families visiting relatives for the fiesta, policemen on assignment (there was an international surfing competition so security needed to be tight) and other fellow tourists and surfers alike.
From Surigao City, we passed through Banug Strait with Nonoc Island on the north and the islands of Lamagon, Bayagnan and Hinatuan to the south. After passing these islands, the boat heads eastward towards the Dapa Channel.
The Dapa port wasn’t easily seen from the open sea. You’d have to pass through a cape with rows and rows of naturally grown mangroves that locals say is home to saltwater crocodiles. If that didn’t excite me enough about Siargao, I don’t know what else will!
Arriving in Dapa Port, I found myself engulfed with people disembarking from the vessel that sailed us smoothly to this island paradise. After having breakfast at one of the nearby restaurants, we were whisked away to meet with the mayor of General Luna, Jaime Resillon.
The 71-year-old mayor raves how the people of General Luna thrive on the income that the tides of tourism bring. The international surfing competition and big game fishing, which happen annually in September and in April respectively, bring in the bucks, as both are international sporting events.
The local government here spends about Php 5 million to 7 million for the festivities, like this 22nd International Surfing Competition, and gains about more than Php 100 million in revenue mostly brought about by tourism.
The surfing competition alone brings about an expected 6000 to 7000 local and foreign tourist, says Resillon. Foreign tourists alone count at around 2000 to 3000, mostly lured by the world-class surf break called Cloud Nine and General Luna's pristine white sand beaches and islands.
Resillon says that all the 450 air-conditioned rooms of all the resorts in General Luna are booked for the week’s international surfing competition. The competition lasts for about a week.
There are seven surf spots found in General Luna alone while there are 19 spots scattered all over Siargao Island. Of the 19, Cloud Nine is it's most famous, being named one of the world's best waves.
Waves at Cloud Nine during the surfing competition proper can go from 8 feet to 12 feet high as per Resillon. With Cloud Nine's amusing history, it was named after the famous chocolate bar Cloud Nine, which was the only thing the surfers (then first time discoverers of this break) were eating at that time. I’ve yet to verify with the surfing community about Cloud 9’s name origins though.
It was around mid-afternoon when we checked in at Siargao Bleu Resort. Since our day began at 4:00am, most of my companions decided to get some rest. Now, this is where the island adventures really begins, which is another story altogether. ♥♥♥
*A shorter version of this story originally appeared in my column in EdgeDavao.