Asia, Experience, Mindanao, Personal Essay, Philippines

Blog Carnival | Siargao : Wild and Free

Siargao Words and Wanderlust

My lungs are chronically riddled with the smell of the sea. The kind that in lieu of sandy shores, has secret rock pools that are revealed at the tethering of the tide to the moon.

It was only understandable how my ribcage leapt at once upon catching my first glimpse of Siargao.

Read: Siargao Travel Guide 

The island was all too familiar: palm trees running along jagged coastlines, beautifully battered by the constant lapping of waves. The passenger ferry that carried us, two and a half hours across Dinagat Sound, reeked of grease and gasoline. The sun-aged, concrete grounds of Dapa Port were cracked in places that spoke of narratives of resilience and perseverance. Perhaps, of adversity too. 

In short, it was too real; pretty in its honesty. And home-like. 


Siargao Sunset | Words and Wanderlust


Kuya Bebot, DIY Philippines‘ most trusted habal-habal driver, was unmistakeable in his toothless grin. He was already waiting by the gates of the port when we arrived.

We didn’t need a guide, actually. There were six of us, all capable of speaking the language of the island. But hardworking fathers needed to be rewarded. So when I learned of Kuya Bebot whilst researching for the trip, I jumped at the chance of paying the benevolence forward.

Kuya Bebot Salgado – (+63) 906 459 5679, (+63) 930 974 9974

Aboard his habal-habal, we took the new Dapa-General Luna Road whilst my siblings took the tricycle the long way ’round the old highway.  We checked out a couple of accommodation options along the way, but it wasn’t until we took the muddy inner street to Harana Surf that the world stood still.

It was love at first sight. 

Harana Surf wasn’t merely a structure. It was a collection of art pieces whose inspiration were derived from the island itself; a beautiful marriage of modern architecture and an all-Filipino vibe.

Situated beachfront in Tuason Point, a walkable distance from the famed Cloud 9 surfing spot, Harana Surf was a commune meant for seekers. Seekers of big waves. Seekers of elusive dreams. Seekers of lost selves. 

For the perennially lost, it was Utopia. 


Siargao | Harana Surf | Words and Wanderlust

Harana Surf
Address: 2 Tuason Point, Brgy. Catangnan,, General Luna, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, Philippines
Phone: +63 998 849 5461

To book a discounted stay, click here. 

The days that followed saw me and my siblings, driving around in motorcycles with our friends, despite explicit warning from our mother. We left our car in Surigao City, too, without the knowledge of and permission from Daddy. All in all, it was a reckless trip, and I was the ringmaster.

But there was something about Siargao that was unbelievably liberating. The island held some kind of power that rendered even the most unconfident, feel invincible. It didn’t matter that my hair held a certain frizz that under any other circumstances, would have been labelled disastrous; that I was sauntering ’round town in bikinis that were perpetually damp with seawater.

It always felt safe because it always felt home. 


Siargao Sohoton Cove | Words and Wanderlust

Sohoton Cove, Bucas Grande

(Prior to going to Siargao, we went to Sohoton Cove via Hayanggabon. It was easier because we were driving. But for those without vehicle, Sohoton Cove is best reached from Siargao.)

The magic started with darkness engulfing, as our outrigger slipped into Sohoton Cove. For a moment, I hadn’t realised that we’ve already come into the clearing, at the very bosom of Bucas Grande. My sights were fixated on my brothers: Jan, ecstatically gasping in delight and Leo, almost tearful in disbelief.

My brothers haven’t travelled like I have, and to have them see what I chase the ends of the world for, was an emotional sight. Leo, sappier of the two, reached for a hug to thank me for bringing him there.

Around us were rock formations, a natural fortress guarding a bowl of an other-worldly waterscape. On a corner, a smack of jellyfish gathered; stowaways from their original sanctuary in Tojoman Lagoon.

Another highlight in the area was a rocky chamber with a pool whose waters seemingly glistened from what little sunshine could pass through the cavern. Crystal Cave, as the locals would call it.

We also explored a handful other caves around the area, through the multitude of ironwood that was native in Bucas Grande. I lost count of how many times we’ve jumped off cliff faces and wooden planks that day, too, before finally slowing it down as we rested at a sandbar in Marka-a for lunch.

In the afternoon, we made our way to Tiktikan Lake, my single most favourite place on the planet.

Kuya Naigel Dizon (boatman/tour guide) – (+63) 930 336 0765

Sugba Lagoon, Del Carmen

We went to Del Carmen on the same day NBA held the final game between the Warriors and the Cavaliers. Coming from a family of diehard basketball fans, my brothers were literally reading live blogs while driving their motorcycles.

When the imminent danger of me forcing everyone to get to Sugba Lagoon on time could no longer be denied, I gave in. By fourth quarter, we stopped at an open house and ran right in, both begging and apologising on the way.

Only true basketball fans would’ve understood us. Thank heavens the homeowners were.

Siargao | Words and Wanderlust | Sugba Lagoon

But our shared euphoria from the Cavs’ win paled in comparison to what unfolded thereafter. A quiet boat ride through the innards of Del Carmen’s mangrove forest led us to the dumbfounding allure of Sugba Lagoon. Enchanting was an understatement.

Ranges of karst, covered with lush vegetation, held a basin of emerald waters in its palms. Green upon green upon green. It was as if we were fishes who accidentally stumbled into the playpens of gods. Before its sheer beauty, I felt unworthy.

Magpupungko Rock Pools, Pilar

Rock pools weren’t news to us. After all, my brothers and I grew up with the seashore as our playground. But we haven’t been children for a long while, and have not gone to the sea at the back of our house like how grown-ups never play in playgrounds anymore. But the island, as it turned out, was our Neverland.

Very early on our last morning in Siargao, we drove an hour north of General Luna to the municipality of Pilar. The tide was just receding, so we were able to squeeze in a quick breakfast at a nearby store that also offered cook-to-order meals.

Siargao | Words and Wanderlust | Magpupungko Rock Pools

Right after, we all raced to the rock pools with flawless expertise in running on rock beds: a skill acquired from childhood spent outdoors. Just when we thought we’ve outgrown being barrio kids, our seemingly built-in agility in manoeuvring the rugged trails of Magpupungko, only proved that we haven’t.

In no time, we were jumping from the rocks with local kids and were free diving to the bottom of the pool. Except for the drone my brother was flying and the GoPro I was lugging around, no one would have suspected we were tourists.

Magpupungko Rock Pools were the same ones we had back home growing up. We fitted right in.

The Boardwalk, Cloud Nine

The boardwalk was where we ended most, if not all, of our days. Everyone did.

We would make our way through the wooden walkway as soon as the sun was dipping into the horizon, and into the top storey of the viewpoint. Surfers from various parts of the world would be at the break, waiting for the proverbial Cloud 9.

Siargao | Words and Wanderlust | Cloud 9

Lucas, a boy of 1, would be there too. With his with sun-kissed skin and curly hair, it went without saying that he was a spawn of surfers. We would share with him the loaf of bread and bottle of soda that my brothers,  ever insatiable, have always had in tow.

If it wasn’t too cold, we would snorkel below the boardwalk. That, or borrow surfboards from passersby to camwhore with. But mostly, we only lazed around a lot and laughed over the silliest, shallowest stuff.

As the sun sank behind the coconut trees at the end of each day, our collective laughter remained, echoing into the dusk. Truly, that summer was ours. 


Siargao | Words and Wanderlust | General Luna


It won’t be long until the clout of Siargao would go beyond surfers in search of the eternal stoke. Soon, there will be more like us who would brave the 12-hour drive from home (or the flight down south from Manila), plus a few more hours for a journey across the seas. There will be more whose ribcages, like mine, would leap at the recognition of a happy place.

When that happens, I’d be certain to be amongst those who would tell the first stories.

This is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival, with the theme, “Best Upcoming Destinations for 2017” as hosted by Gretchen Filart-Dublin of Filipina Explorer.

Siargao Pinterest | Words and Wanderlust
Enamoured by the beauty of Siargao Island? Hover on this photo and pin on Pinterest!

Published by Rain Campanilla

Born under the star of Sagittarius, the centaur of adventure; and in the year of the Rat, the ever curious--- Travel is my birthright.

32 thoughts on “Blog Carnival | Siargao : Wild and Free”

  1. Christine K says:

    The photos are lovely and really help tell your story. I love the boardwalk and how nice that you ended your days there. This is a great guide for anyone wanting to visit the area.

  2. Frenchie on the road says:

    Siargao island seems like paradise! I really like the way you described your stay there, it’s very poetic. The pictures are beautiful too!

  3. Jessica says:

    I really like your style of writing here. More like a story than a typical “travel guide”. The accomodation you stayed at looks absolutely magical. These are the kinds of places I like to go. Thank you for sharing

  4. gabrielahereandthere says:

    I love your writing style! And great pictures! 🙂

  5. Gaga says:

    Great photos and the post! Thanks for sharing it with us 🙂

  6. Lulu Escapes says:

    This comes at a perfect time as I’m going to the Philipinnes in 2 weeks

  7. matthulland says:

    I enjoyed reading this, very descriptive and sounds like you had a great time. The photos too are amazing. I still haven’t been to the Philippines yet but when I do, I’ll be coming back here for sure. And by the way, no one ever need to know, what happens on motos stays on motos. Unless you fall off, then everyone would know.

  8. Rain Campanilla says:

    Thank you for your kind words <3

  9. Rain Campanilla says:

    the words came easy as the place was truly magical! Thanks for reading! 🙂

  10. Rain Campanilla says:

    Thank you! Yes, I’m more into telling stories of my travels but slowly learning to craft guides to be of help to other travelers too. I hope you’d have a chance to visit the island too! 🙂

  11. Rain Campanilla says:

    Thank you very much for the compliment!

  12. Rain Campanilla says:

    Thank you for dropping by my blog and checking out this post, too! 🙂

  13. Rain Campanilla says:

    Perfect! Where in the Philippines will you be going? I hope you’d have a great time! 🙂

  14. Rain Campanilla says:

    Oh, thank you! Please let me know if you’re finally going to the Philippines. I’d be happy to help should you need any information! <3

  15. Mike - Travel and Destinations says:

    Siargao looks absolutely stunning. I love the colour of the water especially. It also looks like a really peaceful and dreamy place to visit.

  16. Wanderlust Vegans says:

    That Cloud 9 boardwalk is incredible looking. I would like to walk acrossit and watch the sunset like you did.

  17. Hannah @GettingStamped says:

    I loved the Philippines! I sadly didn’t make it to Siargao though, next time….

  18. Adriana Smith says:

    The great thing about adventures when there’s some risk involved haha. But I love the way you capture the child-like curiosity of Siargao Island. It was like I was there with you and your siblings. Would be kind of like my sibs and I!

  19. projectdinnerparty says:

    Thanks for the post. I love the combination of a story and then a guide. Best of both worlds. There are so many islands in the world to explore!!

  20. Erin Scherer says:

    Love your photos and the feel of your blog. Beautiful and inspiring!

  21. Sarah - Exploring Kiwis says:

    Far out, your writing hooked me in from the first sentence! Thanks so much for sharing your experience of Siargao – a place I’d never heard of but thanks to you, will remember. And hey – don’t worry about your hair <3

  22. Swati & Sam (The Tales of a Traveler) says:

    Love your write up as well thanks for sharing a hidden gem. Rock pool and cave are on my list now. Your brother might be thanking you for such an amazing experience btw I am too a basketball fan 😊

  23. Swati & Sam (The Tales of a Traveler) says:

    Thanks for sharing hidden gems. Rock pool and cave are on my list now. Your brother might be thanking you for such an amazing experience for sure.

  24. Rain Campanilla says:

    Oh, please do! it was really worth it. I didn’t wanna leave 🙂

  25. Rain Campanilla says:

    where did you go? The south of the Philippines has some of the most awesome waterscapes!

  26. Rain Campanilla says:

    Thank you for your kind words. The aim for my storytelling is, as always, to move 😀

  27. Rain Campanilla says:

    Yes, true! this is a new trick I’m trying, in an attempt to create balance in travel blogging 🙂 Thank you!

  28. Rain Campanilla says:

    Thanks for your kind words! Yes, my brothers enjoyed the experience! 🙂

  29. JERNY says:

    Photos are so cool! I am planning to visit Siargao soon. Hopefully, before the mid of this year. I had a friend who worked at one of the restaurants in Siargao and she found the place very relaxing and said she enjoyed her stay there, for more than 6 months!

  30. Rain Campanilla says:

    You should! I went in June, and I found the weather great; less tourist too. the waves aren’t as big, however.
    But yeah, the island is marvelous!

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