The Philippines is blessed with one of the longest shorelines in the world thanks to it being spread out over well over 7,000 islands. With this, along with its location by the Pacific Ocean, make it a great place to surf. There are many different areas to surf – some more popular and exploited than others – which means a lot of island hopping and traveling to less developed areas. As you’ll always be in and around water, always remember to pack some swimwear and use a waterproof backpack. Here are a few things and areas to keep in mind when going on a surf trip around the Philippines.
San Juan – La Union
The self proclaimed “Surf capital of Northern Philippines” and rightly so. La Union looks out onto the West Philippine Sea (opposite side of the Pacific Ocean) and has some of the nicest and most consistent waves. It is easy to reach from the capital, Manila, with buses regularly departing with a travel time of around 5 hours, depending on traffic. The peak surf season is from October-April where the north swell arrives, giving you waves between 2-3 metres high. Surf boards are readily available along with instructors throughout the beach with PHP500 for a one-hour surf lesson. The beach along San Juan has beautiful sand and stretches for a few kilometres.
Also a 5-6 hour journey by bus, Baler is served by buses and vans from Manila. This is the official birthplace of surfing in the country, where the American film crew filming Apocalypse Now in the late 70’s left surfboards behind, which the locals who had been watching, proceeded to use once they had left. Facing the Pacific Ocean, Baler has some awesome breaks, and is home to regular surfing competitions. Like La Union, the peak surfing season is between October and April, although waves are fairly consistent all year-round.
Siargao island, part of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, is by far the most famous area for surfing in the country. The world-famous Cloud 9 break in General Luna, is home to yearly international surf competitions and attracts surfers of all levels, as well as those just looking to relax and enjoy the year-round party atmosphere. Like La Union, an hour lesson including the board costs PHP500. Unlike La Union however, there is a reef in Siargao, meaning that surfing in certain areas should only be ridden by advanced surfers.
There are regular, direct flights from Manila and Cebu City and airlines are accommodating if you decide to bring along your surfboard. Siargao is also easily accessible by boat from Cebu, which will require you to stop off at Surigao City, then take another boat to Siargao.