I can’t remember just exactly when I started dreaming of going to Siargao. I think it was 2-3 years ago, when a friend told me just how beautiful the place is. I’ve always had a huge fascination of the sea- I love the sound of the waves, the thrill of imagining what could be under that bed of water aside from the things that we already know, the joy of swimming, the soft silky like feeling of the sea salt water whenever it touches your skin, I love the serenity it gives me every single time, so when I heard about Siargao’s amazing waters, I just had to go.
It started November of last year when one of my best friends and I talked about Valentines day 2016. We are both single and we wanted to do something special for ourselves. Cebu was the initial plan because we wanted to try the canyoneering in Badiang but we already had a summer trip there last year so we ticked that off our list. We also planned to go to Bangkok, but the airfare was already too expensive when we checked, it didn’t seem like a practical idea. A month ago, while researching for a client, I came a across a blog about Siargao and that’s when I knew where we will be on Valentines weekend. It was like an epiphany.
I started with researching on how to get to Siargao. The 13 hour land trip didn’t sound like a good idea but when I checked for flights, there is no direct Davao-Siargao trip; just Cebu-Siargao flight. I was tempted to book for a flight Davao-Cebu, Cebu-Siargao but I swore to myself to be more careful with my money this year so I asked Ken (the best friend) if he’s okay with the land trip and he was. I then called The Bachelor Express’s Davao office and asked for their bus schedules Davao to Siargao and also for their fare rates.
Next, I researched for resorts that offer fair price for accommodation. TripAdvisor was a huge help! Ocean 101 resort shined above everything else because of the room prices, the location (walking distance to Cloud 9!) and food. I also looked up for blogs about Ocean 101, since I couldn’t find a negative review about the resort, I immediately scoured for their Facebook page, called, and paid for their cheapest room. The room we got had no air conditioning but it was facing the ocean so we really didn’t need any air conditioning, the ocean breeze was already too generous with our refreshing needs.
I also made sure to write down about how much we are going to spend for the trip to the last centavo. As what I’ve said, I am starting to learn about being extra careful with how I spend my money this year (and hopefully for the rest of my life lol). So I only brought cash according to the list and added 500 extra. I also left my credit cards and only brought one (international cc so that I wouldn’t be tempted to use it because of the international interest per swipe) in case of an emergency. I tend to splurge a lot when on a trip, I didn’t want to do the same mistake again. Trust me, this technique really helped because I was incredibly careful with my money!
BUS- We were scheduled to leave Davao at 5pm since The Bachelor Express aircon bus’s last trip direct to Siargao is at 5pm. But Ken had to log-out from work at 5pm so we arrived at Ecoland bus terminal at 5:15. We were already planning to ride a bus to Butuan so that we can ride a Butuan-Surigao bus from there when a man approached us and told us that a non-stop bus traveling directly to Surigao at 6:30pm is still available. Our main concern was to catch the 5:30 AM first barge trip from Suriago to Siargao so we excitedly followed him, paid for the ticket on the cashier without checking the bus (we automatically assumed that it’s going to be a bachelor express) and thanked him for letting us know – BIG MISTAKE. When traveling, it pays not to be too trusting. Turned out that what we were about to ride for 10 freaking hours was an unkept colorum bus that travels from Davao City to Pasay. We only knew when we saw the bus which was not even parked inside the Ecoland terminal. We were definitely scammed! Aside from the free and unlimited filthy smell from the flue, it was not a non-stop travel. It stopped on every freaking terminal that made me extremely irritated considering the fare that we paid was more expensive than that of the Bachelor Expresses’s non-stop trip. I was also profoundly concerned that we are not going to catch the barge’s first trip and I didn’t want that to happen because the next barge trip would be at 1:30pm and I extremely hate wasting precious time. So I asked the bus driver nicely when we were already in Butuan that we need to catch the first barge trip at 5:30 and that we were not informed that it’s going to be a multiple stop ride. Thank God for considerate people, he went from turtle-y like drive to fast and the furious-ish drive that we arrived in Butuan at exactly 5AM.
THE RAIN – It was already raining when we arrived at Dapa Port. In fact, It rained the whole two days when we were in Siargao that we weren’t able to do island hopping, surfing, and cave exploring in Sohoton as originally planned. It was also tough riding on a motorcycle, exploring the island, under the pouring rain. We only got to go to Magpupungko Lagoon and Rocks; we still had the best time, nonetheless.
**entrance fee for Magpupungko Lagoon and Rocks resort is only 50 pesos
TIPS AND LESSON LEARNED
- Don’t be too trusting. Stick with the plan. Make sure to ride a Bachelor Express bus. We made sure to ride one when we were on our way home and it was the most comfortable ride ever- far from our horrible ride going Surigao City. Front seat is the best option. On our next trip to Siargao, we are definitely riding the plane on a piso fare though. Lol.
- Ocean 101 is simply the best! It’s only walking distance from Cloud 9, you can actually see the Cloud 9 bay and people surfing from the resto. We chose the non-airconditioned room. Comfort and bath room were common and it was located downstairs. It wasn’t much of an inconvenience because it was fairly clean and we didn’t stay much in the resort anyway. The bed was super comfortable. We actually slept early and soundly the whole night and woke up late. The food was superb, typical American serving and incredibly affordable. The staff were kind- though they need a little training for customer service. You had to ask for water, they didn’t ask how you want your egg cooked, they are not attentive and it took forever for them to check you out and give a receipt- but aside from these forgivable lapses, the resort is simply perfecto.
- Make sure to bring someone who knows how to drive a motorcycle because it is wiser for you to rent one while in Siargao. If you choose commuting, one ride to a destination could cost you 100-250 pesos each; so renting a 350 peso motorcycle per day and filling the gas up (around 140) to explore the island is the most practical thing to do. Also, don’t be ashamed to haggle. We actually paid 500 peso for our rented motorcycle because we didn’t know yet that the typical rate is only 350 pesos. But the couple from Cebu that we met in the island (Willia and Douglas) were also initially charged 500 pesos, but they only paid 400 because they haggled. So haggle, haggle, haggle until you can’t anymore. LOL
- Make sure to eat at Mama’s Grill. The grilled food is simply amazing. The freshest tuna I’ve ever tasted that I even doubted it for salmon because of the incredibly tasty meat of the fish. Would you believe this is only worth 140 pesos?! Amazing! One of the reasons why I want to go back actually!
- It pays to be patient and kind. I am normally not a patient person but I was thankful that I was extra kind that weekend. I don’t know if the bus driver would’ve made us reach Surigao City at 5AM (original schedule was 6AM) to catch the 5:30 barge if I didn’t ask nicely.
One of the things that’s impressive about Siargao was that the people are too trusting. When we checked in, Ocean 101 didn’t even ask for our ID’s they just gave us the key, same when we rented for a motorcycle. It left Ken and I both baffled and amazed. Also, in spite of the bad weather, my best friend and I had a really great time. The ocean view are to die for. Maybe because I was with Ken or maybe we’re expert on know how to make the best of everything! We are fun like that, LOL. Also, Siargao is a really nice place to chill and think. As Ken would put it, maybe God wanted us to rest that’s why he made it rain.
WE ARE DEFINITELY GOING BACK!
IMPORTANT CONTACT NUMBERS:
Davao Bachelor Express: (082) 244-0654 and (082) 244-0637
Ocean 101: 09198268837
Kuya Lito (Motorcycle Driver): 09287572164
If you have any questions about the trip or anything about Siargao, please don’t hesitate to message me on my Facebook Page.