Island Living: Six Surfing Towns in The Philippines

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the South China Sea, the Celebes Sea, and the Philippine Sea, the Philippines is bordered by bodies of water that make it a prime spot for beach-related activities. The country is home to 7107 islands—some of which have an emergent surfing spot.  

As a tropical country regarded by many as a holiday haven, the Philippines’s coastlines are perfect for swimming and surfing. With a coastline of not less than 36, 289 kilometers complemented by a laidback island vibe that truly brings out the surfing spirit in you, it should come as no wonder why the Philippines is slated as one of the countries with the best surf spots in the world. The country’s postcard-worthy beaches sprinkled with powdery white sand and crystalline waters make it the perfect destination for those who are simply looking for a tropical holiday. Similarly, novice or seasoned surfers who are chasing amazing and impressive waves will find that the country’s indigo waters and barrel-like waves are some of the best they can find in the world. In this regard, individuals who are looking to veer away from the standard and formulaic kind of vacation are in for a treat. With the country’s collection of picturesque beaches and surfing towns, visitors and locals alike can find opportunities to engage themselves in thrilling water activities such as surfing. Over the years surfing’s popularity has gained traction among the locals in the country.

As a result, the towns of La Union and Siargao have inevitably become vacation hotspots. Today, more and more locals are hoping to give surfing a shot and lucky for them, the Philippines is home to a number of good surfing sports regardless of whether you are a beginner or a pro. So, while Siargao and La Union are associated for their surf-worthy beaches, there is more to surfing in the Philippines than just the two surfing towns.

SURFING TOWNS IN THE PHILIPPINES

I. LA UNION

Surfing in the Philippines has always been associated with La Union, the country’s surfing capital. It is easily the country’s most enjoyable and easy-going destination for surfing owing to its proximity to the city. It is roughly a five-hour drive from the capital city and routinely welcomes both beginners and advanced surfers to its town. Seasoned surfers who seek to challenge themselves and refine their skills should visit in December while beginners should do so from October to March.

How to get to La Union:

Going to La Union from Metro Manila can be done either by public transportation commute or by private vehicle. Those who wish to take the bus may do so at Partas which has a direct route to San Juan, La Union. Similarly, those who are bound for Ilocos Norte and Sur also pass by Barangay Urbiztondo where you can ask to be dropped off if you are staying in San Juan.

Visitors who are taking their own private vehicles can simply search the directions going to the resort using Waze or Google Maps. Be sure to have enough money for toll fees.  

Where to Stay:

La Union offers a myriad of options to visitors when it comes to accommodations. Depending on your budget, you can enjoy the facilities of a 4-star resort or stick to a tight budget by staying in one of the town’s many transient rooms.

Sea Breeze Beachfront Home and Cottages

This resort is ideal for individuals who want the best value for their money. The property is located right in front of the beach ensuring that you do not need to go far just to get your beach or surfing fix.

Source: Trip Advisor

The Escape San Juan

Individuals who wish to be at the center of it all should book their stays at the Escape. As the property is located smack dab in the heart of Urbiztondo, you will easily get instant access to any of the bars or restaurants you wish to check out making it the ideal property for visitors who wish to check out La Union’s nightlife.

Source: Agoda

Thunderbird Resorts

If you wish to have a hassle-free vacation where you can pamper yourself as well, go for Thunderbird Resorts in Poro Point—a luxurious place that assures comfort without stress. This five-star accommodation features a myriad of amenities and lavish rooms and villas—truly a relaxing vacation that you deserve. 

Source: Thunderbird Asia

Budget for two

As La Union offers plenty of accommodation and restaurant options to visitors, you can be on as tight of a budget as you wish or have a more sizable one—depending on the kind of trip you are after. Generally, a PHP10,000 budget for a three days and two night stay in La Union would already be good enough for a couple.

II. BALER

Baler took the spotlight by storm way back when it was featured in a local film. Often regarded as the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines, the place rose to prominence after the crew of the movie Apocalypse now left the boards used in filming. As a result, the locals taught themselves surfing and the rest is history. While relatively far than most surfing towns in Luzon, Baler is the perfect holiday destination known for more than just its enticing waves. Newbie surfers will find its sandy breaks are perfect for training all year round. However, seasoned surfers may wish to visit around October to March where the largest waves can be seen at Cemento Reef.

How to get to Baler:

Getting to Baler from Metro Manila requires you to book your trip with Genesis Transport Service as it is the only company that plies directly from Metro Manila to Baler. Their executive luxury bus has at least three tips a day with a travel time of five hours. However, advance reservation is required. Regular air-conditioned buses travel anywhere from six to seven hours at a much cheaper rate with no reservations necessary. However, you may also opt to drive your own private vehicle going to Baler. Just input the name of your resort and take the drive from there.

Where to stay:

Baler has its fair share of accommodations that range from budget to luxurious. In this regard, visitors may opt to stay in budget rooms or extravagant resorts.

18 on Buton

If you are looking for a fun and vibrant place to stay, 18 on Buton is the perfect place for you. The cozy hotel sits just across Costa Pacifica and has room with quirky details. Apart from that, it features a game room with PlayStation games for rent, an air hockey table as well as a foosball table.

Source: Booking

Nalu Surf Camp

The no-nonsense and serious surfers might want to stay in Nalu Surf Camp. Perfect for outdoorsy types, Nalu Surf Camp offers the perfect refuge for those seeking a place to rest in between their surf sessions. While the rooms are set in thatched-roof type cottages, the casual beachfront hotel has modern amenities plus a surf school with board rentals.

Source: Hungry Travel Duo

Budget for two:

While Baler is increasingly popular by the day, it still has several options for those who wish to experience it on a budget. To be safe, it is recommended that you at least have Php10000 if you are traveling as a couple. Reducing your expenses can be as simple as eating at cheaper eateries and driving a car instead of taking the bus. Just be sure to keep the toll fees in mind.

III. SORSOGON

Regarded as Bicol’s next best thing, Gubat in Sorsogon will surely take your breath away. Located 14 hours away by land from the Metropolis, this unassuming town proves to be an ideal place for surfers who are not just looking to catch waves but disconnect from the world as well. As the municipality is not fully developed yet, visitors will be charmed by its laidback and relaxed island vibe and “probinsya feel”. Individuals who wish to undergo a detox from technology will find the place perfect as signal strength is not that strong in most areas. More importantly, there are only two ATM machines available which means you have to withdraw cash beforehand. Hubat’s surf break produces consistent waves all throughout the year with the maor swell season starting around October to March. 

How to get to Sorsogon: 

From Metro Manila, there are buses that ply the route going  to Gubat. Travel time is approximately 12-14 hours depending on how many stops your bus makes. However, if you do not wish to contend with long travel hours, you can alternatively book a flight to the nearest airport which is located in Legazpi City. Once you have landed, you can take a us bound for Sorsogon City and hail a jeepney en route to Gubat. 

Where to stay: 

Lola Sayong’s Eco-Surf Camp

Travelers on a budget will love Lola Sayong’s Eco-Surf Camp as not only are the accommodations affordable, it includes a beach-front detox area where playing loud music, drinking and smoking are not allowed. More importantly, it comes with an in-house restaurant called Kana Kaon Tabi (please eat here in Bicolano language) surrounded by trees. In this regard, you do not need to go far just to have a meal. Plus, meals are super affordable too with prices that vary from PHP75 PHP150 per meal. 

Source:Chasing Culprit 

Casa Consuelo

Featuring a parking space, an outdoor tennis court and dry cleaning service, Casa Consuelo is one of the more upscale accommodations in Gubat Sorsogon. Rooms are air conditioned with flatscreen TVs, microwaves and coffee/tea makers–pretty much your standard hotel room for those who wish for a more luxurious stay. 

Source: Oyster.com

Budget for two: 

Typically, buses from Cubao or Pasay going to Sorsogon will set you back around PHP700-1,100 one way–depending on the type f bus you are taking. To ensure you get the best prices, book your tickets a week prior to your departure. Private vehicles would need around Php 1,500 for gas and PHP 300 for each toll. Accommodations range from PHP 650 to PHP1300 depending on where you stay. Meals typically cost around PHP150-250 for two people. 

IV. SIARGAO

A tropical paradise in the Philippines, Siargao is mostly known for its beautiful beaches and Cloud 9–Surigao Del Sur’s very own surfing capital. While the island is relatively small compared to the other entries in this list, it boasts a distinct mix of relaxed vibes, excellent surfing, picturesque beaches, unlimited tropical-themed activities, and a seemingly endless supply of fresh coconuts. SIn this sense, Siargao is the perfect destination not only for travelers who wish to surf but for those who wish to experience the island life as well. While the waves are not consistently ideal all year round, you can find the best waves somewhere between September and October. 

How to get to Siargao

You can travel to Siargao via air or boat. However, if you are coming all the way from Manila, it is recommended that you book a flight straight to the island to expedite travel hours. In any case, you can simply book a flight going to Sayaka Airport (only Skyjet and Cebu Pacific have direct flights) and take a van going to General Luna once landed. However, if you wish to travel by boat, you can do so from Cebu to Surigao City with Cokaliong Shipping Lines. 

Where to stay: 

Siargao Island Villas

Perfect for couples and newlyweds, Siargao Island Villas is one of the more upscale accommodations in the island. While the property does not have its own pool, it does have its own beachfront with amenities which guests are free to use. More importantly, the property has its own Indonesian-themed restaurant with authentic meals such as Mie Goreng and the like. 

Source: Siargao Island Villas

White Banana Club

Travelers on a budget should definitely book a room in White Banana Club located in General Luna. For just PHP1000 a night, you can have a dorm room all to yourself. However, affordability is not White Banana Club’s key attraction, rather it is the overall vibe of the place as people come to visit during its sunset sessions on Fridays.

Source: Preview Ph

Hiraya Surf Hostel 

If you are looking for a cozy hotel near Cloud 9, HIraya Surf Hostel has got you covered. This adults-only accommodation features a bar, a beautiful garden and an outdoor swimming pool. More importantly, as the hostel is located only 3 minutes away from Cloud 9, you can get up as early as 5 in the morning to walk to the surf spot. 

Budget for two: 

Your budget for Siargao depends on the travel style you have in mind and how long you intend to stay. If you wish to book cheap communal stay accommodations, you can for properties that charge you a twin or double room that would set you back PHP3000 a night. However, bear in mind that apart from Mama’s Grill, Siargao does not have plenty of affordable dining options. Fortunately, if you know how to drive a motorcycle, you can save by a lot if you rented one for the entire duration of your stay and explored the island on your own rather than paying for each way. 

Source: Hikers Bay

V. BORONGAN (SAMAR)

Located in Eastern Samar, Borongan City has many beaches ranging from gray to black to white sand. Some of the city’s best surfing havens are Baybay Boulevard in Brgy. Bato and Brgy. Locso-on. While relatively obscure, this surfing destination is gaining traction among surfing enthusiasts all over the Philippines and the world as it started holding surfing events. 

How to get to Borongan: 

While Borongan has its own runway, it does not cater to commercial flights. So, if you are coming from Metro Manila, you to book a flight to the nearest airport with a commercial service which is in Tacloban. From Tacloban, you can take a UV express van going to Borongan which will take you 4 hours. 

Where to stay in Borongan:

Pebbles and Tides Beach Bar and Cottages

Pebbles and Tides Beach and Bar and Cottages is the perfect accommodation for people who are just looking to unwind. It has three existing accommodation facilities with amenities such as air conditioned rooms, TV, a mini bar and a private comfort room.

Source: Paddle Guide

Hotel Dona Vicenta 

Cozy, inviting and warm are three words you can use to describe Hotel Dona Vicenta. This hotel is one of the city’s best and most booked by travelers owing to their beautifully styled room and friendly staff. More importantly, everything is practically nearby from supermarkets, restaurants and even a handful of bars. With transport vehicles plying along the hotel’s route, it is easy to get to and from the hotel. 

Source: Trip Advisor

Budget for two: 

Not including flights, budget for Borongan in Eastern Samar depends on where you stay and for how long. Food is relatively cheap compared to the prices in the metro while getting around Borongan only sets you back for about PHP10 each way. Accommodation rates depend on the type of accommodation you book. Standard non-air conditioned villas only cost about PHP1200 a night while air conditioned rooms are typically more expensive. 

VI. REAL, QUEZON

Real is known to be the nearest surfing spot to Manila in terms of land travel. Apart from its proximity to the city, Real is also regarded to be a decent place for beginners who wish to try surfing or dabble in the sport. Located on the eastern shores of Luzon facing the Philippine Sea, Real is a coastal town known for its rural beach resorts. Manage your expectations, however, as the sand here is gray and despite its proximity to the city, there are only a handful of resorts that rent out surfboards. Nevertheless, it is an excellent place to learn surfing as a beginner–especially in just a quick weekend trip. For the full experience, you can rent surfboards and even hire a surfing instructor at The ParK (Pacific Recreation Kamp) which is located by Tignoan Beach.

Real is a beginner-friendly spot for surfers as the sea is pretty much flat with a few beginner-friendly waves. For best surfing conditions, it is said that it is best to visit in early August but to be sure, it is recommended to check wave conditions first before making the trip to avoid disappointment. On monsoon months, waves supposedly reach heights that make the place ideal for extended surfing sessions so you can ensure that you get the most of what you pay.

How to get to Real, Quezon:

If you are coming from Manila, the easiest and fastest route going to Real is to ride a van situated in Legarda, Manila bound to Real-Infanta. The trip would cost you around 220 pesos and the travel would take about four hours. Alternatively, you can take the bus but bear in mind that buses can fill up within minutes or even hours ahead of departure time (so be sure to be early). Raymund buses are the typical buses bound for Infanta and would cost you 205 pesos one way.

Where to stay in Real:

Real Coast and Surf

Known as the popular place to stay in Real, Real Coast and Surf is a resort destination that is divided into two areas: Real Coast and Real Surf. Real Coast is akin to a hotel and has air-conditioned bedrooms with an eight-foot deep swimming pool–perfect for travelers who are seeking for luxurious accommodations. On the other hand, those who wish to visit Real mainly just to surf and go on adventures, Real Surf might be more of your speed. Real Surf is a dedicated space for camping and surfing. While it has communal restrooms and shower areas, they are all clean and decent. Just a little heads up though, the campsite can get a little crowded so you might want to visit on low season months.

Source: Tripadvisor
Magra Beach Resort and Nature Park 

Located in Tignoan, Real Quezon, Magra Beach Resort and Nature Park is a room and campsite accommodation ideal for beginner and intermediate surfers. The resort’s beach has nice and surfable waves and it is relatively near Metro Manila, so if you are planning on a day trip, this is the best spot for you. While “The PaRK” is the more popular spot in Real, surfers tend to favor Marga Beach Resort due to its proximity to the beach. If you wish to rough it out, you can camp along the shore and just pay the camping fee. If you do not have a tent, the resort offers theirs for a rental fee. However, if you prefer to have a little more privacy, the resort also has rooms to accommodate you.   

Budget for two:

Your budget for Rizal depends on the kind of accommodation you book. If are not afraid of roughing it a bit, you can choose any of the beach campsites accommodations for a significantly lower booking rate than hotels. All in all, you can take a trip to Real Quezon for Php3000 which already includes entrance fees, surfboard lessons with instructors, and your fare but excludes food expenses.   

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