Tired of White Beaches and Scuba diving? Try “SURFING the PHILIPPINES”
The Philippines may be famous for its beautiful beaches, often surrounded by crystal clear, swimming pool flat waters…but the ocean and sea’s surrounding the archipelago offer another treasure – the Philippines also has some amazing SURFING spots!
Here is an intro guide to those who might want to know a bit about the who, what, why how and where of “Surfing Philippines..”
The Philippines is great for surfing because the growing local surf scene still has many undiscovered surf spots, and locals are friendly with limited if no aggression in the water. As an avid surfer told me, “It’s a throwback to the 60s style California scene in the Gidget days.”
The scene is a mix of international surfers who come from Australia or the USA, and Filipino surfers who have come out to escape the big city for awhile. Locally, the surf scene’s growth is driven partially by its rapid popularity in Manila. While initially attracting mostly young people from the Universities, the Manila surf demographic today ranges in age from 14-36 years old. Cheaper flights going to more and more destinations also has helped to grow the sport’s popularity.
The best time of the year for surfing is October to March. Most areas offer waves for the beginners but Siargao and Samar boast world class breaks for the advanced surfer.
Stokedinc Surf Schools partners with a collective of local surf schools (San Juan SurfSchool in La Union, Aliya Surf Camp in Baler, and Siargao Inn Surf School in Siargao) that aim to professionalise the local surf school industry and meet global standards of safety. The instructors are all Red Cross certified and the head instructor has a bronze medallion and Level 1 certification from Surf Australia, an internationally-recognised certification. And all schools are equipped with soft-top surfboards for the safety of students.
SURF COMPETITIONS HELD IN PHILIPPINES
Recent surf competitions held in the Philippines include The Baler annual surf comp, the La Union Longboard surf competition, and the annual Manila Surfers Cup.
Here are some highly recommended surfing spots:
1. San Juan, La Union
Considered Manila’s surfing capital, given easy access (buses, flights) from the Philippine capital. Surf lessons offered all along the beach and easy access to surf equipment. The beach breaks are ideal for learning how to surf. And the consistently softly-peeling Mona Lisa point break is ideal for intermediate to advanced surfers. There’s a growing mix of friendly-local, people from Manila and a flourishing European backpacking community.
Places to stay include Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa, San Juan Surf Resort,
and the Little Surfmaid.
2. Baler, Aurora
This historic town (part of the Sevilla/Acapulco/Baler-Manila galleon trade route), is nestled at the foot of the Sierra Madre mountains, and lies on a bay that faces the Pacific. With a lush rainforest serving as its backdrop, the beachbreak is extensive, ideal for beginner surfers. When a swell kicks in, it’s an ideal beachbreak with wedges and pitches for the more advanced progressive manoeuvres. The nearby Cemento reef break is a barreling howler offering tube rides for those who dare challenge it.
Places to stay include Aliya Surf Camp, Bahia 2 Resort, and Bay’s Inn.
3. Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte
This place is considered the mecca of Philippine surfing and is home to Cloud 9, a world-class barreling right-hander that is the Philippines’ most famous wave. A jewel of an island regardless of surf, given its coves, blue waters, waterfalls, and a handful of mesmerizing islets. Siargao offers waves for all skill levels.
Places to stay: Siargao Inn
4. Calicoan Island, Samar
Beach breaks and reef breaks abound in this out-of-the-way island. Still not crowded in this white sand blue ocean playground.
Places to stay: Calicoan Surf Camp
This place has friendly if unspectacular beach breaks. With some solid
waves on rare occasions pounding on reefs that can only be reached by
banca (local outrigger). Surf is inconsistent and fires primarily during
rainy season. Its proximity to Manila (3 hours away) is its selling
Places to stay: Punta de Uian, Canoe’s, Nora’s