I always get asked what is the best place to visit in the Philippines. To be honest, I’m quite hesitant to give a definitive answer, since it really is a matter of personal opinion. The fact that you have so many different islands to choose from, and each of them has a unique vibe, makes any answer I give pretty subjective and I’m not sure how helpful it would be.
With that in mind, the best I can do is tell you where my next vacation will probably be – in the beautiful island of Siargao.
While many traditional tourists prefer Boracay or Palawan, Siargao has a few key advantages that make it a worthwhile choice. Here are some of the main reasons why, for me, Siargao is one of the best tourist spots in the Philippines:
1. It’s not so crowded yet.
Siargao is all over the news these days, as the department of tourism heavily promotes it as the next hot destination. If you ask any local nowadays where he dreams of going to, chances are Siargao will be in his top 3. For that reason, i think now’s the best time to go there, before the island gets fully developed and swarmed by both local and foreign tourists.
It’s only a matter of time before that happens, and my feeling is within 2-3 years the place is going to be just as popular and crowded as the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Currently, however, it’s still quiet enough to provide visitors with a real feeling of vacation and relaxation.
2. It’s very easy to reach.
A few years ago, in an effort to make Siargao more accessible and promote tourism to the island, they finished expanding the airport. Now, daily flights from both Manila and Cebu City are available. Before that, people who wanted to visit the island had to take the 10-hour night ferry ride from Cebu, or rely on an erratic flight schedule.
What this also means is that travel agencies are now much more inclined to offer tour packages, making finding hotels and getting good deals much easier. For me, these are currently the best Siargao tour packages, and if I do end up going, there’s a good chance I’ll book one myself. I realize this all seems to contradict my first point about avoiding the crowd, but what it really means is the island has reached that sweet spot, where tourism is starting to develop but it’s not yet a mainstream holiday destination. This is exactly why now is the best time to go the island.
3. Siargao has a little bit of everything.
Siargao is considered one of the best surfing spots in the world. With its rising popularity, the island is working towards re-inventing itself as more of a general vacation destination for all types of travelers. And this isn’t hard to do since Siargao really does offer a well-balanced mix of everything that’s great about the Philippines.
Beautiful private beaches, stunning diving spots, great places to eat and cool nightlife – Siargao really does have it all. While it doesn’t necessarily excel at any of these, it does provide a very well rounded experience. This means, unlike other islands, you don’t have to come there with just one thing on your agenda.
4. Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cove
Reachable from either the mainland or Siargao Island directly, this place is one of the most stunning sites in the country, at least when it comes to raw nature. If you have already traveled in the Philippines before, chances are you’ve been to El Nido and Coron and joined the island hopping tours.
At Bucas Grande, you get a chance to see places which are just as photogenic, only you won’t have 300 extra tourists with you everywhere you go.
Some people choose to spend a night or even two in Bucas, as it gives them more time to enjoy the surroundings without being forced to squeeze all must-see attractions in their itinerary. The only issue is that many hotels here are below par, so only do so if you don’t mind spending time in an accommodation that doesn’t always have electricity, WiFi or hot water. Since this can also be done as a side trip from Siargao Island, I feel that it is better to take a day tour instead of staying a night in this famous tourist spot.