Friday, March 22, 2013

Top Surfing Spots in the Philippines

I'm not a pro-surfer, and not even close to being one. I've tried surfing several times but my rides end up mostly in heartbreaking wipe outs and no more than five successful rides each session. I also brand myself as girl-tulak being that I hardly go out to the sea without an instructor. The instructor also acts as my taga-tulak when the waves arrive. :) And my surfing ritual starts with briefing my instructors that I don't know how to swim. They'd often assure me that I should do fine and that I just need to stay close to my surfboard. 

I feel like a beginner each time I surf, always like my first time to try it. But I'll never stop attempting to ride no matter how many times the board refuses to keep me afloat. Despite the pre-ride jitters, the wobbling legs while trying to stay up on the board and the cuts I sometimes get from falling, I will continue to surf!

I'll do so because I get an unparalleled high in surfing. It teaches me to conquer my fear, to harbor patience, to feel a certain balance, and to let myself out in the sea. Each session is about waiting for the perfect waves, paddling mighty hard once it arrive, taking time to feel the rhythm,  and standing without hesitation when the board dances with the waves.

Surfing also teaches me to never give up after every ungraceful and disheartening wipe out. A fall from the board means getting up, and doing the same routine again until the "better" ride comes in. A good ride and a hard fall are in every surfer's diary. And most of the time, the harder the fall, the more exhilarating the stoke is!


1) Don't forget to put on sunblock.

2) Wear rash guard and board shorts. It's important to be on the right surfing attire to avoid putting on a show. :)

3) It's okay if you don't own a surfboard since most of these local surfing spots offer rentals for hours of use. Prepare P200-300 rental fee. 

4) Beginners need not worry because there are instructors who could help with the basics in surfing (P200-300 hourly fee).

If you ever get the chance to be near one of these surfing spots, try to get on the board and surf! Experience the thrill and you might end up being hooked to it. Just like how I've been bitten by the surfing bug! :)

1. Cloud 9, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte

Hailed as one of the best surfing playgrounds in the world (recently ranked 9th in CNN's World's 50 Best Surf Spots), with a lot of tantalizing photos to back it up, I thought I must try surfing it myself no matter what. And I did! Well, not really the powerful barreling Cloud 9 waves, but at least the one closest to it. I was stoked during my solo surf trip to Siargao last July! Riding the waves as the sun set and the rain pounded heavily is one of my favorites while completing the 80 before 30 trip. 

Kuya Lino, one of the top surf instructors in Could 9, said that Siargao has the most consistent waves in the country, with almost no flat season. It is in this regard that it's worth its reputation as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines. 

How to get there:

By air, get on a flight from Cebu straight to Sayak Airport in Del Carmen, Siargao. Alternately, you may choose to fly from Manila to Surigao City. From Surigao City, take a ferry going to either Dapa (I would strongly suggest you take the boat straight to Dapa as it is closer to General Luna where most of the the surf actions happen), Del Carmen, or Socorro. From these points, take a trike or habal habal going to General Luna, where Cloud 9 is located. 


The Boardwalk at Cloud 9
General Luna, Siargao Island
Phone: +63 939 164 1268

The famous boardwalk in Siargao

Surfing with Kuya Lino

That was me close to Cloud 9

2. Bagasbas, Daet, Camarines Norte

A perfect beach break for beginners.This is where I had my first attempt to ride a wave more than a year ago. :)

How to get to Bagasbas:
1) From Manila, ride a bus bound for Daet (Superlines, Philtranco). Fare is around Php 600 per way.
2) From the terminal station, you can ride a tricycle to the Bagasbas Beach.

Accommodations (for overnight stay) and restaurants are available just across the surfing area.

To the sea 

An attempt to stay on the board

The kids of Bagasbas enjoying the sand and sun

My instructor Kit on the board

3. Gubat, Sorsogon

There is a beach in Gubat called "Breeding" which is fast becoming another mecca for surfing wannabes, but for those who are up for more advanced surfing, they also have Nico's Reef with wild and challenging waves.

How to get to Gubat, Sorsogon:

1. Take a 12-hour bus ride from Manila going directly to Gubat (Raymond Transport, Silver Star, DLTB Co.).
2. Another option is to take a one-hour flight to Legazpi City, Albay (Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines Express, PAL). Take a van to Sorsogon City, then a jeepney going to Gubat.


Bidge Villaroya
Gubat Bay Surfers

One of my favorite rides in Gubat

Out in the sea to surf

These kids in Gubat are awesome surfers

4. San Juan, La Union

La Union sure has "baby waves" compared to other surfing spots like Gubat, Sorsogon and Bagasbas, Camarines Norte, but I love the positive vibes there! Good food, beautiful sunset, friendly people. :)

How to get to San Juan, La Union:

1. Take a bus going to San Fernando, La Union (Autobus, Dominion Transit, Farinas Transit Company, Genesis Bus Lines). From there, just take a jeepney to get to San Juan. Travel time takes about 5-6 hours.
2. Going by private vehicle:
Take the NLEX and follow this main route:  Sta. Ines -> Bamban-> Tarlac->Urdaneta->Pangasinan->Damortis-> Agoo-Aaringgay->Caba->Bauang, La Union->San Fernando, La Union (One can also go thru the SCTEX and exit at Tarlac.)


Lemon Dines
Surf Star School, La Union

The Circle Hostel La Union
Address: Urbiztondo,San Juan,La Union
Phone: 0917-832-6253

Going for an afternoon ride

The sea is these kids' playground after school

There's a certain peace in surfing as dusk falls

With my longboard at LU

5. Calicoan Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar

This where I had my longest and most satisfying ride ever. ABCD Beach boasts of massive and challenging waves from April to November. Summer months are perfect for beginners with gentle 2 to 3 foot waves.

How to get to Calicoan Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar

1. Take a commercial flight to Tacloban City (Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines Express, PAL). From Tacloban, hop in a van (Duptuours or Van-Vans) going to Guiuan (3 hours travel time). From Guiuan proper, rent a trike going to ABCD Beach in Calicoan Island (45 mins travel time).

Alvin- (0905) 977-3976

The Surf Camp is one of the accommodations in Calicoan Island, Guiuan

The view of the sea from the pool area at Surf Camp

Listening to instructor Jason for some pre-ride instructions

This is ittttt!!!

Guiuan surf is my favorite so far! Best reef break!

Awesome sunset at ABCD Beach

6. Puraran Beach "Majestic", Baras, Catanduanes

The town of Baras, about 26 kilometers away from Virac, is fast becoming the face of tourism in Catanduanes. It is the location of the “majestic waves,” a surfing spot known locally as Puraran Beach. 

How to get there:

Take one and a half hours jeep or bus ride going to Baras (P45 fare). From the town proper, you may opt to hire a tricycle going to Puraran beach (P150/tricycle). Once in Puraran, head up to the beach and pay P10 for entrance. Cottages are available for a day and overnight rent near the beach. 
For a certain fee, there are also surfing lessons available for beginners.


Puraran Surf Beach Resort
Brgy. Puraran, Baras, Catanduanes
(+63) 919-678-5895,

7. Baler, Aurora

One of the best breaks for surfing newbies is at Sabang Beach in Baler. There is a thriving surf scene in this laid-back town that attracts many surfers, both locals and foreigners. Getting on in an early morning session is best advised as the good waves start thumping into the shore. The swells here are created by the northeast monsoon winds which constantly rolls between October to March. 

How to get there: 

Take on an 8-hr bus ride from Manila directly to Baler, Aurora. Genesis has trips going straight to Baler. Once in the town proper, take a trike going to Sabang Beach. 


Bay's Inn Hotel 
80 Sitio Labasin, Sabang, Baler

Amazing sunrise at Sabang Beach

8.  Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

Pagudpud has some of my favorite beaches in the country. Saud Beach is famous for its white sand, vast shoreline, amazing sunset and calm waters. Blue Lagoon or Maira-ira Cove, on the other hand, is just as beautiful as Saud, but with much rowdy waves ideal for surfing beginners. Although surfing here is getting a lot of attention already, it's still one of the less crowded spots to surf. The best season to surf in Pagudpud is from October to April (courtesy of the North Swell).

How to get there: 

Those coming from Manila may take a plane or a bus to Laoag, Ilocos Norte. From Laoag, take any bus going to Claveria, Aparri, or any part of Cagayan. Tell the conductor that you will disembark at Gaoa. In Gaoa, ask a trike driver to take you to the blue lagoon and make an arrangement to pick you up later. 

A beautiful beach break without the crowd

The perfect Ilocos swell

9. Pundaquit, Zambales

Surfing in Pundaquit is becoming quite a buzz lately. Although this place has been in the travel zone because it's the jump-off point to the amazing coves Anawangin and Nagsasa, Pundaquit has one more reason to keep some of the stoke-hungry people of Manila coming. It's about 3-4 hours away from Manila, the closest surf spot to the metro with quality waves. Consistent waves are available during the months of May to December, but hose who are more experienced surfers may enjoy Pundaquit from late December to April where more challenging waves pushes on its shore.

How to get there: 

From Manila, take a bus bound for Iba, Zambales via Victory Liner. Ask the conductor to drop you off at San Antonio Public Market. Once at San Antonio, ask a trike to take you to Pundaquit. From there, resorts are available where you may rent boards and take surfing lessons. 

10. Dahican Beach, Mati, Davao Oriental

Dahican Beach is one of my favorite places in Mindanao. About 3 hours away from Davao City, this quiet beach in the laid-back city of Mati is a sure perfect spot for surf and skim lovers. Early September to June are the surf season there so more tourists arrive at around these months. On regular days, just like when we went there, the place is almost deserted which makes it quite ideal to just relax and enjoy the sea breeze. 

If you happen to get there, don't hesitate to contact the boys and girls of Amihan Team. They have a cottage close to the surf site where you can stay overnight and a space where you can pitch your tent or hammock. They also offer board rentals and surf lessons for beginners. If you get quite lucky, you may chance up on a sighting of turtles and dugongs (seacow) which are frequent visitors to this serenely beautiful beach. 

How to get there:

From Davao, take a bus bound for Mati City at Ecoland Bus Terminal. From Mati town proper, take habal-habal to Dahican. 


Amihan sa Dahican Facebook

With Winston and Rose of Amihan Team


  1. You'll need a new tab in this site called "Surfing Pilipinas" :)

  2. Wow! Guiuan is now your favorite. Hope to try surfing this summer! Beautiful photos too! :)

    1. Yey Thanks eph! Balak namin bumalik after 80 before 30. Enjoy the waves of Guiuan! :)

    2. Try surfing, Eph. Intense ang feeling. :-)

    3. Yeah, will really try surfing sana dito sa Leyte..hehe Thanks sa encouragement! :)

  3. inspiring and one which generates my interests on surfing :)

  4. Replies
    1. Hihi. Better compared to day 1, I think. :) Salamat for the tulak in LU! hahaha

    2. Dapat next time wala na tulak ha. Paddle on your own.

    3. I sure will! I just need to brush up on my swimming skills. hehe :)

    4. You know the basics already. Show us next time that you can paddle hard already. :-)

  5. i wanna go back to calicoan! wish i've visited all the surf sites here...

    1. Hello Lakbay! I want to go back to Calicoan din! And I heard about the other good surf spots in Borongon. Gusto ko din itry ang waves dun. Safe surf and travels to you! :)

  6. Bagasbas is the best! I always go there when I visit my relatives in Cam. Norte..

    1. Yep, Bagasbas is great especially for beginners. Happy surfing!

  7. Nice compilation. Please try surfing in Borongan as well. Halos pareho ng swell sa Guiuan pero mas tame ng konti. Good place sa mga amateur surfers like you.

    - Borongan, Eastern Samar

    1. Thank you! Will do! Hope to surf in Borongan next year. :)

  8. Great post! Do you ride goofy stance? You must look for left breaks in Philippines. Are there any good surf breaks in Negros Occidental?

    1. Thanks for visiting! I'm not aware of any surf breaks in Negros Occidental as of yet, and now I'm wondering if there are some secret spots worth checking out there. Let me know if you found one. :)

  9. im not really surprised that Davao's Surfing capital - Dahican, Mati City - is not included... oh well! maybe its not really interesting for some people, but im just so proud to say that, although it cant compare the waves of the other places you've mentioned but the white sand and its shoreline with its crystal clear water, is what it can boast of. and to mention that it is Home to several of the best skimboarders in the Philippines that won several events internationally. And since you don't know how to swim, i think its about time to try Skimboarding perhaps? much safer, IMO... hihihihi!

    would love to see you visit Davao the soonest. :) perfect for backpacking experience! - Dahican it is! :)

  10. I visited Dahican this year, and I must say I was pretty impressed with the beach and the Amihan folks! I did realize I failed to include it here but I'll update it soon, don't worry. hehe I like Dahican a lot, although i didn't get to surf when I went there. I hope to be back and surf, and skim board, or see dugong or swim with turtles! There's a lot to look forward to in Dahican! :)

  11. Cloud 9 and Dahican are one of my dream destinations. Sana lang mapuntahan ko to if not this year, next year. hehehe Great choices for surfing spots!

    1. Thanks Chudi! Must-surf talaga ang Siargao and Dahican. Happy rides!! :)

  12. haven't tried surfing mostly because I'm not a good swimmer but just reading your blogs make me want to try it... hopefully I'll get a vacation soon :)

  13. Envision you just rode a great wave and your surfing felt superior to anything it ever has previously. Surf Training

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  15. I like stand-up paddle boarding in the Philippines and I want to buy stand-up paddle board Philippines for my gift to my dad for his coming 50th birthday.

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