April 10, 2015

SIARGAO 2015 TRAVEL DIARY – Island Hopping Tour: Guyam Island

Siargao has been in my bucket list ever since I saw how beautiful its beaches are. Obviously I am a sucker for white sand beaches and clear blue and turquoise waters. Whenever I have the opportunity to travel, I always choose a place where there’s a beach; I may not have the beach body and the confidence to wear two-piece swimsuits and I also don’t know how to swim properly, but the feel of sand under my feet gives me a certain high. 
Since one of my good friends is coming back to Manila this Summer, and we always make it a point that we will travel whenever she’s on vacation in the Philippines, I booked us a flight to Siargao Island. Most flights to Siargao are quite expensive especially for a regular-earning professional like me, but thank goodness for airfare promos and seat sales that I was able to book a flight to Siargao that was cheaper than normal. There is no direct flight to Siargao, you have to pass by Cebu and board a smaller aircraft to Siargao. There’s only one airport in Siargao – Sayak Airport in Del Carmen town, which is a relatively small airport compared to Caticlan’s or Coron’s airport. Only 1 flight arrives and leaves Sayak airport daily when it’s the lean season; but when there’s a surfing competition Cebu Pacific (the only airline that flies directly to Siargao) opens two flights per day and this is around May to September.


 


Siargao is a tear-drop shaped island in the Philippine Sea in the province of Surigao del Norte. It is  best known for its beautiful and large waves that are good for surfing, especially that this island is on the southeast part of the Philippines and faces the Pacific Ocean. But Siargao is not all about surfing, it boasts of other tourist destinations like beaches, natural pools, lagoons, falls etc. The landscape in Siargao reminds me of both Coron and Bohol, but it has its own different charm. It’s more laid-back, more peaceful and even though tourists flock it, it isn’t crowded at all. The locals of Siargao are one of the nicest and hospitable people I’ve ever  encountered – they are simple, respectful, fun and honest. Everyone is very friendly and accommodating. During our 4 days stay on the island, I’ve come to love it and had somewhat a separation anxiety when we were about to leave. I felt like I wasn’t ready to leave just yet, but then that only gave me a fuel to return to Siargao when I have the chance to.
  
 

ISLAND HOPPING TOUR: GUYAM ISLAND

The mere mention of Siargao Island brings thoughts about waves and surfing; but Siargao is more than surfing. It also boasts of beautiful beaches with fine white sand and turquoise seas, lagoons, falls and the famous Magpupungko Rock Formations in Pilar town. Most islands included in the island hoping tour is just near the General Luna port and could be reached in more or less 30 minutes and transferring from one island to another would only take around 10 minutes.

 


On our third day we went island hopping in the nearby islands off the coast of General Luna. We availed a tour from one of Kuya Levie’s (our habal-habal driver) acquaintances. Usual rates for boat rental including boat driver is around PHP 1500-2000 and will still depend on how big your group is. But since there were only 3 of us and there weren’t many tourists going on the island hopping trip, we just rented a small boat and haggled the price down to PHP1,300 only for a half day island hopping tour.




Before we went on our island-hopping trip, we went to General Luna Boulevard where the port and the market are and had our breakfast there. We bought some frozen meats and had it cooked by Nanay Inday who owns one of the eateries there behind Palaka Diving Center. It is the usual practice of tourists to buy food and fresh seafood at this market and bring them during the trip; but since we were full from our heavy breakfast we decided to bring just some fruits and water.




After having lunch and doing a bit of snorkeling in Daku/Dako Island, we went on our way to our last destination for this island hopping tour which is Guyam Island. But we first passed by this surfing site on our way there. There were a couple of young local boys surfing and we were amazed on how good they were; well, most of the locals know how to surf and it is basically like their way of life in Siargao. If in the city, kids would usually play computer games after school, in Siargao, surfing is the counterpart.




Guyam Island is a circular islet and is the nearest to General Luna. It has fine white sand beach and it’s shape changes depending on the where the tides and the wind is going as per our boatman’s story. It’s  a privately-owned island actually but  uninhabited. There’s supposed to be a caretaker here that will collect entrance fees but our boatman told us that he might be in the town proper tending his rice field.


 


There are a bunch of coconut trees at the center of the island, sitting areas and a couple of cottages where tourists can relax if they don’t want to swim. Our boatman told us that we can walk around the island and it would takes us less than 15 minutes, but we weren’t able to do that because we only stayed for a bit since we still have surfing lessons scheduled that afternoon.

  


What makes Guyam Island unique on its own are the rock formations on some parts of the island. There is this spot made of the stony structures that resembles a platform/dock. But mind you that when we tried having our photos taken there, most of the surface was sharp and walking on it without any flip-flops on, was completely a bad idea.




Most tourists opt to spend their time here until the day ends or until night; they say the if you’re in Siargao and you want to watch the sunset, Guyam Island is one of those places you can stay do that. But us for us, we went back to general Luna Boulevard at around 3:00pm because we had scheduled another surfing tutorial sessions.





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