by Frank W. Grosse-Oetringhaus - 3 weeks ago
Siargao Cloud 9 – a paradise for surfers?
Siargao is the most easterly archipelago of the Philippines, but it doesn’t have the most eastern point of the country, this is a cape on Mindanao, a bit further south.
You can access the island either by boat or by plane. Both ways have their advantages. On a boat you see the dramatic whirlpools caused by the tidal waters of the Pacific, dramatic because of the exposed location of the island, the main reason why this island is so attractive for surfers. Sometimes the whirlpools are precarious for smaller boats. But we – Teo and I – are no surfers, so we fly in. So we see almost the full terrain of the island: The water landscape in the west, mangroves and inlets, the hills in the east and almost the whole coastline: But only a few beaches.
From the airport to General Luna we drive with a public Van 40 minutes, every seat is taken, we have to squeeze in. The small but paved road leads through pristine land, only little is used by farming. General Luna is a laid-back little town with the charm of the past. A very small fish market, some guest houses, hard-to-find little groceries, that’s about almost all.
One hotel, the Dedon, is world-class but pricey. Very secluded, exclusive, they have the only good beach, a good stretch of white sand. The owners made their money with exclusive rattan furniture, Brad Pitt is one of their clients.
But we didn’t come for luxury and beaches, we are here for the ranking of this surf site Cloud 9. Defining and ranking of highlights is the key concept of our traveling. Since we are no surfers – you cannot do everything – we have to get our knowledge by two ways: (1) Traveling to all top surfing sites and (2) speaking with surfers. We do the same with mountains, we are no climbers, but we travel to all important mountains and speak with people who know. Budget travelers often argue that meeting people is the best part of traveling. They mean meeting them by chance. That may create fun but this is only a small part of traveling. Selecting the people you deal with builds up superior knowledge.
Therefore we take the Reef Beech Hotel near Cloud 9, here we take a cheaper room in the main building where all the surfers of this hotel live. Very soon we get into contact. Especially Teo is very good in that. Around the hotel in the local restaurants and bars we meet more. They all agree: The right breaking wave is famous, Cloud 9 ranks as the best surf site in the Philippines. The best time for it is September to November. Then annual competitions - national and international - are taking place at Cloud 9.
But the ranking in the world? Nias, Mentawei, Sumbawa and the south of Bali in Indonesia, Hawaii, Eastern Island, Raglan and the Manu Bay, New Zealand, famous by the movie “The Endless Summer”, California, South Africa. We have seen them all. And most surfers agree: Indonesia tops it all.
Unique in Cloud 9 are the boardwalks from which the surfers can enter easily and a large three-story tower building to watch the surfers. To walk on these boardwalks is impressive
Cloud 9 is the best and most famous surfing site in the Philippines, but it is behind Indonesia and Hawaii. It is not a paradise for surfers, because there is no perfect beach, all reef, all coral rocks, not easy for beginners. But a place at which surfers can feel cosy, because of the laid-back atmosphere and pristine environment. Nearly all accessible beaches are poor, so you have to go to the outer small islands for a good swim. That drives the costs and doesn’t make a paradise.