Saturday, January 28, 2017

Siargao Travel Tips

Now is the best time to go to Siargao. Well, actually it is from March to September according to locals. There is less or no rain on these months. I went there on a January and downpour was on and off. Anyway, I'm saying you visit Siargao now since it's paradise there-- it still is. Unlike Boracay, there is no loud mainstream music and it is not crowded. The place is very accommodating and charming. And of course, really beautiful. But it might not be long before tourists begin flocking to the place. 

So, quick! Plan your Siargao trip now. I am already planning our third visit there. 

Airfare

Airfare is expensive compared to other Philippine destinations. There is no one way ticket yet. You have to fly to Cebu first then to Siargao. Cebu Pacific Air is best for this destination--this is the only carrier that offers connecting flights to Siargao. Plan your trip months in advance to catch a fare promo. I got our tickets at P7,000+ (130 USD), while it can go as high as P20,000 per person.

Add:
Skyjet is now offering direct flights to Siargao. Round trip airfare is at P6,000+ (~120 USD).

Accommodation 

Depending on your budget, there are a lot of nice resorts in Siargao. We stayed in three resorts already, which I booked via Booking.com-- Isla Cabana, Sandy Feet and Ocean 101. All are located beach front. Sandy feet is our favorite: cottages are big and modern, yet very homey. The owner, Sandy, is really sweet and caring. Sandy Feet's rate per night is P5,000+ (~100 USD), with daily breakfast.

Our cottage in Sandy Feet
There are only four cottages in Sandy Feet.
If you are looking for a peaceful and quiet vacation house, this is the best.

Inside the cottage for 2 pax
The comfortable King size bed of Sandy Feet 

Very nice bathroom.
It also has an outside shower connected to this bathroom to wash off sand from your body.

I love how all the details in Sandy Feet was thought of.
The orchid is real! 

For our second stay, we got the family cottage (the smaller cottages are booked already).
This is the massive kitchen. 
Yes!
Details, details, details.

Breakfast is served daily. Oh, I love the food in Sandy Feet.
They always serve more than enough.







Isla Cabana has a nicer location as it has a clean beach with still waters. 

Location though doesn't really matter much because the resorts are not walking distance from each other. Like if you want to try the pasta in Kermit, you have to ride a habal- habal. Or better, ride your own rented motorcycle. Same if you are going to Cloud 9. 

Cottages are at P5,000+ (~100 USD) with free buffet breakfast. 

Beachfront of Isla Cabana

Ocean 101 is pocket friendly, but still okay. Facilities are very basic. You got a comfortable bed, two thin pillows and blanket, and functioning dated television. Only problem we encountered in our room was the mosquitos. We had to use katol and we ended up smelling like barbecue. We got the honeymoon suite-- P2,500 (50 USD) per night. There are other cheaper options. I suggest the beachfront aircon cottages. 

The front of Ocean 101 is rocky and has big waves. And one may already surf a few meters from the resort. The surfing spot is called Jacking Horse.
Front of Ocean 101
Ocean 101
Ocean 101's restaurant has a variety of options-- Filipino, Mexican, Italian, American, and Thai foods. One order is most of the time enough for two people. It's also nice to hang out in the restaurant, relax and watch the sea. 
Ocean 101 restaurant at night

What to do in Siargao:

Rent a motorcycle

This is a must to easily go around the island and to really appreciate the place. If you don't know how to drive an automatic motorcycle, then better learn before going to Siargao. It's very easy! The locals would probably push for a P500 (~10 USD) per day at first. But it should only be P350 (~7 USD) per day. 

Selfie on the motorcycle

Surf

Siargao is the surfing capital of the Philippines-- therefore, surf! Go to Cloud 9 and look for an instructor there, or just ask in the place you are staying at. Or reach this guy Jonard at 0917. Also ask for his friend Ken. Both young local surfers are really good and fun to be with. They compete in surfing tournaments. 

Surf boards in Cloud 9

Cloud 9

Even if you are not planning to surf, but you should, you should visit this place. It has a 3-floor tower where you can go watch the surfers.

Surfers in Cloud 9

Where to watch the surfers

You can also paddle board in Cloud 9

Sugba Lagoon Day Tour

I booked our tour here via My Siargao Guide http://instagram.com/mysiargaoguide. We paid P2,000 (~40 USD) per person for a whole day trip and it covers everything-- transportation; lunch; usage of snorkels, and paddle board; cottage and entrance fees, etc. All you need to do is book with them at least a day before and drop your 50% down payment in Bravo Resort. 

The tour will start 10:50am and end at about 5pm. What I like about this tour is that I don't have to think of the details anymore. I just have to show up. Plus, it is away from the normal tourist destinations. 

Lots of mangroves on way to Sugba Lagoon

Sugba Lagoon


There is a diving board in Sugba Lagoon. Not too high-- 10 feet maybe.

Sugba Lagoon


Paddle boarding in Sugba Lagoon


They say there are stingless jelly fishes in Sugba Lagoon too.
But when we went it was mating season so they migrated.

Where we ate at Sugba Lagoon


Sugba Lagoon shed

Sohoton Cave

This is something I don't recommend. Nothing special about the cave. It's just an entrance to a lagoon and the guides have prepared stories to tell about the rock formations. Tour also start early (around 5:30am) as the cave is three hours away. There will be some stops-- pay fees, visit smaller less popular lagoons or lakes-- before you do the actual Sohoton cave tour. You have to transfer to a smaller boat to be able to pass the cave. During our visit, we waited an hour for our turn-- so not worth it!

Sunrise in boulevard. The best thing about waking up early is seeing the sunrise.

Sohoton Cave tour

Photo with our bangkero

Stingless Jellyfish

Yes yes yes, you should check these creatures out. It was really an experience. Imagine swimming with jelly fishes. Well, I got scared, but they really won't sting. 
  
Swimming with the stingless jellyfishes in Siargao

Stingless jellyfish

Tiniktikan Lake

Tiniktikan Lake is part of the Sohoton Cave tour. Only thing I like in this stop is this plank. Maybe it's 20 feet high. 

About to jump in Tiniktikan Lake

Tiniktikan Lake


Island hopping 

There are three islands to visit: Naked, Daku and Guyam Islands. I decided to just book our own boat rather than with a tour guide. It will be cheaper than to pay per person, since there are five adults in our group. Boat should only cost P1,500 (~30 USD). 

For lunch, I bought one whole  Mahi-Mahi fish at P270, half a kilo of liempo, and packed rice from our hotel. We had lunch in Daku Island and paid the locals a P400 cooking fee. Just be sure to be in the boulevard early morning, 6am, to get fresh meat. 

First stop is Naked Island. A small island with no trees. The water is really nice but we didn't stay long. There's no shade to stay on anyway. 

Naked Island

Naked Island


Traveling with the family is the best. 

Next stop is Daku Island. Since this is the best island, we stayed here for about three hours. Also, because this is where you will eat lunch. Tell your bangkero to book a cottage for you in advance. When we got there the nicer cottages were already reserved.


Daku Island

Daku Island cottage

Sunset in Daku Island

And then last stop is Guyam Island. I have a different feeling towards this island because a friend got married here. So I will always find this island a special one. 
My husband and I with the beautiful bride.
Love that she used local flowers for the lei. 



My husband and I in Daku Island, Siargao


My husband and I in Daku Island Siargao

Eat in Mama's Grill

This place is perfect-- affordable freshly grilled pork, chicken and fish. Even the foreigners eat here. Go here early. We went there one time at 7pm, it was very crowded and had to wait more than an hour for our food. 

Mama's Grill signage

Mama's Grill at day time

Other places to eat at are Ocean 101 for those who can't decide what to eat, Kermit for pasta, and Kalinaw for Italian (more on the expensive side).

There are a lot more things that can be done in Siargao like simply enjoy the view and appreciate nature, soak in your resort's beachfront, paddle board, and explore the island on motorcycle. All you need to do is book your flight and accommodation now!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Greenfield Weekend Market is a Saturdate staple


One of the good things about living in Flair Condominiums is its proximity to the Greenfield Weekend Market. Almost every Saturday my husband and I would find ourselves here. And this is because of the so many wonderful things about the place.

1. The festive, yet relaxing vibe of the weekend market reminds me of my childhood. When I used to stay hours going around provincial festivals checking out interesting items and food for sale. The group of friends, kids, families and couples having a lovely time in Greenfield are always a pleasure to see.




2. The music from the live quartet is an event in itself. I will spend time and money just to watch them play. The times I saw them, they played instrumental renditions of new and old songs. Any song they played, I loved tremendously. 

3. And of course, the awesome selection of food and what-nots

Suman

I am a sucker for rice cakes and this Suman is soooo good. Plus, the sellers have superb customer service. One time my husband's piece unfortunately had a piece of small rock in it. Thankfully he didn't break a tooth when he bit into it. I mentioned this to the saleslady and without batting an eyelash she gave me four pieces of sumans to replace the sumans I bought the week before. I know it won't affect the fact that there may still be rock pieces in them but still I liked that she was sorry for our experience and replacing them was her way of appeasing me. 

Squid sisig 
Chef Bab's sisig is one of our favorite dinner go-tos. They make different kinds of Sisigs-- chicken, pork, squid, etc. And since my husband only eats chicken and seafood-- it was such a great find for us. We had always gotten the squid. Though I suggest being there upon opening for fresher squid. We had once experienced squid that seemed near expiration already. 

Fresh fruit drinks 

The fresh fruit salad is my husband's choice while for me it is the guyabano. I am a sucker for guyabano. And buying fresh guyabano is always a challenge. Most of the time I end up getting rotten or overiped produce. Having it in juice form is just perfect. 

Pasta 
Almost everything in the pasta stand is tasty, although they were a bit stringy in the meat department. Try to ask for samples for taste tests-- they offer that. 

Books!

The book stand is headed by three lady bookworms. Whatever questions we had about novels and writers, they had answers. They also had 90% of the hard-to-find books my husband is looking for. We are always impressed by how knowledgable they all are and as a result they sold to my husband easily. We now have a number of books waiting to be read at home. 

Classic music records 

Some records are as low as P100! And since my husband has just renovated their old record player-- he ended up buying a lot of affordable music records, too. 

Local artists

Kudos to the organizers of Greenfield Weekend Market for supporting local talents. 

Aside from rice cakes and Sisigs and fruit juices; there are also cakes, dairy products, bagnet and Paella.




4. And last but definitely not the least, the  weekend market is always kept clean.

So, if you don't know what to do on a Saturday night, try Greenfiend Weekend Market. It's worth to experience at least once in your life.