After a good night’s sleep we had a quick breakfast at the hotel and headed for the airport (Goldberry Hotel in Cebu is a good budget hotel if you ever do this trip) and the flight to Siargao. After some tense airport moments we managed to get one of the packages of boards on the small plane, but not the other. It was picked up by a Cebu local and waits to be transported on another day.
It was a fast (1hr) flight across to Siargao and we were very glad we had taken the plane rather than the overnight (12hr) ferry. It might have been cheaper and a real ‘experience’ but… gruelling overnight ferries just don’t prepare you for a week of surfing.
We landed and met Josh at the airport where we packed into a tiny trike for the hour long trip to the village of Burgos up in the north of the island. We arrived at our airbnb, just 50m from the water’s edge, checked in and ran down to take a look at the waves. And there were waves everywhere.
As we walked up the steps over the seawall we looked out and saw a beautiful beach with waves breaking on the reefs. Josh pointed out the 3 best breaks – all of which were all looking nice – and then left us to get out bearings.
Our Airbnb was simple – two mattresses on the floor with an air con in the bedroom and then a rudimentary living area with some chairs, a table and a kitchen. I didn’t care what else it held so long as the air con worked and we had somewhere to retreat to. For $40/night it was more than enough.
Sam was sick as a dog by now and I was amped to go surfing. Not ideal. We went back to the house and unpacked before having lunch at Josephine’s (Josh’s mum’s) roadside food house. It was one of three food places in the village and by far my favourite.
The others served wraps (quite nice) and ‘burger’ as we discovered a few nights later. We asked to see a menu but she said ‘I just do burger.’
‘Burger?’ I asked.
‘Burger.’ she said again.
I looked at Sam. ‘Ok – we will have a burger thanks…’
And it was a good burger… No need for menus when you only do one item of food!
That said , if you like Filipino food (and I do) then you would love Josephines!
By 2pm Sam was curled up on bed and I was champing at the bit. I had flown the drone over the whole area and seen some guys getting awesome waves. So I headed out to try one of these waves – a beautiful A frame reef break with just one other local guy in the water. I parked the scooter I had hired, paddled out and found it was every bit as good as it looked – fast barreling rights that got pretty ‘slabby’ on the big ones and shorter lefts that were also fun. It was wonderful to sit in warm water in a tropical paradise with just one other bloke to share it with. This was why we came!
I spent an hour there just having a blast, getting some fantastic waves and enjoying the sheer beauty of the place, before suddenly twinging a groin muscle – yeoh!… Over the next half hour as perfect waves rolled thru I found it harder and harder to surf as the shooting pain went down my thigh. Eventually I called it a day and paddled in – having had a fantastic start to the holiday and being eternally grateful for powerful anti-inflammatories that I take with me on trips like this. I was going to need them.
We grabbed some dinner at ‘Lokal’, a small café/food stall in town. When I say dinner it was actually a variety of wraps and a smoothy, but it did the job and we headed home for some Netflix.
We crashed hoping the next day would be as good and Sam would be fit and ready to go. We woke to a drop in a swell, but still some great waves. Sam was still feeling off, but we both walked out the 300m over reef to the break at low tide. It appeared to be small waves, but they were actually head high on the sets. The reef was very shallow initially and probably even a little dangerous, but as the tide filled in, the swell grew and we scored another session of beautiful waves. A few locals joined us and we shared the waves, taking it in turn to get tubed.
I could get used to this…
We came in and ate lunch at Josephine’s before chilling in the house and waiting to see what the afternoon would hold. Tide changes are enormous in this area so it makes a big difference to surf conditions. Sam was spent after the morning surf, but I was keen to head out again, so I paddled out alone for an afternoon surf at the same place – this time at high tide. The waves were not as consistent as before but it was still fun being there alone.
That afternoon we went and joined the Grom Nation groms as they gathered at Josh’s place to fix some surfboards and make a surfboard stand for board repair work. I loved the way the kids got into what they were doing – using pretty rudimentary tools and some pretty gnarly bits of wood they eventually knocked up a stand that was usable.
Board repair saw every kid on the job with some sandpaper, cutting back the dings as prep for the repair work. My first inclination was to send over a hand sander to make it all easier, but I dunno if that’s such a great idea. Right now 25 kids go hard with bits of sandpaper. If a sander arrived I imagine it would be used sequentially and there would be a lot of inactivity.
Interesting question as to whether that would be helping or hindering…
While the kids are able to understand English they speak their own dialect moreso so communication was limited. What was obvious was that they were keen as mustard! It was wonderful to watch and see the way they are encouraged and inspired to learn new things.
We had dinner with Josh’s family that night, then went home and crashed. You can see our house in the pic above, just 50m from a beautiful beach in a simple Filipino village. At this point I was in heaven!
The next day we woke to very small waves – the swell was on its way… and Sam was still very sick…