My earliest memory of Siargao is of being in my grandmother’s house, in the old town of Dapa. I was about 10, in the garage, and looking up in awe at the blue marlin hanging from the rafters, seeing how big the fish were.
My mother is from Siargao, and I’m the fifth generation of my family to live here. Her dad, Constantino “Oging” Navarro Sr, was a congressman and governor even before Surigao was divided into Surigao del Norte and del Sur.
It used to be a real chore to come here. It took six to eight hours by slow boat from Surigao City, and the smaller, faster boats were scary. We only had electricity for half the day then. Despite the lack of facilities, though, there was a wealth of seafood, and the place was so pristine.
I actually grew up abroad – Thailand, Australia, France – because my mother, Rora Navarro Tolentino, was a diplomat. But we came back to Siargao whenever we could.
By the time we returned to the Philippines for good in 1996, I had decided to live in Siargao because I had fallen in love with surfing. I graduated college in 2004, came here, built a house and later built a guest house, where my family stays when they come to visit.
There was already some surf tourism at the time, especially after Surfer magazine featured us in early 1993. But Siargao still wasn’t that popular – you really had to be into surfing to try to get here.
So what makes Siargao special? Number one, really, is the surfing. I can be objective about it, from a geographic perspective.
We’re on the edge of the Philippine Deep or the Mindanao Trench; we’re one of the farthest Philippine islands out in the Pacific Ocean; and we have reefs all around us. A swell coming in through the ocean suddenly hits a shelf or a reef, and the water goes up.
We get amazing waves in the right season. That’s what makes Siargao unique – our location, combined with breathtaking beaches, one of the largest mangrove forests in the country and a surf culture that’s still pretty open to everyone.
Siargao is not just beautiful – it also has action and sex appeal.
Check the tide the day before. Depending on the schedule you can either watch the surfers from the boardwalk and the Cloud 9 Tower, have coffee and banana bread or muffin at Café Loka or surf at Cloud 9.