Flying over the island of Siargao is like watching Earth’s green lungs breathe. Trees are in luscious, almost unbelievable abundance. I was awestruck by the aerial view three years ago when our little plane first glided over the coconut canopies, and was awestruck again this time around.
I first fell in love with the place in 2015. I’ve heard people call it the ‘Bali of the Philippines’ because of the waves, the surf, the sea and the westernisation. But it’s so much more than that.
Siargao is special. Sometimes a place, sometimes the sea, can bring you to tears with its beauty. The feeling that the island gives me is too difficult to succinctly put into words.
But it's a sense, all at once, of being immersed in clear, warm glassy waves rippling beneath the soft haze of dawn; of wind skimming my skin as motorcycle tires roar beneath the smooth concrete roads below; of a golden haze hanging over the infinite coconut trees as the sun begins to set.
morning dips in the north
We stayed in Allegria, away from the crowds in General Luna and Dapa. Sure, it’s far. Almost two hours by bike from the center of the action. But that’s what I loved about it. Northern Siargao is still untouched, unspoiled.
We had an entire stretch of white sand beach and glorious ocean to ourselves, with the occasional fisherman's boat gliding quietly in the distance along the horizon.
We’d wake up at 5am almost every morning to greet the sunrise, walking five metres from the door of our oceanfront kubo to jump into the glassy ocean, encompassed by a pastel pink sunrise. Who needs coffee when you have paradise on your doorstep?
When a soft golden haze crept in from beyond the clouds and diffused across the entire stretch of water, my skin grew electric with goosebumps.
the wild wild east
The Philippines has been in political turmoil as of late.
It seems almost unfair that, amidst the Martial Law impositions, the kidnappings and brutality, the corruption and the malevolence, that the geographical beauty of Siargao should stay so gorgeous. So untouched. So unplugged, seemingly, from the nation’s woes.
You feel it though. Something in the air, in the community spirit. It felt less hostile in 2015, more up-and-coming, more open and vibrant. Maybe I was just younger back then.
But there’s a sense of money exchanging hands under tables, behind closed doors. Of landowners being bribed. Of things being not quite right.
It’s crazy how much development can happen in three years, too. Boom. New hotels. New cafes. A whole new surge of travellers, settlers, businesses.
It’s the wild, wild west. Everybody wants a piece of Siargao.
That’s development, though. Progress… right?
to the future
I hope Siargao doesn’t end up like Boracay. In a state of environmental decay so bad that government intervention is needed. Maybe not. The islanders are conscious and proactive.
I look forward to being in Siargao again. Each new visit to a familiar place always promises a new experience, a new perspective.
Unexplored coconut groves await.
Mel left London to chase summer around the world, one country at a time. She loves the ocean, writing postcards, and solo exploration. Travel with her on Instagram.