We made it! Lush green hills, mangrove swamps, and forests of coconut trees as far as the eye can see. We were picked up at the one room Siargao airport and driven in the back of a pick-up truck to our accommodation. We rented a large house right on the beach with a little wharf over the water and its own swimming pool. Relaxation!
The next day we rented motorbikes and checked out the little town 30 min away from our house. We hadn’t realized that the place we were staying was in the middle of nowhere… miles down a winding dirt road in a very tiny village, which led to a lot of sore butts from the mopeds! We went into the town, General Luna, to check out the world class surf break “Cloud 9” (what the island is known for and part of the whole reason we came). The town was less developed than we had originally expected. Some nice guest houses, resorts and restaurants but quite uninhabited compared to so many other places we had been. Even better, many of the people spoke English! What a relief! After traveling for awhile you really appreciate being able to understand what people are saying to you!
In the afternoon of the next day, Emily and Brendan finally made it to Siargao. It was so exciting to finally see them! We hung out that day enjoying each others company and the warm sun! That night it was the first time Mikey and I had cooked a real meal in 6 months! It felt good being able to cook something exactly how you want it. We had mahi mahi fish steaks with a mango salsa, DELICIOUS! It was also time to surf and the waves were PUMPING! It was a real shocker for the boys the next morning when they thought the waves would be 3-4 foot and ended up 3-4 meters! Turned out not to be a good day for soft top longboards, but they made the best of it! Later that day, we got the entire group out in front of the house surfing the baby waves, and eventually the girls were getting into everything on their own!
We wanted to go explore the island further so we headed up north with our gang of mopeds. Rice paddy field after rice paddy field mixed with groves of coconut trees, the landscape was beautiful. It must have been harvest season because picked, unprocessed rice was set out on the side of the roads (or even in the roads) in order to dry out. Even better than the landscape, were the people. The rice paddy workers would stop their work as we drove by to give us a shout or a wave or even a little dance. Children would yell at us, wave and try to get high-speed high-fives.
We then headed up farther north to Pacifico Beach where we had an amazing lunch. While waiting for the food Emily and I were eyeing up some local kids playing some pickup basketball. Our competitive side got the better of us and we challenged them to a 3 on 3 basketball match, choosing a small but cute little kid to be on our team. I think we were the only girls to ever play with them because after a few minutes the whole town was out on the street watching us! We had a whole cheering squad! The boys weren’t taking it easy on us either but in the end we won! There were two little girls watching us that were especially excited that we came out on top. It was Joe & Beth’s last night with us before they headed home so we had a bonfire on the beach and had some fun underneath the star-studded sky!
The next day we checked out the Magpupungko tide pools to do a little snorkeling. The lava formed a mega tide pool that is only exposed during low tide. Here we saw little fishes and even a deadly coral snake (banded sea crate). After another full day of beach, surf and food, sadly it was then time for Amanda & Nick to leave. Getting them to the airport turned out to be quite the challenge when we happened to get 2 flat tires!!! Luckily they made it out in time.
And then there was four! Emily, Brendan, Mikey & I chose to move to another hotel closer to town, entirely due to the terrible, terrible, awful owner/host of our current house (P.S. NEVER STAY AT PARAISO RESORT!!!). But we won’t get into that whole ordeal. Thankfully the next place we stayed was absolutely amazing, on the beach, next to surf breaks, right in town, and served up some amazing jungle juice!
One of the coolest adventures over the next few days was going to the Sohoton Caves, a mere 2.5 hour (very loud) boat ride away, but an entirely new galaxy! The bluest, greenest, clearest waters you will ever see in your life and epic caves. Once at the cave area, the tour starts by speeding through low clearance, stalactite ridden caves. But don’t you worry, we were very safe, they decked us out in googley hard hats and life jackets. We looked like bob the builder wannabes. At the first stop we swam through a low, small cave entrance that opened up into a huge water filled cavern, where the only light came from the sun reflected water from outside. Our pictures, although awesome, don’t do it justice. The next stop was quite the adventure. We jumped off the boat and waded into a large dark cave. We then climbed up huge stalactites gaining higher and higher ground which led to a platform with a cliff jump into the clearest water imaginable. We then toured around the glorious backwaters with large cliffs and gorgeous corals. Our last stop was to swim with the stingless jellyfish. They’re quite cute little creatures especially when they can’t sting the life the out of you. All in all it was an incredible day!
Another day we circumvented the whole island on mopeds with our new friends Marcelle and Yoyo. When our sore butts couldn’t handle it any longer we stopped at a small burger joint in the middle of nowhere. We were lucky because as soon as we sat down a storm hit!! A downpour of rain and wind. Welp, I guess we will be staying here for awhile! Thankfully, just before sunset the rain let up and we hurried our way back home.
Mikey and Brendan went on a few more morning dawn patrol surfing sessions during our stay. Emily and I decided they shouldn’t have all the fun so we went out to surf by ourselves at a smaller break. At first when we showed up there was NOBODY there. The one piece of advice the boys gave us was, “just go where everyone else goes.” Well that wasn’t going to work! But we toughened up and paddled out, to our surprise we crushed it, catching dozens of small little waves. What a blast!
On Emily & Brendan’s last night, the whole hotel had a party for them! Well it wasn’t actually for them but we like to think of it that way. The hotel was opening their new restaurant and all of us were invited to a free banquet and show! That morning while eating breakfast, the workers were finishing up the last few things on the building and we suspiciously saw them walk a very upset little goat over to the front of the building, in perfect view of all the morning breakfast eaters. “What are they doing with that goat?” I asked. THEN a heart wrenching squeal. Mikey says “OMG don’t look, just don’t look.” Before I could turn my eyes away the worker had slit the poor goats throat and was walking it lifelessly around the building. Everyone in the restaurant was in utter disbelief! So much for breakfast! Later we found out that it was a ritual done to protect the new building, brutal yet effective.
That night was very fun! They had a huge spread of local Filipino dishes and two huge whole pigs! They even had an hour of singing and dancing entertainment. It was a great last night to spend together. We were sad to see the last remaining family depart for home. It was so strange to be all alone after 3 weeks of constant interaction and adventure. We had a quick pit stop in Cebu for the night. Two flights later we found ourselves being kicked out of Vietnam due to missing connecting flights and having no visa, we were then forced to overnight in Bangkok and lost Mikey’s debit card in a greedy ATM!!! That little setback wont keep us from our final stop… Myanmar!!!!!!