Surfing at the Philippine’s Surfing Capital: Siargao Island

It’s my second day at Siargao, if you haven’t read the first part you could still visit here.

Photo from

The day started early. Wake up time is at 6am. By 7am we were already on the path towards my most awaited adventure here – my first ever SURFING EXPERIENCE.

Cloud 9 Boardwalk

Flicker Photo By asyzoom

Surigao del Norte is a medley island in the northeastern tip of Mindanao. A province that has managed to preserve its natural marvel through the years. On the eastern side of the province is Siargao Island, a hidden tropical jewel of the Pacific that hosts one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and home of wave surfing and the famous CLOUD 9.

One of the best known surfing waves on Siargao and the Philippines, with a worldwide reputation for thick, hollow tubes is “Cloud 9”, known as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines.

The wave was discovered by travelling surfers in the late 1980s. It was named after a chocolate bar of same name, and made famous by American photographer John S. Callahan, who published the first major feature on Siargao Island in the United States- based Surfer magazine in March 1993, and hundreds of his photos in many other books and magazines since his first visit in 1992. Callahan has put the island on the international map and has drawn thousands of surfers and tourists to Siargao. Cloud 9 also has a reputation for being a relatively cheap destination for surfers with many cheap accommodations and restaurants and bars to choose from.

There are several other quality waves on Siargao and nearby islands, but Cloud 9 has received more publicity than any other surf spot in the Philippines. It is the only wave easily accessible without a boat, leading to overcrowding and the nickname of “Crowd 9” among surfers. Eager foreign and locally owned accommodation and tourist facilities have profited from the magazine publicity and the influx of visitors drawn by the annual Siargao Cup competition in September.

Surfing Lessons at Siargao Island

There’s actually a lot of surfing instructors in the island, for us we’ve decided to choose Otek (the one I mentioned yesterday remember?) Since he’s also a surfer instructor (and even joins surfing competitions).

A Surfer’s pose with Otek

How much is Surfing in Siargao?

The whole package cost 500php per hour. P300 for your instructor’s fee and P200 for the surf board rental.

Surfing Basics

The lesson had been easy. But the actual implementation had been challenging.

Only two things: 

  1. Lie on your stomach;
  2. Get up on both feet and balance at the center of the board.

Goofy or Natural Foot?

Before you get on your surfboard, or put on your surf leash you need to know whether you are Goofy or Natural foot. This means which foot you put at the front of your surfboard.

Simply put:

  • Goofy footed- right foot at the front
  • Natural footed- left foot at the front

Riding with the Wave: My first surfing experience!

After a rather short and easy surfing lesson, we’re now off to the difficult part.


First you’ll need to tie the strap attached to the surfboard to your feet so you won’t ever be separated from your board. Later in the course of my surfing experience, I find this really helpful.

Worried about drowning? Worry no more. For this strap will also be your life saver. As long as you are attached to the board, you will never drown. Just get hold to it. It works just like a “salbabida”.LOL.Plus the water’s not deep. Trust me!


Second step is to lie on your stomach on the board.


Paddling a surfboard is one of the most essential skills for surfing. It is what you will be doing most of the time in the water. It is what gives you your fitness and what makes you tired. Paddling correctly will help you catch waves and progress in surfing better, quicker.

It is also actually the cause of my “pamaol”. LOL


This had been easy with your surf instructor around as they’ll be the one to judge which waves are good and which are bad. If a good one comes along, they’ll give you a push (which normally doesn’t happen as you really need to paddle hard to go with the wave)…

Start paddling early as the wave approaches. You should be reaching full speed as the wave comes underneath you and lifts you up, this is the time to give those last few power strokes. The time to stand is when the board starts to plane on the surface of the water, as you are sliding down the face of the wave.

There is a moment where there is the feeling of weightlessness as the board starts to drop down the face, this is the time to stand up.


The next step is to catch and ride your first surfing waves.

“Barog na!,” you’ll often hear them. This means it’s time for you to get up on your feet, maintain that balance, and be filled with ecstatic joy as you see yourself riding with the wave.

What a “cloud nine” experience, Siargao is indeed beautiful!

”There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

The above blog post is part of my surfing adventure series of posts in the Island of Siargao, the Philippines’ Surfing Capital that happened last August 2-6, 2012. | Wow! Siargao (Shar-gow): Three Islands Hopping | Surfing at the Philippine’s Surfing Capital: Siargao Island | Siargao’s Enchanting Bucas Grande Sohoton Cave | Siargao Countryside Tour: Inland Sights and Wonders | What to do in Siargao: Suggested Siargao Budget Itinerary