Surfing Travel Tips

Philippines' Best Surf Spots for Beginners

Monday, October 17, 2011Ryan Mach

Surfing is increasingly becoming popular locally, and you really need not be a rocket scientist to figure out why most people find this outdoor activity addicting, not to mention exciting. In a fast-paced, busy and sometimes crazy world, going for a surf is surely a breath of fresh air - both literally and figuratively - and it's a perfect opportunity to become one with nature, challenge yourself with a new adventure, have waves of fun (no pun intended) and get some exercise in an exciting way.

Good news is, learning to surf nowadays is no longer a scary and frightful proposition it was before. You only need a surfboard, a qualified surf instructor and of course, great waves to start your first surf session. Before you know it, you've involuntarily developed a penchant for waves. That's not a bad thing. As long as you know where to go, you can always have your surf fix.

Reportedly, there are about more than 20 surf sites in the Philippines - 18 in North and South Luzon and 9 in the southeastern part off the Mindanao coast. Since surfing is relatively new in the country, surf shops are pretty much difficult to find. It is therefore recommended to bring your own provisions. It's also important to remember that waves in the Philippine coasts are erratically inconsistent and solely dependent on weather conditions (read: typhoons).

Regardless, here are some exciting surf spots to start your new addiction:

1. Siargao (Surigao del Norte) - An island sitting just off the Pacific coast of Mindanao, Siargao is considered as the surfing capital of the Philippines and for good reason. Its powerful wave known as "Cloud 9" is thought to be one of the world's five toughest breaks. That it's always being compared to the famous surf of Hawaii, California, and Australia is not entirely surprising. Best to surf from July to November when strong waves are always in sight.

2. Baler (Aurora Province) - It's an 8-hour trip from Manila, so just getting there is already an adventure. Don't be dissuaded by the long trip, since you're travelling by road, you will be given amazing views of the rolling Sierra Madre mountain range - waterfalls, rivers and lush forests.

Waves are in constant motion throughout the year but they're stronger from October to February. If you like crowds, best to plan your trip in September when the Aurora Surfing Cup is held annually. It's a three-day competition with several different events and an open-to-all surfing clinic.

3. Catanduanes Island (Bicol Region). As an island directly lying off the coast of Luzon in the Pacific Ocean, it constantly gets hit by more than its fair share of typhoons. But that's a blessing for every surfer - imagine waves travelling a long distance from the Pacific Ocean joined by strong typhoons, you can get a pretty good idea what the surf will be like. It's also for this reason Catanduanes is popularly regarded as “Land of the howling winds”.

4. Daet (Camarines Norte) - This province hosts one of the good surfing sites for beginners and amateurs, with waves and swells reaching 3-6 feet. But waves, just like everywhere else in the country, can be fickle. It's relatively close to Manila though so it's pretty much accessible.
5. La Union - One of the closest surf sites to Manila (approximately 4 hours by bus), this coastal province at the Northwest of Luzon has an impressive series of beach breaks ideal for beginners and occasional challenging point breaks for seasoned surfers. Surfing here is seasonal and best time to go is during the months of November to March.

6. Samar (East Coast) - This surfers' haven is less popular than the ones in the list but it promises an impressive surfing trip with its great unsurfed waves. Waves are inconsistent during the Habagat months but since it's the typhoon season in the Philippines, swell and typhoon generated waves break the shore, reaching up to 12 feet.

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