Siargao Island is situated at a coordinate of 9°52′N 126°03′E / 9.867°N 126.05°E – Siargao Island contains the largest mangrove forest reserves in Mindanao, at Del Carmen. Long stretches of wetlands indicate a potential for commercial seaweed propagation. Siargao Island is greatly influenced by the winds and currents coming uninterrupted from the Pacific Ocean, intensified by the Mindanao current running westward through the Siargao Strait.
Siargao Island is composed of 48 islands and islets-politically divided into nine municipalities: Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, General Luna, Pilar, San Benito, San Isidro, Santa Monica, and Socorro. The size of Siargao Island is 452 square kilometers or 62,796 hectares The terrain in Siargao Island is predominately rolling to steep. The highest elevation is 291 meters above sea level located along the middle Bucas Grande Island. On the western and southern sides of the island are broad expanse of mangrove swamps and broad reef flats. The island is proximate to the Philippine Deep which is 10,700 meters below sea level and considered as the deepest part of the trench.
English is the official language, and communication is fairly easy around the islands. Islanders speak a local dialect called Siargaonan that routes in the Visayan language like Cebuano, Boholano. Some people speak also Tagalog which is the other main Philippine language that is spoken in Manila and the entire Luzon area.
POPULATION & MUNICIPALITIES:
Approximately 150,000 – 9 municipalities of which Dapa is the largest with 25,000 Population – Dapa is also the main entry port if you travel by ferry from Surigao City. General Luna has a population of 15,000 and is the main tourist destination due to it’s closeness to Cloud 9 and other international standard surf spots.
Temperature ranges from a low 21°C in December/January to a high 32°C in June.
The Philippine Peso is the official currency. You can change most currencies at Palawan Express branches and at some hotels. However it is best to check first with your accommodation if travelling with plastic as many businesses only accept pesos.
There are a few major banks on Siargao Island such as BPI located in Dapa. In addition there is a WESTERN UNION SERVICE in General Luna and Dapa where you can send and receive wire transfers. If you receive money you will be paid in Peso currency.
CREDIT CARDS/ATM MACHINES:
There is one ATM machine in General Luna but it can usually only be used with Philippine credit cards. The next closest ATMs are in Dapa. Some businesses in General Luna will exchange a card transaction for cash for a small fee.
Hours vary but you’ll find most businesses open at 8:00 a.m. and close at 5 p.m however food stores and small roadside shops often stay open until 8pm. Many merchant stores open on Sundays. Supermarkets and convenience stores open earlier, close later and many are open on Sunday mornings and weekends.
Most water comes from wells. We recommend to use bottled water for drinking.
There are no extremely poisonous snakes or dangerous animals in and around Siargao Island. There are crocs deep in the mangroves far over on the western side. While there is no Malaria around the Island there have been cases in the past on the mainland so it’s worth protecting yourself. Like most Asian countries, keep your eyes open for any crazy looking dogs which may have rabies. Falling coconuts can kill and also do serious damage. Beware when parking your scooter in the shade that if a coconut falls and damages your rental you will be liable to pay for replacement or repair. In and around General Luna an average of 3 people per month have died on the new concrete road since it was constructed in 2015 so drive carefully and defensively. Driving is on the right side and many visitors forget this particularly after drinking and sometimes to their peril.
There is a Hospital and a Dental Clinic in Dapa. Every municipality administers a clinic. For serious matters as well as modern diagnostic and treatment facilities you have to get to Surigao or Cebu. Several pharmacies offer prescription and over-the- counter services in Dapa.
NEWS PAPERS & MAGAZINES:
There are no publications on Siargao Island but you can buy readily the national daily news papers such as the INQUIRER and STAR.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS & EVENTS:
Every municipality and larger Barangay’s celebrate a Fiesta once a year for three days. It’s basically a big food bonanza where friends and families meet. Visitors are always welcome to join in on the feast of plenty pork, fish and local dishes. Holy Week is a significant religious festival in the Philippines. In this predominantly Roman Catholic country, Beginning Holy Wednesday, businesses in the Philippines either shut down operations until Black Saturday or have later opening and earlier closing times. Holy Week, the final week of Lent, begins on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter (Predominately falls in March or April).
INTERNET & TELECOMMUNICATIONS:
Cellular telephone services are provided by SMART and GLOBE. There are also public call boxes at various locations in General Luna.
Taxis and Vans are available at the airport and Dapa Pier. Many people ride with a Habal-habal that is an extended seat motorbike. Tricycles and Jeepneys travel all over the islands. Often a rough ride packed with cargo and locals even on top of the roof
Inter-island boat services to all the surrounding islands are available inexpensively and on short notice. There are regular daily trips to all the major islands and ports like to and from Dapa and Surigao City. There is also a daily service by banka ferry from and to Del Carmen and Surigao City.