Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Top surfing areas in the Philippines

Unknown to many in the country, the Philippines has a long list of great surfing areas. Here are some of the more popular surfers' haunts where you could ride the waves or simply get lessons if you are a beginner. The Philippine Surfing Federation gave me the first eight and I added two more.

1. Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte (Cloud 9)
On top of the list is none other than the "Surfing Capital of the Philippines." The Cloud 9 wave can be found in the town of General Luna and has put the Philippines in the world surfing map. Other popular breaks in and around Siargao Island include Jacking Horse, Tuason Left, Rock Island, Stimpies and Pacifico. Check out the Sagana Resort website for detailed information. Thanks to Sagana Resort for the Siargao photos.

According to Sagana, the best months for surf in this area is from August up to the start of November when the area gets the most typhoon swells and the best winds. From May to July, the surf is generally smaller. From December to April the winds are often strong and cross shore. But they say that the swell is always pretty big and some surfers prefer this time of year.

2. Puraran Beach, Baras, Catanduanes (Majestics)
Puraran Bay in Baras, Catanduanes is home to the famous mighty Majestics reef break that produces awesome long-barrel waves. The waves are at their finest in August and September. The place itself is a picturesque backdrop of coconut trees and small hills. Although course, the white sand is clean and the water is crystal clear. But as they say, if you are a surfer, "Puraran equals Majestics period!"

3. Cemento Beach, Baler, Aurora
Most have heard about Sabang, a beach break 5 to 10 minutes away from the town proper where most of the tourism establishments are found. Cemento on the other hand is a reef break which is 30 minutes away from the town proper. But you can easily get lessons in Sabang Beach. Check out my Baler surf adventure: More summer fun in Aurora.

4. Calicoan Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar
Calicoan Island is home to The Surf Camp. And the great news for surfers is that ABCD Beach has both left-hand and right-hand waves. The season runs from April to November, with the summer months perfect for beginners (with gentle 2 to 3 foot waves). Latter months offer bigger and more challenging waves.

5. Maira-Ira Beach, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Few people know that way beyond the resorts of Pagudpud is a secret hideaway called Blue Lagoon, the best beach in that part of the country. Saud Beach may be great, but Maira-Ira is astounding! And what's great is that on a windy day, the beach is perfect for surfing!

6. San Juan, La Union
Home to the Billabong San Juan Surf School of Luke Landrigan, San Juan is a perfect place for longboarders. And it's very accessible too since you can take any bus to Ilocos and get off just a few meters from the San Fernando-San Juan boundary. This is another surfing haunt I got to try for myself.

7. Lanuza Bay, Surigao del Sur (Doot Poktoy)
According to the Surf Lanuza website, "Doot Poktoy is endowed with some of the best waves in the world. And when the waves are good, they can measure up to the world renowned waves of Siargao and Hawaii. Located on the southern edge of the Northwestern Pacific typhoon belt, the waves driven by the winds of the typhoons are unpredictable. If a strong typhoon passes close enough, surf can reach almost 15 feet, with 9, 11 or 14 waves per set and up to twice as many waves per hour as a long groundswell like affecting Indonesia and Hawaii.

The Surf Report Magazine describes Lanuza as "a place with a flawless river mouth. Its waves spin long perfect rights on a big swell at low tide. There is a hollow tube section at take-off and there are long section walls up to 200 meters."

8. Cabugao, Ilocos Sur (Kido's Point)
Kido's Point has been a popular site for surfing competitions in Ilocos Sur, attracting participants from surfing areas all over the country. The place got its name from Cabugao's local surfing hero Kido Cabasug.

9. San Narciso & San Antonio, Zambales
The Canoe Beach Resort in Pundaquit, San Antonio is where professional surfer Joseph "Joe" Villatora from Kauai, Hawai conducts his surfing lessons.

10. Bagasbas Beach, Daet, Camarines Norte
This is another great surfing area located on the Pacific coast of Luzon. When you're hungry, check out Alvino's Pizza, a popular surfers hangout.
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