Siargao Island

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(c)Photo: backpackerbanter.com

Siargao is situated at a coordinate of 9°52′N 126°03′E. It is composed of municipalities of Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, General Luna, San Benito, Pilar, San Isidro, Santa Monica and Socorro.

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.

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Offshore, a classic tropical island lies protected within its surrounding coral reef with dozens of coconut palms dressed in the center circle of the island. Off to the right, well within the massive coastal reef, lies a shining white sand bar, (Pansukian, or Naked island) some 200 meters long. The tide of Siargao is diurnal with tidal curves typically present, especially on the east coast of the island.

The Island’s Pacific-facing reefs are situated on the edge of the Philippine Trench, and the extremely deep offshore waters assure the ocean swells have undiluted power when they encounter the many coral and rock reefs. Siargao has excellent surfing conditions, particularly during the southwest “habagat” monsoon from August to November, when the prevailing wind is offshore.

Siargao is well known as “The Surfing Capital of the Philippines” with a reputation among surfers within the Philippines and the International scene.

One of the best known surfing waves on Siargao and the Philippines, with a worldwide reputation for thick, hollow tubes is “Cloud 9”. This right-breaking reef wave is the site of the annual Siargao Cup, a domestic and international surfing competition sponsored by the provincial government of Surigao del Norte.

The wave was discovered by travelling surfers in the late 1980s. It was named after a chocolate bar of same name, and was featured by American photographer John S. Callahan in the United States- based Surfer magazine in March 1993. Cloud 9 also has a reputation for being a relatively cheap destination for surfers with many cheap hotel and resort 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.

In the past, going to Siargao is by domestic flights from Manila to Surigao, and then by boat to Siargao Island. The island is now also served by Cebu Pacific flying direct to Siargao Island via Cebu.

Mt. Hibok-Hibok

In the volcanic island of Camiguin in Northern Mindanao stands its most famous volcano, Mt. Hibok-Hibok. Not many people know that Camiguin is a literally a hot plate with no less than seven volcanoes in the small island. Mt. Timpoong, at 1450 MASL is actually higher than Hibok-Hibok, but the latter has risen to fame because of its explosive history. Five eruptions have been recorded since the 1827. The latest, in the early 1950s, killed 600 people.

Mt. Hibok-Hibok is a popular hiking destination in Camiguin island. A permit from the DENR office in Mambajao is required. It normally takes 3–5 hours to reach the summit; the usual jump-off is Ardent Hot Springs in Mambajao. Views from the summit include the nearby White Island, Bohol to the north, Eastern Mindanao to the east and the island of Siquijor to the west. The mossy crater of Camiguin’s past eruption can also be seen.

Mt Hibok Hibok
Climbing Hibok-Hibok is quite challenging for a daytrip. It takes 3-4 hours to reach the peak depending on your pace. The altitude gain is quite rapid and sun cover is minimal.Yet the views are unique and spectacular. At the peak, on a clear day, you can see the mossy crater of the volcano. To your north is Bohol, and you can even see Surigao at the east, and Siquijor on the opposite side. Flanking the island of Camiguin is White island, which truly looks white from atop the mountain. Even more unique to Hibok-Hibok is the blade-sharp rocks at the peak area. The pitcher plants that grow on these rocks make the landscape a little bit eerie. All these elements make Hibok-Hibok a must-stop for hikers who are visiting Camiguin.

Volcanologists classify Hibok-Hibok as a stratovolcano and dome complex with an elevation of 1,332 metres (4,370 ft) and a base diameter of 10 kilometres (6.2 mi). It has six hot springs (Ardent Spring, Tangob, Bugong, Tagdo, Naasag and Kiyab), three craters (Kanangkaan Crater, site of the 1948 eruption; Itum Crater, site of 1949 eruption, and Ilihan Crater, site of 1950 eruption). Its adjacent volcanic edifices are Mt. Vulcan, 580 metres (1,900 ft) high, NW of Hibok-Hibok; Mt. Mambajao, 1,552 metres (5,092 ft) center of Camiguin; Mt. Guinsiliban 581 metres (1,906 ft) high, southernmost Camiguin; Mt. Butay 679 metres (2,228 ft); and Mt. Uhay, N of Mount Ginsiliban. There are also domes and cones at Campana Hill, Minokol Hill, Tres Marias Hill, Mt. Carling, Mt. Tibane, and Piyakong Hill.

Today, although Hibok-Hibok remains an active volcano, it has no signs of activity. In fact, the only signs of volcanism are the hot springs that count among Camiguin’s tourist destinations. One of them, Ardent Hot Springs, is actually the jump-off point for a Hibok-Hibok climb. A rewarding dip at the 37 C pools is a great post-climb treat.