With no less than 22,548 miles (36,289 km) of coastline, the Republic of the Philippines has a laidback island vibe that is downright contagious. Its white sand beaches and blue-tinged waters make it an ideal place to go if you’re looking to unwind. Those of you who find relaxation in outdoor activities are in for a treat as well. The strong offshore winds between December and April stir up the ocean and turn The Philippines into a surfing paradise. So, if you are planning a trip to The Philippines, make sure you grab your surfing gear and check off these awesome surfing spots from your bucket list!
9. Dahican, Davao Oriental
Skimboarding in Dahican - Photo by SIPAT View from the Edge
Dahican Beach is on its way to becoming the next big surfing attraction in the Philippines. The waves here are a bit more difficult to tackle, making them an excellent fit for more experienced surfers. But thanks to the varied swell, beginners are bound to find something too. Located in the Davao Oriental province, Dahican is a 4.3-mile (7-kilometer) stretch of pure white sand beach, bathed by the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean. It is also a popular destination for skimboarding.
8. Puraran, Catanduanes
Surfing the Majestic, Puraran
Whenever a storm hits the Philippines, Puraran is the place to go. The waves in the town of Baras in Catanduanes are challenging and are bound to put your skills to the test. Don’t worry if you do not have enough experience under your belt; Puraran is the place to gain some. Prime time is between November and February.
Also, did you know Puraran is home to one of the fastest and most hollow right hand barrels in the world? It is suggestively called the Majestic.
7. Bagasbas Beach, Camarines Norte
Bagasbas Beach - Photo by cisc1970
Between August and November, offshore typhoons stir up the Pacific and produce high-quality waves that hit Bagasbas Beach in Camarines Norte in the Bicol region. Throughout the rest of the year, Bagasbas receives a constant swell that produces small waves, just perfect for beginner surfers. Furthermore, the rather easy access from Manila makes the beach quite popular.
You will find a perfect balance of waves here, which offer something for everyone – gentle breaks for beginners and powerful ones for advanced surfers. Of course, this only adds to the popularity of the long stretch of fine, powdery gray sand beach. You can expect some nice barrels between July and November. On a good year, the surf is up until January!
6. Pagudpud, Ilcos Norte
Surfing Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud - Photo by Ilocos Norte
Some of the best and biggest waves in the Philippines can be found in Pagudpud in the Ilcos Norte province. Even better, this is one of the least crowded surfing destinations in the country. The many right and left hand beach and reef breaks here are fun to try for anyone from beginners to pros. Prime time is between August and October.
In Pagudpud, make sure you check out the Blue Lagoon, a white sand beach bathed by surreal blue waters and enclosed by lush tropical forests. This idyllic surfing spot is great for learning to master the waves.
Surfing San Narciso, Zambales - Photo by jun j
San Antonio, San Narciso and San Felipe are the three bad boys of the Zambales province. The surf here may not be as big as in other places in the Philippines, but its proximity to Manila (a one hour drive) makes it quite popular, both for surfers and beach-goers. You should know hat its prime time occurs between April and September when south swells hit the coast.
- San Antonio is the most popular spot in Zambales, which performs best during a south swell.
- San Narciso is an A-frame beach break with some strong currents for experienced surfers.
- San Felipe offers long waves and consistent swell. This is the sure bet option when the other waves are not performing.
4. Eastern Samar
Big swell at ABCD Beach, Calicoan
Many surfing spots still wait to be explored in Eastern Samar. With a wild and rugged coastline, the province is a diamond in the rough when it comes to tourism and surfing. Of course, this only adds to its appeal. There are two surf seasons in Eastern Samar: the North-East Monsoon season (between October and April) and the South-East Monsoon Season (between May and September). However, we recommend to hit this spot between October and April as it the best months for surf.
The beaches on Eastern Samar are for intermediate to expert surfers, and the hollow, powerful, barreling waves here are some of the cleanest tubes in the Philippines. The most recommended left and right hand beach and reef breaks can be found in these spots:
- Calicoan Island is a sleepy island known for its wicked breaks. The best waves can be found on ABCD Beach, which has some wild left and right hand beach breaks. Due to the strong currents, these are recommended for experienced surfers.
- Guiuan is considered the surfing capital of Eastern Samar. With strong waves and white sand beaches, this place is not just a surfing hotspot but also a tropical paradise to laze around.
3. La Union
Surfing in San Juan, La Union - Photo credit two2travel.com
Located in Northern Luzon, La Union is pretty close to Manila and therefore easily accessible by road. Waves here are consistent throughout the year, and the surfing season lasts between October and March. However, prime time is December and January, when the waves reach their peak.
San Juan is the primary surf beach in La Union. With clean, world-class waves, it is dubbed the surfing capital of Northern Philippines. Waves here can reach 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3 meters) on a good day. The beach at San Juan only has three breaks: Beach Break, The Bowl and The Point. Fortunately, there are a few other spots worth hitting only a tone throw’s away from San Juan:
- Sunset offers medium to large, left and right hand beach breaks only a 2-minute drive from San Juan.
- Carille is only five minutes from San Juan, and is one of the most recommended surf spots in the area – a long right hand point break.
- Bacnotan offers long rides on excellent waves between October and April.
- Darigayos is a 30-minute drive north of San Juan, and offers clean left and right hand breaks that work better during a South Swell, between May and September.
2. Baler, Aurora
No list of surfing spots in the Philippines would be complete without the birthplace of surfing in the country. If the place looks somewhat familiar, then it means you’re a Francis Ford Coppola fan like myself and paid attention during his powerful war movie Apocalypse Now. Part of it was filmed in the coastal town of Baler where, towards the end of the 1970s, the filming crew accidentally gave birth to surfing in the Philippines. During filming, the locals watched and learned. After the crew left, they began practicing.
Baler is the most popular surfing destination among Philippines locals. It does not disappoint travelers either. Offering right and left hand beach breaks, prime time to visit Baler is between October and April when north swells kick in. Nevertheless, surfing is pretty consistent all year round and is suitable for all levels, from first-timers to pros. Here are three spots you absolutely need to surf:
- Sabang Beach offers medium swell and gentle waves for beginners and intermediate surfers.
- Cemento Beach has the best waves in Baler and hosts local surfing competitions. The big breaks here produced by offshore typhoons make this spot suitable for more advanced surfers.
- On a regular swell, Charlie’s Point offers medium-sized beach breaks recommended for all surfers. The memorable surfing scene in the Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now was shot at Charlie’s Point.
1. Siargao Island
Surfing Cloud 9, Siargao - Photo by Chris Garden
The surfing capital of the Philippines, Siargao Island gets strong waves from the Pacific Ocean, offering right and left hand breaks for intermediate to advanced surfers. These waves reach their peak between October and May. That’s eight months of surf a year!
Surfing in Siargao, Philippines - Photo credit Kage Gozun – Secret Spot, Siargao (Rey Joaquin)
On Siargao Island, the first place surfers flock to is General Luna, home to the world-famous Cloud 9, by far the most recognizable break in the Philippines. The majestic right hand reef break displays some perfect barrels surfers from all corners of the world dream of trying their hand at. Please take note that the razor sharp reef at the bottom makes this wave more suitable for advanced surfers.
Surfing Cloud 9, Siargao - Photo credit ExpertVagabond.com
Cloud 9 can be pretty intimidating. The good news is that there are plenty of spots on Siargao for beginners to play in shallow waters with a sandy bottom. Local and international surfing competitions are held each year in September, which is a great time to visit and watch the pros trying to tame the waves.
Planning on taking a surfing trip to the Philippines anytime soon? Make sure to check the above surfing spots off your bucket list!