Surfing has become a culture and a way of life among its followers. The Philippines and surfing are a match made in heaven. Not only does the Philippines boast of awesome waves (Siargao’s Cloud 9 wave, anyone?), it also has a lot of lesser known beaches that would work really great with a surfer who has been traveling all around looking for that as-yet-undiscovered surfing spot.
It is one of life’s biggest adventures. It is about the hunt for the perfect wave and a love for the ocean and the freedom it brings. Surfers come from all walks of life and all sizes, and continues to grow as its proponents and supporters spread the word about surfing.
With virtually 7,107 islands to choose from bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, it is no wonder why the Philippines is a prime surfing destination.
Not long ago, Philippine coasts were basically fishing villages characterized with strips of rugged and untouched beaches covered with rolling waves roughly sweeping its coastlines. When surfing started becoming a part of the daily lives of the fishermen, the practice spread until more and more young people got into it. Major Philippine surfing destinations like Siargao pulled surfers from around the globe, but there continue to be many undiscovered coasts where there are even bigger surf like in Samar, that continue to remain unpacked by visiting surfers.
It is quite a paradox¬ that although the Philippines is known for its enormous waves brought by its tropical winds remain as yet unpopulated yet exciting surfing destination. Perhaps part of the Philippines’ appeal is the prospect of discovering new surfing spots.
With surfing’s arrival and its continued advancement in the country, many locals are adapting fast on styles and techniques. Please note, however, that some surfing destinations might not have any equipment or boards for rent.
Philippine surfing is both temperamental and seasonal, so it is important to know the best time to come surf or you may be disappointed. Conditions vary depending on location. In general, the best time would be from July to November, when surfing competitions across the archipelago are mostly held.
With these in mind, you can choose to surf the east coast or the west coast. The east coast probably gets the better surf.
You will never run out of places to surf in the Philippines. Below is a guide to help you plan your next Philippine surfing trip:
This coastal province at the northwest of Luzon has a series of beach breaks for beginners and occasional challenging point breaks for skilled surfers. It is one of the closer surfing destinations from Manila and has a pleasant atmosphere even for beach combing. Surfs in La Union have standard line up of 100 m from shore. Waves start at 1 meter and can swell up to 6 feet. Waves can close out after a strong typhoon.
Surfing season in La Union has two parts, which is quite unique for the Philippines. The first spans from July to October, when waves are not nearly as consistent, and the second is from November to February. This is when the waves are bigger and more consistent due to the typhoon season providing bigger waves.
The surf is great for both novice and experienced riders alike and is never crowded. A good range of surfing sites ensures this.
This site is located out of the bay and would have to be the most consistent break around. You can always be guaranteed a right hander when all else is failing.
You can often see the waves breaking off the point onto the rocks. This is not the easiest to get to. In fact we’re not sure if you are allowed to travel in that area. Maybe someone in the know can drop us a line.
Nice easy waves off the Monaliza Resort, by far the most popular surfing spot in La Union. It produces both lefts and rights, so it keeps both naturals and goofys happy.
The wave works both right and left with the left being the longer ride over a sand bottom.
There are numerous other spots littered up and down the coast from San Fernando. Waves can be caught on the coast from Tabok, Bacnotan, Cabaroan and also south of San Fernando off the airport and depending on time of year right down to Bauang.
This totally unexploited coastal town by the Sierra Madre Mountains in the northeast of Luzon carved its own popularity in the movie, “Apocalypse Now” in the scene “Charlie don’t surf!”
Nestling in the east coast of Aurora Province, Baler is physically unattached from the rest of the Philippines. To get there takes 6 hours by four-wheel-drive vehicle, and passing through rough roads in the mountains down to the bay of Baler. The ride can be exhausting but getting there promises a remarkable view of surf all over the stretching brown beach of the bay. The town faces the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean, which gives it the surf that it is renowned for.
Surfing in Aurora is limited by your access to the sites that are there. For perfect surf you need not look too far, but should you want do some exploring, you can hire a banca to help facilitate this.
The Aurora Surfing Cup is an annual surfing competition held in Baler. The Cup was first held in September 1997. It is a three-day competition with several different events and an open-to-all surfing clinic.
The Cup has four event divisions: Open Surfing Division, Youth Division, Grommet Division, and Bodyboard Division. Competitors in the Open Surfing Division are seeded according to the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) format. The events take place on the beaches of Sabang and Cemento.
The format of competition is as follows: In each division, the participants are divided into heats for the qualification rounds. Each heat is given 20 minutes to ride ten waves, the best three out of ten scored. Two points are taken off one’s score for every wave taken over the maximum of ten. The top two scorers of each heat go to the quarterfinal round. The same format of competition is used in all subsequent rounds.
From mid-September to early March, the northeast monsoon blows down from China. This is the best surf season. The hot months of April through early June bring a relatively calm sea breeze. During this time, the waves are small and are ideal for snorkeling, windsurfing and diving.
This right handed reef break is not for the beginner. It is about a 45-minute walk south of Baler. One other easy option is to catch a banca to the reef. The ride takes about 10 minutes. Cemento Reef can cope well with big swell and if you are game and experienced, a nice 4.5 meter barrel will greet you. You will find that Cemento is usually the spot for the annual Aurora Surfing Cup.
Charlie’s Point breaks both left and right and is a sand bottom. It is where Apocalypse Now was filmed. It is just a short walk from Baler.
Found north of Baler, Lindy’s Point was created when the mouth of Baler Bay was opened up to prevent floods during the wet season. The actual break runs left and right.
The wave here is seasonal. The waves arrive during the months of October to February and are great for first time surfers. As the swell gets bigger more experienced riders can have an absolute ball. It breaks on sand and is a left and right pleasing both natural footers and goofys alike.
Siargao surfing is an island off the northeastern tip of Mindanao, which is in the southeast of the Philippine archipelago.
The eastern coastline faces directly out into the Pacific Ocean. Just off Siargao Island lies the Philippine Trench which gets to a depth of 10,057 meteres! So you can imagine what happens when the swell hits the island.
Siargao, which many surfers asserted to have the most consistent waves in the Philippines, made an impressive entry into the surfing world . It has been heralded as one of the best surfing destinations in the planet. This highly recognized breaks commonly known as Cloud 9 has been reputed as the best single breaks in the Philippines and all over Asia. Due to the island’s thriving development, more resorts have sprung up and surfers from all over the world have became a common sight.
Siargao surfing is known throughout the world as a first class break, which is reflected in the fact that Siargao surfing now has an International competition every October.
The season here starts in April till mid- November. During the months of August to October the surf can be big and it is best for experienced surfers. During May to July, the surf is usually small and suited for beginners.
Cloud Nine has put Philippine surfing on the world directory. It is a high quality wave for experienced surfers only. It is predominantly a right-hander but does have a small left as well. The wave itself is hollow and extremely powerful reef break; if you get it wrong you will land on the shallow reef. Cloud Nine can get to over three meters.
Stimpy’s is a left-hander for all the goofys out there. It can be a quite long ride following the reef into a small bay. Accessible only by boat, but worth the effort though.
This is a wave that jacks up out of the blue and hits the reef with a fair bit of vengeance, hence its name. Once past the reef it re-forms on the inside of the reef to produce a nice right-hander. Good wave from about one meter up.
This is a goofy footer’s dream wave. A quality left hander that rides long. A beautiful barrel, located north of Pilar.
For a wave to test your ability, look no further than Rock Island. This right-hander breaks on a rocky reef wrapping around a small rock island. It is a fast, hollow and extremely long ride.
There are numerous other breaks that work during the season, like elsewhere in the Philippines. If you do a little exploring you may find your own perfect break.
Samar is an island in Eastern Visayas, on the eastern side of the Philippine archipelago. It is wedged between the island of Luzon to the north and the island of Leyte to the south. The San Bernardino Strait and the San Juanico Strait separate Samar from Luzon and Leyte respectively. To the east lies the Pacific Ocean and to the west is the Samar Sea.
If you want to explore some locations that perhaps have never been surfed before, then Samar is the place for you. All you need to bring with you is a bit of time and adventure and you may find your very own idyllic break with no one else to drop in and annoy you.
Be ready for an impressive surfing trip in the rugged coastlines of these two islands and experience their great unsurfed waves on earth. Long neglected by the surfing world, these islands’ stretching coastlines have waves that are undeniably wonderful. But before going, be aware that these places are mostly remote or simply depressed areas. Settlements are few and boats for coastal cruising may not be available right away. It is advisable to find a local guide for easier interaction and take their advice regarding safety precautions. Be sure you have everything you need especially first aid equipment and, as much as possible, a group to travel with.
The Samar surfing season is generally accepted as being from September to early March, the larger and more consistent waves arrive during the North East Monsoon or if there is a typhoon off the coast it will really push the swell up.
The better known sites in Samar are centered around Borongan which is situated toward the south of the east coast of Samar. Surfing sites include:
It has been named Pirates Cove as the site is located directly in front of the Pirates Cove Resort, so you shouldn’t have too many problems locating it. The break itself is a left hander and is mainly from experienced surfers as it sucks up on to a coral reef.
The Boulevard is a beach break north of Borongan.
Guiuan is a small town at the southern most tip of Samar. Can be quite a challenging reef break and really only for the adventurous and experienced.
Zambales is a province on the west coast of Luzon north of Manila. Zambales is part of the Central Luzon Region or Region 3.
It is bordered to the west by the South China Sea, hence the surf action. To the north is the province of Pangasinan in the Ilocos Region, to the east is Pampanga and Tarlac provinces and to the south is the province of Bataan.
The opportunities for surfing in Zambales are enormous. The entire coastline offers adventurous surfers many possible surfing breaks.
The months of June to November offer the most consistent surf; not necessarily the biggest but you will definitely get more consistent waves. The period from December to April requires a lot more help from Mother Nature, usually in the form of a low depression in the South China Sea, which can whip the swell up to three or four meters. This is a big powerful swell and requires a good level of experience.
This wave is located directly in front of the Crystal Beach Resort at San Narciso, which is just about the first coastal spot on the way from Olongapo. The surf here breaks both left and right on a sand bank and is a real fun wave suitable for all levels with particular interest for beginner surfers. Be aware the surf can get quite big here under the right conditions.
High 5 Lahar is also in San Narciso at the Macolcol River mouth. It is a great wave that can always be relied upon when all else appears doomed. The break is formed on the Lahar rather than the sand bottom. Lahar is a byproduct of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.
Capones Island can be accessed by banca from the town of Pundaquit. There are a number of breaks on the island which are all reef breaks and should be surfed with a level of caution and experience.
If you see something that looks promising, don’t be afraid to get out and have a look, the entire area is an opportunity for adventurous surfers. Iba, the capital of Zambales, has some real nice waves as well.
Its strategic location in the course of Pacific typhoons give Catanduanes the crashing waves that surf enthusiasts the world over flock to, including the famous Majestic wave that crashes the shores of the island from the depths of the Pacific Ocean. This break on to an offshore reef 200m from Puraran Bay is known to be unpredictable but once present, it kicks off one of the fastest, right-handed and the hollowest wave of more than 6 ft. Beginners should be aware that this wave can sweep you closer to the reef. Thus be always prepared to experience cuts and scratches.
Catanduanes gets hit by more than its fair share of typhoons. It also has the highest annual rainfall in the Philippines.
The whole island is quite breathtaking with mountains touching powdery white beaches. Even if you don’t surf it is pretty easy to lose yourself within the beauty here.
November to early December give you 10- to 15-foot waves, while the months of July to October average 5-10 feet. January and February have smaller waves.
Some spots that are ideal for less-experienced surfers are Coconut Point, Twin rocks near Igang, Morning Point, and Rocky Point.
To the north east of the capital, the Majestics at Puraran Bay is where most of the action takes place. It should be noted that surfing here is for the more experienced surfer.
Note: Available accommodations are away from the surf spots. Surf guides who will bring you to hotspots can be easily arranged.
Badoc Island is located in the province of Ilocos Norte. Badoc town is the southernmost town in the province and is about 40 km south of Laoag City. It is wedged between the Killago Mountain Range to the east and the South China Sea to the west.
October to early March are the best surfing months in Badoc Island. This is when surf is at its best, mainly due to the seasonal typhoons and low depression systems out in the South China Sea. You can also get some waves during July to September, but not all the surf breaks will catch the swell. The rest of the year is anyone’s guess.
One thing can be guaranteed though, the breaks will not be crowded, in fact you may find yourself all alone!
This is a goofy footer’s dream wave. The wave can get as higher than 3 meters and still be ridden. Bigger waves here tend to close out.
Nice and close break to the Badoc Island Resort. This break can get pretty powerful and you can surf it up to about 2.5 meters.
This is a 1-2 meter hander which moves real fast. This is a good fun wave, so don’t miss it.
The swell hits a shallow reef and can really get big on you. The wave is consistent at two meters though it can lose form at around 3 meters.
There are plenty of other spots around, all you have to do is search, and you will more than likely have one of the breaks all to yourself.
Note: Available accommodations are away from the surf spots. Surf guides that will bring you to hotspots can be easily arranged.
Vigan is the capital city of the Ilocos Sur province and is found in the Ilocos Region (Region 1). It is situated on the northwestern coastline of Luzon and has the South China Sea as its western boundary, and lies about 408 km north of Manila.
Transportation is no problem in Vigan as it is a town that is serviced by numerous jeepneys and tricycles. An added must-try attraction is to take a ride on the traditional calesas (horse-drawn carts) which is a feature of Vigan that fits in with the historical town’s architectural Spanish roots.
As is typical in Philippine surfing, the consistency and quality of the waves is extremely fickle. On its good day though you will not be disappointed, but you may find that you have to share the waves with too many others.
But all is not lost. If you feel like you need a break from the crowds, you can explore the other things that Vigan has to offer. It is a very historic town dripping in culture and heritage, and a tour of the city is certainly a good distraction.
August to January are the prime surfing months.
This is considered one of the longest rides in Vigan. It works best after a typhoon has been in action in the South China Sea and can whip up a great wave.
Santa Maria is south of Vigan. It has a great little reef break that provides consistent good waves.
There are numerous sites both north and south of Vigan. You can use your imagination and do a bit of exploring. Much of the coastline can be seen from the highway. You can catch waves from Santo Domingo, Magsingal, San Juan, Cabugao and Sinait.
Note: Available accommodations are away from the surf spots. Surf guides that will bring you to hotspots can be easily arranged.
Daet is in the province of Camarines Norte, which can be found south of Manila and is the province capital. Camarines Norte is the most northern province of the Bicol Region. It shares borders to the south and west with Camarines Sur and Quezon, with San Miguel Bay to the east and the mighty Pacific Ocean to the north.
June to November are the best times to go surfing in Camarines Norte, when the southwest “habagat” monsoon is in full force.
Bagasbas Beach is the surf spot of choice for most surfers visiting the area primarily because it is the easiest break to get to. The surf here breaks left and right on a sand bar. It is ideal for beginners and experienced surfers alike.
This is another beach break with nice left and right handers. It is located a bit further out than Bagasbas Beach, but after traveling 350 km on a bus to get here, another 9 km beyond Bagasbas Beach is no big deal.
This break is at Mercedes. It is nice reef break but be prepared for a lengthy paddle, your best bet is to hire a banca. If you are nice and early (what surfer isn’t?), check out the fish market which is open from 6:00 am to 8:00 am.
Tong’s Point is located a shore break north of Bagasbas beach, and a lot of effort is required to get to Tong’s.
These two coastal towns are located at the windswept northeastern coast of Quezon Province. Despite its closer access from Manila and its friendly surf, these places have kept their remoteness from visiting surfers. There are only few resorts, no surfing clubs or any fancy restaurants around the area. Dinahican Point is the main surfing spot which gives out 4- to 8-ft waves at the right season. Best waves come out after a storm and in some instances may not be possible to ride on. These towns can be easily reached from Manila by the scenic route of Laguna de Bay and across the Sierra Madre mountain range. Always check the weather before going. Closure of roads is expected during heavy rains.
Note: This surf location does not have ready accommodations.
For beginners, surf lessons are available in limited locations. Do take a look at the packages we offer below and choose your desired location. Do note, however, that in certain areas the instructors are the locals themselves. They would not be that fluent in English but they can easily converse in that language.
Experienced surfers have two options: The first would be to go to the established surfing destinations such as La Union, Baler Bay, Siargao Island, Samar, and Zambales. There are surf shops operating in these areas and surfboards and the proper facilities are available.
More adventurous surfers can opt to go to the newly discovered surfing hotspots. Roads and infrastructure would be underdeveloped and accommodations would be away from the beach. Surf guides would be needed to take you to the surf spots but the waves are guaranteed to be awesome. Destinations include Catanduanes, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Samar, Vigan, and Camarines Norte.
Get the latest news, tours and packages in your Inbox for free.