In the first part of this article, after warning us about regions of the Philippines to avoid, Tanja introduced us to her paradise, Siargao: "Fantasia come to life in a kingdom where dreams really do come true." Click here to return to Part 1 of "Siargao, Philippines – Paradise Found."
The beaches on Siargao can be a little temperamental (blame it on the tide) but perfect for swimming in the mornings and evenings. The in-between times don’t account for much anyway because you’ll be busy swimming, surfing and sun-worshipping elsewhere. Where?
A couple of teasers…
Guyam. One of the smallest islands around Siargao is the idyllic Guyam. Only 10 minutes by boat from General Luna, you can kayak, swim or even walk there during low tide. Just remember to come back in time otherwise you’ll be doing it Robinson Crusoe style until the next day.
You may not be alone, there’s a caretaker who looks after the place. Pretty cushy job, if you ask me. Exactly what he does is anyone’s guess. Surely there can’t be that many coconuts tumbling from trees? Sometimes people rent the place for special occasions (perfect for a wedding or birthday bash). It’s not, however, the place to go if you’re looking to stretch your legs. It takes 3 minutes to walk around the whole island.
Daku. If Siargao itself isn’t Paradise, you sure as hell can see it from there. The tiny Daku, a jewel amidst the Pacific, hosts the best beach I have ever seen. Prepare to be mesmerized by shades of blue and green, wrapped around vibrant island blossoms, where the locals will cook your fish in banana leaves and fetch coconuts straight from the tree. For a small donation we spent the whole day under a shady cabana with the entire beach to ourselves.
Best of all, my gorgeous friend Shaunagh had just flown in from Australia. Soaking in shallow lagoons of emerald green, we giggled like two little girls in a blow-up swimming pool. Our hair and skin kissed by the sun, we felt exquisite, weightless, without a care in the world.
Every once in a while a funny thing happened. There were moments interspersed with long periods of calm transmuting into meditation, when we’d simply rest. Side-by-side in silence and at one with the Sea. Several times, we would plunge our hands into the warm water and come up with treasure. One time, she found a fat ladyfinger seashell, another time a handsome beau with dreadlocked hair.
Recently I asked her what she remembered about the place. Here’s what she came up with:
Flying over teardrop-shaped islands
(weekly flights from Manila and Cebu)
Air Cebu in-flight competitions and cute airhostesses that
disco danced during the safety demonstration.
(I guess if you crash the dancing will distract you.)
The airport - A shed surrounded by palm trees
Popsicles of fish skewers
cooked on BBQs stoked with dry coconut shells
Coconut oil to rub into skin
Fire flies at night
Yummy pizza at the French restaurant/hotel
Seafood picnics on the beach
Tiny black piglets everywhere (most of which
end up roasted over the fire). Sorry.
Beautiful children playing on the beach
‘Surprise’ pots of food at private food stalls (people’s homes)
Pretty good, right? Her list was actually longer, but I secretly stole some parts for the article. (Thanks, Shaunagh!)
Real Estate Opportunities
Prices vary, so you really have to shop around. If you start by asking one person, all sorts of vendors will come out of the woodwork wanting to show you their auntie's or uncle's property. That may be good and well, as long as their auntie or uncle knows the property is being sold.
There is land from $11 per square meter. We found some on Daku at $5 a meter - a secluded, elevated, rocky jungle (needing major clearing) but it was right next to surf break.
In addition we were offered a village house for $15 000 by an ex-pat from Australia. Other properties for around $60K. It all depends on what you’re after. Of course, foreigners can’t straight-out buy property (unless it’s a condominium in a city), but there’s always a way. You can start a company and appoint a couple of Filippino directors you can trust.
Another option is to rent for 100 years. Personally, I’d go for the latter. Who’s gonna live that long? Whatever you decide, make sure you get a good lawyer. There are a few expats living on the island who’ve done just that. All you need to do is ask around and someone will recommend a good person (someone they’ve already used).
But if you’re seriously thinking of buying, take my advice and rent a place for a few months before you decide.
The average cost of living in the Philippines is considerably cheaper than most western parts of the world. Of course, just how cheap you want to go is totally up to you. If you live a simple life in the province and stay away from tourist traps you can easily get by on $800 per month. For $1600 per month, you’ll live like royalty (whatever that means).
You see, all that’s left to do is pack your sarong, your flip-flops and open the flower that’s always been your heart.