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Surfing Philippines Adventure Sports

Surfing in the Philippines was an activity (rather than a sport) since the time of the American occupation, 1898-1942, but surfing did not really take off as a sport in the Philippines until some adventurous Australians arrived with their boards in the 1980s. The main attractions o surfing in the Philippines are: inexpensive, remote & beautiful locations, super-friendly people and no sharks!

The Perfect Surf Break

To find the perfect surf break you must first find the perfect location: where storms out across an ocean generate pulses of waves that can travel long and far enough to organize themselves into neat swell sets. The East coast of the Philippines, like the East coast of Australia, is tormented by storms that pulsate out over the Pacific Ocean. During the typhoon season especially, the storms generate packs of waves that travel many hundreds of miles, organizing themselves into neat swell sets that unexpectedly come upon the Philippine Islands and, where the bathometry is perfectly shaped, unleash their power towards the shore in a series of uniform curling waves. If you have an offshore breeze when these swell sets reach the perfectly shaped bathometry, then you have the perfect surf break.

Surfing Locations In The Philippines

The Philippines is blessed with approximately 2,000Km of coastline facing the Pacific Ocean. As you can imagine, the opportunities for surfing here are legion. However, there are a few places that standout to be reckoned with the best surf breaks in the World.

Cloud 9 Siargao Island

Perhaps, nowhere else in Asia is the perfect surf break more obvious than at Cloud 9, Siargao Island. When the conditions are right, you can sit mesmerized for days by the uniform set of two curling waves, their faces uplifted by the offshore breeze, that continually follow each other ashore at Cloud 9, Siargao Island. The break at Cloud 9 produces perhaps the most perfect surf break – a predictable 300 metre long barrel, with a face of 2-6 metres high. “Awesome” does not do it justice . . . it is perfection. It is no wonder then that an international surfing competition is held at Cloud 9 every September and a number of national championship are held here at other times of the year.

Cloud 9 is not for everyone. The challenge of Cloud 9 is that when it is good here it is so very good, and it requires surfers of high skill levels not to be wiped out too frequently. Cloud 9 is not the only worthy surf break around Siargao Island, and Cloud 9 is also not the only worthy surf break around the Philippines. As surfers have explored the full extent of the East Coast of the Philippines, they have found other outstanding surf breaks that, when the storms are pulsating out over the Pacific Ocean, the swells are prime for surfing.


Baler, Aurora

The formerly almost-inaccessible surf breaks around Baler (Aurora), achieved international fame as Francis Ford Coppola chose Baler for scenes in the acclaimed movie “Apocalypse Now”. In fact, many local surfers from Manila used to trek to Baler as the preferred alternative to Siargao, simply because you could drive to Baler (using a 4x4) rather than fly-ferry-bike to Cloud 9. By the way, both Baler and Siargao are now much more accessible.


Majestic Break, Catanduanes

For the adventurer, the Majestic Break at Baras, Catanduanes, is a must. Here at Puraran Beach close to the town of Baras, Catanduanes Island, you can hang ten almost any day during the stormy months from May through to November. The beauty of surfing the majestic break is the side adventures one can enjoy exploring the island of Catanduanes.


ABC Break, Davao Oriental

On the southern tip of Dahican Beach - facing one of the most beautiful bays in the Philippines - at Mati, Davao Oriental, you will find the ABC break. The ABC break is so named because whether you are an A-class or B- or C- surfer you can somewhere find a spot to ride along the length of this break. Excellent for beginners, who can progress as their experience and confidence grows. If you want to diversify, the central portion of Dahican Beach is also famous for wakeboarding.


If you hang out at Siargao or Baler for a while and listen to the old-timers then, through the haze of substances after sundown, you will hear rumors of other perfect breaks up and down the Pacific East coast and even across to Palawan. The Philippines is truly a surfer’s paradise if you are interested in the adventure of travel.

The bottom line for Philippines surfing is, whatever your level of experience, there is always somewhere here for you . . . and when you are ready, there is the most perfect surf break too.

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Renting Surf Boards In The Philippines

You do not have to bring your own boards. All recognized surfing spots mentioned above have surf shops that will have boards for rent. The boards may vary in age and quality and there is no guarantee that you will not have to wait to share a good board . . . for most surfers, waiting is all part of the game. Planning to surf mid-week usually ensures that there are good quality surfing boards available for rent.

For learning to surf in the Philippines there are more suitable destinations: Zambales and La Union for instance, offer excellent surfing destinations for surfers, at beginner and intermediate level. There are also places around the coast of Palawan that are reported to be on a par with Siargao but I have yet to find them. In La Union there are numerous surf shops where you can obtain instruction in learning to surf and rent all the equipment you need. In almost all surfing locations you will find surf boards for rent.

Travel Tip: Most Philippine airlines will happily allow you to bring your own surf boards as check-in baggage. The only exception are airlines operating seaplanes, where space and weight are limited. Check with the airline options to your destination in advance of travel, to see which ones allow surf boards to be carried. To check which airlines fly to your chosen surfing destination use the "nearest airport" link on your chosen destination page of this website.

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