SkyJet Airlines is back in Siargao

SkyJet Airlines is back in Siargao

The fastest direct flights to the country’s surf capital are back!

The summer of 2020 has a promise of sun shinier skies as boutique carrier SkyJet Airlines brings back its direct flights from Manila to Siargao on March 29, 2020.

The selling of seats on SkyJetAirlines.com kicks off today, January 11, 2020, with one-way base fares starting at Php3,500.

Did you miss Cloud 9’s boardwalk? Photo by Daniel Soriano

“SkyJet’s Siargao flights resumption will enable us at SkyJet to help sustain the momentum of the island’s market growth and demand,” says SkyJet commercial head Joseph Alvarico. “SkyJet’s the first airline to fly directly to Siargao, and we are looking at fulfilling our aim at allowing everyone, including millennials, to experience the culture of the island by providing competitive fares.”

Stand-up paddling around Guyam Island. Photo by Daniel Soriano

“We are also working with the local tourism department in Siargao to bring Siargao’s culture across through the Dash Store, a boutique travel lifestyle shop in Salcedo Village, Makati, as well as give travelers a faster and more reliable experience of flying from Manila to Siargao,” he added.

Ride waves like this once more in Siargao. Stock photo from SkyJet Airlines

SkyJet has been known in the industry to offer the fastest flights to Siargao at about 70 minutes per way. This means the flights are among the most convenient for Manilans off to Siargao for a break, or for foreigners traveling to the country’s surf capital with Manila as jump off point.

Jumping off a rock in Magpupungko. Photo by Daniel Soriano

Siargao has long attracted travelers with its relaxed atmosphere and unique natural wonders such as the rock pools in Magpupungko, the stingless jellyfish in nearby Sohoton, and the world class surf breaks of Cloud 9. It’s been dubbed the Best Island in Asia in 2018 by popular online travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler and, more recently, one of its best holiday destinations for 2020. It’s also a growing favorite among celebrities as a quick island getaway.

Words by Andrew del Rosario
Featured photo by Gaps Sabuero

5 must-see sea creatures

5 must-see sea creatures

Marine biologist Miguel Azcuna curates of underwater species in the Philippines you should see at least once in your life.

The Philippines is an archipelago. This means it’s made up of groups of islands surrounded by a vast expanse of water, ergo, a rich diversity of marine life. Diving is the best way to see the beauty that our water holds.

We spoke to a marine biologist, Dr. Miguel Azcuna from Batangas State University, to know which marine species in the Philippines you should see at least once in your life.

Nudibranchs

Photo by Lisbeth Jensen

Where to find them: Anilao, Batangas

The name rolls off the tongue, right? These are the cute, colorful, shell-less mollusks (scallops, clams, snails, cuttlefish) you see in those island hopping package pamphlets that offer snorkeling. They love seawater and some have been referred to as sea slugs.

Thresher sharks

Thresher
A thresher shark at Monad Shoal near Malapascua Island. Photo by Klaus Stiefel

Where to find them: Malapascua Island, Cebu

“Thresher sharks are unique in that they use their unusually long tails to catch their prey,” says Dr. Azcuna. This particular species have found a home in the waters off of Malapascua Island in Cebu, known for its magnificent and quiet beaches. They are often found in Monad Shoal and pose no threat to humans. Be at the site early, like around 4am to 5am, for better chances of sighting.

Orcas

Where to find them: Tañon Strait, between the islands of Cebu and Negros

Dr. Azcuna says they rarely pass by the Philippines but they do swim from time to time. “These apex predators prefer cooler tropical waters and can (in very rare cases) be seen in Tañon Strait between June and October.” The last time orcas were seen in Philippines waters, it was 2018.

Sea Turtles

Photo from Inaladelan Island

Where to find them: Apo Island, Negros Oriental

Yes, there’s more than one place to find the humble pawikan. They can usually be found nesting in the waters of Palawan (for instance, just offshore of Club Paradise), but for a better chance of spotting one, Dr. Azcuna recommends Apo Island. You’ll usually see them grazing on seagrass.

Freshwater Jellyfish

Where to find them: Sohoton Cove, Siargao

You may be asking yourself this: “Why would you recommend seeing jellyfish as a once-in-a-lifetime activity?” Well, these jellyfish are ones you can actually swim with and not be extremely worried. Dr. Azcuna says the jellyfish that swim in Sohoton’s jellyfish pond are stingless “because they have no need for stings in freshwater.” Go early in the day to avoid the crowd.

Who is Dr. Miguel Azcuna?

Miguel Azcuna is a marine biologist who specializes in Bioprospecting for New Medicine, particularly from marine sponges. He holds a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, where he majored in Marine Biotechnology.

He was a part of the team from UP MSI’s Bolinao Marine Laboratory that donated giant clams to Camiguin’s Giant Clam Sanctuary.

He is currently an associate professor at the Batangas State University – ARASOF Nasugbu Campus and a member of the research staff at the Verde Island Passage Center for Oceanographic Research and Aquatic Life Sciences (VIP CORALS).

5 scenic motorbike rides in the South

5 scenic motorbike rides in the South

Riding a motorbike is one of life’s greatest joys (or, at least, it should be), and here’s where you should do it.

Since it’s not as wet in the South as it is here in the North, and since motorbiking is life, giving you an adulterated freedom to see and experience sights at your own pace, cheating city and inner town traffic, here are five destinations you can fly to and enjoy the sights of, after renting a motorbike. Bloggers Kara Santos and Louie Pacardo curate.

Siquijor

Islands like Siquijor are often best explored on two wheels. Photo by Kara Santos

The island province of Siquijor is a scenic island worth exploring on a day motorbike tour. Often associated with stories of witchcraft and mysticism, Siquijor offers enchanting beaches, beautiful waterfalls, and other architectural gems. The most interesting spots are scattered around the island—a bit difficult to access by public transportation but best if via a motorbike.

Glan, Sarangani Province

Sarangani is about as far south as some people would like. These open roads give you a view of Sarangani Bay, as shown here by Louie Pacardo. Photo by Louie Pacardo

The road going to the beach town of Glan is already a destination.  The coastal road along the edges of Sarangani Bay offers scenic views of the mangrove-rich and white sand beach strips. Glan is best known for its white sand beaches and heritage sites. Biker-friendly resorts include Kamari Resort and Hotel which offers a spacious and guarded parking area.

Glan is about one hour’s ride away from General Santos City in Mindanao

Alamada, North Cotabato

Head for Alamada in North Cotabato if you’re looking for something that’s definitively off the beaten path. Photo by Louie Pacardo

Alamada is among the lesser known riding destinations in Mindanao with unique landscapes and roadside views.  The 120-meter wide Asik-asik Falls is the top destination going to this silent town in North Cotabato. Another emerging must-stopover is Daday Falls, a tall drop settled in a Jurassic period-like landscape sandwiched by steep gorges in Barangay Dado.

Alamada is about three and a half hours’ ride away from Davao City

Lebak, Sultan Kudarat

This is the view that awaits any avid rider after taking on the hundred motorcycle bankings. Photo by Louie Pacardo

This coastal town facing the Celebes Sea in southwest Mindanao is best known among riders because of its twisting roads. You’ll do about a hundred motorcycle bankings going in and out of this sleepy town in Maguindanao Province. Lebak is best known for its tasty crabs and seafoods and its many waterfalls like Tres Andanas Falls.

Precaution: Mindanao is generally peaceful. However, just like when traveling in any part of the country or even the world, it is still best to check the present security situation in particular areas with previous peace and order issues.

Siargao

What better way to explore the country’s top surfing destination than on two wheels? Photo by Daniel Soriano

For beach-lovers and surfers, the island of Siargao is one of the best places where to ride. Aside from the main surfing area of Gen. Luna, the island conceals beautiful uncrowded spots like Malinao, Magpupungko Tidal Pools, and Pacifico, that you can easily ride to. There’s a variety of motorbikes for rent, including ones outfitted with surf racks—well, for packing your surfboard—and gorgeous bespoke bikes handcrafted by 3B Customs, a bike builder from Surigao City.

Words: Ferdz Decena

Hail to the best pizza place in Siargao

It will be a shame to visit Siargao and skip Kermit, the island stop for wonderful cocktail concoctions, the best pizza in town and perfect tropical resto-bar setting.

Kermit’s hands on owner Gianni Grifoni with his little one at Kermit

Kermit in General Luna, Siargao, is a lively resto-bar where it seems everyone around knows everybody. But it’s not for this reason alone that you should go. The open deck you walk onto barefoot fitted with loungy seats and sunken chairs is prolly the most relaxed spot I’ve been to recently. While the area is exclusive to guests staying at Kermit and the affable owner Gianni Grifoni’s personal guests, there is a rustic tropical space next to it where you can grab a seat to eat or drink or both.

Local curates Siargao

When islander Elaine Abonal is on a break from teaching surfing in Siargao, you’ll catch her on road trips, swimming in wild islands and eating at her favorite dining places

Elaine enjoying a day out in Dako Island

I was born and raised
 in Manila but I’ve been frequenting Siargao
 for the past 13 years.
At first I would stay for one month, then one month became two, and later on it stretched longer. In 2016, we started renting a house and got ourselves a dog.

My goal is to provide the best way to teach surfing in Siargao.
At Surfista Travels, we cover all bases when we teach, from theory to safety to etiquette. We do photo analysis. Surfista’s emphasis is for one to become a learned surfer.

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