With more than 7,600 islands, the Philippines definitely has a wealth of beaches. These tropical destinations are ideal for leisurely swimming, sunbathing, or simply taking things slow. But for those looking for action, you can easily find a surf spot in the Philippines whose gigantic waves will come crashing down on you.
If the waves are calling you, don’t hesitate to heed them. Pack your bags, call your friends, and head to a surfing spot!
12 Picks for the Best Surf Spot in the Philippines
Wondering where to surf in the Philippines? Check out these top surfing destinations for an adrenaline-pumping experience.
🌊 Cloud 9 in Siargao, Surigao del Norte
What is the surfing capital of the Philippines? It's definitely Siargao, which is among TIME's World's Greatest Places 2021 and CNN's 50 Best Surf Spots in the world.
Siargao is a special mention in the world surf community. CNN describes it as “a dramatic and powerful reef break, which crashes onto shallow razor-sharp coral, offers right and left death rides” where “fearless surfers will experience a slice of paradise or hallucinations as waves wrap over them like a liquid cocoon. Skin and sometimes bone are often ripped to shreds by the ocean bed.”
For the best experience of Siargao as the surfing capital of the Philippines, head to Cloud 9. The peak season in the famed surf spot is from April to September when surfers enjoy not only its waves but also the white-sand beaches and other natural wonders.
🌊 Nagtabon Beach, Palawan
When you think of Palawan, you automatically picture the paradise-like beaches of El Nido or the crystal-clear waters of Coron. It’s all about tropical tranquility, which is everyone’s refuge from their bustling lives.
However, Palawan is a big island. Some of its underrated beaches are just waiting to be explored. One of them happens to be an unspoiled haven for surfers. Enter Nagtabon Beach, a great surf destination in Palawan.
Lying in the northwestern part of Puerto Princesa City, Nagtabon Beach has waves that rival those of other popular surf spots in the Philippines, such as Baler and Siargao. But what makes it stand out from the competition is its powdery white sand.
After surfing, you can revert to your beach bum mode. Lie on the sand or walk amidst the towering coconut trees while feeling the sea breeze. Because sea urchins and corals aren't common at this beach, you can swim to your heart’s content. However, be extra cautious, as the waves are big and strong.
🌊 San Juan, La Union
Also called the Surfing Capital of the Northern Philippines, San Juan is known for its consistent-quality surf that's perfect for longboarders. For one, it's home to the San Juan Surf Resort of professional surfer Luke Landrigan.
In terms of food and accommodation, budget-friendly restaurants and resorts abound in San Juan. Most surfers choose The Circle Hostel, which is just 200 meters away from the beach. If you're looking for an upscale boutique resort, Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa is the top choice for most tourists.
Want a low-key party where you can meet people after a full day of San Juan surfing? Book your accommodation at Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel. If you're staying elsewhere, you can drop by at night for a bite or a drink.
🌊 Bacnotan, La Union
For many introverted surfers, San Juan may feel like an overwhelmingly big party scene. In La Union, you’ll find a quiet haven in the neighboring town of Bacnotan. If you prefer sand breaks over reef breaks, the beaches in this town can offer those.
Although resorts are not yet prominent in the area, you can see surfing students and their instructors catching waves near Holcim's La Union cement plant. After beach surfing in the afternoon, you can lounge on the sand and wait for the sunset.
Experienced surfers recommend visiting the town between October and April.
🌊 Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
While Pagudpud is popular for its rolling hills and sunny beaches, it’s a lesser-known surf spot in the Philippines. With that, you can expect fewer surfers, making for more serene sessions with the waves.
Surfers usually go to Vista, an ideal surf spot for newbies because of its sandiness. But if you’re after A-frame waves, head to a place called Heartbreak. As the waves are fast and more challenging to ride, this spot is ideal for advanced surfers. For the best waves, you may want to come to Pagudpud between July and September.
Other than surfing in Pagudpud, you can enjoy many other activities in this quaint coastal town. If nature walks are your thing, going to Kaibigan Falls should be on your list. At the end of your trek, you’ll find yourself marveling at a majestic and towering fall with ice-cold and refreshing water.
Of course, your trip to Pagudpud won’t be complete without a snap or two at the Patapat Viaduct, a coastal bridge that gives you an impressive view of Pasaleng Bay.
🌊 Sabang Beach and Charlie’s Point in Baler, Aurora
Baler is one of the most popular surf spots in the Philippines. Because it's just 6 to 7 hours away from Manila, most surfers travel in groups and rent a van to minimize expenses.
Sabang Beach has a soft and shallow ocean bed, gray sandy shoreline, and waves coming from the Pacific Ocean, making it a perfect surfing spot for beginners in the Philippines. Experienced surfers can rent a banca going to Charlie’s Point, which is a sand bottom that breaks both left and right.
🌊 San Antonio and San Narciso in Zambales
Photo: Crystal Beach Resort (Facebook)
One of the closest surf spots to Manila, Zambales will quench your thirst for adventure without having to fly on a plane. It's known for its consistent waves since it's bordered to the west by the West Philippine Sea. However, the swells in Zambales aren't usually large compared with other beaches in the North. But there are times when the swell size hits overhead.
One of the most outstanding surf spots in the municipality of San Antonio is Pundaquit because it receives swells from the north and west quadrants. In San Narciso, you can find the Quiksilver Surf Camp at the Crystal Beach Resort where most beginners and intermediate surfers gather for a ride.
🌊 Doot Poktoy in Lanuza Bay, Surigao del Sur
Located in the quaint town of Lanuza, Doot Poktoy is a Philippine surf spot renowned for having some of the best waves in the world. Local and international surfers claim that the waves at Doot Poktoy are at par with the quality of waves in Hawaii and our very own Siargao, the surfing capital of the Philippines.
According to the Surf Report Magazine, “Lanuza is a place with a flawless river mouth. Its waves spin long perfect rights on a big swell at low tide. There is a hollow tube section at take-off and there are long section walls up to 200 meters.”
The best time to surf at Doot Poktoy is between the months of October and February.
🌊 Puraran Beach in Baras, Catanduanes
Surfers will find an emerging attraction in Bicol called Puraran Bay, home to the famous Majestics reef break. The pristine water and the fine and clean white sand make it the best hangout place in Catanduanes. The picturesque backdrop and the long-barrel waves make every ride cover-worthy.
🌊 Daet, Camarines Norte
As Camarines Norte faces the Pacific Ocean, it’s easy to see why this province is popular among surfers. Daet’s Bagasbas Beach is a great surf spot in the Philippines because of its sandy break, offering beginners and veterans a safe wipeout. Its long, uninterrupted shoreline is somehow reminiscent of Baler’s Sabang Beach, sans the droves of tourists.
Don’t let its relaxed setting fool you, as the waves can be strong and challenging at times. Nevertheless, you won’t have to wait long for the waves, as they don’t stop coming. This is good news for advanced surfers who just want to keep riding the waves. To make the most of your time in Daet, come here between July and January.
🌊 Real, Quezon
Where is the closest surfing spot to Manila, you ask? You have several options—Real, a small town in Quezon, is worth considering for your next beach adventure.
This is another surf spot in the Philippines that appeal to city folks because of its proximity. About only 3 hours away from Metro Manila, this municipality boasts tall waves that will excite surfers. The huge swells make for an adrenaline rush while the quaint beaches offer rustic comfort.
Tignoan and Malapad are just some of the barangays in the town that accommodate surfers. If you want to save money while communing with nature, you’ll easily find camping grounds along the coast. One of the most popular resorts that offer tent pitching is Real Coast & Surf.
If you’re up for a nature trip, you can trek your way to Balagbag Falls, which is accessible via tricycle as long as you’re within the town. On the other hand, Nonok Falls, which is a kilometer away from Balagbag Falls, appeals to those who want to take things slow. After a 15-minute trek, you’ll be treated to a cold pool surrounded by trees.
🌊 Mati, Davao Oriental
The Davao region is more than just Davao City or Samal Island. It also offers pristine beaches and of course, a thrilling surf spot in the Philippines.
The Dahican Surf Resort in Mati, Davao Oriental is worthy of any tourist’s visit. This 7-km beach not only boasts white sand that's reminiscent of Boracay. But unlike Boracay, the waves here aren't tamed, making this surf spot perfect for your board sport. Surfing is guaranteed fun and challenging because the beach faces the Pacific Ocean.
If you have a drone camera, you may want to capture the beach’s full beauty during the daytime. From above, your camera will show you a paradise-like scenery—a long stretch of white beach bordered by crystal blue waters on one side and a forest of coconut trees on the other.
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4 Safety Tips for Surfing Beginners in the Philippines
Surfing newbie? Manage your expectations and keep yourself safe all the time. Here are some things that will help you:
🏄 Pick a Beginner-Friendly Spot
Choosing a great surf spot in the Philippines is one thing. But choosing an ideal site for first-timers is another.
Usually, your instructor will pick the location for you. But if you’re somehow equipped with intermediate knowledge and are working without an instructor, scout for small and manageable waves. Never attempt to go after the big ones that are ridden by advanced surfers.
🏄 Designate a Personal Landmark
When you get up from wipeouts, you may feel disoriented. You’ll certainly drift across random spots, depending on the current. As such, you need to pick a landmark that you can use as a reference in case you get wiped out. It could be a hut, a palm tree, or anything that's easily recognizable.
🏄 Stay Safe
Slipping from the board is just normal. But you can avoid unnecessary slips when your feet have a good grip on the board.
To make your session with the waves much safer, wax your board thoroughly. Before you head for the waves, don’t forget to wear your leash. Not only will it keep you from drifting away from the board. It will also prevent your board from hurting other surfers.
🏄 Listen to Your Instructor
Your instructor will give you persistent reminders, which you may find annoying. But you’ve got to take note of them! They have years of experience, and their advice will not only help you acquire new skills but also spare you from injuries.
Summer or not, the Philippines will always be a paradise not only for beachgoers but also for surfers. This top surf spot in the Philippines list isn’t complete yet, as there are still a lot of hidden gems across the country. Nevertheless, these surf spots are considered some of the best and will definitely give you a good time. Hang loose!