8 Surf Spots in the Philippines

Originally posted March 2013; updated December 2013 (added San Felipe, Zambales)

Aside from just swimming and getting a good tan, the beach is great for all sorts of water sports, including surfing. If you want to learn how to ride the waves, here are eight surf spots around the Philippines that I’ve personally been to.

1) Baler, Aurora

Thanks to JourneyingJames “Camp, Surf, Bike & Trek” tour, I finally got to visit Baler, one of the more popular surfing spots in the Philippines. This quaint coastal town in the province of Aurora is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the East and draws in tourists especially during the ber months.

Baler photos by Mitch Quimsiam courtesy of JourneyingJamestours

Sabang Beach in Baler has a long stretch of sandy shoreline and a soft and shallow oceanbed, making it an ideal place for those who want to learn to surf for the first time. If you want bigger waves, locals say you’ll need to rent a motorized banca to reach different surfing spots. Other spots like Cemento Reef, Charlie’s Point and Lindy’s point are not recommended for beginners, though.

What’s great is that the surf shops in Sabang beach are conveniently located right next to the camping grounds in tent city and many beachfront hotels and inns. The sea was pretty flat during our visit, but we were still able to catch some baby waves and everyone in the group was able to successfully ride the waves.

USEFUL INFO:

  • Travel time: Baler is about 6-7 hours away from Manila. For maximum comfort, it’s best to join with a large group and hire a chartered van. You can also commute via Genesis Transport’s Joy Bus (Manila-Baler route).
  • Recommended surf shop: Michael’s Surf Shop and Surf Lesson
  • Rates: P400/hour (board rental + instructor), P200/hour, P400/half-day, P800-P1000/whole day(board rentals only)
  • Surfing season: According to locals, the best time to surf in Baler is from September to February.

2) Bagasbas, Camarines Norte

In recent years, Bagasbas Beach in Daet, Camarines Norte has risen in popularity as a surfing and kiteboarding spot. Several summer surfing festivals and clinics have been held here and local surfers recommend Bagasbas beach for beginners who want to learn how to surf.

Bagasbas Beach has fine gray sand with a long coastline that stretches over two kilometers, making it a popular hangout for locals during weekends. The waves are consistent near the coast throughout the whole year, and the sea-bed is shallow and sandy so it doesn’t hurt when you wipeout, making it ideal for surfing newbies. Intermediate and expert surfers can head a little further away from the shore where the waves pose a bit more of a challenge.

Its accessibility by land travel from Manila makes Bagasbas an affordable option for local tourists who don’t want to travel by air or who want to bring their own boards. There are also lots of establishments right in front of the promenade of Bagasbas Beach that offer surfing lessons and surfboards for rent. I had loads of fun surfing on Bagasbas Beach after camping out on Calaguas and Kayak-Surfing in Mercedes during my trip to Camarines Norte last year.

USEFUL INFO:

  • Travel time: Daet is 8 hours away by land from Manila. By air, it’s a 1 hour flight from Manila-Naga, then 2-hour drive to Daet, Camarines Norte.
  • Recommended resort: Bagasbas Lighthouse Hotel Resort
  • Rates: P200/hour for board rental + P200/hour of surfing lessons.
  • Surfing season: Bagasbas has generally consistent waves throughout the year, but waves are best from October to December

3) San Juan, La Union

San Juan in La Union is considered the Surfing Capital of the Northern Philippines, and is known for its consistent quality surf. Its beaches have waves suitable for beginners, intermediate and advanced surfers. There are lots of established resorts and restaurants in the area to fit any budget from family-style type establishments ideal for big groups like Sebay Surf Resort to more upscale hotels with their own infinity pool, like Kahuna Beach Resort. A good budget option for surfers is to stay at The Circle Hostel.

Local and international surfers flock here to enjoy the waves and various surfing tournaments and competitions are held here throughout the year. The La Union Surfing Break launched in 2006 to expose surfing to the general public, is held annually during the semestral break (October), attracting lots of students from Manila, Baguio and other Northern Luzon cities.

Among the popular surf sites in the Philippines, La Union is the most accessible by land for those coming from Manila. You might want to time your visit during non peak-season to get the most of the surf though. There were lots of visitors during the La Union Surfing Break taking lessons and I almost crashed into other surfers more than once. The accessibility from Manila, party vibe and atmosphere, and number of establishments and restaurants in the area make La Union a good option for families and as a weekend barkada getaway.

USEFUL INFO:

  • Travel time: La Union is 4-5 hours away by land from Manila.
  • Recommended resort: Sebay Surf Resort
  • Rates: P400/hour (P200 for the board rental + P200 for the instructor). Surfboard/Longboard Rentals: Half Day – P500, Whole Day – P800
  • Surfing season: San Juan has two major surfing seasons from July to October and November to March.

4) Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

With its powdery white sand coast, turquoise water and good swells, Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte is easily one of the most picturesque surfing spots I’ve been to in the Philippines. The raw, rugged beauty of the place and the general lack of people crowding the beach makes this a great surfing destination.

According to local surfers, the swells bring waves almost all-year around in some areas including Blue Lagoon, Maira-ira point and Saud Beach. Pro surfers may want to time their trip during the southeast monsoon from July-September, when the waves are more spectacular.

Pagudpud is on the the northernmost tip of Luzon and because of its distance from Manila, it remains practically a virgin surf destination, with just a few beach resorts nearby. I hope it remains that way. My surf session here during our Lakbay Norte 3 tour was mostly marked by multiple wipeouts and muscle cramps from dehydration, but I have it on good authority that surfing here is  one “amazing, exciting, enticing, challenging and awesome” experience.

Screenshot from Living Asia Channel’s Lakbay Norte 3 episode

USEFUL INFO:

  • Travel time: Pagudpud is 13-14 hrs land trip by car or 15-16 hours by bus. Laoag is a 1 hr. plus plane ride & getting from Laoag to Pagudpud takes less than an hour.
  • Recommended resort: Kapuluan Vista Resort
  • Rates: P400/hour (P200 for board rentals + P200 for the surfing instructor)
  • Surfing season: almost all-year around, but the best waves can be seen during the southeast monsoon from July-September.

5) Baras, Catanduanes

Known as the home of “Majestic Waves” or simply majestics, idyllic Puraran Beach Resort in Baras, Catanduanes is a surfing spot for those who want to ride the waves in a laid-back setting. The secluded area in Catanduanes facing the Pacific Ocean has creamy golden sand, clear waves, and colorful coral reefs. The long barrel waves in Puraran are said to be comparable in power and quality of those in Hawaii. Therefore, this spot is recommended only for pro-surfers.

Catanduanes celebrates a provincial festival every October centered on the international and national Governor’s Surfing Cup, which attracts surfers around the globe to test their water skills on these powerful waves. First-time surfers can instead head to the tamer Tilod Beach for their initiation to the board sport. It’s best to hook up with the local tourism office for your surf lessons here. The seabed here was a bit rocky compared to some of the other surfing spots I’ve tried though.

USEFUL INFO:

  • Travel time: Virac, Catanduanes is a 1 hour 10 minute ride by plane from Manila. Air Con & ordinary buses from Cubao, Quezon City travel daily to Virac, Catanduanes via Tabaco port which takes 9 to 12 hours depending on the bus’ itinerary. RORO ferries depart daily from Tabaco, Albay to Catanduanes via San Andres Port or Virac Port. Baras is about about 1.5 hours away by land from Virac by jeepney or tricycle.
  • Recommended resort: Purararan Surf Beach Resort
  • Rates: P350/hour (P200 for board rental and P150 for the surfing instructor)
  • Surfing season: March-June: Surf season for beginners is from March to June. Surf season for experts is from July to December.

6) San Antonio, Zambales

According to Surfing in the Philippines, Pundaquit in San Antonio, Zambales has good surf action since it is bordered to the west by the South China Sea and thus receives swells from the west and north quadrants. They add that the coastline offers surfers many possible surfing breaks and is renowned for year-round consistent swell and diversity of breaks. The beach has waves that can cater to all surf abilities, from “first-time surfers to the experienced and hardcore big wave riders.”

I didn’t actually get to try surfing here as the sea was really flat during the FLOW Surf Yoga Samba weekend retreat I covered for TRAVEL Magazine last December. However, I did learn some great basic ground training and surf safety skills from the Surfasana team. In one session, we had to balance on the board in the water, while our companions holding the surfboards tried to topple us off to simulate the waves. We also got to practice our safety skills by “rescuing” drowning teammates with the use of the surfboards.

USEFUL INFO:

  • Travel time: Pundaquit, Zambales is roughly 4-5 hours away by land from Manila.
  • Recommended resort: Pundaquit Sun & Surf
  • Rates: P400/hour (P200 for surfboard rental + P200 for the instructor)
  • Surfing season: Waves consistent year-round. The surf is probably at its most consistent during the months of May to early December.

7) San Felipe, Zambales

Liw-liwa, a sitio in San Felipe, Zambales is another popular surfing destination. Zambales is relatively near Manila, but does not get as crowded as other surf spots, which makes this an ideal place for day or weekend trips if you want to get some quality surfing lessons.

liwliwa zambales beach surfing

The surf area in Liw-liwa is called “High 5 Lahar” or simply “Lahar” which probably explains why there seems to be a lot of sand mining operations still going on at the shore. The beach itself is not that developed, though there are some small surf resorts & backpacker haunts a short walk away.

liwliwa zambales surfing

Locals say that the waves in San Felipe are pretty consistent compared to other spots in Zambales (others: Crystal Beach in San Narciso & Magic Left in San Antonio). I got to try surfing here during a weekend at The Circle Hostel Zambales and the waves were stronger than those I’ve tried in previous spots, but still possible for newbies to learn to surf.

liwliwa zambales surfing travelup

USEFUL INFO:

  • Travel time: Liwliwa, Zambales is about 3-4 hours away from Manila. Check this detailed guide on options how to get there.
  • Recommended surf shop: Kilabot Sir Ping
  • Rates: P400/hour (board rental + instructor), P400/whole day, P800/half-day
  • Surfing season: The best time to surf in Liw-Liwa is from September to February. Can get clean glassy waves that go up to 6 feet high. Skimboarding is also popular when the waves are weak.

8) Siargao, Surigao del Norte

No surfing list in the Philippines would be complete without including Siargao in Surigao del Norte. Siargao is synonymous with surfing and is well-known as “The Surfing Capital of the Philippines” drawing attention from local and international surfers. “Cloud 9″, a right-breaking reef wave with a thick, hollow tube is one of the best known surfing waves in the country. This is where domestic and international surfing competitions are held every September by the provincial government of Surigao del Norte.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try surfing in Siargao during my solo trip there last year as I spent my day motorcycling around the island before heading to Sohoton Cove the next day. I saw a few paddleboarders on General Luna Beach in the morning, but that’s it. Siargao definitely warrants another much longer visit.

USEFUL INFO:

  • Travel time: Siargao is accessible by plane ride from Manila via Cebu. Direct flights are also available from Manila to Surigao City. From Surigao, you will need to take another 2-3 hour ferry ride to Siargao. From Dapa, the main port of Siargao, Cloud Nine is roughly 45 minutes by public jeepney, motorbike, tricycle or private van.
  • Recommended resorts: Pesangan Lodge, Driftwood Watersports
  • Rates: Daily rates for surfboard rentals at Driftwood = Shortboard – P350, Fun board – P400, Long Board – P500, SUP – P700 (P400 1/2 day)
  • Surfing season: The surfing season normally kicks off in September and continues until around March. However, you can catch a decent wave at any time of the year. The biggest and best months for surfing are November and December.

There are lots of other great surfing destinations that I haven’t been to yet including Dahican Beach in Mati City and Calicoan in Eastern Samar. Hopefully, I can visit these places and get stoked there soon. For some great surfing resources, check out Surfing Philippines and My Life on Board.

41 thoughts on “8 Surf Spots in the Philippines

  1. I’ve been to Bagasbas Beach in Camarines Norte but I wasn’t able to try surfing. I just skim board there. On my next visit, I’ll make sure that I’ll ride the waves of Bagasbas.

    Surfing was one of the sports I’ve been dying to try until I did last year in Baler Aurora. Too bad, I don’t have so much energy to really stand up on the board and balance. One thing is for sure, I’ll do this sport again and won’t give up until I can stand on the board on my next try. I enjoyed reading this blog post. Thanks for the helpful tips you have here.

    • Hi Grace. Glad you enjoyed the post. Bagasbas is a great place for beginners to learn. They should be holding another surfing festival end of April. I’d like to try out the waves in Baler this summer too.

      • Hello,

        We got a 50% discount on surf lessons this coming April 28-30, 2014. It’s at San Jose Beach (beside Bagasbas Beach), Talisay, Camarines Norte. Pay only PHP200.00 instead of PHP400.00 for an hour of surf lesson and board rental. This is organized in cooperation with Bagasbas Unified Surfers Associatin (BUSA) and the Provincial Tourism Office.

        Please check out the website link for further info. Thank you!

  2. Hi there Kara !
    Just wanted to let you know that there are not actually any direct flights to Siargao Island from Manila at this present time, though we now have 5 flights per week from Cebu .

    Happy Travels
    Tom&Liz
    Bamboo Garden Pacifico Siargao

  3. Hi, I want to go to Baras in July.

    But I’m beginner, I have only one experience in Bali.

    Can I go and learn surfing in there??

    If I can’t, recommend me other place for surfing please.

    And can I do other activity like diving in there?

    Thank you for your posting.

  4. Hi Kara !
    Thanks for the great work you are doing showing us all these beautiful places , it must be hard work !
    Anyway latest updates on flights into Siargao is that there are daily flights 7 days a week now , and reportedly direct flights from Manila coming soon , I’ll keep you updated if that’s ok !

    Take care and keep having Fun !!!

  5. Interesting and informative post, including photos. :) I was expecting to see Baler though, because that’s only surfing spot I’ve visited in the Philippines hehehe! ahh I’ve read it’s still on your to-visit-list :) . I’m ooking forward to go surfing in Siargao this Sept!! :D

  6. I am visiting the philippines in early september and am looking to score some good waves. Planning on siaragao, and staying are general luna but am open to suggestions. I am an experienced surfer and would like to do some diving as well. thanks, cheers!
    brian

    • Hi Brian !
      Good Choice Siargao in September , there should be plenty of good waves ,though General Luna and Cloud Nine, sometimes called (Crowd 9) at this time of year because of how busy it will be may limit your Surfing ! .

      Be prepared to move around the Island to find less crowded waves , such as at Pilar , Pacifico and Burgos and some more good breaks even further North .

      As for the Diving I think it would be best to arrange this while you are in GL as this is where most of it is arranged from .

      You can find more info on Siargao here :
      http://www.go2siargao.blogspot.com

      Have a good trip !

  7. i have a property ( a piece of land along a beach before TIlod,Baras,Catanduanes)and am planning to develop it as a resort so for those beginners who want practice surfing in Tilod beach has a place to stay overnight instead of going back to Virac or Puraran. is that possible maam?

    .

    • Hi lito !
      I am located in the North of Siargao Island , far away from the famous Cloud 9 but in an area with many surf breaks ! I realized about 3 years ago that there was a need for accommodation , food and drinks in this area for the Surfers that are touring the Island looking for the ‘Wave’ .

      So I decided to build ‘Bamboo Garden’ and 3 years later we are pretty well established and on the whole quite busy !
      http://www.go2siargao.blogspot.com

      So the Moral of my story is ‘build and they will come’ it may take a little time but with the internet ,marketing is made a lot easier .
      these days there are so many travelers looking for something different I’m sure you can find a market for what you are offering .

      Good luck with your venture

  8. Pingback: Travel Guide: Baler, Aurora | Travel Up

  9. Hi Kara! (Namesake :P )
    Which area would you recommend for December? Zambales seems a lot more reachable from Manila. We’re traveling from the UK to join family in Manila, and some of us want to learn how to surf. We’re planning a road trip down to Bicol (and possibly further) – do you think Bagasbas is appropriate for December & learners?

    Thanks!

    • Hi there namesake :) Zambales & La Union are both nearer from Manila, but if you’re planning a road trip to Bicol, then yes, Bagasbas is a good spot for beginner’s to learn to surf. Surfing season there is October to December so you should get some waves. Another surfing spot in Bicol is Gubat, Sorsogon. Haven’t tried it out, but you can check out this post: Have fun!

  10. Hello po, meron ba talagang tent city sa Baler? pupunta sana kami doon this weekend kaso we’re worried sa gastos for the stay. Kaya we were wondering kung pwede lng ba mag tent. Then i’ve read this blog, and I felt relieved noong nabasa ko na may tent city. Saan po ba ang exact location for us to pitch our tent? :) is there a fee for the space? and how much? hope to hear from you. thanks! :)

  11. Hi thanks for your post! I’m staying now at Subic Bay Freeport for 6 months studying at at the International School and I hear a lot of great surf in Zambales. I really want to learn to surf and I was told at the ayala mall in subic that there is a Quiksilver Surf School in San Narciso, Zambales. Is that the same as the one in San Antonio or that’s another surf spot? My parents are very strict and wants a really professional instructor. Again, thanks!

  12. Thank you Kara for a great write up. I travel every year to the Philippines but mainly to the Visayas region. Had a great time surfing at Siargao on my last visit. I have decided to visit La union in a weeks time. I will be landing at Clark and was wondering if you have any advice on how to get to San Juan, La union from there. Are there any one way comfortable buses that make the journey there. Any advice will be helpful.
    Thank you

    • Hello Luciano. You can catch a bus (Philippine Rabbit, Dominion, Partas) heading to Northern provinces (Vigan, Laoag) which will pass through La Union from the Dau bus terminal near Clark. Here’s a detailed guide to get to the Dau bus terminal from the DMIA airport in Clark including rates. If you want a comfortable ride, be sure to ride an air-con bus. Just tell the bus conductor that you are getting down at the surfing resorts. If you’re looking for nice budget/backpacker type accommodations, check into The Circle Hostel right across the surf spots. Enjoy your trip :)

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  15. Thank you for the informative and inspiring post about surf spots in the Philippines! I’m looking to take a surfing trip in early February (I will already be in Manila), and am trying to decide between Zambales, La Union, and Baler. I’m beginner level (barely pop up) and am looking for a relaxed place that’s not too crowded but not to hard-to-get-to-from Manila to try to get through the starting learning curve. What would you suggest? Thanks!

  16. Pingback: The Circle Hostel, Zambales | Travel Up

  17. Kara, I just wanna ask a question. My birthday is on April and I`m planning to bring my friends with me to surf but I don`t know where to go. I went to Liwliwa, Zambales last week but the waves are not that good. I`m planning to go to La Union but it’s too far for me. What would you suggest? :D I want my birthday to be fun. LOL

    • Hi Don, sadly I can not predict the weather and wave conditions for your birthday. Aside from Zambales, La Union and Baler are the nearest to Manila that don’t require long land travel or flights. Check this post for surf forecasts. Alternatively, if you want a beach party with lots of people and music, you might be interested in the Summer Siren Festival happening in Crystal Beach, Zambales on April 4-6. Kahit saan naman sa Pinas fun, as long as you are with good friends :)

    • Hi Don !
      Not sure how far you are prepared to travel for your B’day but Siargao Island usually sees some good waves in April .
      You can rent the ‘Beach house’ at Bamboo Garden and have a B’day BBQ right by the Beach !

      Whatever you do have a good one !
      You can find more info on Siargao here :
      http://www.go2siargao.blogspot.com

  18. Hi there Kara! it’s great that this is the first site i’ve opened while googling for surf spots in the Philippines. i found you reviews interesting. :) hopefully i’ll be coming home this April or May and Zambales or La Union po ung gusto kong puntahan. Are the waves on this months good for beginners? San po ako mkaka sakay ng bus coming from Manila? and i’ll be a first time traveler :) . alone. any tips or suggestions? thnx :)

    • Hi Kenneth. The website Surfing Philippines has detailed guides on how to get to Zambales and La Union. According to their site, the best season for La Union is October to April (North Swell) and for Zambales it’s from April to September, so your trip should coincide with that. TIP: If you want budget accommodations since you’re a solo traveler, check into The Circle Hostel. They have branches in both La Union and Zambales. Enjoy your trip.

  19. Hello we are family of 4 traveling from Guam to PI end of June early July. No destination just looking for good waves and fishing. The 2 kids are late teens and experienced surfers, are short/fun boards available for rent? Any suggestions for our trip may be San Felipe? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

  20. Hi!

    Your article is really nice and I though of having a project with you. If interested, please email me so we can further discuss. Promise, this is not spam.

    Looking forward,

    Pebbles

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