The surf set has quietly escaped to Siargao (pronounced “shar-GOW”) for years, but now the secret’s out: this teardrop-shaped Philippine island is paradise. Think: lagoons, coral reefs, waterfalls and more than 15 surf breaks, including the legendary Cloud 9. With Airbnb searches for Siargao’s Dapa area up 380 per cent in the past year, investors snapping up oceanfront plots and an international airport underway, it’s poised for a massive tourism boom.
How, then, does it avoid the fate of fellow Philippine island Boracay, currently closed for “rehabilitation” due to overcrowding? A local NGO, Siargao Environmental Awareness (SEA) Movement has formed to ensure this island’s development is of the sustainable sort.
“Involvement of the local communities is vital,” says SEA’s co-founder, Marja Abad, pointing to island initiatives such as Nature Kids’ up-cycling art studio, a “pay by plastic” shop and zero-waste schools programme. The hope is that Siargao escapes its turn in the spotlight unscathed.