I'm actually there again this week with a few friends, so I wanted to share some insight about the island.
Of course, most people know Siargao as the surf capital of the Philippines and home to international surf competitions. But there is far more beneath the surface of the island with white sand beaches, palm groves, friendly and laid-back locals, and a distinctly Rasta vibe.
Here are nine things you may not know about Siargao:
2. Siargao is the closest major island to the Philippine Deep, the lowest point of the Philippine Trench. (That's also what helps create the great surf waves.) The ‘Deep is a full 10,700 meters (35,104 feet) below sea level, the third-lowest recorded depth of any ocean behind the Mariana Trench and the Tonga Trench. That means you could easily fit Mount Everest, the highest peak on earth, inside the Philippine Deep since Everest reaches “only” 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) above sea level!
3. Siargao is home to the largest mangrove forest in all of Mindanao. The island has huge mangrove swamps on its southern and western sides, and particularly at the Del Carmen Reserve.
5. Siargao was the hideout for a notorious American surfer turned drug smuggler named Mike Boyum. After stealing more than a million dollars from the Maui Mafia to fund his drug smuggling operation, he went on the run to avoid capture or arrest, settling into the little quiet surfers' paradise of Siargao in 1988.
However, he mysteriously disappeared soon after, although his death has not been confirmed and his body never recovered. Some say that Boyum died in April 1989 after a 44-day spiritual fast, others say he was killed surfing Cloud 9, and a few even believe that he’s still alive and hiding out somewhere in Southeast Asia.
You’ve probably heard about it and seen plenty of photos, but do you know how Cloud 9 first got its name? It was named by an American surfer and photographer named John Seaton Callahan in 1980, who though the reef and barrel reminded him of the texture of a chocolate bar called - you guessed it – Cloud 9.
7. A movie called Siargao was released in the Philippines in 2017 to rave reviews. Set on the island of the same name, it stars Filipino actors Jericho Rosales, Erich Gonzales, and Jasmine Curtis-Smith. Even two of the Philippines’ top surfers, Wilmar Melindo and Luke Landrigan, made cameo appearances in the movie. The island was already one of the country’s up-and-coming hot spots, but the movie has brought even more attention.
9. Cloud 9 has served as a muse for plenty of artists and musicians. A Ukulele player named Eddie Florano wrote a song, "Surfin' in Siargao," that made it onto an international ukulele compilation album in 2006.
But it was Anthony Kiedis, iconic lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who became Siargao’s biggest celebrity surfer. After performing a 2014 concert in Pampanga, Kiedis made his way down to Siargao, where he rode the waves at Stimpys. He even reportedly stole a wave from a local, but Keidis later thanked her for giving him the wave, and she was cool.
Inspired by the island that he called “paradise,” he wrote a song called “The Longest Wave” in honor of Siargao, which appeared on the RHCP’s next album, The Getaway.
-Norm . :-)