The Philippines is slowly emerging as new, exciting surfing destination, thanks to its beautiful islands and uncrowded coastline. There are many almost-unknown breaks dotting the archipelago, and a few surf hotspots that receive most of the attention. Here’s our round-up of the hottest surf spots in the Philippines.
La Union is one of the Philippines’ most enjoyable, easy-going destinations for surfing. Just 5 hours’ drive from the capital, La Union welcomes both beginners (from October to March) and advanced surfers (in December and January). The beachfront in San Juan is dotted with cool shops, hostels, restaurants and bars. There are three breaks on this beach alone, although surfers should also check out Carille and Bacnotan, a short ride from San Juan Beach. La Union has some of the most affordable surf schools in the country, so many beginners take to the waves for the first time here.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Often called the ‘birthplace of surfing in the Philippines’, surf first kicked off in Baler after the crew of the movie Apocalypse Now left the boards used in the filming. The locals figured out how to use them, and the rest is history. Baler is a small town six hours from Manila on winding mountain roads, but its soothing atmosphere and majestic mountains are well worth the trip.
Baler’s sandy breaks are perfect for surf newbies year-round. The largest waves are at Cemento Reef, and show up from October to March.
The breaks on the eastern side of Samar are still largely unexplored, but that’s good news for surfers looking to escape the crowds. The surf comes mostly from reef breaks, which makes Samar better suited for experienced surfers. Parola and Talisay are two reef breaks that provide big swells that will excite and challenge advanced surfers. Closer to town, Boulevard is a beach break that’s a favorite with the locals in the mornings and evenings. October to March is the best time to surf in Samar.
If mystical Baler claims a spot in the hearts of many Filipino surfers, Siargao is its fun-loving, party-going cousin. Siargao is a gorgeous island full of empty beaches, sparkling lagoons and lush mangroves. It also is the home of Cloud 9, the Philippines’ most famous wave, a barreling right-hand reef break that’s ranked one of the top 10 best surf spots in the world by CNNGo. Away from General Luna, Siargao’s surf central, other quality breaks are scattered on the eastern side of the island and around small islands a short boat ride away.
Note that Siargao has almost no sand breaks and its waves are best tackled by intermediate to advanced surfers.
Another one of the country’s surfing spot bigwigs is Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte. Although with that said, Pagudpud is perhaps the least crowded among the surfing destinations mentioned so far. The waves here are also very powerful, but is nevertheless the best surfing spot to learn how to surf. Some resorts nearby offer surfing lessons packages as well, and the teachers would be none other than the experienced locals themselves! While you’re here, try going to Blue Lagoon, the surfing paradise in Pagudpud.
No list of surfing spots in the Philippines is complete without including Zambales. An easy getaway, Zambales is only a three-hour drive from Manila, making it popular with surfers from Manila. There are three main surfing spots in Zambales: San Antonio, San Narciso, and San Felipe. San Antonio is the busiest of the three. San Narciso is a little more remote but has strong currents to watch out for. San Felipe offers fun waves at an out-of-the-way location. The swell in Zambales never gets too large, making it ideal for intermediate and beginners surfers to sharpen their skills.
Even though it’s 12 hours from Manila, Gubat’s secret is slowly getting out. The beautiful Buenavista Beach is the perfect spot for a laid-back surf holiday. Except for a few cottages, this long white-sand stretch is totally undeveloped. The break is called ‘Breeding’ because the area used to be an agricultural breeding site. Most afternoons see locals enjoying the waves. There are two surf camps to choose from at the moment, but it won’t be long before more surfers show up in Sorsogon.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.