The Philippines is known worldwide for its heavenly beaches, but did you know it’s also one of the most sought-after surf spots in the world? Its chill vibe, friendly locals, and warm seas attract beginners and experts alike. Read on to discover the best surf spots in the Philippines.
1. Baler, Aurora
This small town in the northeast side of the Philippines was introduced to the world through the classic 1979 movie Apocalypse Now. The location of the scene where Colonel Kilgore sent his men to go surfing is now a popular surfing spot, and actually led to the birth of surfing in the Philippines!
Located around five hours away from Manila, Baler offers some of the best surfing spots in the Philippines, thanks to its year-long waves that are at their peak swell from October to March. Baler’s long shoreline is also filled with hostels and artisan eateries, which makes this surf spot perfect for those looking for a laid-back, communal vibe.
2. Cloud 9, Siargao Island
This appropriately named island in the southern province of Surigao Norte is heaven on earth for surfers and beach-lovers alike. Known as one of the best places to surf in the Philippines, its thick barreling left- and right-hand reef break is brought about by offshore winds from the southwest, as well as high tides. These swells can be very powerful and are more suitable for intermediate to expert surfers. Surf camps on the island offer lessons for fearless newbies, provided that you protect yourself with a surf helmet and the knowledge that wipeouts are an absolute certainty.
When you’re not surfing, you can hit up several other gorgeous spots on the island, such as its glittering turquoise beaches and magical hidden lagoons.
3. Real, Quezon
The dark-sand beaches and quiet countryside of Real may present it as a humdrum town. But once surfing season opens (it runs from August to March, and Real’s best waves swell from October to February), this little seaside town comes to life and attracts surfers from all over the country.
Located three to four hours from Manila, Real is the perfect surfing getaway for anyone looking for an escape from the urban jungle. Its rural, minimally developed setting attracts smaller crowds, making it ideal for surfers looking for a more laid-back and low-key trip.
4. San Juan, La Union
This seaside town in the northern Philippines underwent rapid development in recent years, thanks to its popularity among surfers. San Juanhas its share of resorts – ranging from luxury hotels to boutique hostels made out of shipping containers – as well as a view of some of the most gorgeous sunsets in the world.
Travelers looking to learn how to surf can enroll in any of the many surf camps all over San Juan. With many spots rolling with waves for expert surfers, beginners can find themselves easily inspired to learn. Surfing season here is around October to April, and July to September depending on the southwest monsoons.
5. Bacnotan, La Union
For surfers who want to get away from the crowds in San Juan, the neighboring town of Bacnotan may be just the ticket. It has the same glorious sunset views and shoreline, but with a quieter, more low-key beach scene. Bacnotan is also popular with surfers who prefer longer rides on sandy breaks. A locally known surfing spot there is the sea in front of the Holcim cement factory; simply ask a surfing instructor about renting local transportation to get yourself and your boards there.
6. Lanuza Bay, Surigao Del Sur
The gorgeous Lanuza Bay is famous for its massive barreling reef breaks as well as its long right-hand waves, making it ideal for longboarders and advanced surfers alike. Lanuza Bay is located in a quiet little town where establishments often close by 6 p.m., which makes it a secluded getaway for more low-key travelers. Peak surfing season in November brings more excitement in the form of the Lanuza Surfing Festival, and the waves continue on until March.
Lanuza Bay is also home to a flourishing and biodiverse marine system that includes several rare aquatic residents you may want to visit in between surfing trips.
7. Guian Island, Eastern Samar
Located in the province of Eastern Samar, Guian Island is lined with fine, white-sand beaches and clear waters. The barrel waves here are consistent and close to perfection, making it a favorite among surfers of all skill levels. Beginners will enjoy the two- to three-foot waves that are prevalent during the summer months of April to May, while more advanced surfers will favor the bigger waves brought in by the monsoons from June to November.
8. Calicoan Island, Eastern Samar
Another gorgeous island located in Easter Samar, Calicoan was once one of the Philippines’ premier surfing capitals until the catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan flattened most of Eastern Samar. Having recently bounced back, Calicoan is once again hosting national surfing competitions and welcoming travelers looking for the best surfing in the Philippines. The island gets powerful wave swells rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, and the exposed reef breaks make it a haven for experienced surfers. Surfing season is from November to March, with big waves coming in around September to October.
9. Daet, Camarines Norte
This unassuming seaside town facing the Pacific Ocean is a haven for surfing beginners. The extended shorelines along the beaches in Daet are comparable to Baler, but without Baler’s usual crowd of tourists. Waves here range from three- to six-foot swells and can reach eight feet on some days. Peak surfing season is from July to January.
10. Baras, Catanduanes
Located in a region locally referred to as “Happy Islands,” Baras is surrounded by spectacular landscapes, magical lagoons, and hidden beaches. It’s a lot more secluded than popular surfing spots like Siargao, and also has a consistent influx of barreling waves coming in from the Pacific Ocean. (It’s so reliable that it’s been given its own name: “The Majestic.”) Beginner waves are prevalent in Baras from February to June, while powerful right-hand reef breaks ideal for advanced and pro surfers peak around July to October.
11. San Antonio, San Narciso, and San Felipe, Zambales
Located in central Luzon in the Northern Philippines, these three neighboring towns are go-to spots for surfers, beachgoers, and travelers alike for their close proximity to Manila. After just a three-hour drive, you can swim out to waves with a sandy break, making these three locations perfect for longboard surfers and beginners. Crystal Beach Resort in San Narciso is a well-loved spot for surfing, as is Pundaquit Beach in San Antonio.
The waves here aren’t as consistent as the other surfing spots on this list, but the down-to-earth vibe and proximity to interesting attractions make these must-see towns. Visit the Mango Highway for its famously sweet golden mangoes, or take a trek up the resident dormant volcano, Mt. Pinatubo.
12. Mati, Davao Oriental
Located in the Davao Oriental Province, Mati is known for its fine white sand, choice waves, and marine wildlife like dugongs and sea turtles. Mati’s tranquil beaches are uncrowded, and its Pacific-facing seas attract strong waves ideal for surfing and skimboarding at all levels. The best waves here start coming in from September to March, peaking at about December onwards.
13. Nagtabon Beach, Palawan
Surfing typically isn’t the first thing anyone associates with Palawan. This magical region in the central Philippines is more famous for its insanely biodiverse reefs and forests, as well as hidden lagoons, scuba diving spots, and hot springs. However, its Nagtabon Beach is also a well-known spot for surfers, making Palawan probably the most well-rounded tropical destination for island travelers.
Surfing enthusiasts flock to the area when the wave swells come in mid-October to March.
14. Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
July to September sees long and satisfying left-hand waves in Pagudpud, located in the northern region of the Philippines. Perfect for longboarders and surfers of all levels, Pagudpud is also home to quick and hollow waves that break on a shallow reef. These surf spots are almost always empty – Pagudpud is famous for its chill beach scene rather than surfing – so surfers who enjoy their solitude will also enjoy this spot.
15. Gubat, Sorsogon
Gubat is an up-and-coming surf destination in the province of Sorsogon. Located 12 hours from Manila, Gubat remains largely undeveloped, save for a handful of cottages lining its long stretch of white-sand beach. Buenavista Beach in Gubat is a favorite spot for local and visiting surfers alike, thanks to its consistent barrel waves and sandy break. Surf season here starts in October and lasts until March.
Whether you’re a novice surfer, a pro, or anywhere in between, and whether you’re seeking popular spots or uncrowded surfing destinations, you’re bound to find the perfect place to set your board in the Philippines.