Ferdinand Magellan, that intrepid Spaniard, stumbled across the Philippines in 1521 – and was promptly butchered by the locals. Though that didn’t stop the Spanish, and later the Americans, from turning it into their own little Pacific outpost. Today it is hailed as the most westernised country in Asia but that isn’t reflected in the paltry number of tourists passing through each year.
If you happened to be standing on the east coast of the one of the outlying Philippine islands you’d have quite a view. If it wasn’t for that inconvenient curvature of the earth you’d be looking, with the exception of maybe Guam, at a unsullied view of Central America – some 14,000 kilometres across the surging Pacific ocean.
This means that any waves that are destined to hit the eastern shores of the Philippines have 14,000 km of wide open ocean to evolve into surging beasts. All this would lead us to believe that the surf in the Philippines has the potential to be world class, without the ferocious crowds of Indonesia or Hawaii.
While some of the Philippines’ most celebrated beach resorts lye in the beautiful Batangas bay, surfing Batangas isn’t a good idea – the best surf is to be found on the exposed eastern facing coast. The islands to the north are known for their relatively mellow beach surf while it’s the southern, outlying islands that have become famed for big, angry reef breaks.
One of these southern islands that’s no stranger to a bit of swell is Siargao, home of ‘Cloud 9’ – arguably the Philippines’ most famous wave. This is a fast, hollow barrel that shoots a man out at close to the speed of sound. So get down there and check it out, best time to visit is monsoon season – October to January – and you’ll be sure to find that surfing the Philippines is a fine way to wile away a winter.