Do-It-Yourself Sugba Lagoon. Siargao Island

In our run up to staying on Siargao Island my Instagram suddenly became flooded with photos from Sugba Lagoon.  With three ocean crazy kids we wanted to visit and put it on our list of things to do (there were quite a few) but no matter how hard we looked, we found it almost impossible to get information about getting there yourself. There are plenty of tour groups that can take you but I really wasn’t interested in that.  If you want to visit Sugba Lagoon by yourselves, have no fear because not only is it possible, it’s pretty simple AND it’s way more fun than taking an organised trip!

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The Sugba Lagoon shack

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Sugba lagoon shack from the boat



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Getting to Del Carmen

In order to collect the pump boat that will navigate you over to the lagoon, you must head up to Del Carmen tourism centre.

From Cloud 9/General Luna it takes approximately an hour to drive to Del Carmen. There is street parking around the centre but do not leave anything in the vehicle/tricycle that could get stolen.

If you can’t drive you’ll need to hire a driver. Read our ultimate guide to Siargao to see which companies offer cars and drivers.

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The diving board at Sugba Lagoon

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The lagoon from a SUP board

Where’s the lagoon exactly?

Sugba lagoon is on Caob Island which is the most westerly of the Siargao Islands. It takes approximately forty minutes to get over to the lagoon.  On the way over you’ll pass through swathes of mangrove areas but the closer you get to Sugba you’ll start to see fishing villages on stilts.

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Sugba Lagoon from the shack

Catching the boat to Sugba Lagoon

The pump boats are all wooden and relatively narrow in width, only seating one person across. There’s room for six adults though.

On your boat will be a driver and a spotter. Below is a photo of our spotter who sat at the front of the boat.

The journey takes about forty minutes and the boats engine can be quite noisy. You’ll know you’re getting closer when you see communities of houses on stilts and when you’ll be able to see the bottom of the ocean. In places the water is incredibly low and clear. You can see everything around you, from the boat, including the fish.

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The wooden boats at Sugba

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The Pump Boat

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A boat arriving into the lagoon

How much will it all cost?

  • We hired a tricycle from BingGo and drove ourselves up to Del Carmen. See our Ultimate Guide for info on how much this cost.
  • The pump boat costs 1600 pesos for four-five hours to visit Sugba Lagoon (tour a) ONLY (there are other packages available for visiting the sand bar for 2,000 pesos (tour b) and the mangroves for 2,600 pesos (tour c)). The boats can fit six people in so it’s wise to take as many people as possible to share the cost.
  • The docking fee at Sugba Lagoon is 100 pesos per person.
  • SUP rental is 200 pesos per hour.
  • Unlimited SUP rental is 500 pesos.
  • Life jacket rental is 50 pesos.
  • A table in the house is 50 pesos. I recommend you get this as the house is wooden and gets incredibly wet and slippery. Having a table means you also have somewhere dry to leave your bags and food.
  • There is no vegan food at the lagoon so you’ll need to take your own picnic, although you can pay 100 pesos per person for barbecued meat/seafood.
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The lagoon

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Sugba water

What should you take with you?

  1. Two towels. We noticed that everything got very wet (and didn’t dry) and although we took one towel each, we needed another one.
  2. Snorkel stuff . You can rent snorkelling gear but better to take your own.
  3. Food and drink. Although you can buy barbecued meat and fish there, we decided to take our own food and drink. We bought sandwiches and nuts and fruit from General Luna as well as two bottles of water.  You might want to consider food for the journey back as well.
  4. Consider taking a dry bag to put your clothes in.
  5. Camera, it’s very Instagrammable!
  6. Consider taking a warm (dry) top for the boat ride back.
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The beautiful lagoon featuring our eldest daughter

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Looking out of the lagoon

Sugba Lagoon from above

A big thank you to Tales of Taste and Travel for this aerial photo of Sugba Lagoon.  It gives you a brilliant idea of scale and how much there is too explore.

I am still droneless as ours refused to calibrate (and then broke) and it’s currently in our storage unit gathering dust until I can work out what to do with it. BOO!

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Sugba Lagoon from above

Sugba Lagoon

Just in case you’re worried about being bored or on the off chance I haven’t quite persuaded you to go to Sugba Lagoon, here’s some more photos of us enjoying our time there.

A few of the things we did were make friends (Imogen our youngest is the social butterfly and befriends people everywhere), we exhausted ourselves by dragging the bamboo float across the lagoon waters. We also snorkelled for hours because the waters are full of fish, we SUP boarded around, jumped the plank, admired the view and ate sandwiches in the house.

Although four hours doesn’t seem like a lot, it was definitely enough time. Any longer and we would have been very tired.

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SUP boarding the lagoon

Jumping the plank

The highlight of the lagoon is of course THAT JUMP!

The plank is probably about 3m above the water so it isn’t as scary as jumping off the side of a waterfall lol.  The waters are quite translucent and you’ll be able to see anything underneath.

When we went there were lots of harmless jellyfish there. They’re much shorter and wider than other jellyfish I’ve seen and you’re quite likely to bump into them if you swim to the stiller parts in the water.

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Jumping the board

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Our youngest jumping the plank

SUP boarding

To avoid arguments over whose turn it was, we rented two SUP boards for two hours. This gave us all plenty of time to have a go at paddling.

Despite the very heavy clouds and the occasional spit of rain, we all had great fun paddling our way around the lagoon, jumping off and snorkelling from the board too.

The temperature of the water was probably around 15-20*c maybe a bit more. We didn’t get cold in the water.

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SUP boarding and snorkelling

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SUP boarding

Snorkelling

We were at the lagoon for somewhere between four and five hours so we spent plenty of time in the water! Our kids love to snorkel and dive so were more than happy to go off and entertain themselves here. The waters are calm and there’s no waves or rip current. For most of the lagoon you can see the bottom and this meant our kids were safe to potter around by themselves.

Their favourite way to snorkel was to jump off the back of the SUP board – much to our eldest daughter’s annoyance lol.

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Proof of mermaids in the lagoon!

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Snorkelling off the SUP board

Pose for photos on the board

It seems as if EVERYBODY wants a photo from the board but only a select few are brave enough to jump lol.

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Gotta get that perfect IG shot!!

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And one from this little sass-pot too!

The boat ride back

I think this is the most tiring part of the day! I didn’t dry off that well before we left and with wet clothes and the wind of the boat, I was cold. This is why I’ve suggested taking a warm top for the boat ride back. Of course, it depends on the time of year you visit. We visited in August which is technically winter although temperatures were still in the mid to high twenties.

The journey back to Del Carmen is about forty minutes and I was so surprised to see communities living out on the sea. Maybe they’re just fishing huts but the ones on the beach fronts looked like they were lived in.

Can you imagine living on a house above the sea?

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The boat ride back to Del Carmen

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The boat ride back to Del Carmen

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Can you spot crocs?

As you start to recognise the mangroves, you’ll be re-approaching the Del Carmen area. Swimming is banned in this area due to the crocodiles. This is the ONLY area in Siargao that has crocs, most of which are estimated to be small although there is a large dead and decomposing croc near the tourism centre that was caught in the waters there. Gross to see.

Sadly we didn’t see any living crocs in the water.  Maybe you’ll have a better chance of seeing one?

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The mangroves



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How to visit Sugba Lagoon by yourself. Sugba Lagoon is just off Siargao Island in The Philippines.

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