This is a plea for staying put. Our contemporary travel culture is all about 10 places in 9 days. For me, this is simply stress. Let me tell you about the beauty of not moving at all: It was 3 years ago in the small island of Siargao, the ultimate hideout in the Philippines. I was about to be divorced soon and needed a getaway.
Along came the best opportunity: Some of my crazy lovely friends had expatriated to China and found more crazy lovely friends. That bunch of fun people decided to open a warehouse on an island, which mainly had B&B’s, surfers, dogs and the clearest water I’ve ever seen.
After a 30 hours trip I arrived in the tiny, still quite poor island. At that point, I had 3 weeks of vacation waiting for me. The first conversations I overheard at the airport made it pretty clear: Nobody except me would stay here longer than 6 days. Everyone was busy planning a jump to the next two or three islands. My project was different: I wanted to enjoy that little paradise to the fullest.
Friends in Strange Places
It was a good plan. Just imagine meeting your childhood friends on the other side of the planet. During the next weeks, my days where full of BBQ invitations, daytrips to the most beautiful tiny islands and long nights of full moon parties by the beach. Staying put really has the upside of getting to know people. Just like Alyssa Jeane and Ven Sevilla. The two are friends with my friends and the key to getting to know the island community.
Alyssa, originally from Canada, and Ven, from Siargao own Island Pacific Villas, a guest house with the most amazing sea view, a bunch of cute doggies and a great BBQ place. They are absolutely lovely hosts and organize the most relaxing island hops ever. This is typical Siargao: Most of the small places are run by people who really enjoy the company of their guests and will do everything to make your stay perfect.
At the time, I stayed at Bravo Beach Resort, which has super romantic little bungalows and a huge open lounge facing the seaside. Their Paella (the owner is from Spain) is the best addition to the traditional Philippine cuisine with its grilled fish, meats and wonderful fruits.
On Siargao there are so many things to discover: From turquoise colored natural rock pools, huge caves to mangrooves and blue lagoons with otherworldly jelly fish. You can go on island hopping tours and relax on three different islands in one day. Bring fresh fish from the market and have it grilled for you by the beach, then have an ice cold rum accompanied by sea grapes or go for a round of snorkeling. An absolut highlight for the sporty guys is one of the hottest surfing spots in the world: Cloud Nine.
Back in General Luna by night time, hit the karaoke places at the promenade. This experience gets you in touch with the local spirit of Siargao. After some great BBQ mingle with the crowd, sing along or just indulge in some fresh beer and enjoy a view of the sea undisturbed by street lights. On this island, the nights are pitch black, the stars brighter than you can imagine. And if you are afraid walking home on a dark path, there will always be a cute doggie for company.
Go with the Flow
Staying put was a great idea. If you like getting to know people and discover places beyond the tourist spots, give it a try! For me the most amazing part of such a long stay is to develop habits, find my favorite spots and become part of the community. Getting in the flow of island life takes a while for overworked people like most of us. But it’s definitely worth it. Even more so if you are travelling alone. Then you are guaranteed to make new friends in no time. A hideout is the best opportunity to stop hiding, just go with the flow!