Over the past few years, Siargao has been consistently earning worldwide acclaim. In 2018 and 2019, the surfing paradise has been included in Conde Nast Traveler’s Best Islands list. This year, it dominated the Asian rankings, prevailing over Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. Time Magazine also included Siargao in its 2021 list of “World’s Greatest Places.”
These recognitions have certainly elevated the island’s status to being a top-of-mind destination among local and international travelers. And with celebrities like Andi Eigenmann, Jericho Rosales and Nadine Lustre flaunting their fashionably cool beach lifestyle on the island, owning a property in Siargao is becoming an increasingly popular aspiration.
JM Libarnes, a real estate salesperson in Siargao offering properties via Siargao Island Property on Facebook, says he’s indeed observed an increasing demand for lots in the island, and it began last year in the height of the pandemic.
One of the reasons for this, he tells ANCX, is that word got around that properties in Siargao are being sold at “Covid rates.” To some extent, there was truth to the talk, says Libarnes. There were locals who opted to sell properties at rates lower than usual in order to cope with the financial crisis. But this is no longer the case now.
The price of paradise
Siargao has a total land area of 437 square kilometers. Should you want to explore the whole island, it will take about half a day. Siargao is actually composed of 48 islands and islets, which are divided into nine municipalities—Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, General Luna, Pilar, San Benito, San Isidro, Santa Monica, and Socorro. The focal point for tourists is GL—not Ganda Lang, but General Luna—which has 19 barangays.
Tourists usually prefer to stay in GL, where most of the bars, restaurants, hotels, and boat-trip departure points are located. This is the reason why properties in the area are more expensive.
Vacant lots there range from P4,000 to P10,000 per square meter, says Libarnes. Commercial lots or roadside lots usually range from P12,000 to P25,000 per square meter. Prime or beach front lots are naturally more expensive. Beach front properties at General Luna go for P20,000 to P30,000 per square meter.
But most of the available lots for sale in Siargao are residential, says Libarnes. There are also some agricultural lands, which could likewise be converted into residential lots. Meanwhile, houses for sale or rent are single detached and not apartment complexes that are common in urban areas.
More for the taking
Libarnes assures us there are still many properties available in the country’s surfing capital. But these are usually large estates. “Bihira lang din kasi ang nakaka-afford ng malaking properties,” he says.
The biggest property the sales exec is currently selling is 43 hectares, valued at P200 million. The most expensive is P400 million, for another 13-hectare property in a prime location. There’s also a five-hectare beach front property worth P450 million, and another 1.5-hectare property that’s valued at P1 billion. Libarnes clarifies that these are all raw land. There are also resorts for sale at P130 million.
He says that the ones who usually buy properties in Siargao nowadays are families and millennial entrepreneurs. “They buy lots to build a vacation home, some for business,” says Libarnes, who’s also a business owner in GL. He also says there are many celebrities and sports personalities from Manila who are on the lookout for properties they can invest in.
Building your dream vacation home on Siargao is no longer a problem, Libarnes says. There are already many suppliers of building materials in the island. Bulk orders can also be made in Surigao City, which is a two-hour boat ride away.
The charm of Siargao
So why are your friends and their dogs moving to the island? The surfing destination famously boasts of incredible waves, white sand islets, turquoise tide pools, and hidden lagoons. If you don’t know, you haven’t been spending a lot of time on TikTok.
But Libarnes thinks the real charm of the island is its laidback vibe and its people. “The people of Siargao are friendly—they’re typical promdi people,” he says. “Yung mga international tourists, mag-start sila ng tour for few days. They’d go around Palawan, Bohol, Boracay etc., pero they stay longer in Siargao—from 1 to 2 weeks, some even years.” He brings up European families who were stranded in Siargao due to the lockdown, and ended up just deciding to live on the island.
The cost of Siargao living would of course depend on a person’s lifestyle, but Libarnes assures that the prices of basic goods are not that expensive. Just ask Nadine Lustre how much is a bottle of Mang Tomas.
Another advantage Siargao has over other beach towns is that it’s not often hit by major typhoons. This is confirmed by PAGASA, which told ANCX there were only 14 typhoons that directly hit the island from 1991 to 2021.