“Life is like a surf ride. Magic happens when you learn to identify when the tide is in your favor and when against!”—Atul Vaya
The energy of the world moves in waves. Things come in and out of our lives, oftentimes not in our control. The acts of acceptance and letting go become vital aspects of surviving this existence with our sanity intact. The challenges we experience can be great teachers of this, but so can the highly physical and meditative practice that is surfing.
Life is, indeed, like surfing. Sometimes we get tied up waiting for that perfect wave—or job, or partner or next stage of life—to come along. While doing this, we forget that both in surfing and in life, what is important is enjoying the moment, loving what you’re doing, going with the flow and making the best of what’s been given to you.
These were the things I learned as I spent the weekend surfing with my girls Athena and Jordan Prieto-Valdes on Siargao island, the surfing capital of the Philippines. The carefree locals we surfed with jumped in the water and paddled out without hesitation or worry. They sat around and watched the horizon, felt the shifting energies, constantly judged what wave was worth their time, and adjusted their positions, showing me that it’s all about patience and adaptability.
Catching a good wave
Catching a good wave takes calm persistence, and the sensitivity to feel how the water moves around you. You have to know the rhythms: The waves come in sets, then stop and then return. Surfers shift positions to improve their odds of finding that next amazing wave, in the same way that we must always keep moving toward our greatest desires and goals. Though it is not enough to just be at the right place at the right time, you also have to take the initiative to propel yourself forward. Like with so many things in life, the value of inertia is key.
And when you miss a wave, because missing things in life is sadly inevitable, you need to accept that it was just not for you, and realize that there are other things going to come your way. You have to let it go and move forward. If not, you get caught in a set, tossed around by the whitewash of breaking waves, completely stuck. Even wiping out teaches great life lessons.
And yes, after countless attempts, I was actually able to ride that perfect beginner wave! While Jordan and her friends make surfing look easy, cruising through water on a rapidly moving piece of wood is really quite challenging. Thank goodness for my Bikram yoga practice for gracing me with the balance I needed to stand on the board—that, and my sweet surf instructor, “barrel master” Balong Agudo of Agudo Surf (@agudosurf on Instagram).
Surfing is one thing, but my biggest enjoyment was spending quality time with my daughters. I was so happy to finally see Jordan again, who relocated to this enchanted island to surf every day. It was an amazing thing to share in her joy of surfing, and even better to have our girls’ surf trip documented by a surf photographer (@surfclipsiargao on Instagram) and drone operator (@sallty_air on Instagram)!
I loved getting to witness Jordan’s new life on this island, and, of course, watch all her friends surf with so much confidence and flair. Among them is sexy surf chick and national athlete Ikit Agudo, who was the most entertaining with her hilarious jokes and stylish cross steps on the board that make her look like a fashion model.
Best restaurants and bars
Jordan introduced me to all her cool friends and took us to the best restaurants and bars on the island. Chunchi Soler and Carlo Tanseco graciously hosted our Spanish dinner at Alma Restaurant (@alma.siargaoon Instagram). Chunchi and Carlo are about a month away from opening their boutique resort on the island.
We also had a relaxed, delicious lunch at Las Palmas Resort (@laspalmas.siargao on Instagram) hosted by owner Hazel Trinidad-Alvarez, the mother of Jordan’s good friend and “twin sister” Belle Alvarez.
The best cocktails on the island are served at Explorers’ Bar Sidargo (@sidargo.phon Instagram). This restaurant features a Japanese-Hawaiian inspired menu, and strong yet balanced drinks. The dining experience is set in an island explorer-themed space, providing good music and great energy. Located right on General Luna’s main tourism road, this is where explorers come to hang their hats after a long day out. Owners Kara Prieto and son Joaquin Tolentino introduced me to the exciting postsurf world of Siargao.
After several days of surfing and falling in love with Siargao, I am already planning my next trip back with Corporate International Travel, better known as Citti Travel (@cittiexperience on Instagram). I will stay again at the beautifully picturesque Kalinaw Resort (kalinawresort.com/[email protected]), located right in front of the beach and near all the best surf spots in General Luna.
These days, local travel maybe a bit of a hassle, but the destinations our wonderful country has to offer are well worth the travel protocols. The rules are for everyone’s safety and security, anyway. Having an excellent travel agent like Shan David, owner of Citti Travel, is vital for a stress- and hassle-free vacation.
Travel guidelines differ depending on where you’re coming from and whether you’re connected to someone in Siargao. Here are the requirements and other important things to note below. Be sure to email these requirements a day before your departure ([email protected]).
Tourists invited by a local resident of Surigao del Norte: negative swab/saliva reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test result released within 48 hours or two days prior to arrival; valid identification card; travel certification issued by the mayor of the city/municipality of destination (within the province of Surigao del Norte).
Once your trip is approved, you’ll also need to get your Surigao del Norte e-Health Pass here. After filling in your personal details and health declaration, you will be provided with a QR code. You’ll need this when entering establishments in the province. Don’t forget to print a copy or save it on your phone, and have a valid ID with you at all times.
With its world-class surf, pristine white beaches, coconut woodlands and emerald mangrove forests, Siargao has captured visitors from all over the world for years because of its enchanting vibe, chill island lifestyle and sensational waves. The upsurge of ultrahip and cool new resorts and businesses have put Siargao on the global travel map. It was even voted “best island in Asia” and “best island in the world” by Condé Nast Traveler readers.
Riding a wave is all about trust and confidence. Trust yourself that the timing of the wave will move you forward. Make the most of the ride by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement. And when you get caught in the impact zone, you’ve got to just get back up. Because you never know what may be over the next perfect wave.
As Roger James Hamilton (@rogerhamilton) tweeted, “Life is like the ocean. Waves will try to knock you down and push you back to where you started, but once you fight through them, the entire ocean is yours.”