A Woman’s Place is in the Line-upWelcome to Siargao, where the local female surfers are treated like Queens

Lucy Theobald

3 months ago in Philippines

In the Philippines, a Woman’s Place is in the Line-up.

Rarely have I found myself in such a friendly line-up as in the tropical paradise of Siargao Island, the Philippines. Locals and travellers, male and female come together to share the stoke in an amicable harmony rarely seen in places with such world-class waves.

Typically, women are the minority sex in the water and whilst this still applies in Siargao, the local women who do surf are treated like queens.

Powerful Waves and Empowering Women

Filipino female surfers are nothing short of impressive and certainly a dominant presence in the water. When paddling out prepare to be humbled watching numerous local ladies dance down the line, cross-stepping, carving and generally showing the rest of us how things are supposed to be done. Longboards are a popular choice at spots such as Jacking Horse, Quicksilver and Tuason, especially on more mellow days.

Queen Ikit Agudo finding the glide. Photo credit Tom Butschies

Not to be outdone, plenty of female shortboarders tear up the waves. The Island hosts the annual Siargao International Women’s Surfing Cup at the world-famous Cloud 9. Since 2017 this event has been part of the World Surf League Qualifying Series, so the spotlight really is shining on the Philippines’ surf community.

As a spectator, I can’t think of a better location to watch a contest than from the Cloud 9 pier. Like a rickety wedding cake, the platform stands three tiers tall out in the ocean and provides a perfect view of the line-up and competition. The Ticket to Ride Coast to Coast Siargao Surf Adventure coincides with the Siargao National Surf Cup, meaning we were fortunate enough to witness the locals battle it out first-hand!

A Welcome as Warm as the Water

It’s not only local women who get their fair share of waves, as a traveller you’ll also be cheered on. Being part of the Ticket to Ride crew we were naturally quite a presence in the water, but nowhere did we receive a negative reception. Even when I stayed on after the trip and surfed by myself at a mellow right hander called Daku, local Filipinos called me into waves and encouraged me to join them on the peak. It was really empowering to witness the dominance of local women and surf in such a supportive line-up.

Generally, when surfing somewhere new it’s good etiquette to sit on the fringes and wait your turn, taking the scraps before getting a chance on the set waves. Such a warm welcome was a refreshing change. Sure, there are occasional ego clashes, that’s part-and-parcel with surfing, but overwhelmingly an atmosphere of positivity pervaded.

In Siargao there really is something for everyone. General Luna is home to anything from hollow racing barrels at Cloud 9 to deeper reefs and point breaks such as Cemetery and Rock Island. Further north in Pacifico the crowds thin out, yet the quality of wave continues. Affectionately nicknamed the ‘fickle-pines’, it’s not unusual for the country to experience some flat spells, but if you’re going to score, it will be in Siargao!

If you want a surf destination where the good vibes are infectious, local women inspire and you’ll be treated like an equal in the line-up, then Siargao is the place for you!