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Blue Tomato

Stormrider Guide to surfing Eastern Samar

Phillipines, EAST ASIA

Philippine Dream, John Callahan


+ Typhoons and windswells - Erratic typhoon swells
+ Undiscovered quality breaks - Messy windswells
+ Warm and tropical - Heavy rains
+ Cheap and lively - Time consuming travel

Samar is the Philippines third largest volcanic island with rough, hilly terrain covered by lush tropical vegetation. Swell exposure is good with waves hitting both the north and east-facing coasts. Borongan, the provincial capital with 50,000 people is a good starting point to discover the 150km-long pristine coastline, which is largely unexplored, since travelling around Eastern Samar by road is challenging and slow, especially during the wet season. Samar was the natural choice for exploratory boat expeditions heading north from Siargao, resulting in discoveries like the secret spot Philippine Dream.

When to Go

Surfing in Samar presents a choice between the SW monsoon less rainy season (July-Sept) with dominant SW offshores and very erratic typhoon swells, or the NE monsoon very rainy season (Nov-Mar) with its dominant onshores but a consistent supply of windswell with occasional clean conditions. Usually, travellers aim for a lucky break between August-October hoping for the perfect ideal typhoon swell but many have been badly skunked, even on a month long trip. A better option may be to choose November, as the typhoon season switches to the NE monsoon windswell season. As far as tides go, they have a diurnal inequality so expect different tidal ranges during the day; they reach 1m on spring tides, which is significant enough on shallow reefs.

Surf Spots

A trike ride north of town, near the discos is an inconsistent beachbreak named Boulevard, which only works with a big swell due to the protection of the cove and offshore islets. There can be a fast right at the rivermouth on big NE swells. Fickle, challenging, short, hollow lefts, break over live coral at Pirates Cove in front of the so-called surf resort that offers a multitude of other activities as the waves are rarely any good. Santa Monica caters for fishermen, scuba divers and surfers if enough E swell is penetrating the bay. The reefs can hold some peaks and there is plenty of beachfront accommodation. The fine sand of Lalawigan Beach stretches south and the fringing reef holds low quality peaks all the way down to the Suribao rivermouth lefts and beachbreak at Omawas. Further south, 1h from Borongan, is Llorente, where beginners and improvers will appreciate some sand-bottomed peaks that seem to get plenty of swell and break through the tide. Once the biggest US Military base in the Philippines, Guiuan (pronounced Giwan) is 111km and 2 hours travel from Borongan and situated on a long, low, narrow coralline peninsula jutting out of Samar. Over the bridge on Calicoan Island, Sulingan Beach has a left and a right breaking on both sides of a narrow channel. Can have some power and gets shallow so pushing tides and wave faces up to 8ft before closing out. Beginners favour the centre part of the beach, sometimes referred to as ABC. The reef bottom of Sulingan has a gradual slope, devoid of the crevices of SiargaoÕs Cloud 9, but the live coral is covered with sea urchins. Paddling out is fairly easy, though at low tide, expect a fair walk over coral in booties. The surf camp here was flattened by supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013.


dominant swell N -NE N -NE N -NE N -NE N -NE N -NE
swell size (ft) 3-4 2 0-1 1-2 3 4
consistency (%) 60 30 10 20 40 70
dominant wind NE -E NE -E E -S S -W S -W NE -E
average force F4 F4 F3 F3-F4 F4 F4
consistency (%) 85 80 67 59 43 65
water temp (C) 23 23 24 25 24 23
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts

Travel Information

Humid and heavy rainfall year-round, with two distinct monsoon seasons: The more rainy NE monsoon from Nov-Mar. Occasional dry spells in May and June. Less rainy SW monsoon from July-Sept when westerly winds (Habagat) become dominant. Average yearly rainfall is 3000mm. 192 days of rain, average temp is 27¡C (80¡F). Frequent typhoons; the last one that hit land was in Dec Õ15. Water temps donÕt get super-warm, bring a light shorty and booties.

Lodging and Food
In Borongan, try Pension Alang-Alang, in front of Provincial Capital building ($4-8/d), or Domsowir Hotel in the same range. In Guiuan, try the Tanghay Lodge ($3-14/d), on the W-facing beach (flat). Expect to pay $3 for a decent meal.

Nature and Culture
Samar has the 2nd largest virgin forest in the Philippines. Close by are secluded waterfalls, caves and jungle treks. Try river tubing which involves lazily drifting downstream and enjoying the cool waters and tropical scenery. Local sailboats are called ÔsilingÕ. Borongan Fiesta in September. Cross Sohoton Natural Bridge!