An Undiscovered Surf Paradise – Siargao, Philippines

We often hear about those surreal places that have yet to be “discovered”, yet usually it’s ironically after they have been discovered – Siargao in the Philippines has yet to become mainstream and Cloud 9 is truly a gem.

The locally famous Cloud 9 has a surf tower and waves of every size and type breaking on all sides. Most of the people here are either locals or travelers who have been here before and are returning for their annual surf pilgrimage. The waves, water, and people just don’t get any better than this. Every day starts and ends the same, casual and sunny….with some coffee, a few San Miguel (local brew), and delicious meat and seafood skewers.

This is the place for people who know that “local” is the best way of life and it’s not fancy, just beautiful. Having explored and written on more than 30 countries, this is like no other, but probably will be for only another 2-3 years as the beginning of tourism can be felt with newer cabanas and idyllic little resorts starting to popup.

Getting There

The largest airline in the Philippines, Cebu Pacific has multiple flights to Siargao from Cebu, which may be reached via key hubs such as Manila, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul, and Singapore, among others. From the airport, you’re looking at about a 45-minute ride to General Luna, where you’ll find Cloud 9 and some of the best surf in the world.

If surfing, turquoise water, and dreamy days on stunning beaches is your idea of paradise, Siargao checks all the boxes.


Freedom, Fairness, and Equality

When reading thought-provoking ideas like the blog post below from Seth Godin (a marketing genius and great human), it’s important to try and read it without bias, as if you’d never heard the concepts before. These ideas cross borders and religions, they are concepts that apply to all people and cultures. Let’s embrace unity and become better people, we can do it, and we’ll change the world.

“Freedom doesn’t mean no responsibility. In fact, it requires extra responsibility. Freedom is the ability to make a choice, and responsibility is required once you make that choice.

Fairness isn’t a handout. Fairness is the willingness to offer dignity to others. The dignity of being seen and heard, and having a chance to make a contribution.

And equality doesn’t mean equal. Equality doesn’t guarantee me a starting position on the Knicks. Equality means equality of access, the opportunity to do my best without being disqualified for irrelevant reasons.


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Diving Sipadan in Borneo

This is not just another dive spot – it is anything but that. From barracuda tornados to hammerhead sharks and even a 600 meter wall with Turtle cave that runs through the entire island, this is Sipadan.

Ever since diving legend Jacques Cousteau raved about Pulau Sipadan’s diversity of marine life, it has been a mecca for scuba in Malaysia. It is located off the east coast of Sabah, Malaysia’s eastern most state, and lies on the north-eastern corner of Borneo, the world’s third largest island.

Getting There 

You’ll need to fly into Kota Kinabalu and then grab a quick 45-minute flight to Tawau, followed by a 1 hour and 45 minute bus to Semporna. From Semporna, it’s an hour boat ride to whichever island you choose to sleep on dive from. Due to all those transfers, it’s best to plan on staying a night in Semporna and leaving early in the morning. Once you leave Semporna, you’ll have to choose from Mabul or Kapalai island for lodgings, because Sipadan is a small island and highly restricted national park with no lodgings.


Mabul Island has dive resorts and locals, and that’s about it. There are three local restaurants and I mean local, otherwise food can only be found at your choice of lodging, and many have packages that include food and diving with the accommodations. It takes about 15 minutes to walk around the entire island – it’s very small. Accommodations range from hostels with dorms ($20/nt) to 5-star resorts ($250/nt).

There a secret sandwich shop on Mabul which is open for a few hours in the early evening and is located near the entrance to Billibong. There make decent burgers and chicken sandwiches for like $1.50 or combine both patties for $3!

Kapalai Island is a single large private reef and resort, built above the reef and entirely elevated on posts. It’s much more expensive than Mabul and a totally different experience. It is totally contained and

Regardless of where you choose to stay, you’ll be in the company of friendly and a little giddy diving enthusiasts who are excited as hell to be there. There isn’t a dive spot that disappoints, everything delivers on such high expectations – from wrecks to an underwater artificial coral cityscape, complete with town and two 10 meter towers.

A Time Warp – Havana, Cuba

Havana has a unique and enchanting allure, like a glimpse into the past, set to a tune by the Bueno Vista Social Club.

It’s a mixture of colonial buildings showing various stages of age, dotted with local and boutique restaurants, most having patios and mixing delicious mojitos. When you’re sitting in the Old Quarter, it’s difficult to not feel like Hemmingway might have just left before you got there. The streets linger with nostalgic romance, like dried roses on an antique armoire, faded beauty which remains beautiful, but just in a different way. It always feels festive too, the people are so lively energetic.

The Absolutely Don’t Miss List:

  • Fábrica de Arte Cubano – the coolest combination of art gallery, club, music venue, restaurant, and bar, we’ve ever seen with no second place. 
  • 304 O’Reilly – they have amazing craft cocktails, juices, and food. It’s a tiny place, but not one you want to miss – we had to go back several times. 
  • Sloppy Joes – it’s a restored relic of times long gone, a place worth having a drink.

Cuba itself can appeal to virtually anyone with classical Havana, the turquoise waters and white sand beaches of Varadero, an authentic colonial experience in Trinidad, and the rustic appeal of Viñales, where the red dirt and tobacco plantations warm the soul.