Despite traveling to the Philippines many times over the years, I had never gone to Mindanao — in no small part because my wife wouldn’t let me. Parts of the region were once considered quite dangerous, but I was bound for an island off the mainland: Siargao.

Siargao is a drop of tropical paradise that stands out even among the beautiful islands of the Philippines, a hideaway for luxury travelers and surfers.

I was quite surprised by the longish flight from Manila to Siragao, at around two hours and fifteen minutes. Regular travelers to the Philippines will know that small planes are the main way to hop between the many islands of the nation, but it was an education in the sheer size of this tropical republic.

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