Escaping the tumult of city life has been a dream for most of us, but Manila-born writer Camille Banzon made it her reality. As an avid surfer, Camille would often spend her weekends hopping on a bus or flight to a nearby beach town. But it was Siargao, an island located southeast of Manila which Condé Nast Traveler declares as
the world's newest under-the-radar surf destination, she truly fell in love with. So, when an opportunity opened to purchase a plot of land on the surfing destination, she immediately took it. Called The Hangout, the hostel is located 3 kilometers away from the world famous Cloud 9 surf spot and features comfortable rooms you can book for ₱750 (approximately $15) and mesh beds for ₱350 (approximately $7). And two years in, Camille's accommodation has been a favorite for surfers looking for an affordable and laidback home on the island (check out their reviews on Tripadvisor!).
Intrigued by island living, homify recently sat down with Camille for an interview. Read on as she opens about her two-year old hostel, what she loves about living in Siargao, plus a few local tips on what to do on the island (aside from surfing!).
We wanted to maintain the rustic feel of the structure because for us, living in an island inside concrete slabs just doesn’t make any sense. It’s also an airy house; there are a lot of panels that lets the air in and out so we can enjoy the fresh island breeze.
My personal favorite are, of course, the mesh beds. They are so comfortable to sleep on or just to hangout on—read a book or just stare at the landscape through the wooden panels. Another favorite are the sliding doors with the mandala paintings. It’s just so unique and unlike any house in the island.
There’s a lot of amazing memories made at The Hangout, but my favorites would be when friends and guests work together to improve the hostel, or donate artworks or just leave their marks all around the house. We’ve had amazing artists stay with us that uplifted the creative vibe of the hostel, so these moments are always the best for me. Another is meeting people from across the globe and actually forming bonds with them. Guests tend to come back because they like the homey, family vibe that we have in the hostel. We are not a huge hostel so we get to know our guests better, allowing for friendships to form quickly. One of my favorite moments is also when guests play cool music and we all dance to it no matter what we’re doing. I love music and it’s a huge part of how I manage the hostel, there’s always music playing and it could be anything from jazz and blues to old school hip hop.
My advice for people who want to experience real island living is to make sure to wander around a lot. Book a hostel or a resort just to sleep in, and for the rest of the day, explore. Surfing is a must as well, but if it’s not your cup of tea, go see Daku Island and have lunch cooked there. The best time to go is during the summer, which is April to July. If you’re going to visit for the surf, October is the best time to go.
The best thing about living in Siargao is of course, being so close to the surf. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else because in Siargao, I had an opportunity to start a business and continue doing what I love day in and day out—which are surfing and writing. And the island is just so picturesque, it’s literally the most beautiful island I have ever been, and seen. When I’m done with hostel errands, I usually go for a surf or walk to the beach.