Island trippers have another reason to visit Siargao, the Philippines’ surfing capital — the new Siargao Wakepark. Founded by Belgian Tom Soupart and opened in July in the small town of Consuelo, the wakepark is a short 10-minute drive from the main excitement in General Luna. It comprises two man-made lakes, surrounded by coconut trees, and has a lakefront hut, where you can relax while sipping cold drinks.
The sport might even be easier to pick up than surfing. Wakeboarding movements — which feature aspects of surfing, water skiing and snowboarding — are facilitated by the pull of a motorboat or, in this case, an overhead cable. A flat board, fitted with boots, allows people to glide through water, while holding on to a towing rope. “It’s so simple that there hasn’t been a single person that’s left the park without having learned how to stand up and ride with a board,” says Tom. Still, the park emphasizes safety: Anyone who wants to give it a go must always have a life jacket on; must use the designated entry and exit points; and must listen carefully to instructions.
Tom also has the environment in mind. There were early concerns around the need for clearing many of the flatland plot’s coconut groves. “We cut fewer than 25 trees to make space for the lake. We sought permits and we did everything as mindfully as we could,” he explains, adding that the lake has a removable plastic liner which ensures that the land underneath can be used as farmland again in the future. Also, the liner helps prevent the lake’s water — which is collected rainwater — from leaking and spilling over into neighboring rice fields. The wakepark also cleans, dries and donates their plastic waste to the Nature Kids of Siargao, who recycle the material into new products, like pillows. Tom and his team also work with the SEA Movement . Tom says, “The aim is to reward and motivate local kids (below) with free sessions at the wakepark whenever they attend beach clean-ups and keep good grades at school.”
With plans to install overhead park lights, wakeboarding in Siargao can soon be done even after the sun goes down. “It’ll be an activity in Siargao that people can do, regardless of the weather or time of day,” adds Tom. No waves at Cloud 9? No problem.