Foodie and wanderluster from the Philippines.
Siquijor, also named Isla del Fuego, used to have a not-so-good reputation due to rumours of witches and mystical beings inhabiting the island. It has been sidestepped for a long time due to the scare until the arrival of foreign tourists. Unbeknown to many, the island is a treasure-trove of unspeakable beauty. Siquijor boasts of stunning sunsets and sunrise, unspoilt beaches, crystal clear waterfalls, green mountains, breathtaking views, rich pre-colonial and colonial structures, and underwater paradise. The hearsays, in a way, helped preserve the island’s virginal beauty. Crime rate is reportedly low, people are welcoming and hospitable, and most importantly, you’ll get out alive and unharmed. Everything you’ve heard about the island are just myths.
If you are willing to give it a try and are up for an adventure, there are 2 gateways to the island – Dumaguete and Cebu.
On this blog, I will be sharing the Dumaguete route – the shortest and most time-saving trip between the two. It’s only a good 45-50 minute boat ride compared to Cebu’s 4 to 6-hour ferry trip.
If you’re coming from Manila, you’ll need to fly to Dumaguete first. The plane trip will roughly take an hour. When you arrive in Dumaguete airport, take a tricycle, multicab, or an airconditioned van to go to the seaport for a boat transfer to the island.
Transpo Fare will be:
- Tricyle: PhP120 (fits 4-5 people and about 2 big luggages)
- Airconditioned van: PhP200 (fits 8-10 people and 4-5 big luggages)
Once at the seaport, purchase your boat tickets. Ticket price from Dumaguete to Larena is PhP230 or US$4.60 one way.
To purchase tickets online, click this link: Ocean Jet
Terminal fee is PhP15 or US$0.30 per person.
When you arrive in Larena seaport in Siquijor, drivers and tour operators will approach you for an island tour or for a ride to your hotel. Again, you can take the tricycle, multicab open van, or an airconditioned van.
- The multicab open van will fit 10 people. Cost is PhP600 or US$12 to take you to your accommodation, PhP1000 or US$20 to take you to a whole day island tour.
- The tricycle will fit 2-4 people. Cost is way cheaper. Take this if you are up for an adventure! It is similar to the tuktuks of Thailand.
- The airconditioned van will fit 10 people. Cost is PhP1500 or US$30 to take you to your accommodation and PhP2500 or US$50 to take you to a whole day island tour.
There are no five star hotels in the area, so your options are: a homestay, hostel, pension houses, airbnb homes, and 3-star resort hotel rooms. Price ranges from PhP500/night (US$10) to P6000/night (US$120). If you were not able to book a place online prior to your trip, fret not, as the tour operators at the seaport can help you find cheap accommodation.
To give you an idea, a beach front house that would fit 6 to 10 people in a town called San Juan will cost PhP6000++/night. Note that San Juan is the best place to stay at if you want the best sunrise and sunset views. However, according to our driver, there are homes in the area that cost as low as PhP2000 or $40 per night. The water here is calm so if you want to do some surfing, you’d need to go to the other side of the island. Diving, on the other hand, is popular here. Some of the famous resorts in this area are White Villas Resort, Coco Grove Resort, Salamanca Beach Resort, etc.
This is our Airbnb home for 3 days fronting the beach.
While on the island, you can either explore it by renting motorbikes (PhP350/24hours or $7/24 hours, cheaper if renting longer) or hire a driver to take you on a tour. There are two tours you can choose from. The island tour and the mountain tour.
The whole day island tour is PhP2500 or US$50 by airconditioned van. Your driver will take you to:
- Lazi Convent and San Isidro Labrador Church. The Lazi convent is the largest convent in Asia and the oldest in the Philippines. It is a UNESCO Heritage Site so really worth the trip. If you wish to do some sort of pilgrimage or church-hopping, you can ask the driver to stop at all the old and famous churches on the island. It is a popular thing to do among returning locals. It is believed that completing the pilgrimage will bring blessings and good fortune.
St. Francis of Assissi
2. Cambugahay Water Falls.
There are several waterfalls in Siquijor but the most famous is the Cambugahay Falls. From the road, it is about 135 steps down to a series of waterfalls and pools. Monkey swinging is a popular activity here. Be sure to allot an ample time at this place as you wouldn’t want to leave. The crystal clear emerald waters will surely enchant you.
3. The 500-yr old Balete (Banyan) Tree.
This Banyan Tree was rumoured to be inhabited by bad spirits and witches. However, upon the arrival of tourists, the scare vanished like magic. Today, people go here to enjoy fish spa foot massage underneath the tree. For an entrance fee of PhP10 or $0.2, you can enjoy an unlimited foot massage, c/o the fish swimming in the clear spring water, while drinking fresh coconut juice or while chatting with friends and fellow tourists.
4. Salagdoong Beach Resort
This resort is famous for its beach-sliding and cliff-diving water activities. Enjoy swimming under the several rock formations, jump from the cliff, or slide your way down to the waters. You choose. There are also pink flamingo floaters if you want to take instagrammable photos.
You can go beach hopping if you have the luxury of time. The most famous ones aside from Salagdoong Beach are Paliton beach, Solangon, and Kagusuan beach.
5. Guiwanon Spring Park
This is a mangrove park with several springs flowing into the sea. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit this place due to lack of time. I highly recommend going to this place, however, if you are into nature.
The island has more to offer aside from these. You can go sunset and sunrise watching, mountain hiking, explore caves, visit more waterfalls, see faith healers, scuba diving, and dolphin watching while on the ferry from Dumaguete to Siquijor. Three days is really not enough to fully explore the island. Here are pics from our trip.
You can complete the whole island tour in one day as the island is small, or you can split it into 3 days if you want to do more swimming in Cambugahay or the beaches.
I hope this has been helpful. If you need the contact information of our Airbnb host and the van driver, please comment below and I’ll reply as soon as I can.
Follow me on instagram, @p1nkshatterday, for more Siquijor photos.
Happy travels, traveleras! Xoxo
(History: The Spaniards called Siquijor Isla del Fuego or “Island of Fire,” because the island gave off an eerie glow. This glow came from the great swarms of fireflies that harbored in the numerous molave trees on the island. which forested most of the island. Source: http://www.isladelfuego.com)