Siquijor is a little-known island located southeast from Cebu and Negros across Cebu Strait (also called Bohol Strait) and southwest from Bohol. It is still largely underdeveloped for foreign tourism but have been attracting locals who seek out the island’s mystical traditions. Although being small and remote, there is still much to discover around Siquijor. Here are our picks for the best things to do and see in Siquijor Island.
BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN SIQUIJOR ISLAND
BEACHES IN SIQUIJOR
Unfortunately, most of the more accessible beaches around the island are rocky and full of algae while some of the nicer beaches have been privatised and closed off to the public.
Fortunately, there are some pristine beaches that are accessible to all:
A favourite amongst the locals, Salagdoong Beach is known for its cliff jumping activities and crystal clear waters. Two diving platforms are embedded in the rock formation with heights of 7m and 10m. For the non-daredevils, there are kayaks and snorkelling equipment for rent or you can just sit back and relax by the on-site restaurant or just work on your tan by the beach.
The best time to visit Salagdoong is around 10am where you will have almost the whole place to yourself. Crowds usually come in after lunch and the beach is usually overcrowded during weekends. Do check with the guards on the tides before jumping off the cliffs.
Located in the town of Maria, on the northeastern side of Siquijor, Salagdoong Beach is maintained and run by the government. There is a charge of Php25 per person entrance fee, Php10 for motorbike parking and Php35 for car parking. You will also see some beach front chalets as Salagdoong is part of the Hotel Agripino resort. Read more below on where to stay in Siquijor Island.
Also known to locals as “Mini-Boracay”, the 150m-long Paliton Beach is lined with swaying palm trees and the sand is powdery white and soft. Swimming here is ideal as the waters are calm and clear and not many tourists are aware of this little slice of paradise. This is also a great place for photos with local fishing boats lying around providing a great backdrop.
To get to Paliton, look out for the small church in Barangay Paliton and turn down the road towards the sea. Paliton Beach is located approximately 1.5km off the main road. There should be no fees to use the beach, however, part of it is now privatised. There are no beach bars and cafes around so you’ll be assured of a tranquil surrounding.
Sandugan Beach can be found on the northern part of Siquijor in Larena town. This is a quieter side of the island with few tourists and offers its visitors the longest white sand on the island complete with clear blue waters. There is also a mangrove along the coast so you get to see little crabs and marine life around you.
Unfortunately, to get rewarded with soft white sand, you will have to tread past the washed up sea weed and corals on the shoreline. As with most beaches in Siquijor, you’ll probably need a good pair of sea shoes to head out to the sea. Entrance is free and there are a handful of beachfront resorts around with restaurants.
WATERFALLS, CAVES & LAGOONS IN SIQUIJOR
What’s a visit to Siquijor Island without visiting the natural wonders of nature dotted around the island?
Located in the town of Lazi, the Cambugahay Waterfalls are probably the most well-known in Siquijor. The waterfalls consist of three-tiers of cascading falls with vibrant turquoise colours of the warm water, originating from natural springs.
Here, you can swim, slide down the smooth rocks or even jump off a rope vine a-la Tarzan style into the deep end of the falls.
To get to the falls, you will need to walk down a steep trek of 135 stone steps and through a small trail of rocks in the river. There should be no entrance fees charged but there will be a fee of Php10 for motorbike parking and Php20 for car parking.
Lagaan Falls is a relatively unknown mini waterfall in Siquijor. This well-kept secret is a popular spot for locals and tourists who wish to escape from the crowds at the larger waterfalls.
Lagaan Falls in Lower Kinamandagan, Lazi, has only been opened to the public since November 2016 but has already distinguished itself as a relaxing spot to enjoy the day. Unlike Cambugahay Falls, Lagaan’s water is refreshingly cold and there’s even a small cave to venture into under the falls.
For thrill-seekers, there is a rope vine to swing from, rock slide and ledges to jump from. The area around the falls provides picnic tables, hammocks, a toilet and a changing room.
Entry fee to Lagaan Falls are Php50 per person plus Php10 for motorbike parking and Php20 for car parking. Lagaan Falls are privately owned and the fees are used to maintain the safety and cleanliness of the falls and surrounding areas.
Siquijor isn’t just about the beaches and the waterfalls, there are also caves that are worth exploring as well – and one example would be Cantabon Cave.
Siquijor’s Cantabon Cave showcases the province’s beauty that is hidden underground. For the adventurous kind of people, this is the best place for you to visit in Siquijor. The many stalactites, stalagmites and rock formations will stir your imagination. You will also find a natural swimming pool, shower bell and drinking water dripping directly from the rocks.
It is not possible to visit Cantabon Cave without authorised guide. A fixed rate of Php500 for up to three people will get you a local guide plus equipment including a helmet for up to three hours.
Cantabon Cave is located in the center of Siquijor Island and is easily accessible by all means of transportation.
This hidden lagoon in the middle of the jungle in Siquijor is a well-kept secret and only a few know about it and how to get there. It is the perfect spot to rest and relax with nature and its clear, turquoise green water is safe to swim in. To get there, you will need to ask Jorich of Green Monkey Bike Rental (read more below for his contact information).
ENCHATED TREE & FAITH HEALERS IN SIQUIJOR
Century Old Balete Tree
Balete is part of a fig tree family that grows around the Philippines. Local folklore has it that mythical creatures live within the Balete tree and comes out at night.
Considered as one of the oldest and largest tree in Siquijor, the Century Old Balete Tree is over 400-years old and stands 50 feet in height. What makes this tree even more enchanting is the presence of cold spring water that flows right underneath its roots. This water flows into a man-made pool filled with fish which is used as a natural foot-spa.
There is an entrance fee of Php10 per person with an additional Php10 for parking.
Siquijor is also well-known for its festivals that focus on healing rituals where incantations are sung while the elderly make potions out of oils, herbs, roots, insects and tree barks.
As seen in the video above, a ritual called bolo-bolo is being performed to rid natural illnesses or “curses” brought on by black magic. The bolo-bolo healing ritual involves using a glass of water, bagacay (bamboo straw) and a magical black stone. Water is poured from a plastic pitcher into a clear glass with the magical black stone and the healer blows into the bamboo straw, moving it across the affected area of the patient’s body. The healer will say some words of prayer and somehow, the clear water in the glass turns murky, filled with brown and cloudy organic matter believed to be bad elements removed from the patient’s body.
To visit a faith healer atop Mount Bandilaan, do check with your tour guide or local staff in the hotels to assist you. There is no set payment and donations are usually appreciated.
TIPS & ADVICE FOR SIQUIJOR ISLAND
WHEN TO GO
Siquijor Island has a tropical monsoon climate and the best time to visit is during the dry season which starts in February and lasts through April sometimes extending to mid‑May.
The fastest way to get to Siquijor Island is to fly to Dumaguete Airport (Sibulan Airport). Flight time is approximately an hour. See below for the best prices on daily flights between Manila and Dumaguete.
From Cebu City, Oslob, Tagbilaran and Iligan
The ports of Cebu, Tagbilaran and Iligan have direct links to Siquijor by ferry or boat. Oslob in South Cebu, has a direct link to the town of Larena in Siquijor.
Ferry & Chartered Plane
Upon arrival at Dumaguete Airport, take a 20-minutes tricycle ride to the Port of Dumaguete City. This ride should cost you no more than Php100.
You can opt to purchase your ferry tickets in advance (highly recommended) through OceanJet’s website here or get the tricycle driver to take you to the ticketing booths which are located across the road from the terminal.
Once you reach the entrance of the port, you may get harassed by “porters”. You are under NO obligation to use their luggage service unless you want to. A simple “No thank you, I will carry my own luggage” will suffice. You will need to pay a Php15 terminal fee per person before entering the terminal. If you have trolley luggage or big bags, you will need to check them in with Ocean Jet’s office. There will be an additional charge per bag which should be around 120Php. The office is on the left-hand side once you pass the security check.
The ferry ride will take approximately 45 minutes on Ocean Jet. There are other ferry services between Dumaguete and Siquijor which will take over an hour or so.
For those who are on a time constraint, wish to avoid the queues at the ferry terminal or would love to experience flying in a private plane, you can get from Dumaguete Airport (Sibulan Airport) to Siquijor in just 10 minutes with Royhle Air Way Charter. From Cebu, Air Juan flies three times a week.
WHERE TO STAY
There are six towns around Siquijor Island:
San Juan is located on the western side of the island and is more developed for tourism with cafes, beach bars and restaurants. It also has a nicer coastal area compared to the northern and southern parts of the island.
Lazi offers a more laid back atmosphere with just a handful of resorts and homestays scattered around. However, Lazi is closer to most of the attractions mentioned above. The beaches around Lazi are rocky and less-maintained.
Maria has limited accommodation and dining options. Salagdoong Beach is probably the best place to be in this area. The beaches surrounding are filled with sea urchins and sharp corals.
Enrique Villanueva, as the smallest township in Siquijor, offers a handful of accommodation options. There’s the Tulapos Marine Sanctuary where you get to see mangroves and snorkel with turtles and sharks. The beaches are full of crushed dead corals and the sand is coarse.
Larena is peaceful and quiet but is also a commercial hub as it has the largest port on the island. Larena also plays host to a few festivals throughout the summer season and has numerous restaurants and cafes to choose from including the island’s largest supermarket. There are a few beach front resorts dotted along Sandugan Beach.
Siquijor is the capital of the province of Siquijor. There are many shops and restaurants around and it’s also where the passenger ferry terminal is. The best beach is surprisingly right by the port with fine white sand and clear turquoise waters. Most of the accommodation here is basic and budget-friendly.
When searching online for hotels and resorts in Siquijor, you will realise that there aren’t too many options to choose from. The reason is because a lot of the local and government-run resorts do not list on hotel booking sites and most do not even have websites or emails. There are plenty of accommodation options along the beachfront of San Juan and a lot of them accept walk-ins without any reservations. However, we suggest you take a look at the accommodation options below and book a night or two at one of these hotels that accept online bookings just to be on the safe side.
The problem with an island that’s relatively new to foreign tourism is that the people start getting greedy and it could potentially shun tourists from returning.
From the moment you disembark the ferry, you will be harassed by tricycle drivers who will charge much more than you should be paying. The best way to avoid overpaying is by booking in advance through some of the tour operators on Siquijor.
The best way to get around the island is by motorbike. However, for those who are not confident manoeuvring a motorbike around potholes, you can also rent a car. There are a few modern pump stations dotted around the main roads or you can also purchase bottles of gasoline from the roadside stalls.
We recommend using Green Monkey Bike Rental for all your rentals and island tours. With upfront prices and great service, Jorich will ensure that all your needs are taken care of while in Siquijor. You may contact Jorich by clicking here.
The main language spoken in Siquijor is Cebuano. English, Spanish and Tagalog are also spoken and understood by the locals.
As you read above, beaches have been privatised and touts are everywhere looking to make a quick buck out of tourists. The tourism ministry must ensure that tour guides and prices are regulated, roads repaired and that public beaches are cleaned regularly. There is potential for Siquijor to be one of the must-visit islands around the Philippines in the near future.
For now, let’s hope that the natural wonders of this mystical little island remains as paradisiacal and magical as it is. Experience the best things to do and see in Siquijor Island as soon as you can!
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