On the way to Guiwanon Spring Park, Ms. Myla Bromo-Abellana, Negros Oriental Tourism Senior Operations Officer, shows a photo of her flying on a broomstick. She assures everyone in the van we’ll all learn to fly before the end of our Siquijor trip.
Well, that’s a way to welcome tourists in the mystical island of fire! It kind of set the mood (and an illusory expectation too).
The country’s third-smallest province both in terms of land area and population, Siquijor, has long been a stereotyped destination in Central Visayas. To most Filipinos, it’s a known place for witchcraft, love spells, folk healing rituals—some locally called bolo-bolo, tuob, pausok, etc.. With its peculiar healers and haunting stories apt for Halloween, you might think why a lot of people come to visit?
Unlike typical island destinations that rely mostly on their beaches for tourist influx, Siquijor banks on its healers equally as it does on its natural attractions. The peak season of visit for locals and foreigners who seek to get “healed” is on the Holy Week.
I remember my first time visiting Siquijor. I flew from Dumaguete via Cessna aircraft. Thanks to the owner of Bravo Resorts (and my previous employer), I only had a day to get around. Not that I’m being sarcastic. I was lucky to check out some accommodations, but you can imagine how it is when you fly to a stunning spot (or any place) for strict business. I didn’t have the chance to go to some “enchanted waterfalls”. I didn’t get to meet a bolo-bolo healer or learn to fly a broomstick… Needless to say, I regretted not staying longer.
Good thing I got invited by the Philippine Department of Tourism – Office of Public Affairs and Advocacy for a familiarization tour!
This second time to visit Siquijor, my mother advised me to not eat while on the island. Clearly, she’s heard some stories. But seriously? Not eat? For three days?
Anyway, I ate. A lot! And I did more than just eating! This recent fam trip allowed me to see the most incredible of Siquijor. So I am writing this post to address your most common questions: What to do in Siquijor? What to see in Siquijor? Where to stay in Siquijor? Which tour to book in Siquijor?
|Me floating on the cool and clear waters of Salagdoong Beach after cliff jumping from a height of 13 meters. Photo taken by Czar Dancel|
Siquijor’s attractions remind me of Nusa Penida, only with better roads. The convenience of getting around the island is amongst what the locals are proud of. No traffic jam, roads are paved (well 90 per cent), and the transportation cost is dirt cheap. The temperature on the island, albeit high, is tolerable even for the hypertensive. By that, I mean ideal for staying out long under the sun or hiking more than a hundred steps to reach a waterfall destination.
Three days in Siquijor
6:35 am ETD from Manila via Cebu Pacific bound for Dumaguete City
8:10 am ETA in Dumaguete City
8:30 am Breakfast at Café Filomina-Boulevard
9:30 am ETD to Siquijor via Ocean Jet
10:30 am Arrival at Port of Siquijor
10:50 am Siquijor Town Tour (Points of Interest: St. Francis of Assisi Church and Bell Tower, Siquijor Boardwalk, and Welcome to Siquijor Landmark )
12:30 pm Lunch at Bellview Kuzzina Bar
1:55 pm Experience Bolo-Bolo rituals
3:00 pm Proceed to Cantabon Cave and Mt. Bandilaan Nature Park
5:00 pm Check in at Dapdap Sunset Grill (homestay)
6:45 pm Dinner at Baha Bar
8:00 pm Back to homestay
|Us inside the Cantabon Cave. This part is the mini-swimming pool. Photo taken by Teddy Pelaez|
7:30 am Breakfast at the homestay
8:00 am Proceed to Paliton Beach
8:30 am Proceed to Lugnason Falls
9:45 am Lazi Town Tour: (Points of Interest: Century-old Balete tree and Fish spa, St. Isidore Labrador Church and Lazi Convent)
10:30 am Proceed to Cambugahay Falls
12:30 Lunch at San’s KTV and Restaurant
2:00 pm Visit Kagusuan Beach, Salagdoong Beach and Forest Tour
4:30 pm Proceed to Pan Bisaya Store passing by Cang-isok Century-old House
5:45 pm Sunset dinner at Larena Triad Coffee Shop
7:00 pm Back to Homestay
|Me just enjoying Paliton Beach. Photos taken by Danny Pata|
4:30 am Proceed to Mt. Bandilaan for sunrise viewing
7:00 am Breakfast at homestay
8:00 am Half-day snorkel trip with Apo Diver in San Juan
11:45 pm Check out/lunch
1:30pm ETD to Dumaguete
2:20 pm ETA Port of Dumaguete
3:00 pm Stop-over at the San’s Rival Bistro and Negros Oriental Souvenir Shop
5:00pm ETD back to Manila via Sibulan Airport
|Me with some locals prepping to jump into the water of Lugnason Falls. Photo taken by Teddy Pelaez|
Some tourists don’t have the luxury of time to get around the island in three days. In such a case, I recommend a day tour.
Day tour to Siquijor
For day tours, you can choose between a coastal tour or a combined tour via a car or a van. You can also hire a tricycle for PHP 1500 – PHP 2000 if you are travelling solo or two people. (Details about which tour to book at the end of the post.)
9:40 am Arrival at Port of Siquijor
10:30 am Siquijor Town Tour (Points of Interest: St. Francis of Assisi Church and Bell Tower, Siquijor Boardwalk, Welcome to Siquijor Landmark, and Guiwanon Spring Park)
12:00 pm Lunch and broomstick photo challenge at Hapitanan Cafe
1:00 pm Proceed to Lugnason Falls
2:00 pm Proceed to Cambugahay Falls
3:00 pm Proceed to Salagdoong Beach
4:30 pm Proceed to Port of Siquijor
6:00 pm ETD back to Dumaguete from Siquijor Port
|Left photo: Dapdap Sunset Grill; Right photo: souvenir from Balete century-old tree. I highly recommend you buy your souvenirs here especially the ref magnets!!!|
- Booking your trip to Siquijor: Tips and tricks
- Book your flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Traveloka. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know you get the best deal. For LCC you can take Cebu Pacific to Dumaguete. Best to take the country’s only 4-star airline Philippine Airlines for a safe and smooth flight.
Book your accommodation
You can book your hotel with Agoda or Travelbook. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Travelbook as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time. My suggested places are:
I recommend Mr. Alvin Etom, a certified tourist driver.
His contact number: 09058301411
He offers a coastal or combined tour with his 14-seater van for PHP 3500 for a 10-hour tour.
Other transport options (rate per 10 hours):
Grandia PHP 2500 (12pax)
Coaster PHP 6000 (30pax)
Car PHP2300 (4pax)
Tour guide rate PHP1500
Don’t forget Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. Know more about travel insurance here.
|Trying out this Cambugahay Falls rope swing. Photo taken by Teddy Pelaez|
How to get to Siquijor
Siquijor has one small airport with few scheduled commercial flights; the airport is located about 5 km west of Siquijor town. This is the one I took on my first visit. Air Juan now has flights from Siquijor airport to/from Cebu.
Currently, tourists from Manila or outside the Philippines can get to the island through Sibulan Airport in Dumaguete. From the Port of Dumaguete, visitors can take a short ferry ride to the Port of Siquijor.
From either Cebu or Dumaguete, one can reach Siquijor by ferry.
There are frequent passenger ferries from Cebu City (Cebu Island), Dumaguete (Negros Island), Tagbilaran (Bohol) and Plaridal (Mindanao):
- There are many ferries daily from Dumaguete to 1 Siquijor town port. Fast ferries cost PHP180 and are operated by “Delta shipping lines” and “GL shipping lines”.
- There is also a slow car ferry that costs PHP100 and takes 2 hours, operated by “Montenegro shipping lines”.
- Fast ferry from Cebu City run by ‘Oceanjet’ takes 5 hours to reach Siquijor town, it makes interim stops in Dumaguete and Tagbilaran. Price from Cebu – PHP1300, from Tagbilaran – PHP 900.
- Slow ferries from Plaridal and Tagbilaran dock at 2 Larena port, both operated by “Lite Shipping lines”. Ferry from Tagbilaran costs PHP 235, takes 3 hours, leaves Tagbilaran on M W Sa at 8PM. in the opposite direction leaving Larena on Tu Th Su at 7PM (2016).
- There is a direct ferry from Larena port to Liloan port in Santander at the southern tip of Cebu Island twice a day, costing PHP 200. From Liloan port there are many buses going to Cebu City and some along the island’s west coast to Moalboal.
(Source: Wiki Voyage)
Via Pump Boat from Oslob, South Cebu or Sumilon Island
You can hire a pump boat from Cebu to Siquijor. Travel time is about 1.5 hours
Siquijor is also accessible by small planes. Travel time from Dumaguete is about 40 minutes.
We took a ferry from Dumaguete Port
You can take several ferries bound for Siquijor. Ocean Jet and Montenegro are the ones I have tried to take. One way fare for fast craft (like OCEAN JET) costs PHP 250, transit time is about 40-50 minutes. RORO Ferry is slower, about 1.5 hours and one-way fare costs PHP 120.
Last trip for ferry/ fast crafts: 6 pm
If you want to have a relatively more comfortable ferry ride, book a business class seat.
Contact Siquijor Tourism Office
You may contact Siquijor Local Tourism Office through their Facebook Page
Whether it scares some people or captures any traveller’s interest, Siquijor is no doubt a magical place. But the true magic of the island is neither dark nor scary. It’s mostly blue and green. It invigorates. If you need a high-energy vacation with plenty to do and plenty to eat, Siquijor is for you! Travel here for healing or a one of a kind nature adventure, you already got your itinerary!
What do you think about this itinerary? Do you want to go to Siquijor? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!