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Island Guide to Siquijor (Where Old Magic Lived)

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Siquijor is an island province which can be found in the Central Visayas region. It’s a popular day trip from Dumaguete City. Here you can tour around the coastal or mountainside areas to explore waterfalls, swim in the surrounding beaches or just relax in a beach resort.

It’s also a favorite among foreign backpackers who love off-beaten destinations.

P.S. Planning a trip to Siquijor? Don’t forget to read my Dumaguete-Siquijor Itinerary.

What to expect in Siquijor

An interesting thing to note about Siquijor is that it’s the origin of a spine-chilling folklore. It’s called the “Mystic Island”, since people used to believe that the locals in Siquijor practice magic. There are also stories of aswangs (a mythic creature who flies and eats people) and mambabarangs (a kind of black witch).

When I was a kid, we used to hear scary stories about Siquijor. As an adult, I met the mass healer Anthony Vivero who said he had seen actual aswangs in the province. So did another friend of mine.

Again, this is just folk story. It may or may not be true. Today, the local tourism in Siquijor is capitalizing on this to invite more visitors in the island. Siquijor is now called a healing destination, and a Healing Festival is held in Holy Week. Potions and voodoo dolls can be seen in souvenir shops. There are still a handful of faith healers and psychic readers but they are now far and between.

That saying, Siquijor is still quite enjoyable especially if you like nature attractions. In fact, if you haven’t done research you might not know about its background at all. Over the years, it’s getting an influx of tourists so expect major island attractions such as Cambugahay Falls and Salagdoong Beach to get crowded, but if you want to get away you can always find a hidden waterfall or empty beach coves.

Salagdoong Beach in Siquijor
In a dive board in Salagdoong Beach.

How to get here

Siquijor is connected by 2 major ferry routes: Dumaguete and Tagbilaran (Bohol).

From Dumaguete

This is the easiest way to get to Siquijor. Dumaguete has an airport (Sibulan Airport) and from there you can ride a motorbike or tricycle to the port.

  • From Dumaguete Port, ride a ferry to Siquijor. Regular ferry takes 2 hours (P140 per person) / fastcraft takes 1 hour (P210 per person).
  • Schedule is from 5:30AM to 6PM. Same schedule applies for the return trip, so you have to be at the port before 6PM for the last trip.

From Bohol

There is a ferry that runs from Tagbilaran in Bohol to Dumaguete once a day. Travel time is 1.5 hour.

  • Bohol to Siquijor: 10:20AM /  Siquijor to Bohol: 12:30PM

You can book ferry tickets in advance.

From Cebu

From Cebu City, it is also possible to get to Siquijor via Dumaguete. Travel time is 6-7 hours.

  • From Cebu City, head to the South Bus Terminal. Ride a Ceres bus to Dumaguete which includes a roro ride. Get off at the last stop (Ceres Bus Terminal) in Dumaguete. Travel time is 4-5 hours, fare is P330 per person.
  • From the terminal, ride a tricycle to Dumaguete Port.
  • Same instruction as above.

How to get around

Siquijor is an off-beaten destination and public transportation is limited. There are tricycles available, but they are more expensive compared to tricycles in the city.

Option 1: Rent a motorbike

The cheapest way to get around is by renting a motorbike.

  • Rental costs P300-350 (excluding gas) for whole-day use
  • A driver’s license is strictly required

Option 2: Book a local tour

You can also book tours from the local tour guides. They are stationed at Siquijor Port, so you can immediately start the tour after arrival.

  • Motorbike – P350-500 (solo) / tricycle – P1200 (good up to 3 people) / multicab – P1500-1800 (good up to 15 people)

Exploring Siquijor

There are 2 standard tours you can take in Siquijor: Island Tour and Mountain Tour. Day trippers usually get the Island Tour since it covers the main attractions in Siquijor.

Even if you’re exploring on your own, you can still follow this route in the map.

Island Tour

The Island Tour can be done in half a day, depending on your pace and how many stops you want to make. Each stop takes 20-30 minutes to get to.

It took me almost a whole day since I stayed for a while in Cambugahay Falls and also made a stopover at Tulapos Marine Sanctuary.

  • St. Francis of Assisi Church. The oldest church in the island, built in 1774. It is located just outside the Siquijor Port, with a “Welcome to Siquijor” signage. Selfies and Touch-Down posts are mandatory.
  • Lazi Church. An 18th-century church, also known as San Isidro Labrador Church.
  • Capilay Spring Park. A public pool with green water where locals swim and hangout.
  • Century-Old Balete Tree. One of the most popular attractions in Siquijor, this balete tree is said to be 400 years old. Beside it is a small pool where you can enjoy a fish spa. There are also stores nearby selling souvenirs and other items such as voodoo dolls and love potion bottles filled with herbs.
  • Cambugahay Falls. Definitely one of the best nature attractions in Siquijor. Cambugahay Falls is a 3-tiered waterfall where you can swim and use a tarzan swing. The trail is established, so hiring a guide is optional. Entrance fee is P20.
  • Salagdoong Beach. Salagdoong Beach is an Insta-famous spot in Siquijor. It’s located inside a private resort, so you have to pay an entrance fee and rent a cottage for a day trip if you want. It has beach coves and dive boards 20 feet and 35 feet high. Entrance fee is P35 per person.
  • Salagdoong Forest Reserve. Located beside Salagdoong Beach, this man-made forest is filled with molave trees.
  • Guiwanon Spring Park. A mangrove protection and preservation area. Entrance fee is P10 per person.
  • Paliton Beach. A laid-back, white-sand beach. It’s said to be the best beachfront in Siquijor. It’s a public beach, so occasionally you may find trash around the area.
  • Hapitanan Cafe. A new tourist spot in Siqujor, where you can have a photo taking a broomstick ride.
  • Dumalaay Boulevard. Located in Larena, this boulevard is a nice place to watch the sunset before leaving the island.
St. Francis of Assisi Church in Siquijor
St. Francis of Assisi Church and I Love Siquijor signage.
Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor
Cambugahay Falls.
Salagdoong Beach in Siquijor
Salagdoong Beach.

Mountain Tour

The Mountain Tour involves trekking and caving. There are only 2 places to go to and the tour takes around 4 hours, but it can be exhausting.

  • Mount Bandilaan. One of the highest points in Siquijor. Trek to the summit takes about 30 minutes. There is a watch tower at the top, surrounded by the mountain forest. There is an established trail so you can trek by yourself.
  • Cantabon Cave. This is an almost-kilometer long cave in Barangay Cantabon with gorgeous stalactites and stalagmites. Local guide is reguired, fee is P500 good up to 3 people.

Other places to see

Here are other places you can visited in Siquijor. If you have booked tours, these aren’t normally included so you have to request for them specifically.

  • Lugnason Falls. One of the “hidden” waterfalls in Siquijor, Lugnason Falls is smaller than Cambugahay Falls but it’s perfect for those who prefer a quieter swimming hole.
  • Tulapos Marine Sanctuary. This is one of the most enjoyable places I found in Siquijor. Here you can snorkel to see corals and barracudas, turtles and black-tipped reef sharks. There is also a giant clam area. This is where I first saw baby sharks in the wild, so I was overjoyed during our stop here. Hiring a guide is advisable so you’ll know which way to go. Rates: Entrance fee – P50, snorkel rent – P50, fins rent – P100, guide fee is P250.
  • Tubod Marine Sanctuary. Another great place to snorkel, with a variety of tropical fishes and corals. Rates: Entrance fee – P50, snorkel and fin rent – P150.
Tulapos Marine Sanctuary in Siquijor
Tulapos Marine Sanctuary.

Snorkeling in Tulapos Marine Sanctuary

There are also beaches in Siquijor you can explore on your own including Minalulan Beach, Kagusuan Beach and Solangon Beach.

Beach in Siquijor

Side trips

Some resorts in Siqujor arrange day trips to Apo Island in Dauin. This is a small island where you can spot sea turtles in the wild and snorkel in coral gardens.

Sea turtle in Apo Island
Sea turtle in Apo Island.

Where to Eat

There aren’t a lot of restaurants on the roadside, since most of Siquijor is just mountain forest. However, there are various local restaurants near resorts and homestays.

Here are some of the most recommended eats in Siquijor.

  • Larena’s Triad Coffee Shop. Decent and reasonably priced food. This coffee shop is located on the mountainside and offers the best view in Siquijor.
  • Baha Bar and Dagsa Restobar. Great options for seafood.
  • Luca Loko. Excellent food with vegan options such as buddha and poke bowls.
  • BBQ grills near Aloha Grill. This is one of the cheapest places to eat in Siquijor. A series of unnamed BBQ grills with the food laid out so you can pick what you want to eat.
Kat in Larena Coffee Shop
View in Larena Coffee Shop.

Where to Stay

There are several beach resorts in Siquijor and it’s relatively cheap especially if you’re traveling with someone. You can get an air-conditioned room for around P1000 for 2-3 people.

Here are the best stays in Siquijor:

Coco Grove Beach Resort in Siquijor

Here are the best budget options:

I stayed in JJ’s Backpackers Village. It’s alongside other beach resorts in San Juan. There’s an eatery about 10 minutes away from JJ Backpackers Village where you can eat for cheap. Make sure to book ahead.

Looking for other accommodations in Siquijor? Book discounted resorts in Siquijor here.

Budget and expenses

Siquijor is a budget-friendly place. For 2 people for 2 days (including both tours), a safe budget would be P2000 or less per person.

Reminders and Tips

Here are some reminders and tips before your travel Siquijor:

  • Bring a reusable container or bag. Not only for sustainable purposes — there is a penalty fee for using plastic.
  • Bring an insect repellent especially if you are staying overnight.
  • If you want ocean views, stay in the beachfront resorts and homestays in San Juan. Other towns in Lazi are located far from the ocean.

 

Has this Travel Guide to Siquijor Province been helpful to you? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

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