Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor
Guides and Itineraries,  Philippines

Siquijor (Island of Old Magic): DIY Guide + 2 Days Itinerary

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Siquijor is an island province known for its waterfalls and laid-back beaches.

It’s a favorite day trip destination among locals coming from Dumaguete City. For foreigners it’s still an off-the-beaten destination. It’s not as commercial as other places in the Visayan Region such as Cebu and it has less visitors due to lack of airport. You will need to go here via passenger boat from the nearby Dumaguete City.

Siquijor is a good option if you’re looking for somewhere to relax and unwind. If you’re looking for places to visit, it has several beaches, waterfalls hidden in the jungles (most notably Cambugahay Falls), cold springs, and heritage spots such as the Century-Old Balete Tree, old churches, and more.

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

About Siquijor

Siquijor has an interesting history. It’s called the “Mystic Island” since it is said that the locals in Siquijor used to practice magic. There are also stories of aswang (a mythic creature who flies and eats people) and mambabarang (a kind of black witch).

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.

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 it’s likely that island attractions such as Cambugahay Falls and Salagdoong Beach will get more crowded soon, but if you want to get away from the scene you always find a hidden waterfall or empty beach coves to visit.

My solo trip to Siquijor

I went on a 3-day solo trip to Siquijor in 2017.

I liked the history of the province and the scary stories I used to hear about it as a kid. 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, but that’s for another story.

At that time of my trip, Siquijor is already making its name in the backpacking world. There are handy travel guides and standard tours, so it’s easy for solo travelers like me. That saying, I can’t say that this isn’t my favorite trip.

Kat in Larena Coffee Shop
View in Larena Coffee Shop.

My main issue is safety as a solo female traveler. When I arrived, I booked a tour from one of the tricycle guides on the port. We agreed on a rate and places to visit. Once we were on the road, he had asked me more than once that he’d like to use a habal-habal instead because I’m alone, but I insisted that I already paid the rate for a tricycle. Then during the tour, he would give me glances that made me uncomfortable and at one point implied that he’d like to swim in the waterfalls with me. I started thinking about ways to escape while we were on the road, but unfortunately there weren’t many other vehicles and I did not want to get stranded in the island.

I’d written this experience before in another article, but I deleted it after a while. I was afraid of what people would say. But now that I’m older, I realized that what people say doesn’t matter — it doesn’t invalidate what happened to me.

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

There are other things that disappointed me. I was interested in the traditional practices of Siquijor, but the “witchcraft” I saw was commercialized. In the Enchanted Balete tree, you can find a store selling love potions and other items. It’s not made clear whether these are authentic or just souvenirs. I know that there are still traditional healers in the mountains, but because of my experience with my tour guide I preferred to stay at my lodging in the next days.

Lastly, I find the lack of easy transport to be stifling. I was a solo traveler on a budget and at that time I couldn’t afford to pay a P300-500 fare to visit a restaurant because there are no other public vehicles.

That saying, there are things that I enjoyed in my stay in Siquijor. I particularly liked Cambugahay Falls and Tulapos Marine Sanctuary, where I snorkeled and saw baby sharks. I remembered being so excited that I immediately texted Hali about it.

This experience isn’t meant to discourage you. I just want to tell what my personal experience is like. If you’ve been here, let me know yours.

How to get to Siquijor

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. Take note that 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. You can also pre-book the tours, especially if you come during summer.

Tours in Siquijor

There are 2 standard tours you can take in Siquijor: Island Tour and Mountain Tour.

For day trippers, the best option is the Island Tour because it covers the main attractions in Siquijor.

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. In my case, it took me almost a whole day since I stayed for a while in Cambugahay Falls and snorkeled at Tulapos Marine Sanctuary.

If you’re planning on exploring your own, you can still follow the routes in the tours.

Island Tour

  • 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.
St. Francis of Assisi Church in Siquijor
St. Francis of Assisi Church and I Love Siquijor signage.
  • Lazi Church. An 18th-century church, also known as San Isidro Labrador Church. The church has wide ceilings and huge stained-glass windows. A must-visit if you like historic buildlings.
  • Capilay Spring Park. A public pool with refreshing 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.
Potions in Siquijor
Enchanted balete tree.
  • Cambugahay Falls. Cambugahay Falls is definitely one of the best nature attractions in Siquijor. It is a 3-tiered waterfall where you can swim and use a tarzan swing. The water is usually a shade of light blue, except on rainy days when it is more green-ish but still clear for swimming. The trail is established, so hiring a guide is optional.
Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor
Cambugahay Falls.
Tarzan swing in Cambugahay Falls
Tarzan swing in Cambugahay Falls.
  • 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. Beside Salagdoong Beach, you can find the Salagdoong Forest Reserve. It’s a man-made forest with molave trees.
Salagdoong Beach in Siquijor
Salagdoong Beach.
Salagdoong Beach in Siquijor
Locals diving in Salagdoong Beach.
  • Guiwanon Spring Park. A mangrove protection and preservation area. I stayed here for a few minutes and watched some kids swim in the water, but in general it’s not noteworthy. In my opinion, you can skip this entirely.
  • Paliton Beach. A laid-back, white-sand beach. It’s said to be the best beachfront in Siquijor. However, Siquijor does not have very good beaches in general if you want to swim and the said can be found about Paliton Beach. It’s also a public beach and, in my visit, I found some trash in the area.
Paliton Beach in Siquijor
Paliton Beach.
  • Hapitanan Cafe. A new tourist spot in Siqujor, where you can have a photo taking a broomstick ride. This is a must-stop especially for the young-at-heart.
  • Dumalaay Boulevard. Located in Larena, this boulevard is a nice place to watch the sunset before leaving the island.

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.

Other places to see

Here are other places you can visited in Siquijor. In standard 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.
Hidden waterfall in Siquijor
Hidden waterfall.
  • 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.
Tulapos Marine Sanctuary in Siquijor
Tulapos Marine Sanctuary.
Snorkeling in Tulapos Marine Sanctuary
  • Tubod Marine Sanctuary. Another great place to snorkel, with a variety of tropical fishes and corals.
  • There are also beaches in Siquijor you can explore on your own including Minalulan Beach, Kagusuan Beach and Solangon Beach.
Beach in Siquijor

Day trips from Siquijor

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.

I had a lot of fun in Apo Island and I highly recommend this experience.

Sea turtle in Apo Island
Sea turtle in Apo Island.

2 Days Itinerary in Siquijor

Here’s a sample 2 days itinerary in Siquijor:

Day 19 – 10AM Ferry from Dumaguete to Siquijor
10AM – 5PM Island tour
5 – 5:30PM Sunset at a beachside
6PM Check in at accommodation / dinner
Day 27AM – 12NN Mountain tour
12NN – 2PM Check out / lunch
2 – 3PM Ferry from Siquijor back to Dumaguete

Where to Eat

There aren’t a lot of restaurants on the roadside, since most of Siquijor comprises 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.

You can also visit a bakery to watch how pan de bisaya is made.

Pan de bisaya in Siquijor
Pan de bisaya. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

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 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.

Here are the best stays in Siquijor:

Coco Grove Beach Resort in Siquijor

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

Budget and expenses

Here are the current rates (Updated as of 2020):

Tours / RentalsMotorbike rental:
P300-350 for whole-day use (excluding gas)

Motorbike – P350-500 (solo) / tricycle – P1200 (good up to 3 people) / multicab – P1500-1800 (good up to 15 people)
FeesEntrance fees (per person):
– Cambugahay Falls: P20
– Guiwanon Spring Park: P10
– Salagdoong Beach: P35

Cantabon Cave:
Local guide fee (required): P500 (good up to 3 people)

Tulapos Marine Sanctuary: Entrance fee – P50, snorkel rent – P50, fins rent – P100, guide fee is P250
Tubod Marine Sanctuary: Entrance fee – P50, snorkel and fin rent – P150

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

Sunset in Siquijor
Sunset in Siquijor.

Here are some reminders and tips before your travel Siquijor:

  • Bring enough cash. There are only few ATMs in the island.
  • 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.
  • Based on my experience, if you’re a solo traveler like me, it might be best to pre-book a tour from a recommended guide. Also, bring your license so you can rent a motorbike to visit places outside of the standard tours.

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

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