Forget about the scare stories and folktales. If you’re looking for a fun-packed adventure, travel to Siquijor, Philippines. This Visayan province is a gem of a find! Experience it for yourself. Of course, always remember to thread conscientiously and respectfully – just in case. 😉
What To Do
Siquijor offers a sea of delight. Diver or not, you can satisfy your longing for the ocean here. Plus, there’s a lot more to do and explore.
If you dive, make sure to check out Paliton Staghorn, as well as its neighbor dive site, Paliton Wall. These are some of the more popular dive destinations in Siquijor, perhaps because of their proximity to each other. I was particularly impressed by Paliton Staghorn, which was named after the most abundant coral in the area. There are a lot for a macro photographer, nudis, ghost shimps and the like. Paliton Staghorn is also supposed to be the home of many blue ribbon eels. I didn’t see any during my dive.
Other interesting dive sites include Cedric’s Wall, Sanctuary, and Cangi One. I intend to come back to dive these sites.
Out of the water, there’s still a lot of fun to be had in Siquijor. Tourism activities in the province seems to be very organized. You will likely meet tourism reps when you dock in the ports of Siquijor and Larena. They are trained guides who also drive tricycles on the side. Convenient, no?
Those on duty wear blue vests. Of course, this does not stop those off duty from trying to get clients too.
Through them, you can see the best of Siquijor in just 4 to 6 hours. You get two choices: the coastal tour or the mountain tour. Love to hike? Take the mountain tour. I chose the coastal tour, which includes a series of “wet” stops and ends at Salagdoong Beach where you can brave a 25 feet cliff jump.
Exceptional stops include the Lazi Church and Convent, Cambugahay Waterfalls, and the cliff jump at Salagdoong Beach.
As I said earlier, tourism in Siquijor seems to be well-organized. When you visit the stops of the mountain or coastal tour, you’ll see what I mean. Everything’s in order. There are marked paths, concrete steps, and available guides.
For instance, it is discouraged to go to Cambugahay falls on your own, even when you can’t possibly get lost. There are no fixed rates for the guides – you pay what you want. Refreshments are available: fresh buko juice, sodas, practically anything you can think of.
I had most of my meals at Villa Marmarine, where I also stayed. The arrangement was perfect, really. I love Japanese food; and the resort is owned and run by a Japanese family. Everything I ate there was authentic and fresh. If they couldn’t get fresh/live ingredients from the market, they won’t let you order the dish.
Another notable place, recommended by friends, is Casa De La Playa, which specializes in vegetarian cuisine.
Want cheap good food? Check out the turo-turo canteen at the Siquijor port. I also liked the choices and price of the cafeteria at Salagdoong Beach. The selections are ala carte and good for 2 to 3 people.
Where to Stay
I stayed at Villa Marmarine, which offers cheap but well-appointed accommodations for backpackers and solo travelers. A cabin with wi-fi, cable TV, mini ref and its own veranda costs Php 800 a night.
What I love the most about staying at Villa Marmarine is the people. Daman Harada, his family and staff really make you feel at home. Your stay here can also be a cultural experience. Daman regularly conducts game nights. When I was there, I learned how to play Gateball.
Getting To Siquijor
There are no direct flights to Siquijor from Manila. You need to fly to Dumaguete City, and from there, take a tricycle to the port of Dumaguete (Php20). There are regular boat trips to either Larena or Siquijor, Siquijor (Php150). The last trip is at 3PM.
You need to time your trip though. It takes less than an hour by plane to get to Dumaguete. Factor in airline tardiness, it might take longer. Then, the tricycle ride is 5 minutes. If you catch a fast craft, the boat ride to Siquijor will only take an hour. Ideally, you should be in Dumaguete by lunchtime. Getting there after lunch is risky.
Boat ride trip: If you catch the fast craft, make sure to stay on the top level. The noise pollution from the engine is super bad!
Links and Contact Information
Mang Cezar – Siquijor guide and tricycle service