If I’d be given the chance to stay overnight in Siquijor, I would. Due to the limited time that I had, however, I decided to do a day trip. Believe me, if you’re the kind of traveler who’s looking for a laid back and chill place away from the stressful city, Siquijor is the perfect spot for you.
A tiny island in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, Siquijor is famous for being a mysterious world of witchcraft. You’ve probably heard of stories, or watched documentaries about the island being associated with witchcraft, thus probably one of the reasons why Siquijor remains to be off the beaten path of majority of local and international travelers.
Siquijor was my first stop on my 4-day and 3-night travel around Negros Oriental and its nearby island. There’s a direct flight from Manila to Dumaguete which I booked using Traveloka. I got an early morning flight and asked the flying fish hostel in Dumaguete if I could leave my bag because it would be a hassle to bring all of them while traveling around the island. Gladly, they agreed.
From the hostel, I asked the tricycle driver to take me to Dumaguete Port (PHP10) which is about a 10-minute drive. I got the first trip at 8:30 am of Aleson shipping line. Travel time was one hour and 30 minutes. Fair was PHP100 for non-AC and PHP120 for an air-conditioned cabin.
Upon setting foot on Siquijor island, I felt the same vibes I experienced on Bantayan island in Cebu. The scene was relaxing, life was simple, and the port was quiet and uncrowded.
I hired Kuya Rosalito, a habal-habal driver, to tour me around the island. You may contact him through 0935-115-1151.
I didn’t want to limit my time in every place I visited, but since Siquijor is small, one of the smallest islands of the Philippines, I finished visiting famous spots in only three hours.
First stop was St. Francis of Assisi Church or simply Siquijor Church to locals. The “I love Siquijor” landmark is also in front of it. Positioned to welcome travelers arriving at the Siquijor Pier, the St. Francis of Assisi church has stood firm for centuries since its construction during the Spanish colonization in 1795-1831. It was a bit dark inside the church. The decors were minimal. There were few religious images and chandeliers. Its nave is made of ornate yellow tiles which I find attractive. Its walls and ceiling are painted white, showing the simplicity of the church.
Second destination was Paliton beach, located 15 minutes away from the church. It is dubbed as Siquijor’s Little Boracay. We passed through a narrow road leading to the coast. Kuya Rosalito parked his motorcycle and told me that I could swim or stroll around the beach and he would just wait for me under the shade of tall coconut trees.
There were no establishments around the area. A group was sitting on a mat on the sand. It’s a private property, but staying in the area is free of charge. I went ahead and explored the pretty white sand beach with crystal-clear waters. Given the chance, I would stay longer and swim. Paliton beach is way better than the Salagdoong beach. It was extremely hot that time though, so I suggest visiting it before sunset.
Four kilometers away from Paliton beach is Capilay’s Spring Park which I skipped. It’s a park in the heart of San Juan town. There’s a vast pool at the center, pavilions, and benches. The park is also surrounded by trees. There is nothing to do, but I noticed that there are some restaurants and local eateries. I suggest trying their local cuisine.
Another place that I wish I could stay longer at was the fish spa at the Old Enchanted Balete Tree. Forget about the folklore and horror stories about the Balete Tree or Fig tree. The 400-year old tree is probably the oldest and the biggest in the Philippines. There are lots of huge branches and vines. I could hear the amazing sound of birds and bats coming from around the area. A spring coming from its base flows straight into the man-made pool. There are lots of big and small fish, ready to give you a fish spa for only PHP10. Souvenir items are also available.
We also visited San Isidro Labrador, a church and convent. There was a funeral when we arrived, so I didn’t take any photo inside the church to give respect to the mourners. The convent and the museum were in front of the church, but the museum was closed that day. If you’re a fan of old churches and museums, this should be in your itinerary.
My ultimate favorite is Cambugahay Falls. I was fortunate that I went there in the lean season (November), so there were few people. Going to the falls was a bit challenging since it took me almost a hundred steps going down. But it was all worth it. I would include this falls in one of my top five falls in the Philippines. Tinuy-an falls is number one. It’s a three-tiered clean and light turquoise waterfalls. I spent most of my time at the last basin or the third tier where I did countless Tarzan swings. I swear it was addicting. I paid PHP20 for unlimited swings. Awesome, right?
All good travel comes to an end. My last destination was Salagdoong beach. The place is actually a private resort. I paid PHP75 entrance fee for a day tour. One thing I loved about the place was the long and narrow road leading to the gate from the main highway. It got one of the best views ever. It felt like entering a different dimension where tall trees were forming a tunnel. There’s something magical about being able to pass underneath a lush canopy of trees while surrounded by nature.
It’s a serene and beautiful experience, much better than strolling along other types of roads.
The resort is a bit crowded, although it was lean season. The place is famous for cliff diving, but I didn’t jump. It was a 20-foot dive! The water was inviting, but the height was not. So, I spent my day snorkeling but it wasn’t a good place for that. Almost no fishes near the beach. the wave was a bit strong and it was about to rain. It wasn’t a perfect time. I just spent the day eating and drinking beer at their restaurant.
Siquijor Island, once famous only for stories about sorcery, is now rising and becoming one of the favorite destinations in Central Visayas. Although, it’s still off the radar of most foreign and local tourists. It had less than 55,000 visitors for the first six months of 2017. I still see it as a blessing. Experiencing its natural and undisturbed charm. If you’re planning to do a central Visayas trip coming from south of Cebu, you can take a 20-minute ferry ride going to Dumaguete and another one hour and 30-minute ride going to Siqujor. This tiny island should be included in your itinerary.