Guest post by Lena Browny from lenaonthemove.com.
Siquijor Island is located in the Bohol Sea, just only 20 kilometres off the southeast tip of Negros. This magical island in the central Visayas is definitely worth a visit when travelling or backpacking around the Philippines. With beautiful white beaches, incredible diving, gorgeous jungle waterfalls and many cultural hot spots, Siquijor is the perfect location to spend a couple of days filled with many different adventures and activities. Just like many other places in the Philippines, Siquijor is increasingly becoming a paradise for backpackers and budget travelers from around the world.
As a Divemaster I spent a few months in Siquijor in 2017. During my stay I did not only explore the dive sites around the island, but also got insight into some local and less touristy spots, which I’d like to share with you. In this post I am going to tell you how to travel Siquijor in 3 days, including suggestions and recommendations for an unforgettable three-day (3 nights) stay on this beautiful island. Of course you could easily spend more time on Siquijor, but I assume most of you have only limited time while travelling around the Philippines.
How To Travel Siquijor In 3 Days
In order to have most of your short stay in Siquijor, I recommend you make your way to Dumaguete, Negros, or Tagbilaran, Bohol, one day prior to coming to Siquijor. From there you can take a ferry (Ocean Jet, GL Shipping Lines, Alesson Ferries, Lite Ferries) to either Siquijor Town or Larena in the morning. Upon arrival on Siquijor Island, rent a motorcycle or scooter for the length of your stay. There are motorbike rental stations directly at the pier in both Siquijor Town and Larena. The price for a motorbike is approx. PHP 300 / day. From the port, take the Circumferential Road towards San Juan, where you can first go to your accommodation. You’ll find a list with accommodation recommendations for every budget around San Juan here.
If you still have the afternoon, relax at the pool or beach in your accommodation and/or take a walk along the beautiful Solangon Beach with its lined up palm trees and stretches of white sand.
At around 5.30pm, go towards the bridge in San Juan, where you’ll find Roch Cuisine, a street food barbecue and eatery place with just a few nicely decorated tables and chairs, just before crossing the bridge on the sea front. This place is my personal TopTip and something you should not miss while staying in Siquijor. You can zip a beer or soft drink while watching the sunset and have a delicious dinner once you’re hungry. Dinner will cost you around PHP 100 – 150 depending on how much you want to eat. Just make sure to order your food in time; sometimes they’re completely out of food by 7pm.
Start the day with a breakfast in either your accommodation or at a neighbor resort if your accommodation does not offer breakfast. For breakfast in San Juan, I also recommend going to either D’Barkads Food Haus or Casa Miranda. Both places are inexpensive and offer good local and international breakfast.
After breakfast, take your motorbike to San Juan and follow the road towards Lazi. About 20-25 minutes into the ride, you’ll pass the Century Old Balete Tree on the right. You can stop there for some pictures and a fish spa session (PHP 10) in the small natural pool beneath the 400-year old tree. There are also a couple of souvenir booths, where you can buy souvenirs and some local products, such as coconut massage oil.
Continue your ride towards Lazi, where you can visit San Isidore Church. Take a road left towards the center of the island and follow the signs to Cambugahay Falls, probably the most gorgeous waterfalls on Siquijor. Local guides will walk you down to the falls for PHP 20, where you can go for a swim or do a jump using one of the Tarzan lianas.
From Cambugahay Falls, follow the bumpy road into the mountains. There are hardly any signs along the way, so take a map where the main roads are marked and/or simply ask locals along the way. If it’s still before 2pm and you’re into some cave action, go to Cantabon Cave, which, apparently, is the nicest of the caves in Siquijor. With a guide you can explore the cave from the inside. Afterwards continue the ride to San Antonio, where you’ll find some of the famous island healers. They can not only give you massages or tell you about your future, they are also believed to have magical powers and may lay their spirit upon you. The price for a healer session is up to you, but I’d suggest you give at least PHP 300-400 just out of respect for the cultural heritage.
From San Antonio continue riding to Siquijor Town and follow the Circumferential Road back to San Juan. You can have dinner at Dagsa opposite Coral Cay Resort, a cozy restobar with affordable high-quality local and international dishes, such as sizzling sea food or a Chili-Cheese Burger with fries good for two people. Usually they also have live music every night starting at 7pm.
Exploring the island and its secrets by motorbike is certainly great fun, but the coral reefs off the island’s coast host even more treasures worth discovering. No matter if you’re into diving or just snorkeling, Siquijor has great dive and snorkel sites to offer with tons of aquatic life. Unlike some other Siquijor-bloggers I do not recommend spending a lot of money on going to Apo Island from Siquijor. Apo Island is definitely beautiful and very popular amongst divers, but, to be honest, you get to see pretty much the same coral, fish and turtles when you dive in Siquijor, plus it’s only half the price and chances are very high you’ll be the only dive boat at a dive site.
I recommend booking a full-day or half-day dive or snorkel trip with Apo Diver in San Juan as they seem to be the only dive shop on the island to operate day trips around Siquijor on a daily basis. They might be a little more expensive than other dive centers, but, in my opinion, what you get for the money is worth the price. Half-day trips start from PHP 1200 (snorkelers) and PHP 3500 (divers) incl. 2 dives, full equipment rental, food, drinks, environmental fees. The owner, Steven, is probably the most relaxed and laid-back non-Filipino on the island and is eager to make your day on the boat as enjoyable as possible, throwing in music, rock-jumping and stand up paddling for free.
→ If you’re just doing a half-day trip, you can round off your morning in the water with a cheap and very freshly prepared chicken or fish burger for lunch at Belle’s Accommodation (if you decide on doing your trip with Apo Diver, this will be the location where you board and disembark the boat). Otherwise you can take lunch either back at your accommodation or simply take your motorbike and go to Belle’s Accommodation approx. 200m from Baha Bar just behind San Juan. It’s a pretty small, Filipino-owned resort located on top of the cliffs and therefore offers great panoramic sea views. After lunch take a ride to Lugnason Falls, not far from San Juan, where you can relax in the clear blue pool of the waterfall. If you don’t feel like visiting another waterfall, you could drive to Paliton Beach instead. From San Juan Paliton Beach is a 7-10 minute ride on the Circumferential Road. Look for a Paliton Beach sign and take the second road going towards the sea front. This beach is considered one of the most beautiful on the island, especially if you want to see the sunset.
→ If you’re doing the full-day trip, you might be pretty knackered once returning back to your accommodation. If you’re still up for it, go to Paliton Beach for the sunset (description above).
Otherwise watch the sunset in your resort and go to Fuego Cantina & Grill for dinner. This Filipino-owned restobar has inexpensive food (mains approx. PHP 130-150), good portions and probably the best individual service on the whole island. It’s opposite Coco Groove Resort, about a seven-minute drive from San Juan towards Tubod. For higher budgets I may also recommend the popular Baha Bar in San Juan or U-Story about ten minutes from San Juan (mains start from PHP 200).