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An enchanting island of mystery, magic, and fireflies, Siquijor is one of the most underrated destinations in the Philippines. It’s a tiny island found in between (kind of) Cebu and Bohol. Siquijor is a lot less touristy than many of the other well-known islands of the Philippines – which is one of the reasons that we loved it so much. As part of this Siquijor itinerary, I wanted to share the magic of this charming island with you.
A small, remote island plagued by ancient stories of witchcraft, black magic, and sorcery, Siquijor is the perfect fusion of mystery and beauty. For decades, locals from nearby islands have been too afraid to visit Siquijor because of its association with witchcraft. But things are slowly starting to heat up on this magical island.
It is a one of a kind destination. A largely uncharted island boasting pristine beaches and gorgeous diving spots, Siquijor is the epitome of coastal charm. Here’s a Siquijor travel guide to help you plan your trip to the island of fire.
How To Get To Siquijor Island
There is no commercial airport in Siquijor, which means that it’s not easily accessible by air. But, the island is easily accessible via ferry thanks to its close proximity to Bohol, Negros and Cebu. If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines, either Cebu or Bohol, or both, are sure to be on your itinerary. We started our trip in Bohol, moved on to Siquijor, and we ended in Cebu. It was the perfect round trip.
The main port connection to Siquijor is Dumaguete, which is in Negros Oriental. If you’re flying in via Manila this would be your best option. From Manila you will have to fly to either Cebu or Dumaguete city first, and between the two, Dumaguete is the fastest, easiest, and cheapest option. There are several ferries between Dumaguete and Siquijor’s main port each day. The travel time is approximately one hour and tickets will cost 130 php.
If you’re coming from Bohol, you can get a ferry from Tagbilaran port, and if you’re in Cebu you can get a ferry from the port in Cebu City. There are frequent ferries from both Tagbilaran and Cebu city every day. These trips take between two to three hours.
When putting together your Siquijor itinerary, there is no need to purchase ferry tickets in advance. In fact, most tourists will advise against it. Online bookings don’t work so well in the Philippines. Numerous tourists have arrived trying to explain that they have already purchased tickets online, only to be told that there’s no record of it. So if you want to avoid unnecessary admin, don’t bother trying to book in advance. Buying tickets at the port is very easy and efficient, so there’s nothing to worry about.
Best Time To Visit Siquijor Island
It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that Siquijor has a tropical monsoon climate – just like the rest of the Philippines. While most of us are familiar with four annual seasons, the Philippines only has two; wet and dry. Of course, as part of your Siquijor itinerary you want to know when the best time of year to visit is.
The dry season in Siquijor is from December to May, while the wet season is between June and November. So as you can probably guess, somewhere between December and May is the best time to visit. We visited towards the beginning of June and the weather wasn’t too bad, although we would have loved a little more sunshine. It was overcast a lot of the time and quite windy. But it was still very warm. Thanks to its tropical climate, the temperature rarely drops below 20 degrees Celsius on the island.
How To Get Around Siquijor
Siquijor island is very small – the coastal circumference is only 102 km – which makes it the third smallest province in the Philippines. There is one ring road that circles the island, so navigating your way around should be relatively easy.
Although Siquijor is a small island, the main attractions are fairly far from each other. The beaches are located in San Juan (the area that most travellers stay in) but most of the waterfalls are in Lazi, which is a 25 to 30 minute drive away.
Public transport in Siquijor isn’t very consistent or reliable. We found that the best way to get around was renting a motorbike. The other option is to hire a tricycle driver. We used the tricycles a few times, but for longer distances, renting a bike is definitely more cost-effective. It also gives you a lot more freedom to move around.
Motorbike rental costs between 350 to 600 php per day. For short distances you would probably pay an average of between 200 and 300 php one-way on a tricycle. If you wanted to hire a tricycle from San Juan to take you up to Lazi, it would probably cost you at least 1,500 php. So yes, the motorbike rental option is a lot more budget friendly. Personally I would suggest adding bike rental to your Siquijor itinerary.
Where To Stay In Siquijor
The most popular area to stay on Siquijor island is San Juan. This is where you will find most guesthouses, resorts, hostels, restaurants, bars, and dive shops. If you want to experience the mysterious charm of this paradise, there are several resorts and Airbnb options to choose from – ranging from budget to high-end accommodation.
Some of the most popular “luxury” resorts on the island are Coco Grove Beach Resort and Coral Cay resort. Both have a beachfront location and are equipped with their own restaurant, cultural events, and activities that are exclusive to in-house guests.
We stayed in a treehouse at Aventura Bed and Breakfast in San Juan which we booked through Airbnb. If you haven’t yet signed up on Airbnb you can follow my link here and get £35 off your first home booking, and £13 to use towards an experience worth £40 or more.
Top Things To Do in Siquijor
Okay, now finally, the exciting part, the top things to do in Siquijor. There are quite a few tourist attractions in Siquijor, but the island is small, so you don’t need too much time here. Between two to three days should be enough time to cover them leisurely.
1. Cambugahay Falls
Cambugahay Falls is the backdrop of Siquijor. If you’ve ever heard of or seen photos of Siquijor, it is more than likely from this spot. It was definitely my favourite part of our trip to the island of fire. Known for its emerald green water and multiple levels to explore, this waterfall is truly magical.
I always wanted to visit the Philippines for the beautiful beaches, but the waterfalls ended up stealing a piece of my heart. The colour of the water is so surreal, but it’s also so refreshing. Swimming here was such a dream.
If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie, there are quite a few areas to do some cliff jumping or tarzan swinging from. For 50 php you can jump at the main spot as many times as you’re like. If you’re heading to Cebu after, it might be a good warm up for the Kawasan canyoneering adventure – which I highly recommend.
Cambugahay falls is the number one tourist attraction in Siquijor which means that it gets very busy. On weekends it’s also a hotspot for locals. If you want to beat the crowds you will need to go very early morning, at around 06:30 am during the week.
2. Kawasan Falls
The main Kawasan falls is in Cebu. But in Siquijor you will find Kawasan falls and cave. It’s not too far from Cambugahay falls, so we made a quick stop here after. Aesthetically it’s not nearly as impressive as Cambugahay falls, but the wonderful thing is that there was nobody else here.
We parked our bike and were greeted by a tour guide who escorted us down to the falls. It’s quite a long, steep trek down, but it’s totally worth it. Once we reached the bottom it was one of the most peaceful and tranquil experiences ever.
The main waterfall is not very tall, but the water here is just beautiful and blue as Cambugahay. There’s also a cave under the falls that you can swim into. It’s super cool.
3. Tubod Marine Sanctuary
Located right in front of Coco Grove beach resort, Tubod is the best place for snorkelling on the island. There are three rules to follow here; no fishing, no collecting shells, and don’t damage corals by stepping on them. Thanks to these rules, this marine sanctuary has absolutely thrived. So don’t forget to add Tubod to your Siquijor itinerary.
Tubod Marine Sanctuary is a protected reef area that also features a beachfront. To get here you can ask a tricycle driver to take you to Coco Grove. Just a little further up the road you will find a short path leading down to Tubod beach. There is a small entrance area at the end of the path and this is where you can hire snorkelling gear. It costs 100 php to hire gear and 50 php to snorkel. So if you have your own gear you will only need to pay 50 php.
If you just want to check out the beach and go for a swim there’s no entrance fee payable. Keep in mind that most of Tubod beach is part of Coco Grove resort. Therefore all of the facilities are for guests only. If you are an outside visitor you are allowed on the beach but may not make use of any of the private amenities.
4. Solangon Beach
This was my favourite of the Siquijor beaches and the top one to add to your Siquijor itinerary. There are numerous resorts, guesthouses, restaurants, and private residencies scattered all along Solangon beach. We entered through Coral Cay resort – we also had a drink here.
Once you’re on the beachfront you can walk all the way to the end. There are quite a few tree swings that you will come across along the beach.
Solangon beach isn’t great for swimming despite the sparkling, warm water. But it is one of the most picturesque beaches featuring tall palm trees and golden sand. The sunsets here are amazing, so make sure that you stick around for sundowners.
5. Paliton Beach
Paliton Beach is the most popular beach and featured on just about every Siquijor itinerary. It’s well-known among travellers and locals and gets quite busy. It’s best to visit Paliton beach during the week if you want to avoid the crowds.
This beautiful beach is located close to the town of San Juan. The palm trees make for a serene atmosphere and really give this beach its character. Paliton is one of the more “touristy” options but it’s definitely still worth checking out.
Other things to do in Siquijor
As part of my Siquijor itinerary, I also wanted to add a few tourist spots that you will probably find on every other Siquijor travel guide. We either did not get to these spots or I wouldn’t recommend going here, unless you have plenty of time to spare.
Capilay Spring Park
We stayed very close to Capilay Spring Park – in fact our accommodation was just up the road. We went past here every day and I seriously have no idea what all the hype is about. It’s always busy, there’s a lot of litter, and it’s just not appealing. I wouldn’t suggest going out of your way to get here.
Salagdoong beach is located on the other side of Siquijor and unfortunately we never made it here. Apparently it’s well worth a visitor if you do have more time on the island. There’s also a great spot here for cliff jumping.
Old Balete Tree
When you visit Siquijor you will likely hear about a very old tree on the island. It’s known as the old Balete tree. It’s 400 years old and is said to be mystical and spiritual. This is one of the most iconic spots in Siquijor and you can find it in Lazi.
Guiwanon Spring Park
We also never made it to Guiwanon Spring Park. Located on the border of the two towns of Siquijor and Larena, this is a mangrove forest and it’s said to be exceptionally serene. I would definitely add this to our next Siquijor itinerary.
San Isidro Labrador church
There are a few churches on the island, but the most popular is San Isidro Labrador. Commonly known as Lazi church, this is a Roman Catholic church that was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.
Best Restaurants & Bars to Check out
This Siquijor itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a few recommendations on where to eat and drink. Whether you enjoy budget travel or a little more luxury, there is something for everyone in Siquijor.
Monkey Business is one of the cutest bars that I have ever been to. Located in San Juan, it’s got a great vibe and amazing food. But the best part is the swing chairs that have been set up in some areas. Yes, some of the chairs are swings – hence the name, Monkey Business. This stylish bar is a must add to your Siquijor itinerary.
Beach Bar and Lounge
On the main road in San Juan, not too far from Capilay Spring Park, you will find the Beach Bar & Lounge. This is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner. They offer a few small meals, but it’s more of a drinks spot. There’s an outside bar and chairs set up on the beach area. It’s a beautiful spot for a sunset.
If you’re looking for delicious Italian food, then you have to check out Marco Polo. They have some of the best pizza here, and their menu also includes pastas and Italian breakfast. Marco Polo has a beach setting and is the perfect fusion of Filipino hospitality and delicious Italian cuisine.
Luca Loka has a wonderful food selection, including an impressive vegan section. The setting is very simple yet serene, and the hospitality is great. Luca Loka is located very close to Marco Polo but on the opposite side of the road.
Other Things To Know When Putting Together Your Siquijor Itinerary
When putting together your Siquijor itinerary there are a few other things that you will need to think about.
Make sure to bring enough Cash
There are only two ATMs on the whole of Siquijor island – one at each of the ports. You can find Allied Bank at Larena port and Metrobank at the Poblacion port. Most places don’t accept card (electronic) payment so you need cash. We didn’t have enough cash so we had to take a trip up to the port to draw more money. So just make sure you have enough cash on you when you arrive.
The internet connection isn’t great
The internet on Siquijor island isn’t great. Well, at least the wi-fi that is installed at most resorts and restaurants. The good news is that you can buy your own sim card. We work online so it’s very important that we have a stable internet connection. We bought Globe network sim cards and they worked really well.
There really is something for everybody in Siquijor. Whether you’re looking for a holiday of luxury or want to keep it on the budget side of things – Siquijor has a lot to offer. If you’re specifically looking for a budget travel guide, then check out this article from The Poor Traveler.
Siquijor island is very easy to explore on your own. For the most part, I really don’t see any need for a siquijor tour. But, if you have very limited time on the island or like to have someone to show you around, then it may be worth it. These tours typically include transportation, entrance fees, English speaking tour guide, and very often a complimentary lunch. Most will take you to Cambugahay falls, Enchanted Balete tree, San Isidro Labrador Church, and Salagdoong Beach.
Philippines Visa Requirements
If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines and need help with visa information, I would suggest checking out iVisa.com. The visa process can be very time-consuming, not to mention confusing. iVisa strive to make the whole process simpler for travellers by taking care of all the nitty gritty details.
Just follow my iVisa application link here and you can do a quick check to see what is required and proceed with an application if necessary.
Why I loved Siquijor Island
I could go on forever about why I loved Siquijor island so much. It’s electric charm, incredibly beautiful waterfalls, unique beaches, and mystical vibes – it’s the perfect fusion of mystery and natural beauty. A lot of travellers opt to take a day tour to Siquijor from one of the neighboring islands. But I would highly recommend putting together your own Siquijor itinerary and spending at least two to three days here.
Siquijor is one of the most peaceful places that we’ve ever been to. If you like the sound of chilling out in a tropical paradise that is home to some of the most dreamy waterfalls that I’ve ever seen, then be sure to add Siquijor to your list.
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