December 21-25, 2018
Since we heard Siquijor is one of the most relaxed islands in the Philippines, we decided to put it in our itinerary. For Filipinos, it has a touch of mystery because locals there are supposedly practising black magic. That’s why people from other islands don’t commonly visit this part of the country. Unfortunately, or maybe luckily, we didn’t see anything peculiar. On the contrary, during Christmas time, when we spent five nights there, the whole island was colourfully decorated. Many trees made from as many different materials as you can imagine. From natural ones like palm leaves or tree peel to artificial like plastic bottles or beverages cans. It was beautiful and sometimes funny. We don’t know if it’s standard, but also everything was clean and tidy. Not like in other South-East Asian countries.
To get to Siquijor from Negros Oriental is pretty easy. We took a tricycle and jeepney in Dauin and went back to Dumaguete (10 + 20 PHP pp) and then we bought a ferry ticket directly to Siquijor (135 PHP pp). There are few companies with multiple departures a day (check the internet). The boat ride takes circa 90 minutes and its quite comfy. No need to linger in Siquijor city. But before you leave the city, consider your amount of money. We had some issues with it. Locals usually pay cash, card acceptance is very low and all ATMs were empty. We bet it was because of Christmas time shopping. That’s also why we booked quite expensive accommodation. But comfy holidays was our goal. Looking back, Casa de la Playa Beach Resort was nice Greek (yes, Greek) style house right on the beach, but probably didn’t worth the money (2,600 PHP). A big advantage was a location in the north part of the island, far from tourist hub in the south-west.
Like anywhere in the Philippines, the best way how to explore the island is on the scooter. We rented it directly in our accommodation for 350 PHP. You probably find a cheaper one. The first trip led us to the south where there should be the best beaches and waterfalls. The road mostly led along the coastline through villages and cities. If you need to buy something as we did (shoes for snorkelling to not to be cut by coral again), there is a big supermarket in Larena. We recommend stopping halfway to Siquijor city at Guwahon Spring park in Luyang. Entrance fee is symbolic. There are a few wooden cottages in mangroves and pier with covered sitting area. Beautiful place for a picnic.
Paliton Beach is said to be the nicest on the island and best for sunset. The sand is white, the water crystal clear. What more you need. Maybe a drink. Ok, there was a bar, but closed. Because of Christmas? Or perhaps December is not a season. Anyway, it was probably the reason for just a few visitors. Like we like it. Later we stopped for a quick lunch at a small local eatery. Don’t be afraid to try these family restaurants. Yes, its simple meal, but tasty and cheap. They usually have several options, you just pick what you want and pay according to a number of portions/plates. Like running sushi.
If you want to sunbathe more, try Coco Grove Beach. It’s part of the resort, but open to the public. There is also Tubod marine sanctuary, but we didn’t have our gear, so no personal experience to share.
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We finished our day at Lugnason falls, which is a system of 12 waterfalls named after zodiac signs. Its a nice walk through the tropical forest, but don’t expect much. The main crowd-puller is a clear cool water pool with a rope swing to jump.
The main attraction in the east is Salagdoong Beach (40 PHP pp). In fact, it’s some kind of resort with a small restaurant, amenities, tables, snorkelling and diving sites. Above all, jumping platforms (six or ten meters) and a slide. The majority of visitors were locals. Big groups were picnicking with plenty of food, playing music and enjoying the beautiful weather. The corals were nice, but the visibility was not good.
After two hours there we followed the main road to swim in fresh-water to have a change. Cambugahay falls. There are three waterfalls with pools to swim. And also swings for jumping (small fee applied). For us was the place too crowded. Nevertheless, in hot weather, it’s nice to spend there an hour or so.
On the way back we went across the hilly inland with terrace fields from where are lovely views to every direction.
Last day we spent doing nothing, and in the evening we were invited to celebrate Christmas Eve with other guests and employees of our accommodation. Except for small children, we were the youngest people there. But we enjoyed plenty of good food, music and a friendly atmosphere.
In general, Siquijor is laid back island with friendly people, not so impacted from tourism (especially Eastern part and inland). After tiny Limasawa island, this is our second favourite.