Travel guide to Siquijor, Philippines.
Siquijor has been known in the Philippines as the island shrouded in mystery. Mention Siquijor and most of the Filipinos will think of witches, love potions, vampires, animal sacrifices, and paper dolls dancing by themselves. True or not, those stories along with the mostly untouched nature, surely add to the charm of the island. It is also very laidback and it offers a more Filipino experience as not many tourists go here yet. Besides, shamans and witches are curious stuff of legends and maybe someone could have a good use of love potions 😉
Siquijor Island is located in Central Visayas region. Its main town is also named Siquijor. To the northwest of Siquijor are Cebu and Negros, to the northeast is Bohol, therefore, Siquijor can be a good part of the itinerary when traveling in these areas. One or two days exploring on the island should be enough to see their popular spots.
It is the third smallest province in the country in terms of land area and population. The island is known for its mystic traditions that the island’s tourism industry is capitalizing on nowadays. They even have a day when shamans and traditional healers gather together and perform rituals for prosperity, every Good Friday of the Holy Week usually during the last week of March or early April.
During the Spanish era, it was called the Island of Fire because of the numerous fireflies that light up the island during those times. This created a more mystical atmosphere to the island.
Travel Time: 4 hours from Tagbilaran City, Bohol to Siquijor Port, Siquijor via Dumaguete
Ferry Company: Ocean jet (Contact: Main office: +639176380000; Siquijor Office: +639237253732)
Fare: P910 per person plus P20 for Terminal Fee and P100 fee per check-in baggage.
As part of our Visayas itinerary, we decided to go to Siquijor after our five days in nearby Bohol Island. From Tagbilaran City in Bohol, take a boat that goes to Siquijor via Dumaguete. It is a 3-hour boat ride to Dumaguete and then another 1 hour to Siquijor. Keep in mind though that many of the boat companies don’t have an updated schedule of trips on their website (we made the mistake of traveling on a Sunday when there’s only one trip, and we missed it.) Ocean jet ferry company offers trips from Tagbilaran to Siquijor, Siquijor to Dumaguete. However, there are still other ferry companies that offer trips at different times that go directly to the island from Tagbilaran City. It is best to call them directly through their contact numbers on their website for their schedules.
There are no direct flights to the island. From Manila, fly to Dumaguete or Cebu and take a ferry to Siquijor island. From Dumaguete, it is an easy one hour ride with many companies offering trips everyday. Direct boat trips going to Siquijor from Cebu City and trips from Cebu City to Tagbilaran City, Bohol, to Dumaguete and finally Siquijor are also available.
Most accommodations are found in Siquijor town and in San Juan, 20 minutes from Siquijor Port. There are a variety of accommodations on the island, ranging from luxury resorts (around P12000) to backpacker hostels (from P450).
Lorna’s End of the World
- Address: Lalao, San Juan
- Contact: +639975610683
- Budget Homestay
- P500 for 2-person room with kitchen and terrace with a beach view
They are not on Tripadvisor or other booking apps. Contact them directly through their cellphone.
We decided to stay here after a friend’s recommendation. It is a small homestay with 3 rooms available for guests with a beach front, good for swimming during high tide. The beach front has white sand and clear blue waters, with patches of sea weeds. It can get dirty on the beach because of the weeds, though. It has a good view of the sunset and the Mt. Canlaon on the other island of Negros.
It is located beside the road so noisy passing vehicles might give you trouble sleeping. The homestay is a bit shabby and rickety owing to the fact that the homestay burnt down about a year ago and they are just in the process of rebuilding it, with old wood materials as of this writing. However, the place is clean and you have the luxury of cooking your own food which is ideal if you are traveling on a budget. And the tenants are kind and helpful. Enjoy having coffee and breakfast with a great view of the beach.
Where to eat
Since our room had its own kitchen, we did groceries from small stores in San Juan and Siquijor town and just mostly cooked for ourselves. But there are also quite plenty of places to eat in Siquijor. Many of the accommodations also have on site restaurants and bars.
- Located at the Port of Siquijor
- For quick meals while waiting at the port. Good price for the food they make.
Local Barbecue Place
- Filipino Dishes, Meat and veggie Barbecues
- Located in San Juan, right across our homestay
- Budget-Friendly, good barbecues
Lazi Beach Club
- Located in Lazi town
- With beach front, a few kilometres drive from the main road, food is not that amazing but place is good for relaxation.
- Warm Bread at 3pm, Coffee
- Located in Siquijor Town
- Go for warm breads at the heart of Siquijor Town after touring the island.
Going around Siquijor
Motorbike rental is the more popular and cheaper option among solo or small group of travellers. Upon arriving in Siquijor Port, motorbike rentals are available for P400 a day or P350 per day if you are renting it for 5 days or more. Tricycles are also available on the port that will offer tours. Siquijor Island has 72 kilometers of widely paved road that goes around the island so exploring it on a motorbike is a breeze. It can take 6 hours to go around the island with frequent stops. Most of the roads that lead inland are also paved.
Options to tour Siquijor:
- On a motorbike: P400 per day, ask for discount when using it more than 5 days; cheaper and convenient option for travellers who want to explore more of the island by themselves.
- On a tricycle: P1000 to P1500 for a day tour to popular sites in the island; can accommodate 3-4 people.
- Through tour agencies: this can be arranged by your hotel or other tour agencies.
Places to See and Things to Do in Siquijor
The tourist spots are pretty much spread out on the island, mostly along the highway. But there are also worth visiting places to be seen towards the center of Siquijor. The island is also a jump off point to diving sites.
- Location: Lazi town
- 1 hour drive from San Juan Town
- No entrance fee
- Parking fee: 10 pesos for motorbike
- Most popular attraction in Siquijor
A very popular attraction, the waterfalls boasts clean, clear blue water cascading into three levels; the top most level is popular for swimming, picnics, and plunging to the water after swinging with a rope (the Tarzan swing, a must-try). You have to climb down around 100 steps of steep stairs going down to the water falls. It can get very crowded though during peak seasons on summer months, from March to August. Locals will warn you to not leave your bags unattended as it has been known that tourists sometimes lose their stuff while swimming. Buy water from the local women at the entrance to the falls and don’t forget to tip the guides and the life guards.
Old Enchanted Balete Tree
- Location: Campalanas, Lazi town
- 20 minutes’ drive from San Juan
- Entrance fee: P5 per person
- A 400-year-old tree significant among Filipinos who believe in ghosts and mysticism; fish spa at the foot of the tree.
Balete trees envoke mysticism and fear in general among Filipinos as it is believed to be where disturbed souls, fairies, and other Filipino mythical creatures lurk. This Old balete tree is preserved by the government for tourism purposes; they are banking on Siquijor’s image as a mystical island. Surrounding the tree are small shops that sell souvenirs along with enchantments, potions for healing, love, good karma, and many others. It is located right next to the highway. Enjoy the fish spa built at the foot of the tree while sipping fresh buko juice for P50.
- Location: San Juan
- 5 minute-drive from my hostel in San Juan
- No entrance fee
- Some call it a hidden beach; with white sand and clear waters
Going to Paliton Beach takes you 1 kilometer off the highway. It is difficult to find for most since the signs that leads there are old and mostly unreadable. Going from San Juan to Siquijor, you will find a basketball court alongside a small church. There’s a small road to the left which will lead you to a private resort. Parking is okay there as of this writing. From there, it is a short walking distance to the beach.
The beach has pure white sand and the sea offers clear water as well, although there are patches of seaweeds that might be littered with sea urchins so caution is needed. It is surrounded by a cove and the landscape offers a great view of sunset.
There are boats docked on to some parts of the beach as well, as a couple of fishermen fish around the area. It is worth a visit on a good day. There are barely any tourists there, mainly because it is difficult to find.
Salagdoong Beach Resort
- Location: Maria
- Entrance fee: P50 per person and P10 for parking
- Waterslides, snorkelling, on-site restaurants, accommodation
It’s got one of the clearest and refreshing waters I know. The clean beach has powdery white sand. Some rocks and dead corals a few meters into the water are also scattered here and there. Spend time enjoying the beach, swimming, with a bit of snorkelling. It is very popular among locals on holidays. Going to the beach takes you off the highway to a road lined with tall trees. A Georeserve is also located along the way.
- Location: Lazi
- 1 hour drive from San Juan
- No entrance fee
- Tip for Guides (we paid P100 for the 2 guides)
- P10 for parking
- Very hidden waterfalls in the middle of a forest
We found Kawasan Falls by accident while looking for the more popular Cambugahay falls. Where the road forks while going to the direction of Cambugahay, take the left road to Kawasan. The right road will lead you to Cambugahay Falls. Women guides will walk you to a corn field first then deep into the forest, going down on unpaved narrow road. Then it goes very steep, with only bamboos and bushes to hold on to while going down through the lush jungle.
After about 20 minutes of hiking, the small Kawasan Waterfalls will welcome you with its fresh waters. It offers a very relaxing atmosphere after a good hike as it is right in the middle of the jungle. There were no tourists when we got there. The women said that they rarely get visitors as the waterfall was just recently discovered and not many tourists know about it. The hike back takes you to a different way, along the river that produces the falls which is quite relaxing. The hike back is quite strenuous but shorter, only about 15 minutes.
ATMs, Safety, Weather and Overall Experience
There are a couple of ATMs and banks found in Larena and Siquijor Town. It is also generally safe for travellers to go around. The crime rate is low as in many small islands. The people are warm and friendly. In terms of the weather, we basically came on a wrong time as there was a typhoon brewing then. We stayed five days and only saw a bit of sun which we enjoyed very much touring around. The island can be toured in 1 to 2 days at most if you only want to see its significant tourist spots. I was lucky to take photos and timelapses of sunset in Paliton Beach and my homestay’s beach front, and also of the Milky Way during clear skies. Summer months are still the best times to go. However, it may get crowded on the island’s few tourist spots.
Overall, Siquijor is a beautiful island filled with a mystic vibe, laidback atmosphere, good beaches and clean and refreshing small waterfalls. It is worth a visit for 1-2 days as part of a bigger travel itinerary.
Rating (out of 10):
OVERALL EXPERIENCE: 7
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK: 7
EASY TO TRAVEL:8