Summer is upon us here in South East Asia, most tourists and even locals are now looking for the perfect spot for an epic summer getaway. If you’re one of many who are still searching for a grand destination, then look no further than – Siquijor.
Siquijor, Philippines – A small island located in the region of Central Visayas, about 200 kilometers south of Cebu.
This island has been home to many old wives’ tales over the years. Its longstanding folklore makes it a popular origin for horror stories, especially from outsiders. Legend has it that the island inhabits witches, vampires and a bunch of other mythical creatures. Another popular belief among outsiders is that most locals in this island practice “Barang” (sorcery) and “Lumay” (love spell usually through potion) and their usual preys are unsuspecting guests who enter the island, though some would also say you can also use these services for your own advantage at a hefty price. It has even come to a point where this island was rumored to be the secret location of a Hogwarts branch (or maybe that was just me).
Such myths shroud the island of Siquijor in an unjustifiable fog of mystique, making some potential visitors to second-guess coming to this majestic island. Heck, even my girlfriend Dianne had second thoughts on coming with us when me and my friends were planning for the trip. I had to go through the hole of a needle in explaining to her why those myths couldn’t possibly be true before she came to her senses.
On the 24th of March 2018, our plans of a 1-day weekend adventure to Siquijor finally came to life.
If you’re from somewhere else, the quickest way to get to Siquijor would be to fly to Cebu City first. There is a tiny airport in Siquijor, but I wouldn’t count on getting a flight directly to the municipality. If you’re already in Cebu, the quickest way would be to travel by bus to the port of Liloan, Santander – the southernmost town of the province of Cebu. From there, you can ride a ferry directly to the port of Siquijor. This entire trip would take you about 4 hours and 45 minutes to about 5 hours.
In our case, it took us way more since we missed the last direct trip to Siquijor and had to get to Dumaguete City first. When we got there, we found out that there were no Dumaguete-Siquijor trips on that day, so we had to get through the night in the city. We decided to sleep inside the port’s terminal and wait for the earliest trip to Siquijor. Disregarding the time we spent wandering and sleeping in Dumaguete City, this route should have taken just about 5 hours and 30 minutes to 6 hours tops.
Other alternative routes would be taking a ferry from Cebu City to Siquijor, which would take about 7 to 11 hours, depending on the actual route of the ferry. As shown in Google Maps, most ferries would still make a stop in Bohol and Dumaguete, obviously this would take much longer than a direct trip. Although some would prefer this route as it would cause you less hassle, it normally takes longer than taking a ferry from Santander and is also much more expensive. I wouldn’t recommend taking this route if you’re on a budget.
There is also another route up west which would take about 5 hours and 40 minutes according to Google Maps, but anyone with a common sense would take my first suggestion instead.
As we got closer to Siquijor, I start to feel more and more confused as to why people would believe this is a scary place. I guarantee you, it’s the exact opposite. The awe-inspiring shorelines can be seen from a mile away. The entire island shouts ‘paradise’ just waiting to be explored’
It was cloudy when we got there, but that didn’t stop us from exploring the island’s beauty
Stop #1: Guiwanon Spring Park – Home of the Mangroves
This humble mangrove forest is located near the border of the towns Larena and Siquijor.
It was great to see mangroves thriving abundantly here while walking on its wonderfully crafted wooden footbridge. They also had lots of baby mangroves or seedlings which in time, will also be part of the already blooming forest and will serve as the safe haven to several aquamarine creatures.
The spring park has cottages where you can actually spend the night. At ₱250.00 to ₱350.00, you shouldn’t expect a Caesar’s Palace treatment, but you’ll get the legitimate provincial experience and you’ll be treated with the sea breeze all day and all night long. Theoretically, it may not be for the faint of heart, as come nighttime, the place might be eerily dark. Not for me though, I would have loved that.
It was a shame we didn’t stay for too long here. Our sweaty figures were just craving for a body of water to swim to. We couldn’t do much swimming with all the mangroves around.
Entrance Fee: ₱10.00 for adults, ₱5.00 for children (>8 years old)
Rooms: ₱250.00 to ₱350.00, Function Hall – ₱2500.00
Stop #2: Century Old Balete Tree Fish Spa
Our second stop was the popular fish spa in the town of Lazi. Now if for some reason that name kinda reminds you of Hitler, the place definitely will not.
The entrance fee for this spa is just ₱10.00. When we got there, what really caught my attention was the balete tree. It was said to be over 400 years old and has obviously withstood the test of time. Although it did cause some spooks to some of us, it’s probably because of the old wives’ tale that supernatural beings reside in balete trees. I don’t know about that though, but all I know is this tree is beautiful.
Anyway, right underneath the balete tree is a crystal clear spring. The spring houses hundreds of cute little fishes and albeit some large ones. You can dip your feet in the pond and they’ll start gnawing on you like pirranhas. I’m kidding.
These little fishes will actually chew on your dead skin cells making it not only relaxing but also exfoliating to your feet. It really is an actual foot spa. When I first tried it though, I couldn’t dip my feet for a long time, as it felt very ticklish and stingy at the same time, but later on I simply got used to it and even enjoyed it. I almost couldn’t leave the place anymore.
There are souvenir shops near the place by the way. If you want to buy some local shirts, crafts and even spooky stuff like love potion and panagang oil (anti-sorcery oil). I think those potions are just for novelty though. They simply serve as souvenirs and not for some magical purpose.
Entrance Fee: ₱10.00
Souvenirs: Bracelet – ₱20.00, Panagang Oil and Love Potion – ₱200.00, Shirts – ₱250.00 onwards.
Stop #3: Hapitanan: The Broomshot Challenge and Overlooking Garden.
Before we give our bodies a splash, we stopped by a certain hut that offers something magical. They offer you a chance to ride a broom.
Well, not actually magical. It’s just a podium where you can do a jump-shot with a broom between your legs, then they’ll take a picture of it and it’ll look like you’re flying. But hey, the results look magical.
The hut has a beautiful garden right beside it by the way. There’s a swing by the tree where you can chill. It also overlooks the beach, so you get a nice ocean view from there.
The place also sells some souvenirs. Although to my comparison, they’re slightly pricier than the ones in the Balete Tree Spa, but I wouldn’t give it a pass just because of that. The difference is just around ₱5.00-₱10.00 and does look like they have different qualities. The place itself doesn’t ask for a specific fee, just some donations. Whatever your heart and your pocket can provide.
Entrance Fee – Donation (₱10.00-20.00 sounds reasonable)
Souvenirs- Slightly higher than Balete Fish Spa (about ₱5-10 difference depending on product)
Stop #4: Cambugahay Falls
Cambugahay falls is the most popular waterfall in Siquijor, and one of the spots I look forward to see the most. I mean, who doesn’t like waterfalls?
When you get to the place, you have to walk down a 1000-step stone stairway, and I’m not kidding. It doesn’t feel as hard as it sounds though, but maybe because, the stairwell itself is a wonder.
When you reach the bottom, you’ll immediately be greeted by the wonder of this waterfall. You’ll see the first level of the Cambugahay Falls. The water is so pristine and blue that you can’t wait to dip in it. There, you’ll also see one of the man-made amenities of the area: the ‘Tarzan rope-swing’.
You’ll have to slightly walk up another set of stairs to get to the second and third stage. There’s not much to do in the second stage but look and admire. The real deal is in the third stage, where people mostly soak and look, there’s another rope-swing.
The rope-swing is not scary at all, it was really fun even though I was kind of disappointed. Disappointed at myself actually, not with the rope. If you want some laughs, here’s how I fared with it.
Dianne said I looked like a cartoon character flopping. 🙁
If you’re already amazed with this spot, just look at how much it costs below.
Entrance Fee – None, just tip the lifeguard and he’ll watch over your stuff.
Stop #5: Salagdoong Beach
No summer experience is complete without
bit.. beaches. That is why you just can’t miss going to this stunning beach resort.
I’m gonna set proper expectations for you here. I loved the beach. The view is scenic, the rocky cliffs are natural wonders and I loved the 40-ft high diving board. The resort itself? not so much. The restroom was not very clean, I heard the food was sub-par, the pool is not working and their water slide, which would have been their best amenity, is out of order so that’s kind of a letdown. So to speak, all the natural stuff is great, the man-made ones not so much.
Still, this was one of the best stops here, again, solely because of nature’s blessings and maybe the diving board. I’m sure this place was a lot better in its glory days. Hopefully the local government unit will take action and work to restore it soon.
When I attempted to jump off the 40-ft high diving board, it felt like a mile high to me. Clearly, I had no chance to be an Olympian diver. Yet again, I have brought another disappointment to myself today, first the flop at the waterfalls and now the injury. I’m not very proud. 😂
Don’t worry about me though, it’s just a little bruise and it disappeared after a few hours. Anyway, we spent some time diving off at the lower side of the cliff and soaking in saltwater here, as you should too.
You can stay here for overnight stays too as they have some rooms in the resort. We didn’t get a room here, but again, from the impression I got with the resort, I don’t regret it. Maybe it’s worth a try for you though.
Entrance Fee – ₱ 75.00
Rooms: Twin bed – ₱900.00, Triple Bed – ₱1600.00, Villa – 3600.00 (will vary from time to time)
Stop #6: Little Boracay
Our last stop was definitely not the least, Little Boracay in San Juan, Siquijor is a thing of beauty. It’s non-commercialized, meaning you can enjoy an all-natural experience with no loud clubs, no dirty establishments and no sweaty crowd unlike the real Boracay. Just you, your friends and the beach. Maybe some other group of friends along the shoreline but the point is, you’ll have all the time and space to have a serene beach chill-time.
We got here in time for sunset, which we are very thankful for. I would say it is the perfect time to be here as I may have not seen a more splendid sunset. Take a look at these:
These were taken with nothing but mere smartphone lenses, so imagine if we had better cameras, or better yet, imagine the real scenario.
We wanted to do a little night swimming to end the day and that’s exactly what we got. Later on, one of our friends’ mom who actually lived around the area, brought as some food and we ended our time their full. It’s ideal if you bring some food here too as there are no restaurants or stores nearby.
Entrance fee or any other cost: Absolutely ₱.00, nada, nothing, free.
1.) St. Francis de Assisi Church and the Welcome Sign
We didn’t include it on the list because it’s really hard to miss and you won’t even have a choice. It’s right outside the port so you’ll definitely see it. However, it is worth mentioning since it’s still a beautiful sight and the old church has seen years come and go.
2.) “I love Siquijor” sign and the boardwalk
It’s unarguable, this site is as iconic as the island itself. However, we left it off our list since there’s really not much to do here than to take pictures. We preferred our list to be more action-packed and fun-filled, but we wouldn’t want you to miss this spot too.
3.) San Isidro Labrador Church
This is another one of the island’s historic church. We passed through this after the fish spa. Again, we left it off because there’s not much to do and we only had a day here. We even forgot to take a picture. If you’re having more of a cultural trip, then don’t miss this.
Where You Can Stay (if 1 Day isn’t enough):
Glamping Siquijor By-The-Beach Resort
The only reason we didn’t check this out is because we didn’t need a place to stay, otherwise we wouldn’t have thought twice of going here.They offer a unique accomodation. A spacious cozy tent by the beach with iconic views. Agoda has great deals right now. Book them before they get sold out or expire.
If you want other options, click here instead: List of Siquijor Hotel/Inn Deals
So there you have it, that’s our 1-day adventure in Siquijor. The island is really amazing. One day is probably not enough to bask its beauty in full. In fact, we even missed out on some other iconic spots that we should have been to. No worries, we’ll be back there anytime soon for a part two. But if you’re short in time due to work or for some other reasons, our itinerary will work just fine. It should just cost you ₱1,500.00 to ₱2,000.00 for a day of unforgettable and unregrettable fun.
Don’t take our word for it though, you have to see it for yourself. It’s the only way to give justice to this mystical paradise. Go and explore Siquijor!