Dumaguete is a city on the island of Negros in the Visayan region of the central Philippines. It’s increasingly becoming a great alternative to the Philippine’s bigger, congested and polluted cities (Cebu and Manila), its over-saturated tourist hubs (Boracay and El Nido), and even its perceived off the beaten nature destinations (Baguio and Cebu Island). Visitors to Dumaguete, the City of Gentle People with a population of 400,000 that feels more like a medium sized town, will get a chance to take a deep breath, finally relax, and slow down more than a little.
If you visit Dumaguete, you’ll probably find yourself on the “Boulevard” within 15 minutes of arriving in town, as on first glance, that’s all it will seem like there is to the “town.” In fact, the 2 KM stretch of seaside walkway officially called Rizal Boulevard (but just call it the “Boulevard” to avoid confusion) is a center of community life there.
So here are some great things to do and see right along the Boulevard if you’re ever in Dumaguete.
If you’re heading to the enchanted island of Sijiuor for the day, or maybe taking a boat to Bohol or even Cebu City, you’ll be going in and out of the ferry terminal, which jetties out from Rizal Boulevard’s sharp curve. While the ferry terminal is pretty well equipped and easy to get to, it can be confusing; for instance, you have to buy a ticket for the OceanJet line at a small kiosk across the street and further down the Boulevard, not the terminal. But just ask a trike driver, and they’ll be happy to direct you.
The oldest American university in the Philippines (1902), Silliman is still well-respected and the center of academic life in Dumaguete. The historic buildings and lush, green, sprawling campus start right on the seaside on the Boulevard.
If you need to hit the bank machine (ATM), there is one for a small bank right in the block between Silliman University and Bo’s Coffee.
The tallest building painted tan is where you’ll find Bo’s, a local coffee chain that doesn’t disappoint. They’re open early, close late, have food, too, good wi-fi, and the AC is kicking cold!
There are plenty of great places to eat up and down the Boulevard, including the little tourist hangout Bogarts, fancier Casablanca, the Sans Rival bistro and café, the restaurant at Why Not, Honeycomb, Allegre, Allegre Dos, and the Blue Monkey towards the end, franchises like Yellow Cab Pizza and Gerry’s, and a bunch of smaller, more local eateries.
Just skip the Don Atilano Steakhouse at the La ResidenciaAlmar hotel because it’s way overpriced for the average quality.
While it’s lazy in the sun of day and family-orientated at sunset, the Boulevard starts to party at night. The Infamous Why Not bar is the seediest of the bars in the area, where older foreign guys go to pick up (or pay for!) the throngs of younger Filipina women that patronize the place. But there are better alternatives, like sitting outside at the Honeycomb Inn and listening to live music, or chilling in Allegre or Allegre Dos for a drink.
The brick and grass plaza that runs along the seawall is the perfect spot for people to job, do yoga, or just take a stroll in the mornings. During the hot days, people lounge in the shade under the majestic and grand acacia trees, where they can buy a buko (coconut) to drink from and cool off.
People will try to sell you things like pearls, sunglasses, etc. but they are just trying to make a living and generally very polite. You can also stop and chat with the group of police men and women that sit out at the Boulevard, or the locals would love to say hi.
In the evening, a host of vendors set up small plastic tables and chairs and offer local Filipino snacks and food, (but you’re not allowed to drink in public).
Any given weekend, you’ll probably also witness some sort of special event down by the Boulevard, including karate classes for kids, university celebrations and festivals, holiday parades, and even the famous Dragon Boat races!
Enjoy strolling up and down the Boulevard and seeing what you find!