Are you visiting the Philippines and you want to fly to Dumaguete? The best part about the City of Gentle People, which is an Oceanside community in the central Visaya region that’s just small enough and just big enough is that it’s easily accessible. Named as one of the best places in the world for expats and foreigners to retire, you can get there via bus and ferry from Cebu City and Cebu Island. But I prefer to fly to Dumaguete every chance I get because it’s got the best little airport.
To be accurate, Dumaguete’s airport is not within the city limits themselves but actually in its neighboring municipality, Sibulan. But the cool thing is that it’s literally a few meters over the line so it’s still central to Dumaguete and right off the national highway.
In fact, I live in the Daro section of Dumaguete, and a trike or habal habal (motorcycle) ride from my apartment to the airport only takes about seven minutes without traffic!
I wish I could tell you that you can grab a flight all over the country or to many of the islands in the Philippines, but the downside of the Sibulan Airport is that there are only a few flights coming and going out of there.
What to Know about the Sibulan Airport
Every day, there are two flights to Cebu (super early morning and then midafternoon) as well as a couple flights to Manila (morning and afternoon). Sibulan Airport hosts both of the country’s airlines, CebuPacific and Philippines Airlines (PAL).
The flight to Manila takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes or less, while the jump to Cebu is a ridiculously short 35 minutes or so.
That’s a little bit limited, but the good news is that Cebu and Manila are the biggest cities in the country and the central transport hubs, so you can easily get a connection anywhere else in the country.
However, be careful about booking a flight with a tight connection because both airlines are notorious for being late or even cancelling flights (some joke that “PAL” stands for “Philippines Always Late). So, if you don’t build in a few hours, you might miss your connection, particularly in Manila if you have to change terminals (a nightmare!)
You also don’t need anywhere near two hours to check in at the Sibulan Airport, but since it’s so small and there are only a few flights per day, lines to get long and the going is slow.
So here’s what I do:
I go a couple hours early and head into the terminal (which is just one small area) and check in. I give them my luggage if I’m checking any and get my boarding pass. I also then pay the terminal fee, which is only 100 or 150 Pesos. But then I walk right back out of the terminal and head across the parking lot to the Finish Line Café. There, I can chill with good fans, free Wi-Fi, great breakfast and decent lunch or cold beers, and nice people, getting some work done or watching a movie on my laptop. The best part is that they have a screen up that tracks flights that are on their way to Duma and when they’re landing. When I see my plane is close, I just head back into the airport and go through security directly since I’ve already checked in.
The waiting area is pretty comfortable, with a few vendors selling snacks and gifts (and frozen Silvanas from the Sans Rival bakery –a local treat). There are also blind workers that play music and sing (I love them and always give a tip!) or give massages.
When your plane arrives, you walk right out onto the tarmac as there are no buses or jet ways – it’s nice! The great news is that they have been expanding flights to and from the Sibulan Airport since it’s growing in popularity.
They now have flights to Davao just opened, as well as Cagayan de Oro. While those two destinations are convenient if you want to go to the southern region of Mindanao, I’m really hoping they open up nonstop flights to Clark Airport north of Manila and more destinations.