Living in Dumaguete in the central Philippines, I often get caught up in a pleasant routine of daily life. I go to the Boulevard for coffee (or beers in the evening), hit the gym, see friends, and visit a whole lot of restaurants. But too often, I get comfortable and forget that we have SO much amazing nature and things to do outside of the small city life. And when I’m standing on the seaside Boulevard in Dumaguete and I look out over the ocean, on a clear day I can see all the way to Siquijor Island.
If I had the whim, it would be ridiculously easy to get there, too. The ferry terminal right in Duma has two options for crossing to the island every day: a regular ferry boat, and then an OceanJet Fast Craft. Either is fine, as the regular “local” ferry only costs about $2 USD and takes less than an hour and a half. The Fast Craft, however, costs double that at least but will take you there in 50 minutes or so, and in the comfort of air conditioning with an assigned seat and a movie playing.
Either way, once you get to Siquijor you’ll probably disembark at the pier near Larena. At that port, you’ll find plenty of tourist information booths and aggressive touts offering to help you. You can easily rent a motorbike and cruise around the island to your heart’s content. For me, I don’t trust the road safety in Asia so I always get a driver. Last time, I rented a whole jeepney and a driver for most of the day for about $25 or $30, and he was my tour guide, too.
After stopping for breakfast at a wonderful eco-café, we started our tour at the Old Enchanted Balete Tree. It’s an incredible tree with roots snaking and winding into a natural spring, which is cemented up so you can sit on the side and dip your feet in them (and the fish bit your feet). The tree is rumored to have mystical powers of healing and vitality.
Next was the Lazi Church, which is a charming and picturesque mission church and monastery made of stones in the center of a quaint town.
My all-time favorite activity on Siquijor – and one of my favorite in the Philippines – is the waterfalls of Cambugahay. You hike down off the road down steep stone steps to a natural water hole where a series of seven waterfalls spill into. The water is Gatorade blue and the best part is that there are two rope swing setups where you can jump and splash and play like a little kid.
Around lunch time, we drove another 30 minutes to Salagdoong Beach, where there’s a resort, a seawall, and a very small but photogenic little beach. They also have two cement gangplanks off a small cliff so you can jump from 8 or 12 meters into the ocean below.
In the dead heat of the afternoon, we drove up in-land into the mountains, where we reached the highest point on the island where they had a great restaurant and sky deck. When the weather is clear, you can see not only most of the island but also neighboring Dumaguete (Negros Island), the southern tip of Cebu island, and far-off Bohol.
After that, I headed back to the port to catch either the 3:30 pm or 5 pm ferry, but many people stay over and party and have fun at great hostels or resorts like JJ’s.
Come to think of it, I need to get out to Siquijor more often!