A visit to Dipolog is a must for you to realize that there is more to this place than its sardine industry. The tiny city is one of the popular tourist destinations in Mindanao. Aside from hosting conferences and events throughout the year, Dipolog is a place where you can relax, unwind, or enjoy a whole new kind of adventure.
One of the city's main attractions is the Dipolog Boulevard, an esplanade where tourists can get busy with various recreational activities on its basketball courts, playgrounds, and skate rails. People also flock to the boulevard to catch a glimpse of the sunset before streetlamps and lanterns turn it into a colorful stretch of land. The boulevard's eateries, food stalls, and bars are popular destinations to enjoy the city's nightlife.
Sungkilaw Falls is one of the natural wonders of Dipolog. This body of water is a magnificent sight, with a protruding rock on top of the 25-feet falls that divides the gushing white water into two. Some of the fun activities available here are rappelling, canoeing, hiking, and swimming.
A famous landmark in Dipolog is the P'gsalabuk Circle. The three figures of the monument signify the diverse culture of the people of Dipolog. The raised bowl is a gesture of thanksgiving for the graces, prosperity, bountiful harvest, and peace.
Of course, a visit to Dipolog won't be complete without bringing home its bottled Spanish Sardines. Processed and cooked in vegetable oil, pepper, pickles and spices, the tasty and spicy product of Dipolog is a perfect take-home gift.
Both Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines offer direct flights from Manila to Dipolog. Travel time from Manila Domestic Airport to Dipolog Airport usually takes an hour and a half.
Traveling by sea to Dipolog is another option but will take a long time. A trip from 2GO Travel from Manila to Dapitan City's port lasts about 33 hours. Once you get to Dapitan, Dipolog City is just 15 to 20 minutes away by bus.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys is available all over Dipolog. It is also the cheapest mode of transportation since the minimum fare is only PHP 7.00.
Buses are ideal for long distances, especially if you want to get to the neighboring towns and cities.
Tricycles are the preferred mode of transportation for short distances.
What to See
The Subanons were the early settlers of Dipolog and they chose to build their community in Tulwanan Village. There are replicas of Subanon houses at the original settlement site where tourists can catch a glimpse of how the natives lived back in the day.
The Quezon Bridge doesn’t only connect Dipolog to the neighboring towns in Zamboanga, but it is also an important city landmark. This architectural marvel is already more than 70 years old and was named after former president Manuel L. Quezon.
P'gsalabuk Circle is another must-see landmark when in Dipolog. The monument depicts the diverse culture of Dipolog, with the three figures surrounding a raised bowl representing Muslims, Christians, and the Lumads or the native tribes.
Built more than 100 years ago, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary is the most frequented sight in Dipolog. With its majestic facade and interiors, the church is a great place to get in touch with your spiritual self during your vacation.
Not far from the cathedral is the Sta. Cruz Marker, one of the most distinguished landmarks of the city. A tall cross stands on the very spot where Boholano migrants landed in Dipolog.
Dipolog is also home to beaches that feature unique gray sand shores. Both the Galas and Sicayab beaches are peaceful places to take a dip and unwind. You'll also find Sicayab's cliffs thrilling and perfect for a climb.
Sungkilaw Falls is another sought-after natural wonder in Dipolog. With freshwaters cascading from 25 feet, the waterfall is located in Barangay Diwan.
Cogon Eco-Tourism Park lets tourists commune with nature while enjoying its assortment of recreational facilities. This park, which is nestled among lush forest surroundings, has a mini zoo filled with different species of animals. There are also walking trails and biking trails.
Linabo Peak is another scenic place to soak up a serene atmosphere as well as your spiritual self. Hike up 3,003 steps amongst relaxing nature surroundings until you reach the Stations of the Cross.
Go to Casa Bernedo for a dose of art, history, and culture all in one visit. This former ancestral house now serves as Dipolog’s Center for Culture and the Arts. Inside are artworks, artifacts, and numerous displays relating to the rich past and traditions of the city.
Dipolog Boulevard is a favorite hangout among locals and tourists alike. This esplanade is a peaceful place for walking, jogging, and all sorts of physical activities. There are also facilities for basketball and skateboarding for sports enthusiasts. At the end of the day, the area is visited by locals for a stunning view of the sunset before it becomes a popular spot to enjoy the city’s nightlife.
Events and Festivals
Every third week of April, Dipolog comes alive in full swing when it celebrates the Pagsalabuk Festival. The feast showcases the diverse culture of the city through traditional street dances, parades, and various competitions.
Aside from the Pagsalabuk Festival, Dipolog is also known for celebrating their version of Sinulog Festival every January 3. Much like the Sinulog of Cebu, the feast is celebrated in honor of Sto. Niño.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
While Jollibee has several branches in Dipolog City, CL Fast Food is the homegrown choice. Its menu consists of a combination of pocket-friendly Filipino and Chinese dishes perfect for budget travelers.
The gastronomic scene in Dipolog is noted for its variety. You'll find restaurants that serve various cuisines to satisfy different palates.
Good Times Cafe is one Dipolog's well-known restaurants. The cafe also operates as an art gallery, with countless art pieces displayed all over its walls so you can enjoy sumptuous Filipino dishes while admiring the artworks.
On the other hand, Big Joe's Cafe is the go-to place for foodies with big appetites. The place offers huge servings of western food like steaks and ribs, but their burgers are the most famous offering. Some native dishes like binagoongan are also available.
For those with a flair for Japanese food, visit Umami Olive Tree and enjoy Japanese dishes like sushi in a buffet setting.
Julie's is a famous dessert place in Dipolog. Aside from serving their specialty, halo-halo, the restaurant also offers light fare such as arroz caldo and minatamis na saging. Make sure to swing by if you're craving for an afternoon snack.
Located in Dipolog Boulevard are several food stalls known as "Mcduko," where you can have different kinds of grilled meat and innards. For a small budget, you can enjoy pork barbecue, hotdogs, longganisa, isaw, and betamax. Also available is puso or rice wrapped in banana leaves for an affordable and complete meal.
Where to Shop
Lee Super Plaza, Dipolog Shopping Center, and MGM Square are the best places to get your shopping fix in Dipolog.
What to Buy
Dipolog is the “bottled sardines capital of the Philippines.” This delectable delicacy is the most popular take home item from the city. Montaño is one of the leading producers of bottled sardines, and you can find several branches of their pasalubong store throughout Dipolog. Make sure to grab a jar or two before heading back to Manila.
ATMs and Money Changers
There are several banks and ATMs in Dipolog if you need to withdraw cash for your expenses.
Fare: PHP 1,500.00 (ferry fare); PHP 3,000.00 to PHP 4,000.00 (airfare)
The ferry fare from Manila to Dapitan City costs about PHP 1,500.00, while the ticket for the bus ride from Dapitan to Dipolog costs only PHP 20.00. For air travel, a one-way ticket to Dipolog Airport from Metro Manila ranges from PHP 3,000.00 to PHP 4,000.00.
Food: PHP 50.00 to PHP 300.00
A PHP 50.00 to PHP 100.00 budget is enough if you want to enjoy a meal at a "Mcduko" stall. Meanwhile, restaurant meal prices in Dipolog are around PHP 150.00. For dessert, a serving of halo-halo at Julie's sells for PHP 50.00.
Shopping: PHP 60.00++
The price for one jar of sardines from Montaños ranges from PHP 60.00 to PHP 100.00, depending on the variation.
Accommodation: PHP 500.00 to PHP 6,000.00
PHP 500.00 can already get you an overnight stay at an inn or a budget hotel like GV Hotel. Meanwhile, upscale hotels and resorts charge an average of PHP 2,000.00 to PHP 6,000.00 for an overnight stay, depending on the room class.
Activities: PHP 150.00++
Good Times Cafe and Art Gallery has a PHP 150.00 entrance fee.