Siquijor has long been rumored to be a province where the supernatural, black magic, and voodoo exist. But the real magic of this place comes from the natural wonders and the friendly people. The third smallest province in the Philippines, Siquijor is a tropical island with numerous hills and beaches. It was also known as the "Island of Fire" during the Spanish colonial period. Vibrant but shrouded in a little mystery, Siquijor will undeniably be remembered by tourists for its bewitching beauty.
Mt. Bandilaan is only around 1,300 feet high but it is the highest point in Siquijor. It is located in the Mount Bandilaan Nature Park, which also features the impressive flora and fauna of the province. The mountain is great for hikers, nature-lovers, and spelunkers. Pilgrims also visit the area because of The Stations of the Cross and a shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The town of San Juan in Siquijor boasts impressive white sand beaches and diverse marine sanctuaries. It has become the main destination for divers in the province. The dive spots in San Juan are filled with colorful fish and corals. There are also some dive spots that feature shipwrecks and a sunken island. For non-divers, the attractive beaches in San Juan are ideal for swimming, sun-bathing, boating, and strolling.
Those who find themselves intrigued with the mystery of Siquijor must see one of its oldest trees. The haunting sight of a 400-year-old balete can make anyone feel like they're in a mystical world with witches, dwarves, and other mythical creatures.
By Air and Sea
Siquijor is not served by commercial planes. Although the province has its own airport, it only caters to small and private flights. However, you can still get there via Dumaguete City. Direct flights from Metro Manila or Cebu City to Dumaguete's Sibulan Airport are available with Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines.
After your one-hour flight to Dumaguete, ride a taxi to Dumaguete Port and hop on a fast craft that will take you to Siquijor in more or less an hour. There are more than one ferry lines that serve the Dumaguete-Siquijor route.
How to Get Around
For those who prefer to commute around Siquijor, jeepneys can be found on major roads. Make sure to acquaint yourself with the routes and the signboards of these jeepneys to avoid getting lost. Don't be shy to ask for directions from the staff of your resort or hotel and even the locals too.
Ride a tricycle if you want to get to a specific point on the island. Aside from one-way trips, you can also hire a tricycle for a tour.
By Motorcyle Rental
If you want a unique way of touring Siquijor, you can ask a motorcycle driver to take you to some of the interesting spots around the province. But if you're feeling adventurous, you can just rent a motorcycle. This is ideal if you want to explore Siquijor at your own pace.
What to See
Siquijor's most defining landmark is the Old Balete Tree in Lazi. The mysterious tree is thought to be already four centuries old and is considered by locals as an enchanted tree.
The Cang-Isok House is another landmark that has withstood the test of time. This seaside native-design house is located in the town of Enrique Villanueva and was built in the 1800s. It is a picture-perfect structure that reminds tourists of the simple lives of the natives.
Aside from the Cang-Isok House, Siquijor is home to other historic structures and establishments like churches, convents, and bell towers. The time-tested design and structure of these buildings add to the overall appeal of this mysterious destination. Make sure to leave some time to visit St. Francis of Assisi Church and its belfry in the town of Siquijor, the San Isidro Labrador Parish and its convent in Lazi, and St. Vincent De Ferrer Bell Tower in Larena.
Siquijor houses throngs of unspoiled beaches that will truly captivate beach bums. The town of San Juan not only features Tubod Marine Sanctuary—one of the island's best dive sites, but is also home to the white-sand wonder of Paliton Beach. Meanwhile, located in Larena is Sandugan Beach, a white sand beach where you can frolic on the sand and swim in the clear waters.
Meanwhile, Salagdoong Beach in the town of Maria is the place to be if you're a fan of cliff diving. Even if you're not, you can simply take a dip in its inviting waters. While you're in Maria, see Kagusuan Beach and feast your eyes on its expansive, calm shores.
The mangrove sanctuary of Guiwanon Spring Park will captivate nature lovers. It has several tree houses that you can visit. Enjoy a gorgeous view of the sea when you're in one of these elevated wooden houses.
If you want to explore more than just the surface of Siquijor's seas, go snorkeling and even scuba diving. Tubod Marine Sanctuary in San Juan, Tulapos Marine Sanctuary in Enrique Villanueva, and Caticugan Marine Sanctuary in Siquijor town are just some of the popular dive sites available. All of them boast bustling marine life.
There is no shortage of natural wonders away from the shores to see when you’re in Siquijor. If you want to commune with nature, visit Bandilaan Nature View Park where you can relax with the sight of lush greens and the peaceful sound of the rustling trees. There is also a butterfly sanctuary that you can visit as well as a shrine for Our Lady of Lourdes and Stations of the Cross. For those who have adventure in mind, go on a hike in Mt. Bandilaan, and be rewarded with an amazing view of the island from the top.
The caves in Siquijor are also ideal for those seeking an adventure. You can go spelunking at Cantabon Cave, Tagmanocan Cave, and Dacanay Cave to name a few.
Aside from beaches, Siquijor also has some waterfalls. Go to Cambugahay Falls in Lazi or Lugnason Falls in San Juan if you want to take a dip in fresh waters. Or if you want to swim in a lake, you can head to Capilay Spring Park, a nature park in San Juan.
Siquijor is not only the home of various natural wonders; it is also a hub for several unique attractions that give you a glimpse of the rich traditions and culture of the province.
To know more about the artistic side of the province, check out Olang Arts Park, a haven for artists in Siquijor. Various works of art are displayed in this one-of-a-kind park. There is also a performing arts stage onsite. Another must-visit attraction is the Seashell Museum which houses exotic seashells in different shapes, colors, and sizes. And for a unique experience, sign up for a firefly watching tour at Hambilica Ecolodge.
Events and Festivals
Like other provinces, Siquijor is also known to hold unique festivals that add more reasons why you need to visit this province.
One of its unique festivals is the Healing Festival, which is held every Lenten season. Herbal medicine makers from all over the country come together to whip up herbal concoctions like medicines and potions using ancient practices and traditions.
The town feast of Siquijor is also another popular event. Known as Dilaab Festival, this celebration is held every October and is rooted from Siquijor's identity as "Isla de Fuego" or the Island of Fire. It is also held to honor St. Francis of Assisi, the town's patron saint.
More town feasts you should watch out for include San Juan town's Bugwas Festival held every August 24 to 25, Lazi town's Saging Festival from May 14 to 15, and Enrique Villanueva town's Pamukad Festival held every July 15 to 16, to name a few.
Where to Eat
Restaurants and Bars
Foodies will definitely delight in the wide variety of cuisines that Siquijor offers. If you're craving for some Italian fare, especially some delicious pizzas, Marco Polo and The Little Molmol Restaurant are two of the best places to get your fix. But if you're more into grilled dishes,
Erik the Viking Eat and Meat has plenty of grilled meat and fish on their menu. If you're a fan of grilled chicken, choose between Chicken Ati-Atihan and Joel's Lechon Manok.
Baha Bar offers both Filipino and international dishes that will truly satisfy the varied tastes of different tourists. Aside from some good eats, this establishment is also the ideal place to have some drinks.
If you're not only looking for a place to eat but also to chill out, choose Larena Triad Coffee Shop. With its peaceful ambiance and gorgeous view, you'll surely feel relaxed while dining there.
If you're on a strict budget when it comes to food, you can dine in Siquijor's carinderias. Not only will you be getting the best bang out of your buck, but you'll also get to savor tasty dishes that have a local flair.
Where to Shop
There are many stalls and stores where you can buy pasalubong and souvenirs. Visit any of the woodcarving shops like Ergwen Woodcrafts if you want to take home native handicrafts. Meanwhile, if Siquijor-branded souvenirs like T-shirts and keychains are what you seek, head to Mar & Peck's Souvenirs. But if you want to buy potions and herbal medicine, there are some stalls near the Old Balete Tree that offer them.
ATMs, Banks, and Remittance Shops
You can find banks and ATMs in Siquijor, including remittance shops. Some establishments also accept credit cards.
Fare: PHP 3,300.00 to PHP 4,200.00
Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly to Dumaguete from Manila or Cebu all year round. While the fare prices are relatively cheap, you can save even more money if you avail of promo fares and piso sales.
Once you land in Dumaguete, the fast crafts at Dumaguete Port will take you to Siquijor. A one-hour boat ride costs more or less PHP 200.00. Meanwhile, when getting around the province, the minimum jeepney fare is PHP 7.00. The rate for motorcycle rentals is about PHP 300.00, while tricycle rental for a tour around the island is more or less PHP 1,000.00.
Food: PHP 50.00 to PHP 300.00
There is a wide selection of dining options in Siquiijor so no matter what your budget may be, you will easily find satisfying meals. If you're eating at a carinderia, PHP 50.00 will already buy you a full meal. If you're eating at restaurants, the price range per dish is about PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00.
Shopping: PHP 50.00 ++
You can already buy pasalubong or souvenirs for as low as PHP 50.00. The seashells at Seashell Museum cost as low as PHP 35.00. If you want to buy a Siquijor T-shirt, the price ranges from PHP 100.00 to PHP 200.00. Meanwhile, a love potion is a bit costly at PHP 500.00.
Accommodation: PHP 500.00 to PHP 2,500.00
There are a lot of accommodations to choose from in Siquijor. There are backpacker hostels, inns, and lodges for those on a budget. Meanwhile, there are also resorts like Coco Grove Beach Resort for those who want to enjoy a luxurious vacation.
Activities: PHP 10.00 ++
Some attractions and landmarks require you to pay a meager entrance fee so you can enjoy a tour. These include Guiwanon Spring Park (PHP 10.00), Salagdoong Beach (PHP 15.00), and Cantabon Cave (PHP 20.00). If you're not dining at Larena, there is also an entrance fee of PHP 20.00.
||Have breakfast at any of the carinderias in town.
||Hire a tricycle to take you to some of the landmarks and attractions like the Old Balete Tree where you can enjoy a fish spa, the century-old San Isidro Labrador Parish and Convent in Lazi, and Cambaguhay Falls where you can take a dip in fresh waters.
||Have a quick lunch in any of the carinderias in town.
||The second leg of your tour continues. You'll be able to swim and cliff dive at Salagdoong Beach, snorkel and see various corals and fishes at Tulapos Marine Sanctuary, and visit the St. Francis of Assisi Church.
||Visit St. Francis of Assisi Church. Take a selfie with the church and the "Welcome to Siquijor" sign in the background.
||After your tour ends, you can go back to your accommodation to freshen up.
||Head to Baha Bar for some food and cocktails.
||Head back to your accommodation to get a good night's sleep.
||Have breakfast at U.Story Guest House Restaurant.
||Go spelunking at Cantabon Cave.
||Splurge on a sumptuous seafood meal at Coco Grove Beach Resort's Salamandas Restaurant.
||Go swimming in the white sand Paliton Beach.
||See the mangroves and tree houses at Guiwanon Spring Park.
||Have dinner at a nearby eatery.
Since Siquijor is primarily a beach destination, the best time to visit is during summer, so you can fully enjoy the shores and of course, the charming sunset at the end of the day.
Make sure to pack some medicine, first aid kit supplies, and insect repellent in your luggage as a precaution for your trip. Should you be in need of medical assistance, you can head to Siquijor Provincial Hospital or any of the community clinics.
Bisaya is the main language spoken in Siquijor. Though residents can also understand English and Tagalog, Bisaya is often used in conversations. So if you want to understand the locals and communicate to them using their language, here are a few phrases you can use:
Tagpila ni? – How much is this?
Daghang salamat. – Thank you very much.
Maayong buntag/hapon/gabii!- Good morning/afternoon/night!
Tabang! – Help!
Asa man ang banyo? – Where is the bathroom?
While there is no standard rule for tipping in the Philippines, most people would just leave small bills like PHP 20.00 or PHP 50.00 as tip.
Safety and Security
There's no harm in practicing vigilance whenever you travel to a new place. Make sure to be aware of your surroundings and protect your valuables. Be prepared for any unexpected instances.