Jun 09

Blue waters, white sands, Siquijor Island, PhilippinesI first heard of Siquijor island back in 2002 from a Dive Buddy when visiting Alona Beach on Bohol. Sitting in the ‘Safety Stop Bar’ on Panglao, drinking a few San Miguel, he told me especially about the exciting Coral Gardens and abundant Marine Life – truly a paradise for divers!

The beaches were said to be of the purest and whitest sands, yet still undeveloped – surely the next Boracay in the making. At that time I was hesitating to visit, as Siquijor was something like a 2-day trip from Bohol away and I was just getting acquainted with Bohol.

Last weekend, with only a short ferry trip away from Dumaguete, there was no excuse anymore. Off to Siquijor!

Where’s Siquijor and how do I get there?

Siquijor is a quiet island to the South of the three main Visayans Negros, Cebu and Bohol. You can get there from multiple ports from any of those islands, the question is just how long will it take you. The shortest distance is probably from Dumaguete jetty, where a fast ferry (Delta Lines) will take you there in about 50-60 minutes time and costs only 160 Peso per person. There are also car ferries available, in case you want to bring your own vehicle.

Arrival at the Siquijor JettyAfter arrival in Siquijor you will notice at first the cyan-blue bay at the jetty!

Doesn’t paradise look exactly like that?

Then you will notice the touts and hordes of people, who want to sell you anything from accommodation, transport, rental bike or car. Making your way through them, this will be the only stressful situation you will ever experience on Siquijor, as this is the most tranquil and laid-back island I visited in a long while. Everything goes slower here, people talk slow, the traffic (what traffic?) is only a handful of tricycles and some lonely scooter bikes.

Watch out for domesticated animals like roosters, goat, dogs, water buffaloes or cows crossing the roads; as they surely are not used to speeds above 10 km per hour.

The roads are in remarkably good condition, there is a main road following the coastal line going all around the island. You can circumvent the whole of Siquijor in about 5-6 hours with a Honda Wave or comparable. The main towns (and also ports) are ‘Siquijor-Siquijor’ in the North at 11 o’clock of the island, Larena in the North East at 2 o’clock and Lazi in the South around 6 o’clock. Take San Juan at 9 o’clock in the West and there is no way you can get lost when driving around the island.

I’m here, now what?

Cambugahay Waterfalls Siquijor - I believe I can flyActivities in Siquijor are few and far between and are mainly centered around doing nothing much – and that at a very slow pace.

Apart from Diving, Snorkeling and Swimming, there are some cascading waterfalls near Lazi called Cambugahay Falls. Those are a very pleasant day trip. You have 3 cascades (about 2-3 meters high) with pools below, where you can swim and refresh in the cooling waters coming from the mountains.

The waterfalls are very popular with the local youth also and you can make friends here very easily.

Another attraction of Siquijor are the countless caves scattered all across the island, which can be explored on your own or with local guides. Some were used by the Japanese during World War II as ammunition storage.

Crystal clear waters and palm trees in abundance on SiquijorThe beaches around Siquijor are really white, although usually very narrow and with only shallow waters. Only at high tide in the mornings there is swimming possible at most places, unfortunately that’s when the sun is up and burning down mercilessly. In the afternoons, the beaches to the West and North are almost completely dried up and the locals go looking for shells, crabs and other seafood caught in the little pools left at the beaches.

If you want to go for a swim in the afternoon or evening, you better make your way to the Eastern part of the island, where the effects of the tides are not that strong and the deeper waters allow for a swim or snorkeling at more pleasant temperatures. Local Youth having fun with the new visitors at Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor

Especially the beach near Salangdoong is very pleasant to visit and family-friendly on top of that. You can bring your own BBQ here, use one of the public BBQ pits and go swimming in one of 2 lagoons with the bluest water you have seen in a long while. Here are also fewer stones and nothing besides a bit of sea grass will disturb your swim.

To reach Salangdoong Beach you have to drive through Salangdoong Forest, which is a nice scenic drive under airy, light trees, where you can see colorful birds and other wild animals.

Siquijor is also said to be the center of Black Magic or Voodoo activities, especially in the mountainous areas inland. There are magic shows offered, where you can watch a Black Magic Priest or Shaman doing some tricks to paper puppets; but it’s up to you if you want to buy some magic potions, amulets or let the Shaman perform a ritual on you or against your enemies.

Across the mountains towards the sea in South SiquijorFor many Filipinos those Black Magic rituals are a fearful thing and probably a good and bad effect for tourism and Siquijor at the same time. Many Locals refuse to spend a night on the island and only come for day trips, leaving the island with the last ferry to avoid getting under the influence of any spells.

Others come here especially to stock up on potions or have a specific ritual exercised.

Some people also say the Black Magic rumors are fired by the villagers themselves to distract outsiders and authorities from their weed plantations on parts of the island.

Who would think of that?

A fact is that I was offered ‘smoke’ at various occasions during a 3 day stay, so the climate surely supports the necessary crop cultivation. ;-)

And food? I’m hungry already

Food and Restaurants are few and far between on the island. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat very well for reasonable money. A very popular option is for instance the restaurant of “Das Traum Guest Haus” just next to the jetty in Siqujor-Siquijor. They offer a daily buffet of fish, chicken, beef, pork dishes with Chop Suey, Rice and Desserts to go with. You simply point on what you want and have it on a plate a few moments later. Pay only what you eat for very affordable prices.

The friendly stuff will also help you to find a place to stay or a rental vehicle (just make sure, the tires and brakes are alright, if you plan to rent their scooter for 25 Peso/hour, disintegrating wheels are not unheard of; see pic right below). ;-)

Somehow the island seems to be very popular with Northern Europeans: there is a Norwegian Dream Hotel and Restaurant near Larena, which offers very delicious local and international cuisine. The owner lady used to work 30 years in Norway and is very pleasant to chat with also.

There is also a Swedish Cottages & Restaurant – if I remember correctly, something like “Karlsson’s” or similar.

One of the biggest hamburgers ever on SiquijorThen there is the Danish Lagoon on the West Coast, just North of San Juan. Jimmy and Johnny are 2 Danes, who opened a very stylish and exclusive small resort here complete with a sculpture of the little mermaid.

So far there are 4 cottage houses, themed on the stories of Hans-Christian Andersen, the famous Danish writer. The prices (3.000 Peso and above) are probably not for backpackers and maybe only for your honeymoon, but the food deserves a special recommendation.

Would you pay 200 Peso for an Hamburger? Probably not. But you should!

It will be the biggest burger you have eaten in a while and a very tasty one also. Jimmy the Chef here is making sure that only the freshest and best ingredients make it into their food, they ground their own beef, make their own sauces, the salad is cut only when the order comes in and the meat for steaks are only the best parts without any fat or cartilage.


So will Siquijor be the next Boracay? Probably not, as most of the prime beach property is already occupied and the tides don’t seem to allow for resort-like beach activities anyway.

Small Bike Mishap, friendly people helping out, near Larena, SiquijorBut that is a good thing in my view, as Siqujor will most likely remain a small, mainly untouched island. It can even be your very own Robinson island, to allow for a relaxing and lazy stay, laid-back to the fullest in its very own way. The whole island is also exceptionally clean and the people are friendly, as well as cheer and helpful.

All the good things are here, affordable accommodation, local and international food options, friendly and hospitable locals, the white sands and crystal clear water of the tropics, some mountains, caves and waterfalls to cool down and even the smoke to blow your brains out, if that’s what you desire.

Countless Karaoke joints will make you sing the nights away, a big 1-liter bottle of San Miguel Pale Pilsen or Red Horse Beer cost only 60 Pesos, 2 songs go for 5 Pesos and you are set.

With an own outlet of the Immigration Bureau already existent you wouldn’t even have to bother to go back to Dumaguete to renew your Visa every once in a while.

I’m probably getting ahead of myself. So what do YOU think about Siquijor?

Have you been here or are you planning to visit?

(Click here for more pictures of Siquijor)

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written by Chris

16 Responses to “Siquijor Island – let its magic enchant you!”

  1. Cebu Philippines ExpatNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Siquijor is really quite an interesting place in central Philippines referred to as “The Island of Fire”. Unbelievable sunsets… Easy to get to from Cebu with daily fastcraft to Bohol and Dumaguete and then on to Siquijor. Not to be missed…!

  2. RyanNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    We planned to go up Negros Oriental and Siquijor this June but got very busy so we wont have enough time to go, but these two are high up on my list. Did you go to the Twin Lakes and the 7 kilometer white sandbar in Bais City (1 hr north of Dumaguete)

  3. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Twin Lakes we went, check here for details or here for more pictures (4th and 5th row) – Bais probably another time. Will try to get west-around Negros up to Bacolod and Iloilo, then Panay and after that back via Bais-Dumaguete and then Cebu. At least that sounds like a plan, doesn’t it? :D

  4. RyanNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Excellent photos! I am really curious of that sandbar in Bais, Manjuyod is it? Hope you have an excellent time in Panay – don’t miss out on the seafood and the biggest bell in Southeast Asia in Capiz, the cold springs, the waterfalls and the beaches of Aklan, the la paz batchoy, and heritage churches and spanish ancestral houses of iloilo.

  5. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Wow, those are all great tips! Have to check on my map how to get there…thanks Ryan!

  6. MikeeNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    It’s a very nice and breezy place for a short break..I’ve been there many times. Since it\s my dad’s home town. :)

  7. JRNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    I learned a lot by reading your site. Thanks
    Be in Dumaguete two days from now.
    Renting a bike will be the first on the list.

    Lagaw ta!!!

  8. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Thanks for your friendly comments, Mikee and JR! :D

  9. JeffzNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I was really laughing so hard about your candid comments on the “traffic” in Siquijor and the tricycles… so very true. I’ve visited Siquijor a few times and the first thing I noticed was the clear blue water right on the pier, that’s a rare and only in Siquijor. Most piers are long polluted with diesel and engine oils…
    There’s a new place that can be rented weekly or a few days at a time, in a small town in Tambisan (about 6 minutes from Siquijor town or 10 min from Coco grove), you can rent the entire second floor for a few weeks. It has one large bedroom, marble bathroom, wetbar/mini kitchen and your own private entrance. The Mahogany farmhouse has a big yard, so green and fenced and very secured, it’s a 5 minute walk to Tambisan pier. Caretaker Jocey 035-481-9694. jeff

  10. jojoNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Siquijor is really a quite place to stay. Biking , Scuba Diving and Kayaking is so ideal in the island. It has world class resorts and restaurants.
    For now, there is already an online free web directory on restaurants, resorts,vehicles for hire and soon on other sections available in the island. You can visit the site at http://www.siquijordirectory.com.

  11. maggieNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    We’re going back to Siquijor for the fourth time this Easter.
    Beautiful, tranquil, friendly island, and dear to our hearts.

  12. MariaNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Siquijor is a fantastic little island to visit. With the great diving, white sand, and friendly locals, it is a great get away destination in the Philippines.

  13. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Glad you guys share my excitement about Siquijor island, Jeffz, jojo, maggie and Maria! ;-)

  14. deltafoxtrotNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:


    Thank you for your contribution featuring one of great Philippine destinations. Hope you enjoy your stay and surely your page can influence a positive result in the tourism growth of my beloved county.

  15. rey alicanteNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    all i could say is that,siquijor is realy a world class tourist distination that everybody should visit!the wonders,magics and enchantments awaits you and they never ends!siquijor is realy blessed island and i visit to that island every year for a real relaxation!unlike in other tourist distinatins in philippines,siquijor is not a crowded nor populus nor polluted place! you can realy enjoy the natural touch of our mother nature not to mention the friendly people in the island!..enjoy! ;-)

  16. YachtsNo Gravatar PAKISTAN Says:

    Thank you for sharing the info about this island. I had Malaysia on my list but this looks more interesting. I wanted a beach side with lush greenery and a rich marine life and this seems just the right place.

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