Best of Siquijor Island – Philippines
This is a complete travel guide to Siquijor Island, Philippines.
Overview of Siquijor Island, Philippines:
The Philippines is a giant chain of archipelagos that constitute a mind-boggling 7641 islands. This is a phenomenal figure. Of course, there is no comparison of the Philippines with Sweden as far as the number of islands that a single country has. Sweden’s islands are numbering approximately 221, 800 islands!
Out of the Philippines’ 7600 + islands, only 2000 islands are inhabited. It is a big figure. Imagine the number of islands in the Philippines that you can escape to.
Nonetheless, the tourists flock to only a handful of islands in the Philippines archipelago. They don’t know what they are missing if only they skip the big and popular islands and reach out to lesser-known islands that don’t lack beauty and facilities.
One such rather unknown island in the Philippines is ‘Siquijor’. It is neither a small island nor a big island. It comprises an area of over 300 sq. km
Siquijor’s beauty and diversity of marine life lie in its 100 km coastal length.
Its capital is also named Siquijor.
Location of Siquijor Island:
It is surrounded by the Mindanao Sea that carries another name ‘Bohol Sea’ in the Philippines.
Siquijor’s neighbors are the highly visited Cebu Island and the large Negros province of the Philippines.
Its closest neighboring island Negros is just 30 km away.
Do you know that the entire Philippines archipelago was once under the rule of Spain?
How do you reach Siquijor Island?
It is rather easy to go to it though it involves time and money. There is a small airport on this island but it cannot service any passenger planes.
Therefore, your only option to reach Siquijor Island is by a boat. However, you have to first reach the coastal city of Dumaguete from wherever you are. The nearest airport is called Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Lapul-Lapu City, Mactan Island.
Alternatively, if you are camping in Manila, you can fly to Dumaguete City in just an hour.
Once you reach Dumaguete, reach its ferry dock and board a fast boat to go to Siquijor Island. The sea passage takes about 90 minutes to cross the 80 km distance.
If you are based in Cebu City, the total time you will spend in a plane and boat to reach your destination is four hours and thirty minutes.
The ferries are operated every two hours from Dumaguete Port. The first boat leaves at 5.45 am and the last boat departs at 7 pm.
When the Spaniards found Siquijor Island in the Bohol Sea, they first saw a big colony of fireflies and hence named the island ‘Isla de Fuego?’ meaning the ‘island of fire’. The number of fireflies was so much that the island glowed when seen from a distance.
I wonder whether those exotic flies still swarm the island in the Philippines!
Before I let you know what to do and what to see on the Island, I will give you the details of places to stay on the island and what you can eat there. I am sure you would want to know these essentials before you search for the cheapest flights to Manila or Cebu from your country of residence.
Highly recommended resorts and hotels to stay in:
There is no point in choosing a hotel that is nowhere near the Bohol Sea-right? When you going to an island on a holiday, you have to make the most of the sandy beaches. Therefore, based on your budget, try to book a room facing the beach or at least in the vicinity of the beach. It would be better to stay in an overwater bungalow if it is available.
Coco Grove Beach Resort
I think this the best beachfront resort to stay in Siquijor.
Set amidst lovely tropical gardens, the Coco Grove Beach Resort should be your finest choice. Visit their website to view the rooms, restaurants, and other amenities. The resort arranges transfers from the airport (Manila and Dumaguete) and boat jetty.
Infinity Heights Resort
This is a resort in a true sense that is evident from just 15 huge villas on a small mountain. The view of the sea from the resort is breathtaking.
You are assured of a short island-hopping voyage that can be customized. You can make use of the resort’s airport and port transfers. In addition, the resort arranges motorcycles for rent for its guests who desire to explore the island on their own.
- Bermuda Triangle Bungalows
- Blue Wave Inn
- Mandala Tribe Treehouses
The hotel doesn’t have a website. It has chosen to offer bookings only through hotels and resorts aggregators.
I am sure these five hotels give you enough options to delve and decide.
Every resort and hotel arrange transfers. Moreover, they arrange motorcycles for rent, boat trips to the nearby uninhabited islands, and snorkeling and scuba diving gear for rent.
What can you eat in Siquijor?
Being an island, you can expect a range of fresh seafood prepared by the polite Filipinos. Though the local cuisine is predominant, you can find Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese foods abundantly.
Here are some of the dishes that you will find on the menu cards and buffet tables.
Adobo is one of the ubiquitous dishes in all the Philippines Islands. It is more of a semi-stew than a thin stew that is served in a bowl.
Both chicken and pork are used to make this dish. In some restaurants, they go a step further and use the meat of both chicken and pork.
Bay leaves are found floating liberally as a flavoring agent. Another ingredient to add flavor is the ‘black pepper’.
Here is an avatar of chicken adobo.
I think the adobo is a must-eat food in Siquijor. If not, you have to answer questions from your friends who had been to the Philippines and eaten at least three variations of ‘adobo’.
Yes, your eyes did not deceive you. The skewers are loaded with whole pigs. The meat is cooked to taste juicy and the skin breaks at your touch. Yes, the skin of the pigs is made crispy. This is an exotic way of cooking the usual pork. I wish the American chefs visit Siquijor and learn the method of cooking ‘Lechon’. Is it the national food of the Philippines? It is actually a Spanish food.
Here is a close-up view of the baby pig that is being cooked.
Do you know the animal is stuffed with fruits, spices, and flavoring ingredients? OMG! That must yield a very delicious Lechon.
Those who can’t either consume a whole Lechon or can’t afford to buy it, will settle down for the Crispy Pata which is nothing but the leg of a pig that is cooked the Lechon way.
Hmm… that looks succulent indeed!
This is a breakfast soup containing seafood or chicken meat. Of course, your stomach will take it gleefully if you eat it during lunch, evening snack, or as a dinner-time dish.
Similar to the Japanese, the Filipinos also love to eat raw fish. The ‘kinilaw’ is one such raw seafood.
This Philippine food is beef meat that is stuffed with boiled eggs. What an imagination!
I read about 50 exclusive Philippines foods. I have only comment on them. “The chefs of Philippines are bold and imaginative”.
What can you buy in Siquijor?
I believe the major souvenirs that you can buy in Siquijor Island are food products only.
The Filipinos fry the humble peanuts in their own way. You should buy a packet to take back home. Another local specialty is a soap that is devoid of any chemicals but only coconut oil.
Another fried food that you can think of buying from this island is plantain chips.
When you are visiting the local museum on seashells, you can buy several gifts made of seashells outside the museum.
I must admit the Siquijor Island is rather dry when it comes to local handicrafts.
What can you do on Siquijor Island?
It is an island of absolute beauty and peaceful surroundings. It seems the waves too are so gentle as if not to disturb the silence of the island.
The Bohol Sea is calm, wear a lovely turquoise color that is a lovely contrast to the white sand on the beach.
You can see spectacular waterfalls set amidst tropical forests, snorkel to go near the colorful coral reefs, and more. marine lives. Let us examine the natural attractions more closely.
The beaches are generally deserted because it is an under-visited island. The clear water is inviting you to take a plunge. There are some beaches that somehow became popular with the local guides and travel bloggers. Salagdoong Beach is one of them.
Just about every travel blog has mentioned the ‘cliff jump’ as one of the things to do in Siquijor. The cliff jump facility is found on this beach.
At the backdrop of Salagdoong Beach, two diving platforms are erected. The height of then is 22 feet and 33 feet. I think calling it a cliff is a misnomer.
Nonetheless, it is the practice of the visitors to this beach to take a plunge from that height. It is fun to do that and more fun to watch the adventure.
It’s a great beach for snorkeling as this beach is full of coral reefs and fish species. The beach wears white sand. This beach is located in the San Juan neighborhood where the most sought-after hotels and restaurants are available.
In addition, if you have an adventurous mindset, you should stay in a luxury camp (glamp), right on the beach under the coconut trees.
Paliton Beach gets busy in the evening as it is a vantage place to watch the sun dipping into the horizon.
Kagusuan Beach has one of the whitest beaches in the world.
There are huge boulders floating on clear water. The waves are gently lapping on the rocks without creating a fury of water spray. What a serene ambiance.!
Balete Tree and the Fish Spa
This tree’s age is 400 years old. Humans are invariably interested in being part of anything that is historical-eh? The visitors to this small Philippines island are naturally drawn to this ancient tree.
There is a small, manmade pond at the foot of the giant tree. Visitors are seen sitting on the shore with their feet inside the water. The fishes in the pond would bite at the visitors’ dead cells.
A waterfall if surrounded by dense foliage, green moss, bird songs, and humidity, it looks more beautiful. I would say it is the typical scene of a waterfall on a tropical island.
The Cambugahay waterfalls is one such tourist attraction.
Wow! This is what I mean by ‘typical scene of a tropical waterfalls’’. Look at the green shade of the water! It is so beautiful.
The waterfall is so gentle as if to be an alley of the island’s silence. It is silently falling into the pond below where you as a tourist to it can take a swim or silently float on your back.
Some locals living nearby can be seen attracting the attention of the tourists by jumping from the top of the waterfall into the pond below.
After spending some time near the picturesque waterfall, walk on the trail deep into the forest and stumble upon a few more hidden waterfalls that will steal your heart.
Siquijor Butterfly Sanctuary
Butterflies enchant us but some may not show much interest in them. If butterflies are your fascination, you can visit a butterfly sanctuary on this island.
Though the sanctuary is said to house about 20 species of butterflies, you cannot spot all of them during your short visit. The garden is more beautiful than the butterflies.
Tubod Marine Sanctuary
After seeing a sanctuary on the ground, it is time to visit an underwater sanctuary. A sanctuary means it is a protected place to conserve and preserve the living beings in an earmarked area.
The Tubod Marine Sanctuary was created to protect the coral species, clams, turtles, and sea foliage.
In order to visit these underwater creatures, you have to first reach Coco Grove Beach.
The veterans of scuba diving should head to Coco Grove Beach. Their main interest would be to see the conservation of Tubod Marine Sanctuary.
Those with strong arms can rent a kayak and row into the sea near the Coco Grove Beach Resort area.
If scuba diving is not your forte, put on a pair of snorkeling goggles and float to spot the marine creatures including the corals. The clarity of the water that reveals its creatures underneath will make you reluctant to leave the water.
There is no language barrier as English is widely spoken. The resorts are a handful with wonderful amenities. Food and drinks are world-class.
The best time to visit the island is from November until May. Even the wet monsoon season should entice romantic travelers as the tropical forests get fully drenched making the entire place green teeming with myriad insects and reptiles.
To sum up the tour of Siquijor Island, I would rank it among the must-visit tropical islands in the world.