Siquijor, the island of mystery
Wanting to go to Cebu island to go Whale Shark watching we headed of to the Dumaguete harbour o take the ferry. The ceres bus from Boracay/Caticlan takes about 6 hours on the same bus. So we figured this was the easy way.
Arriving at the harbour we asked around and it soon got to us that we where in the wrong harbour. In order to go to Cebu city or to Oslob where the Whaleshark watching is we should have taken a tricycle to Siluban terminal (an hour away with tricycle) and not Dumaguete.
We had some discussions amongst us two and we figured that we probably missed the last boat from the Siluban harbour and the next boat from this harbor was either in 8 hours arriving really early the next morning or we could wait to 3 pm next day.
So what to do? either way we had to wait.
But there was one other option. There was a boat headed for Larena, Siquijor Island in just one hour. And the trip would only take 2 hours. That sounds nice. But what is there in Siquijor island?
After arriving at the harbour of Larena we got a relatively cheap room at one of the nearby hotels (North Haven approximately 600 Pesos/night).
Siquijor is not a very big island. Driving around the island with a motorbike takes you around 2-2,5 hours depending on your driving and how many stops you make along the road. It is easy to go around the island since it is only one highway.
Most hotels and resorts are located along the highway and beach between Siquijor town and San Juan town. You can easily get a room here for somewhere in between 350 to 1000 Pesos. Either with or without your own kitchen. We stayed at a very nice place called Treasure Island just outside of San juan (15 minutes walking from the town).
There is no airport on Siquijor island. It is only accessible by boat. If you are in the Visayas and for example are going from Boracay to Siquijor you can get on a Ceres bus in Caticlan (about 280 Pesos) to Dumaguete, it takes you about six hours. From the Dumaguete port there are ferries running between Dumaguete and Larena, Siquijor island. The boat costs 140 Pesos per passenger and takes 2 hours.
If you’re in Manila, easiest way is to get a domestic flight to either Cebu or Dumaguete and from there take a ferry.
Cebupacific usually has the cheapest flights.
Getting around the island is easy. If you want some freedom and be able to see the island in your own tempo. Then renting a motorbike could be the best option. Most hotels and resorts have rental bikes or they can arrange a motorbike from one of the many locals that has a rental service. Standard price is usually 250 Pesos/day.
Taxis are not so common on Siquijor island, but tricycles are. And you can bargain on the price too. Many tricycle drivers will also make it into a full day out service if you ask them. They will then take you through all the hot spots on the island and wait for you while you do your sightseeing. Bargaining can get you a good deal.
Sights & attractions
Even though Siquijor island is a small island there are plenty of activities and sights to explore. Caves and waterfalls are just some of the things Siquijor island has to offer.
The Cambugahay falls in the south of Siquijor is one of the islands most beautiful spots to visit. Sweet water from the mountains hits the lowlands and transforms “paddies” of water creating layers of pools with waterfalls. the water has a milky turquoise colour and the water is cold. But it looks like it is taken from a fairytale book. Like you have entered the deep jungle.
There is no entrance fee but bring 10 Pesos for parking if you bring your motorbike.
You have to be careful with your belongings at the falls. If you are more than one travelling in a group it is best to go in the water one by one and let one always have a close eye on your belongings since this is a place known for pickpockets.
Century old Balith tree
Along the highway in the south of Siquijor island is the century old Balith tree.
If you stay for a couple of minutes you can sit down and cool your feet in the pool and let the fishes there give you a pedicure.It is a popular place to go both for tourists and locals.
One of the most popular caves in Siquijor island is the Cantabon cave. Not suited for the unfit since it is a several hour trek into the depths of the cave. To get admission you need go to the Barangay hall in Cantabon where you also can hire a helmet for the trekking.
The Spanish named the island “Isla de Fuego” when they arrived in the Philippines hundreds of years ago. Isla de Fuego, or “Island of fire” got the name because of the fireflies hatching in the trees along the coastline.
Fireflywatching is a popular attraction even today and there are many places that offers tickets to see the show of the fireflies.
Hambilica beach resort is said to have the only firefly hatchery on the island. But there are many places where you get a good scenery of the fireflies.
Witch doctors and healers
Many Philipinos will refer to Siquijor as “the Mystery island”. Known for having black magic and witch doctors even today.
There are currently 69 “faith healers” as the locals now refer them as and they live up in the mountains in San Antonio and Cantabon. The Faith healers are said to be able to heal sickness, distract spells and bad demons from your body.
If you are unlucky you might get a faith healer that only gives you a massage and asks for money. Go into the village of San Antonio and ask around for a faith healer. But avoid those who has a commercial sign outside their house saying “faith healers”. Those are usually the most unprofessional ones.
The Salamander resort
Visit the beach and have a relaxing buffè in the pool at the Salamander resort(yes, the bar is in the pool). You pay 450 Pesos and can eat and drink all you want up to 450 Pesos.
San Juan Spring park
Take a bath in the sweet water in the Spring park dedicated to the water running from the mountain and into San Juan. A long pool, restaurants and small tables in the shades provides for a fun day out. No entrance fee but a table costs 30 Pesos which goes to the maintenance of the park.
There are a few marine sanctuaries on the island where you pay entrance to go diving or snorkeling. The entrance fee goes to protecting the marine wildlife and the coral reef in that area.
Siquijor Island has a lot of Mangrove trees and there are some places in the southwest coast where there are more trees than other places. It is a nice place to go for some lunch or sightseeing and some photo opportunities.
Good to know
The boats from Siquijor to Dumaguete runs everyday (5:30 am, 6:30 am, 8:00 am, 9:30 am, 11:am, 12 pm, 3:45 pm) and costs 120 pesos per passenger. There is also a boat with a different Ferry service at 1:50 pm daily for 220 pesos per ticket. Boats to Cebu city costs about 1450 Pesos. The big vehicle/passenger ferries are bound for the route Dumaguete/Larena and the smaller boats/fastcrafts are bound between Dumaguete/Siquijor.
There are few ATMs on the island. There are a few in Larena which accepts foreign cards and can take out maximum 10.000 Pesos per transactions.
Siquijor is not the island to go to for the beaches. The beaches are relatively white but they are muddy and often covered with seaweed. There are other islands to visit that are more suited for fun days at the beach.