As the Filipino travelers are growing, it’s no question that the island of Siquijor where many Filipinos feared visiting is now becoming one of the most asked Philippine destinations on the world wide web. No wonder my friends kept asking me this, also through this blog.
Siquijor island is located in the Central Visayan Region of the Philippines. It is called as the “Island of Fire” or “Isla del Fuego” by the Spaniards during the Spanish colonial period of the country. This is merely because the island lights up at night due to the massive numbers of fireflies lurking around Mahogany tree during that period.
At the present time, this 102 km coastline in the area is widely known as the Magical or Mystical Island as it’s associated with those shamans who can heal people having health problems as their traditional practice. Not only that, there are as well locals living here tagged as “witchcraft” as they are known for doing stuff that can harm people through silent-unusual work. This is the main island where all shamans celebrate Folk Healing Festival. More info about this in the later part of this post.
Regardless of this, the breathtaking views, landscapes and friendly people of this place had me visiting for numerous times since the year 2011. And through this, I do hope my top places to visit could invite you in. Here is my top pick of this mystical island.
The very first site people would recommend a tourist to visit for an adventure is Salagdoong Beach. This is because Salagdoong is a local’s favorite hangout place, they flock to this beach for a great weekend picnic. Apart from that, its well managed by the government particularly by the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources). It has available cottages for rent and a restaurant that serves breakfast as well. Since its government-owned entrance fee will do no harm for as low as Php 25.00. Bringing of food and drinks is also allowed.
If you opt to stay overnight, witnessing the sunrise the next day is a thing you must consider. And brave yourself with the 20ft and a 30 ft cliff diving, just make sure that it’s high tide as the sea water has 12-15 ft deep. Just be careful and be cautious as well.
With the picturesque seascape, crystal clear water and rock formation that is attractively positioned on each side of the beach, I bet this will entice a traveler coming in. This can be found in Maria town and can be reached by a cliff with a concrete staircase. If you like snorkeling, do not expect there’s a lot to see underwater here. I also experienced stopping over at the early morning where I unexpectedly met fishermen who happen to be resting after their early fishing time. They mentioned that most of them come to work as early as 3 AM and some of them finish working at around noon time. It’s a good timing if you stumble upon this local as they assure a fresh fish to sell at an affordable price and have a great connection during their breakfast time at the beach.
The unspoiled beauty of the nature serenading the peaceful vibes. Never visit on a weekend here since more locals at present crowd into this site unless you want an interaction with the locals, it’s really packed over the weekend. Feel the calming state of life here during weekdays or early morning. Paliton has the coconut trees making the beach alive by this nature. It has a sanctuary but will take you meters away from the shore, its corals are spread out though there is a variety of fish within. Paliton has different sites, the long stretch beach is the famous one but the other side of it which there’s a need to walk through the private area has another great view, which can also be reached from the other road starting from the highway.
There are three sanctuaries that I had the opportunity exploring. The Tulapos Marine Sanctuary in the town of Enrique Villanueva, Paliton Sanctuary and Tubod Sanctuary in San Juan town which Tubod Sanctuary can be accessed through Coco Grove Resort. They are rich in marine biodiversity, the only thing is that I didn’t plunge in for a long time, with this I could not attest to giving more information as a whole. There are diving shops in San Juan area where they offer dives for this spot and including the dive site at the port of Siquijor. Check Coco Grove and other diving shops in that area.
Several caves are found on this island, but I highly recommend the adventures at Cantabon Cave. Trek to this cave, stretch your body towards its 300m long and a bit difficult trail where some parts need to crawl in. Enjoy the almost 1.5 hours of caving adventure with the fresh water. Usually, the local guide of this cave gives a good amount of information.
Things to note before delving into this kind of motion:
- Check in at the Cantabon Village Hall or Barangay Hall before heading to the main cave.
- No Tour Guide, No Entry: Secure yourself in hiring a tour guide at the Barangay Hall. 2 guide is for 1-3 pax, I suggest if you are traveling alone you ask around who wants to come with you to split the cost.
- Price is at Php 500.00 inclusive of Guide’s Fee and Helmet only. They have available shoes/aqua shoes and headlights/flashlights for rent on a limited supply. If you own one of these, better bring them with you.
- Wear dry fit clothes or flexible ones as you need to crawl in and some flexes.
- Bring Water for drinking too (a 500ml will be enough as there is a water inside good for drinking too)
Cambugahay Falls is the most famous waterfalls of this island and I have no doubt about this as it’s really enticing and captivating. While Lugnason falls spot as the second favorite, the last time I swing by Lugnason falls slowly became the newest playground of the locals, thus, tourists came rushing in as well. There are another waterfalls that are newly open to the public, its name is Lagaan Falls in Lazi. As this is a bit new, I haven’t had the chance visiting this area yet, Lagaan was also featured on GMA News TV, it is where I found out about this new place. If you like hopping on waterfalls, an early morning stopover deserves a great time with less crowd and fascinating colors of the waterfalls.
This can be done by hiring a fisherman’s boat at Tag-ibo village in San Juan where a huge area of the fishing village is located. I’ve done this few times when I am in Siquijor, starts my journey at Tag-ibo village then ends my tour in Paliton Beach for a snorkeling and beach bumming. The island tour takes about 20-40 minutes depending on how slow or fasts you want the boat take you, make sure you are informing the boat captain about this. If you are a lover of checking an island apart from its internal features, this island boat tour can give you an insight on how rock formation and its island’s outside surrounding looks like. Doing this at an early morning time makes a lot of sense as well, there is a different vibe witnessing the peaceful period.
San Isidro Labrador Church located in Lazi town was declared as the Most Outstanding Heritage Churches in the Philippines. I am still amazed by its structure and how it is still existing since it was built in 1884 up to this date. There is also a convent which is situated separately from the church but they are both built with local hardwood, try checking the floor of the church made of wood, its longevity is remarkable. Aside from local hardwood, the indigenous coral stones are also part of building this church. There is museum inside the convent, but it is sometimes closed. Another historical site to visit is the St. Francis of Assisi Church at Siquijor town. It’s made of stone and nipa roof with a bell tower stands across the plaza. This church is the one that will first be seen upon arriving at Siquijor Port. Go hop on other sites like Our Lady of Divine Providence Church in Maria, St Augustin Church in San Juan, and St. Vincent De Ferrer bell tower in Larena.
The best area enduring the 360 view of the whole island, where the neighboring islands of Cebu, Bohol, and Negros can be seen afar and if clear weather permits, part of Mindanao is also visible. Mt Bandilaan is located in the center of Siquijor Island that includes the attraction of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Way of the Cross. The festival area for Faith healers is just meters away from this park also. The Folk Healer’s Festival is celebrated every Holy Week, starts on Wednesday afternoon, these healers gather at this site until Black Saturday. If you are on the island during holy week, it’s best to witness how these herbalists or healers renew their healing powers. These kind of people are not only from Siquijor, there are those who came from other parts of Visayas and Mindanao. If searching for love potion is on your list, this is also the best time checking on how they produce this kind of charm.
This is a restaurant and a coffee place but its location is making it special among the many restos in the island. It allows you to see the stunning view of Larena and the island of Cebu and Negros too. It’s also nice to end your day after an island tour, the sunset is so lively to see from this resto. Its panoramic view on top of the hill on their deck is what sells this restaurant, their food is reasonably priced and are tasty too, but could not rate as extravagant. Be informed that it’s uneasy to drop by to this place as the way going up is really steep, stay cautious.
As the island is known for folk healers, there is a possibility visiting one of the healers. Most of the healers are found in San Antonio village. By coming to the place, just turn right at the Provincial Capitol Building in Siquijor town and that one street will lead you all the way up to San Antonio. Look for Helen or go farther to Cantabon and look for Joaquina. These two shamans a great amount of information and is generous in showing you how they do the healing and also the benefits of love potion if you are looking for one. There are massive of healers in the town so it’s not hard to look for one if in case these two are nowhere to find. Pedicab drivers and locals know anyone, just ask.
An undisturbing enchanted balete tree that lies near the highway in Lazi town. This Balete tree also called worldwide as “Banyan”. Popularly known of eerie stories and associated with the sorcerers performing their rituals. With an age of more than 400 years old, it is already standing there before Spaniards colonized the Philippines. Nowadays, this place still exists yet, tourism government improvised this with a small restaurant at the side and selling stuff that Siquijor is known for like love potion, sorcerer’s small stuff and etc. It is also in this tree where a tourist can have a little time for a foot spa. There is a spring that can be seen from its base fronting the tree, the color of which remains as dark green. The local living nearby mentioned that it has been dived once by a diver to see how deep that base is but they weren’t able to determine as it’s really impossible measuring its deep. It has also been said that it’s the source of abundant supply of water within the area.
Every Friday there are more than 500 people rushing to Czar’s place. It’s the famous Friday disco night. Coco Grove also accepts outside guests for their night events, the cultural dance every Saturday is the one that I can suggest joining in to learn the culture of the Philippines through dancing, plus feasts abundantly on their buffet style dinner. Check through their reception area when you are in Siquijor. Baha Bar also has their acoustic night.
These are all the places that I had the luck exploring in my years of frequently visiting this small island. I hope you find what you are looking for after all you and I have our own way of traveling, I hope my experience will help you map out your plan for your Siquijor tour.
Author: Ferna Mae
Ferna is a spontaneous traveler from the Philippines who had a great experience traveling her own country first before she embarked to other countries. She thrives to be more independent in her own skin. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org