Siquijor

The tiny island of Siquijor, named Isla de Fuego (Island of Fire) by the Spanish when they first arrived on the island in the sixteenth century, has maintained an air of mystery. To this day some Filipinos believe it to be the center of witchcraft in the Philippines. The name Isla de Fuego came from the fiery light emitted by the swarms of fireflies that can still be found in the island to this day. Going around Siquijor you will find a peaceful place, full of friendly locals with big smiles on their faces, beautiful beaches, waterfalls, architecture, as well as seventy-two kilometers of paved coastal roads that make riding easy and pleasurable.

What to do in Siquijor?

Beaches in Siquijor

Take advantage of the cemented circumferential road and ride around the island and check out the island’s beaches.  Paliton beach is still fairly undeveloped and quiet and has fine white sand and coconut trees perfect for sunbathing, swimming, reading a book and a great instagram post. Whatever you decide to do, stick around and watch the sunset from the beach. It is still blessed with very few visitors, no vendors, and if you are lucky no tricycle drivers waiting for their passengers while blasting really loud music.

Cambugahay waterfalls is a three-tiered waterfalls and a swimming hole with clear water. Important to know that rain the night before or the same day usually turns the water brown as all the silt in the bottom is stirred up. Swings from which you can throw yourself from, have been placed around the falls to add an element of fun to the whole experience. Other less known falls are Lugnason and Lagaan which can be an option if it gets too crowded in Cambugahay.

Salagdoong beach is another popular destination among beach lovers.  Buy some food at a local market and cook it in the bbq pits available in the area.  Salagdoong beach also counts with a slide and a couple of spots from which you can dive if you are not scared of heights.  On the downside, if you are looking for peace and quiet, this may not be the ideal location as you may find yourself in the middle of a bit of a karaoke session blasting music which will be heard loud and clear from the beach.

If you are looking for peace and quiet, a beach and the friendliest service in miles, head down to Villa Marmarine.  This cozy beach resort is built right next to a beautiful white sand beach, fairly near the port of Lucena and away from the crowds.

Lazi beach is perhaps the most remote of all, don’t expect white sand, or sand at all as it is mainly rocks and crushed coral.  Lazi beach is another alternative for great sunsets and no people, just remember to bring river shoes as getting in the water can become a painful experience.

Other sights in Siquijor

If you fancy the outdoors but have had enough beaches, you can make your way to the famous Balete tree and have fish do your pedicure, or head down to Capilay Spring Park, a cold natural fresh water park, that is free to the public.  This may be the perfect place to wash away all the salt after a day at the beach.

Finally, go see one of the oldest churches on the island the San Isidro Labrador Parish Church or commonly called Lazi Church. It’s a neoclassical church built from sea stones with wood flooring, it also has 2 pulpits and a striking blue ceiling.

Where to stay in Siquijor

If you are looking to stay inn the area of San Juan, and budget is not much of an issue, U Story Guesthouse and Coco Grove Beach Resort are 2 great options. Both might fall on the pricier end but definitely offer more than just a place to rest your head after a full day of activities. Coco Grove has a private beach front with white sand, only accessible to guests (you cant swim in it if you are just eating at the restaurant), a good restaurant, and although its entrance is along the main road everything else is tucked away and offers a quiet haven. They also have a dive centre and is the only resort on the island which offers day trips (for both scuba divers and snorkelers) to Apo Island off the coast of Dumaguete. U Story  Guesthouse on the other hand is so eye catching. It doesn’t have the white sand beach but it does provide access to the sea via some steps that lead down into the clear water below that you can just jump right into and start swimming. It also has an amazing restaurant with a pretty cozy hangout area with big pillows on the floor and relaxing yellow lighting. They also have tables set-up among the trees placed at a distance from each other that give a feeling of spaciousness and privacy. Relatively close to the Siquijor Pier ant the port of Larena, is Villa Marmarine which offers both fan and A.C. rooms with a sea view and each room has their own dedicated router and internet access too! Add to this, a truly pristine and beautiful fine white sand beach with no one else around and a restaurant that offers delicious Japanese food and other dishes.

Where to eat in Siquijor

Part of where to eat is already discussed above, and although walk-ins are accepted in all of them, it might be best to call ahead and make a reservation especially at U Story Guesthouse as they get full during dinner. Another place with great ambiance and scrumptious food is Baha Bar which offers vegetarian options and all their products are locally sourced.  Their kinilaw (a Filipino take on ceviche) is delicious. If you are also looking for a nice place to have some sunset drinks or have a few after dinner, just 500 meters down the road from Baha Bar is Republika with a few tables and chairs, hammock, and a swing for people to sit on in a very laid back garden setting. It’s also right next to the beach so you can hear the crashing of the waves on the shore.

Siquijor is easily accessible from the ports of Tagbilaran in Bohol, Liloan in Santander (Cebu) and Dumaguete.

 

Moalboal

Moalboal a small but lively coastal resort, popular among travelers in the Philippines.  It’s located around 90 kilometers from Cebu City. It has a lot to offer, from a coastline lined with  bars and restaurants where you can have a drink or two while watching the sunset, and gaze over the azure waters in front of you and at the distant hills of Negros to a number of trecks and adventure activities in the nearby Kawasan Falls. Directly offshore is a stupendous coral wall, which you can either snorkel and/ or scuba dive, and immediately greets you with outstanding marine life — including Moalboal’s world-renowned sardine run. The area where all the tourist resorts are found is called Panagasama Beach and the actual town of Moalboal is located a few kilometers away along the highway.

Moalboal is best known among tourists as a scuba diving and snorkeling destination and as well as the famous sardines in the house reef, one can dive at the nearby Pescador Island, which is home to some great dive sites full of tropical life.

Away from diving there are other attractions such as Kawasan Falls in the Barangay of Matutinao in the municipality of Badian. Depending on your pace, it is an easy and quite pleasant 15 to 30 minutes walk from the national road. Along the way, you will want to stop and  jump into river as the water is so clear that you can see all the way to the rocks sitting calmly in the bottom. Sometimes, the rocks take on a blue shade which in turn gives the water this nice tint. The waterfalls are three-tiered, and as with most fresh water sources, one must expect to jump into cool and very refreshing water. The longer and more physically demanding route to get to Kawasan is from Canlaob, Alegria. Sign-up to go Canyoneering. Enjoy while you travel downstream jumping from heights (some are optional while others are not), rock scrambling, swimming (you will be provided with life jackets) and hiking. Again depending on your pace, the tour can take between 3 to 6 hours.

After a long and tiring day of activities it always helps to have a clean and comfortable room to return to with a hot shower to boot! Moalboal has plenty of options for accommodations, to fit different budgets and preferences, and most of them can be found in or around Panagasama Beach. If you are looking for a place that might have all you need, under one roof: a restaurant, swimming pool, rooms, beach and a dive/ snorkeling center check out Quo Vadis.

The 96 km that separate Cebu from Moalboal, are a fun ride, especially once you get away from the city, and pass Carcar.  Real fun starts on the Santander-Barili-Toledo Road with some uphill and downhill slopes, twisting roads and a beautiful coastal road leading up to Moalboal. From Moalboal, you can also enjoy an even better ride going to Santander (where you can board a roro ferry to Siquijor or Dumaguete) as you have the killer views minus the traffic from beginning to end.

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