9 Places to Visit, Swim, and Swing, all squeezed-in on our 7-Hours Stay in Siquijor
Siquijor is an island in the Central Visayas, Philippines. The island is very visible in Rizal Boulevard of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, which seems inviting you to experience a different kind of adventure.
Siquijor is known for their folk healing and witchcraft, a reason why we became so attracted with this island. Never miss going to Siquijor if you are so near like this.
Siquijor has six municipalities: Siquijor, San Juan, Maria, Lazi, Larena and Enrique Villanueva. Siquijor (one of the municipalities) being its capital.
You can rent a van, a multicab, a tricycle or a motor to tour Siquijor. If you had not made for any reservation, these are the mode of transportation that would welcome you upon exiting the port. Travelling around the whole Siquijor will take about 3 hours. So, choose the best transportation for your tour.
The morning before coming to Siquijor, we contacted a multicab from Siquijor. We had just seen his post from Facebook. A good review or comment on social media can make as a guide to consider things like this, renting multicab to give us a tour in Siquijor.
The multicab is a 14-seater vehicle. It is a smaller type of jeepney. It has no aircon, letting you enjoy the warmth of the sun and the clean air passing on your face. Rental fee is P1,800, about $36, for the coastal tour.
1. SIQUIJOR CHURCH
Siquijor will welcome you by their Church, Saint Francis De Assisi, located just outside the port, in the municipality of Siquijor. The Bell Tower is meters away from the Church, now under construction. A quick visit and a picture to “Welcome to Siquijor” is a great start of the tour.
2. PALITON BEACH
This beach is where the signature profile picture is shot that you will definitely post on your FB the first moment you will have a single bar signal on your phone. The coconut tree with its trunk straight angled at about 30 degree from the shore is definitely a mark that you are in Siquijor. You can give your best post on whichever part of that tree.
Your background is the vast sea – clear water with the blue sky and the white sand beach. It is a very fantastic view for a dramatic shot.
Do not worry, you will not inch yourself climbing the trunk. They would assist you. A bamboo is carried each by two guides – one on your right and another on your left. You would hold on both bamboos and making each step on the coconut tree’s trunk. They will guide and assist you until you are settled in the place you want to pose for your shot.
Of course, some made it easy, while me, oh oh. Just inches away from the bottom part, I nearly cried. And upon sitting on the trunk, I had the worst shots.
But even if you are hard-headed like me, and afraid of heights, guides will still assist you and take your phone to capture your every moment on the trunk.
You can give a donation on the guides, no required fee. But given their assistance and concern of guiding you to have your perfect profile picture, give a nice donation, right?
I had witnessed a great pose from a young lady. She decided to lie down on the middle part of the trunk and made her stunning pose, but fell. And the nearest guide did not catch her, of course, but almost catch her with his hands, not with the bamboo. So, when she landed on the sand, she was caught half-standing. See how the guides are alert?
So, no worries if you can do a pose in the topmost part and you happen to fall, either the sand or the beach water, or the guides will catch you. No rock to fear.
You can stay a little more time to swim. This is their Little Boracay- white fine sand, clear green water, serene place, so grand and energizing. Paliton Beach has a great view for this day tour.
There are stores on the area where you can buy snacks, sliced mangoes, fruits in season like siniguelas and ice candy.
Ice candy is a frozen fruit mixture with sweetened water and your choice of flavoring and fillings. The mixture is placed on a plastic bag with a size of an inch width and about 6 inches long. So, it is very handy. You will buy it in frozen.
To eat, find a place in your teeth that you can tear a corner of the plastic top. When it is already tear, you can start sipping the juice, then open the plastic some more (still with your teeth), and once the width of the plastic is completely opened, you can start biting the plastic just to break the ice and you can sip and munch the ice candy until you consumed the whole thing. Oh, very refreshing. Just for P5 or $0.1, some minutes of refresh feeling would be felt. Don’t forget to throw the plastic on proper disposal.
3. ENCHANTED BALETE TREE in Lazi
The next stop is the Old Enchanted Balete Tree, just a few minutes ride from Paliton Beach. Entrance and environmental fee is only P10, about $0.20.
This Balete tree aged on its nth hundred years. Its monstrous size brings your imagination how it would look like at night. The tree is mysterious yet inviting. It loves when you pose on his front, or even on sides touching the trunk and its giant roots.
The Fish Spa
The place not only is proud of the Balete tree but on their Fish Spa. A fish spa? Yes, really, a fish spa! In front the Balete tree, there are two cemented, small swimming pools in form, with a less foot high water.
On the water of the first pool, swim different kinds of fish from smallest to about a 12-inch ruler foot size of fish. You will then sit on the perimeter of the cemented pool side and soak your feet.
When we came here, the pool was a little bit full of visitors, so we just waited for a while and squeezed in when a space had been vacated. There was still the other small pool, but since no one was there, we just waited for our turn here on the first pool.
Fish will come and bite your feet causing you to jerk from their small bites. These fish will eat the dead skins on your feet. It takes a while before you become comfortable, if you can be. Those fish will continually bite your feet, they will not cease, as long as your feet are soaked in the water. And when the bigger fish bit you, oh that is really felt, a bite or a suck. Yes, a bite and a suck from that fish.
The whole experience was very enjoyable, even though our stay took only for a while. Imagine with just P10 fee, you enjoyed this fish spa with the enchanted Balete tree on your side, very nice.
The souvenir shops have lots to offer. They really exaggerate, introduce and teach the visitors who and what Siquijor is. There are key chains available: in voodoo doll form, riding with its broom, price at P160, about $3.20. This, somehow, identify themselves practicing witchcraft. But I did not find any witch.
There are lots of voodoo dolls, in different sizes and some had no brooms attached in them. An inch height of voodoo doll costs P35 each, about $0.70, and can also be sold at 3 pieces for P100, about $2. Magnets, shirts, sleeveless garments and bracelets featuring Siquijor are magnified on these products.
You will enjoy and warned while buying, or, why not try purchasing a bottle of love potion or other dried herbal plants for your meditation or sickness. The experience was very worth for a trip.
The place also had its own restaurant, BaleteBistro Food and Restaurant, a great choice when feeling hungry after the biting session on the foot spa.
4. HAPITANAN KAPE in Lazi, Siquijor
Next stop is for a Witch Picture. If you feel that a witch blood flows on your veins, this is your chance to uncover your mask, embrace your broom and soar high. Oh, what a feeling, great relief! And if you still do not know if you are a member of the witch group, still hop on the broom, and feel what a real witch is.
First, fall in line for your turn. You will climb about 10 steps on their stairs and land on a platform with a small elevated wooden stage, wherein you will hold a long broomstick, insert it between the space in your legs, ride like a real witch, and jump while your legs are a little fold from the knees.
With a fold and angle… Jump.
And yes, just like that, a 2-second witch trip. Do not fly yet, there are still visitors waiting for their turn. So cute, you want to laugh out loud for yourself. How creative to think that mini-witch adventure. I love it.
And, if you are not yet still satisfied, you can call the other witches to join you.
With the trained, experienced guides that will take your picture, listen to their instructions on what to do so the moment will be perfectly captured on your phone, a perfect witch shot.
No fees, just a donation, try giving a lot. No one can let you experience this witch feeling. Having a smile each time you see that picture of yours. Just drop some paper bills on their donation box. Everybody is happy.
5. LAZI CONVENT
In the municipality of Lazi, there stand the largest and oldest convent in Asia.
The convent was built in 1891 out of lime stone, coral stone, and hard wood by Augustinian Recollects, and was declared a National Historical Landmark by the then-National Historical Institute in 1978.
Entering its gate would make you feel that a treasured history is being greatly maintained, for the convent is really gorgeous. Lying in the center of a huge, clean garden of old, big trees is this convent. As you come nearer the convent, you will realize how serene the place is.
The wide grass garden with a walkway for you to come to the convent is bringing silence to your heart. Imagining yourself in this convent, you had, surely, enough space to find space for yourself on your reflection. It seems God will always sit next to you. And if you want a walk, the place will give you all the freedom to roam around.
Everything is peaceful, yet, the posts on the front had wanted to say something. And this door had thoughts to whisper. Each has a story to tell, for they had endure the coming and going of time. They still stand through the passing of time.
The convent has a Museum, which we had only noticed after several minutes of staying in the garden. If we only knew, we, surely, will peek on it. Anyway, there will be a next time.
Lazi Church on the other side of the road is under construction and, we thought, visitors were not permitted to enter at that moment.
6. TARZAN SWING IN CAMBUGAHAY FALLS In Lazi
Tarzan Swing is the much loved activity in Cambugahay Falls. I have a whole article about this for you to enjoy reading: Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor Island. Just be ready to take 135 steps before reaching it.
7. SALAGDOONG BEACH in Maria, Siquijor
The next in our Siquijor trip is a swimming on a beach. Rows of beach resorts are indeed on San Juan but we prefer to go swimming on Maria town, about an hour drive from Siquijor municipality.
The whole place from the outside of the resort is government protected, enriching their man-made forest. No community stand here. As we traveled around Siquijor island, there were already lots of trees, but here, trees are more knitted to each other, a forest being really taken care of.
We entered the beach, Salagdoong Beach. Entrance fee per head is P30, about $0.60, and P25, about $0.50, for parking. We did not rent for a cottage costing P200, about $4, for our stay was short. We just put our bags on spaces available or on the sand.
Here, clear, cool and inviting green water awaits us. We only had a 30-minute stay but it was a real refreshing dip. A side of the beach had cemented stairs in which you can seat while the sea water rushed on you. There are waves that allow you to just settle on your place, but there are stronger ones that can hit you and drive your legs on the side of the cemented stair that cause a little hurt.
And then, we discover the other side, just a little walk after this spot and opposite of their slide. Here, no waves to bother you. You can sit, dip and swim into their clear water, seeing the bottom sand floor, very clear and relaxing.
And there’s a bonus, you can savor a Siquijodnon ice cream in cone for P20, about $0.40, yeah, completing the freshness of this Siquijor coastal trip.
8. LILIBETH’S PAN BISAYA in Enrique Villanueva, Siquijor
The last stop on this trip of ours, that will complete this great escapade, was the visit to a bakery, known as Lilibeth’s Pan Bisaya. It is located in Enrique Villanueva municipality.
Here, their makeshift oven’s heat comes from smoldering woods that is place on a cut-out roof and placed on the oven top. These woods are thin trunks of a tree. The heat coming on top would penetrate inside the oven, making the dough baked to its perfection, giving a perfect torta or pan de coco. Standing right in front of the oven was real hot, very hot.
The oven wherein you will put your dough is not big enough. You can somewhat place two trays of about 7×12 inches. They had mini flat baking pans exactly for the oven to accommodate for soon to be baked goodies.
We bought torta and other breads such as pan de coco. The torta is very rich in taste. You would definitely taste the egg yolk on it, and you would wish to partner it with bacon and coffee. It is really worth coming to this bakery.
9. OLD HOUSE in Enrique Villanueva, Siquijor
Cang-isok House is the oldest house stood in the province of Siquijor. It can be found in the municipality of Enrique Villanueva, and can be easily seen from the road, though it will be hard to go down for its steep way. The house had the sea water on its front. The posts were made of molave trees that stood the test of time and, more times, violent nature.
How to Go to Siquijor from Dumaguete City
Going to Siquijor from Dumaguete City will only take a few steps. First, buy your ticket at OceanJet costing P250, about $5. Their ticketing office is located outside the port, but just nearby.
It is better to purchase your ticket ahead of your schedule like, at least, a day before to ensure your slot. But 30 minutes before the scheduled travel is also fine. There are five scheduled trips for Dumaguete-Siquijor. We chose the earliest one so we could squeeze in all our activities on our list.
From Dumaguete City, a tricycle ride can take you to the port, cost of P10 per person, about $0.20. If you already have a ticket, proceed to paying the terminal fee of P15, about .3 cents of a dollar. The terminal fee counter is located near the entrance of the port.
Upon entering, seats while waiting for the announcement for boarding are offered by the place. But first, you have to go to the OceanJet counter first to secure your seat number. The guard will not let you out to the wharf without this.
Now, you can relax. Fall in line and wait for boarding. Usually, boarding time is about 20 minutes before departure.
When boarding time is announced, passengers will fall in line to go outside the wharf where the ferry is anchored. The water vessel is shaky because of the waves, but there are lots of crews that will guide and assist you on almost every step of the way, no need to be afraid. On almost a step or a turn, a crew is there to reach out for you.
The Seat Number
When you are in the cabin, in which the bottom part for us, just look for your seat number. But if your seat number had been already seated by another passenger, do not by hysterical and confront the passenger. Try to find other free available seats that you think you can be comfortable. And you can sit there.
If someone became hysterical finding you on their seat and confronted you, maybe that will be the time to look for a crew to assist you, telling the crew the situation, and they will fix this.
Usually, frequent passengers don’t pay attention of seat numbers, because OceanJet has a different method of issuing a seat number. They issue a seat number upon a passenger coming to Siquijor. But they don’t issue a seat number if you are coming back to Dumaguete. This is the same water vessel I am talking about.
But you cannot disregard getting a seat number because the assigned guard in Dumaguete would not let you out the waiting area to proceed to the ferry without your seat number, this is the trip from Dumaguete to Siquijor.
So, anyway, that’s why, even the passenger don’t give a heck of it. They do not mind seat numbers. Maybe, they’ll first check their seat and when a passenger had occupied it, they just look for another. Just that, a simple system others would not understand, but, please, never stress with petty things like this.
Travel time is about 45-55 minutes. Sometimes, embarking, settling on your seats and waiting for the ferry to start sailing took 15 minutes or less. The water is too wavy and bouncy, but once the ferry starts travelling, it would be a less bumpy one. A little rough but, smoother – that’s the situation on a clear, sunny morning.
After disembarking from the ferry, from Dumaguete, you would just walk and find the exit and smell the air of Siquijor, enjoying the day.
In the afternoon, about the 3:50pm schedule, it is really wavy, yet, do not worry, it is normal.
Just sit, pray and enjoy watching the movie that you knew you wouldn’t finished in the short travel time.