After our travel was bogged down by holiday congestion and overbooked ferries, we decided to lay low a bit and ended up staying on the island of Siquijor (pronounced See-Kee-hor) for a full week. We found a great new guesthouse, rented a bike, and explored the island in its entirety while also spending some time celebrating New Year’s Eve! The island is full of fun and accessible waterfalls, lovely beaches and unique attractions. We also sampled a ton of restaurants and bars in the small towns in the area, especially in the backpacker hub of San Juan. The island is surrounded in mysticism and witchcraft. If you tell a local that you plan on travelling here, you’ll often be asked why, and warned about the dark stories and superstitions that surround it. But we can tell you first hand that it’s worth the trip!
How to Get There
There are two main ferry routes to the island of Siquijor: Tagbilaran, Bohol to Larena, Siquijor and Dumaguete to the town of Siquijor, Siquijor. Yes there are different towns on the island of Siquijor, and yes one of them is also called Siquijor haha. On most ferries you’ll be told to check your bag, but unless it’s huge you should be able to carry it with you on the ferry and avoid the fees.
We came from Bohol, and took the 1.5 hour OceanJet ferry for 700 pesos. This ferry leaves once a day at 10:20 am. The Oceanjet office in Tagbilaran stays open until 8:00 pm. Heading the opposite way to Tagbilaran, Bohol from Larena, Siquijor costs the same amount, and the ferry leaves at noon. You can extend the trip all the way to Cebu City with a short stop in Tagbilaran, for another 500 pesos. You arrive in Cebu City around 4:40 pm. The OceanJet office in Larena closes at 2:00 pm, so make sure to keep that in mind when buying tickets!
The Dumaguete ferry costs 240 pesos and leaves every 2 hours from Siquijor, Siquijor.
When you arrive, best bet it to hop in a jeepney heading to your destination. Lots pass between Siquijor and Larena. We got a jeepney for 25 pesos/person from the town of Siquijor to Larena. We got a 100 peso shared trike from San Juan to the town of Siquijor. If trikes are trying to rip you off, ask if you can do a shared trike, allowing them to pick up and drop off other locals along the way, which allows them to collect a little extra cash on the long ride. You can also rent bikes at the ferry terminals, but make sure you’re not getting ripped off! Price should be between 300-400 pesos/day, and take pictures of the bike when you receive it so they cannot claim you caused any damage.
Where to Stay
It is important to note that there are different areas to stay in on the island. Majority of people choose to stay in San Juan. It is close to most activities and has a bunch of restaurants and bars! We stayed one night outside of San Juan and regretted it. Whichever port you arrive to, there will be taxi drivers/small open air buses to take you to San Juan for a small fee!
- Stella’z – This was a great guesthouse in San Juan that opened only a few days before we checked it out! Rooms were clean, and had a TV with English movie channels, great wifi, AC and a hot shower. It also had a communal kitchen and free water. The owner, Milo, was super nice and helpful. We rented a bike from here for 350 pesos/day and the room cost 900 pesos/night. It’s located in San Juan, right near Baha Bar and within walking distance of some great places to eat! We couldn’t recommend this place more, you can book your stay online here.
What to Do
- Waterfalls – We visited 6 waterfalls (Lugnason, Lagaan, Cambugahay, Kawasan Falls, Locong, and Cangbangag) throughout our tour of the island, and have outlined the details with our ranking of them in our post coming soon! Siquijor, and the Philippines in general, really know how to spruce up a waterfall. You can swim at all of these, and most have rope swings or areas to jump in. Lugnason Falls was our favourite (partly because it was free!) but check out our post (coming soon!) for a map and outline of all six waterfalls.
- Diving at Apo Island – There are dive spots off Siquijor, but Apo Island is one of the best dive spots in the world and accessible from Siquijor if you know where to look. Coco Grove Resort has a boat going to Apo Island most days for 1950 pesos round trip. Diving is an extra 3000 pesos for two dives (comparable to the prices we saw on Apo Island, because our fee included the 100 peso entrance and 300 peso diving fee). The coral around the island was the healthiest and most vibrant we had ever seen, and it went on forever! The 4 metre long banded sea snake swimming past us was also pretty cool! The boat from Coco Grove leaves at 7:30 am, and lunch at a sister resort on the island is included (as well as a free drink!). Banana and carrot bread is available on the boat as a snack. We got back to Siquijor at 4:30 pm. It was an amazing day trip with some amazing dives, definitely worth the pesos!
- Century Old Balete Tree – This supposedly thousand year old tree was pretty cool to see. It’s located right off the main road, you can’t miss it. Bike parking is 5 pesos, and the entry fee is 10 pesos. The entry fee allows you to go right up to the tree, and try out the fish spa at it’s base to clean dead skin off your feet! You can also get pretty close by going to the restaurant located right beside it.
- Paliton Beach – The sunset beach near San Juan is a great way to get some rays and chill out. There aren’t any loud bars lining the shore, just a guy with a cooler selling chilled beers and cold drinks. A great spot to unwind and relax. The northeast entrance is the main entry point.
- Saladoong Beach – This beach is a great spot to spend a whole day if you have the time! There are picnic tables for lunch, and a good amount of beach to lay out on. There are also two awesome and super high cliff jumping platforms for the daredevils.
- Monkey Beach – This beach is near the now closed Kagusua Beach, and was absolutely empty when we were there. You can take your bike down the off road path, but be careful as it’s pretty small and windy. Head down the stairs at the end and you’ll have a beautiful beach all to yourself! It’s not really a beach for swimming, but bring a blanket, snacks and sunscreen to relax for an afternoon! To find it, first find Kagusua Beach on maps.me. There’s a loop of road that passes by Kagusua off of the main highway, if you take the loop clockwise starting from the highway, you’ll pass by a sign for Monkey Beach on your left hand side before getting to Kagusua.
Where to Eat
- Luca Loka – Nice chill restaurant with decent prices. Great vegan dishes, including buddha and poké bowls! The wifi was also pretty good. Great breakfast options as well (talking about the cute smoothie bowls!).
- Monkey Business – This beach themed spot was more on the expensive side but had fun drinks, huge amazing burgers and really good shakes. The wifi was brutal, and if you’re in a group make sure to show up early, as a lot of the tables are reserved around dinner time. Seriously every table was reserved when we showed up!
- Baha Bar – Another one on the expensive side, but that doesn’t stop it from being the most popular spot on the island. The laid back restaurant has craft beer for 140 pesos, which you can enjoy on their sunset deck at the back of the property.
- Rastaman Grill – Great BBQ and grilled veggie spot, and the wifi worked well enough! The chicken adobo was especially good.
- Fun-Ta-Sea – All the puns going on in this restaurant/budget resort! Great spot right on the ocean with a view of the sunset. Food was moderately priced, drinks were on the cheaper side and the wifi worked pretty well!
- Grills near Aloha Grill – Best spot to get cheap food on the island, there’s a stretch of unnamed restaurants and BBQ grills near Aloha Grill. Buffet style food is laid out and you pay for what you pick (or point to if you don’t know what it is!).
- Get Wrecked – Tucked away on the oceanfront near the corner pool off the main road is a great spot for cheap drinks and food!
- El Monte – This restaurant is a great spot to get some cheap but good food in Lazi, which is located near a couple of the waterfalls on our list!
- Balete Tree Restaurant – Considering the touristy location, this place had really good food! Ours took a weirdly long time to come out, but was very tasty! Also a great spot to view the tree from.
- Port Side Café – A great more modern café in Larena where you can get a coffee and some well-priced food before your ferry back to Bohol. It also has really good wifi if you need to waste some time.
- Bell View Restaurant – A good, although more expensive, spot in Siquijor, Siquijor to grab a bite and gather yourself after a ferry ride. Note that the meals are small, so the price might look good, but portions are underwhelming for the price. Also has good wifi to help you do some research and get your bearings!