Siquijor Island is one of our favourite spots to visit in the Philippines. It’s the perfect tropical island combination of natural beauty and mystical reputation – one that kept visitors away for decades. You can easily visit Siquijor with or without kids as the island is very relaxed, compared with some of the more popular Philippines destinations. But that doesn’t mean there’s little to do, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Siquijor is bursting with tourist spots from marine reserves to waterfalls, palm fringed white sand beaches and underground caves and rivers. It has super friendly people, beautiful Spanish churches, amazing fresh water holes and great food. We’ve been there three times now and we love it.
In colonial times Siquijor was known as the Isla de Fuego – the Island of Fire – by the Spanish who built some beautiful churches here as they converted the locals to Catholicism. Siquijor was known for its bolo bolo white magic, and still is, although now it’s seen as intriguing rather than concerning. Visiting a Bolo Bolo healer is high on many tourists list of things to do in Siquijor.
Siquijor is also a smoke free island! There is no smoking in public. It’s also plastic bag free. How awesome is that. I love that this little island is so advanced in protecting the environment.
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Getting to SiquijorYou can fly to Siquijor by plane from Cebu with CebGo with flights as cheap as $60 return and taking only 40 minutes. Air Juan also flies here from Cebu.
Getting Around SiquijorIts super easy to get around Siquijor. The island’s main road, the Circumferential Road, runs around its coastline, and there are a few roads that criss-cross its interior.
Cars are more expensive but convenient if you have a group. They’re not necessary really but available if you need.
How Long to Stay For?Spend as much time as you can in Siquijor – you won’t run out of things to do. This time we stayed three weeks and we could have stayed longer. We will be back soon to keep exploring. I would suggest a minimum of five nights if you can, and much longer if possible.
What to do in Siquijor? The Best Tourist Spots in SiquijorThere is just so much to do when you visit Siquijor with kids and for couples, groups of friends and families, but it’s also the perfect place to relax. Do as little or as much as you like!
Explore Siquijor Island on Your BikeJust take off and ride – there are so many palm-lined roads to find, beaches to explore, little restobars to stop at and caves and jungle. It’s the perfect island to ride around – calm, quiet and safe with excellent roads and very little traffic.
DivingDiving in Siquijor is very popular for its multiple dive sites with macro life, bountiful healthy reefs and big fish. There are a number of dive centres in Siquijor around the San Juan area like Apo Divers, Sea Pearl Divers and Last Frontier Divers. and Coco Grove Resort has its own dive centre too where Emmie did a Discovery Dive down to 12 metres with Nok Nok.
Snorkeling at Tubod Marine SanctuaryTubod is just outside of San Juan – if you get to Coco Grove Resort you’ve gone a little too far so just wander back a bit and you’ll see the public entrance to the beach. It costs 50 pesos to snorkel here and you can buy lunch at Coco Grove’s Salamander or Sunset restaurants. Keep to the public beach as the Coco Grove beach is private, but there is more than enough beach and the snorkelling and corals are beautiful and the fish abundant.
San Juan Town and Public PoolThe public pool in San Juan town is amazing – its water is green and pure as it flows down from the mountain. The pool is free, it’s un a little green park with seats and shade and its lovely for a swim. If you cross the road and go to your left you’ll see the public laundry and baths. It’s a long concrete pool that the water flows to once it’s gone through the swimming pool. People here are washing their clothes and bathing. I just love how Siquijor is still so untouched in comparison to other islands.
The town has some great restaurants (see below) a beautiful church and religious statues in little alcoves in the forest and the rocks. You can find local food here, lechon – roasted pig – and little beachside bars and restobars.
Visit Salagdoong BeachThis beautiful curved beach is about 90 minutes from San Juan. The closest town in Maria and it has a smattering of basic accommodation. There’s a lot of restobars on the beach. Make sure to time your visit here for high tide so you can jump from the rocks and use the slide into the water.
Day Trip to Apo islandYou can see Apo Island from the west coast of Siquijor. It’s a little closer to Dumaguete than Siquijor but you can take day trips out to the island from here. It’s known for its turtles and diving, and you can stay a night or two there also and snorkel, swim and relax. The resort here does fabulous food.
Visit Paliton BeachJust outside San Juan you’ll find Paliton Beach. It’s close enough to walk to from the northern accommodation and is worth at least one visit. Swing on palm tree swings and float in the ocean. The beach has white sand and is lined with palm trees. There are a few beachside food stalls where you can grab a meal and a beer and watch the sun set.
Cambuguhay FallsThese falls are so beautiful with its three levels and gorgeous blue green water. We first visited here in 2016 and it was just a simple waterfall, just existing in nature with one rope swing hapngin from a tree. It’s sure evolved since then, with huge bamboo structures with massive rope swings, pathways, little stalls selling food and chairs and tables. It’s still great, but a reminder of the speed of change.
Entry here is 20 peso per person. You don’t need a guide really unless you’re traveling alone as it’s a simple walk in (possibly not easy as it’s around 100 steps down and back up!) but there are guides at the top where you arrive and if you feel like it using a guide for a small amunt of money is a nice way to contribute to the community. Rope swings cost 50 pesos a person for all day use. Some people complain about this but its entrepreneurial for locals and it costs tourists less than the price of one beer so I reckon, suck it up.
Lugansen FallsThese falls look amazing but when we went they were dry as the water had been diverted to the famers rice crops. Check before you go – ask around – as your tricycle driver may not tell you as ours didn’t! There are some man made pools below which are nice but it’s a disappointment to rock up to dry waterfalls!
Balette TreeThis ancient towering tree is 400 years old and has a natural spring at its base where little fish will nibble your toes! It costs 10 peso to enter, and is an easy stop on your wayback from Cambugahay Falls. I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit but it’s a nice stop if en-route to the falls of caves.
Lazi Church and Siquijor ChurchesLazi is a small town you will drive through on your way to Cambugahay Falls. The church here San Isidro Labrador Parish Church was built in 1884 and made of coral stone and hardwood. The convent across the road is one of the largest built during the Spanish Colonial era and is now the Siquijor Heritage Museum.
You will pass here on your way to Cambugahay Falls and its well worth a visit.
There are so many churches to visit in Siquijor island. We love the one in San Juan, and in Siquijor town the “Welcome to Siquijor” sign is right near the old Saint Francis de Assisi church.
Watch a Barracuda TornadoTulapos Marine Reserve is about 30 minutes from Larena. We visited when we were staying at Casa de la Playa so it was only about a 10 minute drive. The beach here is just beautiful and out in the deep water a huge school of barracuda twists and truns as it swims together in beautiful formations.
It costs 100 pesos to swim here and 250 for a compulsory guide (for two people max). We had our own snorkel gear but you can hire it here – I suggest hiring the fins so you can go down deep with the school. I wish I’d worn some.
We were the first to arrive that day (not that its very crowded) so we swam around with our guide searching for the barracuda. It was easier for the people who arrived 30 minutes after us when we’d found the barra – they just swam straight to us!! I don’t have any pics but it was AMAZING!
It’s an awesome experience and one you should definitely do while you’re in Siquijor.
Visit a Bolo Bolo HealerWhen we were first on the island in 2016 it was quite difficult find a healer but now most guesthouses will be able to arrange it for you, or tricycle drivers will be able to take you. Just ask to see a bolo bolo healer and keep an open mind and enjoy this mystical experience.
Caving and Underground RiversSiquijor has a few amazing underground rivers and caves. They’re around 800 metres to get through and can be tight in places. The two main ones are Cantabon Cave near Siquijor and Sambulawan near Lazi. Your tricycle drivers will know how to get there or if riding a bike just check google maps. We were planning to do this but after the Taal Volcano erupted and a few tremors in the area we decided against it. Next time for sure.
Watch a SunsetSunset in Siquijor is amazing. Paliton Beach and Tubod Marine Sanctuary are great spots to watch it, but of course anywhere along the west coast will give you amazing views like this.
Island TripMany of the tricycle and van drivers will take your around the island on a day-long island adventure. You can talk to them abut what you’d like to see. I’d definitely include as much of the above as possible
Where to EatYou can find street food or small restobars in most towns, and your guesthouse should also offer meals. The below restaurants are in San Juan or close by.
Best Siquijor Resorts and GuesthousesMost visitors to Siquijor head straight to San Juan and its surrounds. It’s where the few (kind of )western bars and restaurants are gathered together in town. There’s a public freshwater swimming pool here and the beaches are lovely and palm lined. It’s also close to Paliton Beach and near enough to most everywhere else for daytrips.
In and Around San JuanNear Paliton Beach, Mandala Tribe Treehouses is a popular place to stay with its beautiful treehouses and short walk to the beach. Nearby, Reaching Garden Guesthouse is a gorgeous clifftop guesthouse and has a lovely little spots to overlook the ocean and sunset. It doesn’t have access to the beach, but Paliton is close by, and it’s only around $35 a night.
There are many kinds of bungalows here, our favourite family bungalow is Coco Villa 4 (1 -3 are awesome also) as well as the twin Sampaguita 1 & 2.
In Siquijor TownVilla Marmarine Beach Resort looks beautiful and we will definitely be trying this hotel out when we are back on the island. It’s around $90 a night
I hope you LOVE Siquijor as much as we do. Enjoy!!!