THIS part of the country was never one of my dream local destinations. But after having spent a day tour here recently, I asked myself – why?
Located in the Central Visayas, Siquijor is a laid back island province comprised of towns with idyllic coastal charms that is home to pristine beaches, falls, springs, giant trees, and caves. But for most Filipinos, it is known for mystical shamanism and witchcraft.
“Oo, sir. Tinuod gyud ng mga kulam diri. (Yes, sir. The stories of witchcrafts here are true),” Kuya Jorge, our driver, who is born and raised in Siquijor, shared.
Touring around Siquijor Island
From our hotel in Dumaguete City (Flying Fish Hostel – I’ll share more of this in a separate article), my brother Rey and I took a tricycle ride going to Dumaguete Port which is just 5-10 minutes away for the early ferry trip from Dumaguete to Siquijor at 7 a.m. via Montenegro Lines. Earliest trip to Siquijor is actually 5:30 a.m. We reached the port in Siquijor after more than an hour.
You can tour around the island through a tricycle, motorbike, or a multi-cab – we opted to rent a tricycle for P1,200. I researched and listed the spots we wanted to visit, shared it to Kuya Jorge, he added a couple of spots.
First stop, “I love Siquijor” landmark just a few minutes away from the port. That started our tour.
Paliton Beach, San Juan
This no-entrance-fee white sand beach spot is probably the province’s most famous beach with its coconut swing and bent coconut tree where most tourists take their photos. There are locals who will help you achieve those “for-the-gram” shots. Tips are appreciated.
Balete Tree and Fish Spa
I was expecting to witness the centuries-old – about over 400 years – Balete Tree in a bit quiet state but no, the place was crowded and alive because it was on a Saturday. Souvenirs, food items, and a variety of bottled potions –love potions included- greeted us. Even with the crowd, the old Balete Tree is still enchanting given the fact that it was once a spot for sacred rituals. There’s a fish spa in the natural springs that flow beneath the tree.
This is a restaurant but is most famous as a spot for the witch broomstick photo opportunity. Tourists drop by here just to ride the famed broomstick.
Lazi Church and Convent
This 18th century San Isidro Labrador Parish Church or Lazi Church is the oldest church in Siquijor. It was closed for renovation when we arrived. Fronting the church is the Lazi Convent which is dubbed as the biggest convent in the Philippines. Both are National Historic Shrines.
Probably the most visited destination in Siquijor and there is no doubt why. This three-tiered waterfall with three large lagoons is a perfect spot for those who are chasing waterfalls. We tried the bamboo raft and is one good experience to remember. Too bad, we failed to try the famous Tarzan swing, maybe next time.
Salagdoong Beach Resort
After having our lunch at a carenderia named Jenoshanise, we headed to Salagdoong Beach. It is just your typical beach resort. But what made it special is its cliff diving spot. My brother had a quick dip into Salagdoong beach waters while I chose to sit under a shady tree and marveled at the beach’s turquoise waters.
Lilibeth’s Pan Bisaya
We heard this is a famous bakery in Siquijor. So we gave it a try. Their Pan De Coco, Monay, and Cheese bread are definitely a must-taste. Bread is best served hot.
Aquamare Beach Camp Resort
I wish we booked an overnight stay in this resort. But a quick day tour here is already a plus. Entrance fee is only P100. Set on the beachfront in Siquijor, the resort features a bar and a geodesic glamping dome accommodation. Ending our day tour in this relaxing and quiet resort is never a bad idea.
There’s something about the vibe on Siquijor that enchanted me. Siquijor is known as “Isla del Fuego”, or the island of fire because of its mystical fireflies. I haven’t seen a single firefly when I was here, and I consider it as a sign to revisit the island – I should see the fireflies.
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